Engine – The powertrain of the 2023 Acura RDX A-Spec remains unchanged. The 2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder engine produces 272 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque (203 kW & 380 Nm). The peak torque is reached at a low 1,600 rpms and is sustained until the rpms reach 4,500. That means that the engine doesn’t feel as though it’s straining to get the 1,873 kg (4,129 lbs) body up to speed. However, there are a couple of drawbacks. Firstly, it’s not a very good sounding engine. Secondly, the RDX is not offered with any other powertrain. There is no hybrid or more powerful engine option with the RDX. The 2.0L engine is all that you get regardless of trim level.
Fuel Economy – The 2023 Acura RDX A-Spec Elite is rated for 11.3 L/100km (20.8 mpg) in a city and 9.1 L/100km (25.8 mpg) on a highway. The highway fuel economy rating is easy to achieve but the city rating is a different story. In reality, you’ll probably be getting closer to 13 L/100km. As a result, I averaged just 11.9 L/100km (19.8 MPG) during my time with this car this year. In previous years, I averaged 11.5 L/100km (20.5 MPG). Better but still not within the claimed ratings.
Transmission – The 2.0L engine is paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission. This is a really smooth shifting transmission, even if the drive mode is in Sport & the transmission is in Sport, gear changes are seamless. Taking over controls with the steering wheel mounted paddle shifters is a pretty enjoyable experience. There is a slight delay from the time you pull on a paddle to the time the transmission shifts but there are worse culprits out there.
The only slight hiccup is at slow speeds when the transmission down shifts to 2nd or 1st gear and then you immediately apply the throttle again. You can feel a bit of a shunt. Thankfully, this doesn’t happen too often.
Braking – Stopping the RDX is an easy task thanks to the firm feeling brake pedal. The brakes may feel a bit grabby to some when they’re cold and they may squeal a bit but those things go away after a couple of brake applications & the discs warm up.
Handling – Around corners is where the 2023 Acura RDX shines a bit above its competitors. Standard for the Canadian market is Super Handling All-Wheel-Drive (SH-AWD). This system can not only transfer power between the front and rear wheels but also from side to side. It uses real torque vectoring – not by applying brakes – to better rotate the SUV when driving around corners.
The steering provides good feedback to the driver and changes depending on the drive modes. In normal everyday driving, it is light for easy maneuverability. Switch to Sport mode and it becomes heavier to provide a bit more feedback to the driver.
Ride Comfort – Although this is a sporty oriented SUV, it still retains a luxurious and comfortable ride. On highways it feels stable while on city streets, it maintains its composure over potholes and cracked pavement. The front seats are a bit more plush than those found in the Mercedes GLC for example and it’s the same story in the rear seats.
Interior Space – The cabin of the Acura RDX is spacious in certain dimensions but not quite so in others. There is a bit less headroom than in the X3 or GLC 300 but the RDX has more leg room for both front and rear occupants than the German rivals. Cargo capacity in the trunk is also larger than that of the German rivals at 835 L (29.5 cu-ft) with the rear seats up and 1,668 L (58.9 cu-ft) with the rear seats folded.
Noise, Vibration, & Harshness – The RDX has a solid build feel. Nothing in the cabin rattles or squeaks when driving over rougher roads. Noises from the outside are relatively well subdued but engine noise can become intrusive once you take the rpms past 2,500. Unfortunately this is probably one of the worst sounding engines among its competitors.
For last year’s mid-cycle update, the RDX received a new front fender liner for reduced road noises and Active Sound Control (ASC) system that has been enhanced to further cancel exterior sounds from intruding into the cabin.
Odds and Ends
Pricing – For the 2023 model year, Acura tweaked the prices a bit for the Canadian market. The RDX no longer starts at around $47,000 CAD like last year’s model. Instead, it starts at $54,700 CAD ($41,750 USD, FWD). Why? Well, here in Canada, there are only two trim levels of the 2023 RDX; the A-Spec and A-Spec Platinum Elite. In the United States, the 2023 RDX is available in 5 trim levels along with the option to have it with just front-wheel-drive. But not here in Canada. Thankfully, this Platinum Elite trim, that is this demo vehicle, is only $1,000 more expensive than last year’s model at $60,100 CAD ($53,750 USD).
Gadgets – This trim of the RDX has every feature in the Acura catalog. Ultrasuede & leather upholstery, heated & ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, heated steering wheel, a head-up display with large and clear lettering, a panoramic sunroof, a power liftgate, surround view cameras, wireless phone charging and much more. Last year’s RDX also received standard wireless Apple CarPlay & wireless Android Auto along with Amazon Alexa integration.
As for the actual gadgets themselves, they all work well. My only complaint is the infotainment system. It has been improved since its introduction with the 2019 Acura RDX and it can be updated via over-the-air updates but it still is a bit cumbersome to use. The 10.2-inch infotainment screen is not a touchscreen and instead has to be used via touchpad on the center console. Thing is tough, this touchpad is a bit different than any other. Acura calls it a True Touchpad Interface which means that your touch on the pad correlates to that exact position on the screen. So if you touch the top right corner of the pad, the top right item of the screen is highlighted. There’s no need to swipe to select between menu items like every other touchpad out there. And that’s what makes this one feel so cumbersome. Your brain is not used to it. Worse yet is trying to use Android Auto or Apple CarPlay with the touchpad. These systems were designed to work with a touchscreen rather than a touchpad or even a scroll wheel.
Interior Design – The design of the cabin exudes sportiness and modernism from the Ultrasuede lined seats to the floating center console. It looks great and for the most part, every button and switch is well organized. There’s also ambient lighting throughout the cabin that can be changed from a few different colors and combinations.
Exterior Design – The RDX was given a mid-cycle update for 2022 which included a revised bumper design. It made it more in-line with its bigger brother, the MDX. The rear of the SUV is not as dramatic with just a few minor changes to the bumper.
Safety – The 2023 Acura RDX comes equipped with nearly all available safety and driver aids. Forward collision alert, lane keep, blind spot sensors, and so on are all standard features on each and every Acura RDX. The only available feature is front and rear low speed emergency braking which becomes standard on the Tech trim level.The IIHS gave the 2023 Acura RDX a Top Safety Pick+ with good scores in every category from crash tests to advanced driver aids.
Warranty – The 2023 Acura RDX has a 4 year / 80,000 km new vehicle warranty and a 5 year / 100,000 km powertrain warranty. This powertrain warranty is 6 years & 70,000 miles in the United States. For more information on Acura Canadian warranty, click here. For USA warranty information, click here.
Conclusion – Apart from the discontinued NSX, this is easily my favorite and one of the best Acura models in the lineup at the moment. The 2023 Acura RDX drives very well for what it is, it is packed with features to the brim, and it is less expensive (feature for feature) than its German rivals. There isn’t really much more you could ask for… Except for maybe a hybrid powertrain and a Type-S trim level. But that’s a story for another time.
Thank you to Acura Canada for providing the vehicle. www.Acura.ca