1. Reviews
  2. Acura RDX 2021 Review

Stylish Compact SUV Combining Value with Sportiness
[Price From $39,300 – To $51,300]

Source: www.acura.com

by | Dec 15, 2021

Overview

If you’re keen on buying this compact SUV, our Acura RDX 2021 review will answer all your questions, and help you make the right decision.

Acura has had a hard time building a name. Its market operation is limited to a few regions, its image is still too close to parent company Honda’s, and the little reputation it began to build in the 1990s thanks to its engaging dynamic behavior, was lost in the following decade because of uninspired design and sharing too many components with the counterpart models of the generalist brand.

When it comes specifically to the RDX, being a compact SUV is not easy. There are countless direct competitors, the additional pressure of matching the premium image of the European ones, and a permanent need to keep its distance from its Honda sibling, the CR-V. While its market segment has acquired huge sales potential, the model also has to meet several types of demands at once.

The best way to define the Acura RDX 2021 is by saying that it deals with all those requirements by taking its own path. It is considerably more refined than generalist models but, instead of delivering the elegance and class of a luxury model, it features a long equipment list, adequate dynamics, and surprising value. If you come for the rational qualities, you are surely going to stay for the emotional appeal.

Pros
Long list of visual and safety items offered as standard.
Modern powertrain ensures adequate consumption figures.
Excellent value especially compared to generalist competitors.
Optional SH-AWD system greatly improves driving and ride quality.
Cons
Fails to match the premium flair of its intended direct competitors.
Dashboard has too many elements and physical controllers together.
Powertrain is efficient but does not offer truly sporty performance.
Dynamic behavior is harmed by noisy engines and inconsistent braking.

Performance, Engine, and Comfort

(3.5/5)

The biggest problem with the RDX is failing to meet the expectations set by Acura. While it is definitely sportier and more emotional than the Honda CR-V, it still falls short when it comes to competing with compact luxury SUVs. That includes market references such as BMW X1 and Mercedes-Benz GLA and even closer competitors like the Cadillac XT4 and the Lexus NX.

Now, if you consider the RDX’s qualities on their own, you will get an athletic compact SUV packed with an impressive equipment list and a powertrain setup that will not disappoint you. And all that comes in several trim levels with competitive prices.

Engine & Performance

(3/5)

This model has an interesting love/hate character. The modern powertrain can be paired with several gadgets to be more responsive and exciting but fails at basic aspects such as brake response and poor noise isolation. It is not bad at all but fails to follow the premium image Acura wants to offer.

Engine and gear

The only powertrain setup available for this model is a turbocharged 2.0-liter engine good for 272 hp of power and 280 lb-ft. It is always paired with a ten-speed automatic transmission.

Suspension

Car connoisseurs have considered the Acura RDX 2021 quite balanced, with dynamic behavior that is firm and responsive without ever being excessively stiff. It is appropriate as a family SUV while also having a touch of sporty demeanor.

Handling

Acura’s Super Handling All-Wheel Drive system has a torque-vectoring function which makes its handling better. The only downside is the brake pedal, which is not firm or responsive as expected. Still, much of the impression depends on the trim level you select.

Vibration & Ride

The A-Spec package comes with adaptive dampers, which help you customize your ride. The RDX may not be the best at noise isolation, but it is not exactly harsh either. A responsive throttle helps the ride to be more engaging as a whole.

Safety & Reliability

(5/5)

Excellent performance here. Acura has repeated parent company Honda’s initiative to stand out in the market by offering two big standard items: SH-AWD, which is a torque-vectoring system for all-wheel drive, and AcuraWatch, a suite of electronic safety assistance programs.

Brakes

While the 2021 Acura RDX comes with all the typical brake-related items just like its direct rivals, it has received complaints because its pedal feels inconsistent regarding responsiveness and firmness.

Airbags

Every single version of this model comes with a long list of airbags: front, side, and knee airbags for the front passengers, and side curtain airbags.

Electronics

Once again, the complete package comes as standard. The AcuraWatch system is a bundle of electronic assists which help with adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, collision mitigation, cross-traffic monitor, lane-keeping, and traffic sign recognition, among many others.

Lights

This model’s headlights include automatic functions for the high beam and wiper integration. They come as standard in all trim levels, including the base version.

Traction control

The biggest highlight here is the SH-AWD system, which constantly changes power distribution to each wheel according to several driving parameters such as driver input, available traction, lateral G-force, and weight distribution. It is available on some trim levels and standard in others.

Fuel Economy

(4/5)

No surprises in this regard. The RDX’s powertrain is quite average for its category, so it was not possible to expect a big performance. At least you get a fuel-efficient car which can be somewhat sporty depending on the optional features you select.

Engine size

The only available engine for the 2021 Acura RDX is a turbocharged 2.0-liter unit, which uses four cylinders.

Gas per mileage consumption

According to EPA estimates, the Acura RDX 2021 makes 22 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway using the standard front-wheel drive. If you opt for the SH-AWD system, both figures are reduced by 1 mpg. The A-Spec package causes the same effect on its own.

Interior

(3/5)

You will be greeted with great overall quality and a nice list of standard items. Once again, the biggest problem with the RDX is failing to deliver the premium character it is expected to offer. However, if you do not need that luxury feel, you are going to enjoy a stylish and sporty appearance with plenty of storage areas.

Driving seat

While the cabin has excellent build quality and a nice appearance, it fails to feel truly premium. The driver will enjoy a commanding position, which balances the height of SUVs with the sportiness of cars, but it definitely does not offer the same luxury experience as some of its claimed direct rivals.

Dashboard

There are many interesting standard features, such as ambient lighting and dual-zone climate control, and the A-Spec package adds red accents which match the intended sporty character. However, the dashboard becomes convoluted with buttons, a touchpad, and a rotary knob for the driving modes.

Passenger seats and extras

The other four occupants will have a stylish cabin and will enjoy the convenience of several storage areas. If you ever need it, folding the second row of seats is quite easy. While the cabin does not give a premium feel, it does not feel poor as well.

Overall height and space

With an overall height of 65.7 inches, this vehicle offers a total volume of 104 cubic feet for up to five occupants, who are arranged in two rows of seats.

Trunk space

The 2021 Acura RDX offers a total volume of 30 cubic feet for cargo space. That can be increased if you fold the rear bench flat.

Price and Extras

(4/5)

An unexpected positive consequence of not delivering a premium image is that the Acura RDX turns out to have great value. There are attractive designs, roomy cabins, efficient powertrain, excellent safety equipment as standard, and everything comes at a competitive price.

Market Price

VERSIONSTARTING PRICE
BaseUS$ 39,300
TechnologyUS$ 41,950
A-SpecUS$ 44,950
AdvanceUS$ 49,300
A-Spec AdvanceUS$ 51,300

The RDX also received the limited PMC edition for US$ 52,995 with additional equipment. The SH-AWD system is an available option on the three cheapest versions for an extra US$ 2,200 and comes standard on the others.

AWD/FWD

The standard setup is front-wheel drive. However, the SH-AWD system is available in the Base, Technology, and A-Spec versions and standard on the Advance and A-Spec Advance versions.

Warranty

Acura offers limited coverage of four years or 50,000 miles and a powertrain coverage of six years or 70,000 miles for the RDX. While both are comparable to those of its intended direct rivals, it falls short of BMW and Jaguar’s because it does not offer any type of complimentary maintenance.

Verdict

If there was ever an intermediate market segment between generalist and luxury, the 2021 Acura RDX would be one of its kings. It offers a stronger character than the CR-V’s, for example, but does not match the opulence of the German equivalents. However, it has a unique combination of high-quality trim, efficient performance, and attractive price that makes it difficult to resist.