2021 Acura RDX AWD Advance


The Acura RDX is Acura’s smallest SUV. It is a compact luxury SUV that is a good all round performer and has best in class safety features. For the 3rd generation of its RDX, Acura switched from a V6 to a turbocharged I4 though horsepower and torque for the V6 and turbo I4 are similar at 279 hp and 252 lbft for the 2018 RDX versus 272 hp and 280 left in the 2021 RDX. Acura has also gone with a 10 speed transmission in the 3rd generation RDX.

Acura also reverted to the 1st generations SH-AWD. SH-AWD stands for Super Handling - All Wheel Drive. It not only shifts up to 70% of the torque from front to rear axle but it can also shift up to 100% of the torque flowing to the rear axle to a single wheel. This ability to shif so much torque to a single back wheel greatly improves stability and handling.

The SH-AWD and increased torque make the 2021 RDX 1/10 of a second faster in 0 to 60, at 6.1 seconds. Top speed though is 5 mph slower at 130 mph. The 2021 model however significantly increases technology as decribed below. Luxury is also improved on the Advance trim package with Napa leather and open pore olive wood trim.

The base model RDX starts at $39,225 including destination. AWD is available in all trims for an additional $2,000. There are 5 primary trim levels: Base, Technology, A-Spec, and Advance. An AWD Advance is $49,725 including destination. Dealer added accessories can take the price even higher. However, even at $50,000+ the RDX is a bargain, because a similary equipped Lexus, Infiniti, Audi, BMW, or Mercedes would be well over $55,000.

For 2021 there was also a limited run of 360, Thermal Orange PMC Editions. These RDX’s had all the options of both the Advance and A-Spec packages and were hand assembled and painted at the factory that produces Acura NSXs and cost $54,020.

Our RDX is an AWD Advance with some dealer accessories. It is Platinum White Pearl with an Ebony Napa leather and olive wood interior. It has power seats (14 way driver and passenger) with driver memory, heating and cooling for the front seats, heating for the rear seats, dual zone climate control, power locks and windows, a touchless power liftgate, keyless entry and a panoramic moon roof. For 2021, the sound proofing was also upgraded and both the front and driver and front passenger windows are acostic glass.

The technology was significantly enhanced on the 3rd generation. Beyond the safety features discussed below, the Advance package includes a 10.2 Navigation display with real time traffic, Apple Car Play and Android Auto. It also and heads up display with traffic sign reading. Finally, the sound system was significantly upgraded and is now an Elliot Shiner 3D audio system with 710 watts and 16 speakers, including 4 in the headliner.

The RDX still leads its class in safety features. Auto-dimming side mirrors and LED headlights, with high beam auto-dimming, aid nighttime driving greatly. Front and rear parking sensors, including corners, coupled with the 360 view camera and rear cross traffic alert, make parking safer. The real “advance” though is in radar and camera controlled featured. Many luxury SUVs will notify one when they drift out of a lane. However, the RDX will actually take over the steering from the driver and keep between the lines at highway speeds. Most SUVs have cruise control and many luxury SUVs have advanced cruise control that keeps a constant distance behind the car in front. The RDX though offers collision mitigation and will actually apply the brakes for the driver, if it detects an imminent collision. It even includes pedestrian detection to apply the brakes if someone walks out from between parked cars or attempts to cross a street when the light is green. these and other safety techologies make the RDX a top pick by the IIHS.

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Richard Murphy 2013-2021