Cars

2020 Acura RDX Handles Real-World Problems with Class

DETROIT — When it comes to the 2020 Acura RDX, let’s get right to it.

These weeklong test drives are supposed to give the reader via the reviewer a real-world perspective of the vehicle being tested. Sometimes, though, the real world can get really real.

We got the Acura RDX on a Friday and were able to enjoy it over the weekend on dry pavement. And then Monday, our world got really real with roughly 10 inches of snow followed by single-digit temperatures the next day.

Without checking the specs, we got in the RDX and thought it had a much larger engine than it did. It was quick with a bunch of oomph. We were surprised to learn that it had a direct-injected 4-cylinder turbocharged engine.

It made 272 horsepower ad 280 pound-feet of torque which was available from 1,600 to 4,500 rpm. It got 21 mpg in the city, 27 mpg on the highway and 23 mpg combined. This engine replaced a 3.5-liter V6 and had a 40 percent increase in low in torque which is where oomph comes from.

We don’t think Acura or its parent company get enough credit for their engineering chops. Anyway, the powerplant was mated to a 10-speed smooth shifting automatic transmission. There was no way we would have known that the RDX had that many gears without reading it, the shifts were that imperceptible.

Before our full attention was focused on what was happening outside of the 2020 Acura RDX, we were immersed in what was happening in the interior. And before we forget, this is the third generation of the Acura RDX that was designed and engineered in the U.S.

Of course, there was stitched leather, soft-touch spots everywhere and aluminum trim. But we found the ash wood trim (as in real) top-notch. It was open pore, used sparingly but in the right places and tactilely pleasing. In other words, it was nice to the touch.

What Acura called a high floating center console was inspired by the NSX supercar. It was flowing. From the floating infotainment screen atop the dash, there was a flat shelf and then it slopped down to the climate controls, which included the heated seats. There was a cowl over the drive mode dial. The car had comfort, sport, sport+ and snow drive modes.

Just under that was an interface or touchpad. It was in sync with what was on the screen, meaning if we wanted to control what was in the left-hand corner on the screen, touch the left-hand corner of the pad.  We were rather clumsy with the interface but repeated usage no doubt would breed familiarity.

On that console too was the off button for the stop-start function of the vehicle. There was push-button lock and unlock and push-button ignition. We climbed in the back and found the seats comfortable, there was plenty of hip space, headroom and legroom and we were surprised by the floor, it was almost flat.

We almost forgot that the rear seats were heated and that were two USB jacks in the back to go along with the one in the center console and the one up front under the floating center stack. A 12V socket and auxiliary jack were stowed there too. And this Acura RDX had a 710-watt 16 speaker premium stereo system.

We looked in the cargo area and found two levers on either side for flipping the back seatbacks forward. They formed a flat cargo floor. But that was after the snow came. There were a good 10 inches of the stuff.

That’s when the Acura RDX’s super handling all-wheel-drive system came into play. It had torque vectoring, could send 70 percent of the torque to the rear wheels and up to 100 percent of that torque could be sent to either the left or right wheel. The right wheel was also overdriven with additional rotational speed.

That translated into no slips, certainly not on the snow-covered streets, which was impressive. The only time we experienced some sliding, it was more like a slip, was at an intersection after the artic temperatures came in from the north and the now-packed streets turned into ice-covered streets. We had to suddenly brake when a car on a right angle suddenly came to the intersection as we were turning.

The RDX barely hiccupped in the wake of the snow and the cold. The only thing was that we got a signal that said some driver assistance functions were unavailable because the radar sensor was obstructed. During the thaw, we knocked the ice off and was back to normal.

Although it was barely noticeable in the snow and cold, before the weather assaulted us, we noticed that the 2020 Acura RDX looked good. It had a diamond-pattern grille, what it called Jewel Eye LED headlights, a wing-shaped lower air curtain and sharp body lines with LED exterior light or illuminated door handles.

Our test vehicle had 19-inch alloy wheels, unique front and rear fascia with gloss black accents for the grille, LED fog lights, large-diameter dual exhaust finishers, side sills, upper window sash. Three was also a power tailgate and a panoramic roof.

There was a bunch of creature comforts as well as safety equipment that the weather precluded us from testing. It had adaptive cruise control, cooled front seats, and a HUD display that gave the speed, drive mode, turn-by-turn navigation and traffic signs. There was a multi-directional rearview camera as well as a 360-degree camera with overview and there were paddle shifters. We almost forgot that there was an electronic push-button shifter.

Bluetooth, satellite radio, Apple CarPlay, voice controls, a navigation system and Android Auto were part of the equipment package. There were three equipment packages. What has been branded “Acurawatch” was really safety features: collision mitigation, the adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, forward collision warning, lane departure warning and road departure mitigation.

All the equipment like 16-way power front seats and front and rear parking assist were standard. The 2020 Acura RDX SH-AWD/Advance had a base price of $47,700. Add the $995 freight charge and the total came to $48,695 as tested.

Frank S. Washington is editor of AboutThatCar.com.

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This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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