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Review: 2020 Acura RDX SH-AWD A-Spec SUV Is Super Good

Good things come in A-Spec packages.

Ed TahaneyWriter, Photographer

EAST LOS ANGELES, California—I've driven most of Acura's lineup lately, including the MDX crossover, TLX sedan, and the NSX supercar, and, for the most part, I've dug them all. My first choice is easy, I'd take NSX all day long and on Sundays. My second pick of the Acura litter, though, would be its compact RDX crossover. The third-generation RDX is a blast to drive on the freeways and great for hauling friends and gear. And it's not just me. We were so impressed with the RDX that we invited the new model to last year's All-Stars competition.

 Under the sculpted hood of the 2020 Acura RDX we recently had in for another spin is a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with 272 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque, mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission and Acura's SH-AWD all-wheel-drive system with torque vectoring. The RDX's electric power steering is surprisingly precise for an SUV's, and SH-AWD helps it corner better in the twisties or over any wet stuff you may encounter on your daily running to and fro. With eager responses to steering inputs and a ride that's firm but not harsh, the RDX A-Spec is sporty enough to satisfy enthusiast, and its hatch, cargo area, and relatively roomy interior make it a practical choice, too.

Sport+ is my go to drive mode, but it will lower your mileage significantly if you keep it there and your foot in it all day. I averaged between 14 and 16 indicated mpg around the city in Sport and Sport+, but you can expect numbers closer to the EPA's 21/26 mpg city/highway estimates if you back off the throttle and keep it in Comfort mode. There's also a Snow mode that dulls throttle response and optimizes the AWD setup for the white stuff, but I didn't need to use it in SoCal.

Platinum White Pearl is new color for the 2020 Acura RDX and it pairs extremely well with the A-Spec's red leather interior (black is also available in the uplevel A-Spec). Inside, the RDX's cabin also gets heated, 12-way power seats up front, dual-climate control, ambient lighting to set the mood, and a 10.2-inch center display screen with Acura's new True Touchpad Interface. The setup is programmed so that where you touch the pad is where you "touch" the screen; it takes some time to acclimate to for folks used to swiping across touchpads to make selections, but once muscle memory takes over, you know just where to poke to access desired tasks. It also allows you to customize the eight primary tiles on the screen with practically any function, including frequent desitnations, radio stations, or specific phone contacts, so you can get to them quickly. It's also Apple CarPlay friendly, however Android users still get the shaft—boo. The steering-wheel controls are easy to use and the map graphics are solid, but to me they're still a a bit behind the setup available in some competitors such as the Audi Q5.

Standard standout goodies for the 2020 RDX include paddle shifters, electric power steering, brake hold, an epic panoramic moonroof that tilts and slides, power tailgate, and LED headlights and foglights, day runners, and taillights. There are two USB charge ports for the rear passengers and also a hidden storage space in the back where the spare would normally reside. The A-Spec package adds sport styling, gloss black trim, A-Spec fender and bumper badges, dark headlight and taillight treatment, and 20-inch dark wheels shod with 255/45 R20 all season rubber.

The package also includes leather-trimmed sport seats with UltraSuede, ventilated seats, black headliner, aluminum trim, ELS Studio 3D premium sound system with 16-speakers (four located above your head), chrome plated paddle shifters, and metal sport pedals. There is also a Technology package for techies and an Advance package if you want to pack the RDX to the gills. Safety tech includes collision mitigation braking, lane-keeping assist, forward collision warning, lane-departure mitigation, and more.

The RDX is not just my favorite Acura SUV, in my mind it's one of the best near-luxury crossovers on the market—especially for folks looking for a sportier alternative.

 2020 Acura RDX SH-AWD A-Spec Specifications
ON SALE Now
BASE PRICE $46,795 (base/as tested)
ENGINE 2.0L turbo DOHC 16-valve I-4; 272 hp @ 6,500 rpm, 280 lb-ft @ 1,600-4,500 rpm
TRANSMISSION 10-speed automatic
LAYOUT 4-door, 5-passenger, front-engine, AWD SUV
EPA MILEAGE 21/26 mpg (city/hwy)
L x W x H 186.8 x 74.8 x 65.7 in
WHEELBASE 108.3 in
WEIGHT 4,019 lb
0-60 MPH 6.4 sec
TOP SPEED 125 mph
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