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2021 Acura RDX: Luxury for Less

Niel Stender

Skip the high-priced Germans in your search for a luxury SUV and check out the 2021 Acura RDX. It has all the best, premium features at a lower entry price.

What’s New for the 2021 Acura RDX

The 2021 Acura RDX is mostly a carryover model from last year aside from the newly available Performance Manufacturing Center (PMC) Edition. Hand-built alongside Acura’s NSX supercar, it shares the same Thermal Orange Pearl paint job, which is sure to raise eyebrows and sear retinas. Only 360 will be assembled at a price of $51,000. Ready this October, the RDX PMC blends A-Spec and Technology packages, which cannot be done with a garden variety RDX. A gloss black roof and exterior accents, orange interior stitching and a numbered serial plate will set this special edition apart.

2021 Acura RDX - acuranews.com

2021 Acura RDX PMC Edition – acuranews.com |  Shop 2021 Acura RDX on Carsforsale.com

Body Style

Starting Price

MSRP $38,400

Drivetrain

Drivetrain

FWD or AWD

Drivetrain

Fuel Economy

22 City / 28 Hwy (MPG)

Number of Seats

Seating

Seats 5

The Breakdown

SH-AWD imparts athleticism

Panoramic roof is standard

Look for four speakers in the headliner

AcuraWatch packs active safety features

The RDX is a value-packed luxury SUV

A-Spec package doesn’t add performance

2021 Acura RDX Specs

Trims & Pricing

Base - $38,400
Technology - $41,300
A-Spec - $44,300
Advance - $46,200

2021 Acura RDX Powertrain

2021 Acura RDX 2.0L I4 - acura.com
2021 Acura RDX 2.0L I4 - acura.com

The 2021 Acura RDX has a single powertrain consisting of a 272 horsepower, turbocharged inline-4 making 280 lb-ft of torque and paired with a 10-speed automatic. Four-wheel independent suspension and the driver-selectable modes of Snow, Comfort, Sport and Sport+ ensure confident handling while standard paddle shifters let you play F1 hero.

You can take it the next level with Super Handling All-Wheel Drive. Super Handling is a fair add-on to regular ol’ AWD due to its torque vectoring abilities. Continuously directing engine power to match weight distribution and available traction, SH-AWD can move torque to individual wheels as needed. Analyzing a variety of sensor data including wheel speed and yaw rate allows for tricks like revolving the outside rear wheel slightly faster than the others to reduce understeer and help rotate the RDX though a turn.

Towing & Payload

2021 Acura RDX - acura.com
2021 Acura RDX - acura.com

Though maybe not the mental image of a tow vehicle, the RDX will handle up to 1,500 pounds. Which is enough to pull a small trailer or a couple of jet skis around. Towing capacity is the same for either drivetrain configuration, but you will need to look aftermarket for a hitch and any equipment like sway control, as there are no trailering options or packages with the 2021 Acura RDX.

2021 Acura RDX Fuel Economy & MPG

In the standard front-wheel drive configuration, fuel economy is highest at 22 mpg around town and 28 mpg on the highway. Adding SH-AWD doesn’t bring much of a penalty here, only reducing those figures to 21 and 27 mpg, respectively. Keep in mind, premium fuel is required here, the better to keep that high-strung turbo-four running smoothly. Idle stop-start technology is in use to improve efficiency, but the 2021 Acura RDX is no flyweight at up to 4,068 pounds for a loaded A-Spec model.

Interior, Comfort, & Cargo Space

Ample cargo space in the new 2021 Acura RDX is made possible by a fold-flat second row that opens up 80 cubic feet of storage space. As for comfort, you’ll find a quiet place thanks to acoustic glass on the windshield and front door windows. Climate controlled seating is complimented by humidity control of the HVAC system to ensure just-right thermal comfort. With the Advance package, hands free capability is added to the liftgate and the backup camera gains a washing system. But even on base models, useful touches like heated exterior mirrors, an auto-dim rearview, and telescopic steering wheel are included.

2021 Acura RDX Entertainment & Technology

2021 Acura RDX - acura.com
2021 Acura RDX - acura.com

Acura collaborated with ELS Studio to create a 16-speaker, studio quality audio system, as part of the A-Spec and Advance package, that includes four components under the headliner. No matter the trim, a 10.5-inch touchscreen handles infotainment duties with a redundant, touchpad in the center console. Apple and Android software is built-in and Over-The-Air updates keep the tech humming. An identically sized HUD can display warnings to hit the brakes in addition to the typical info like speed and temperature.

Safety Features

Six driver-assistance aids are de rigueur in the 2021 Acura RDX under the AcuraWatch umbrella and includes systems like forward collision warning, collision mitigation braking, and lane keeping assist. Blind spot monitoring and parking sensors are available with certain packages. The NHTSA 5-star ranking and IIHS Top Safety Pick+ award are achieved thanks to these active systems as well as a bevy of airbags and the Advanced Compatibility Engineering body structure.

2021 Acura RDX Trims & Pricing

2021 Acura RDX Base - carsforsale.com
2021 Acura RDX Base - carsforsale.com

Base – $38,400

Technically, the 2021 Acura RDX comes in a single trim that you can add packages to and the SH-AWD system, which tacks on $2000 across the board. But given how robust each package is, they function like different trim levels. As well, the entry level RDX comes laden with features that deserve their own discussion.

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Considering the sub-$40K sticker, a new RDX is nicely equipped with 19-inch wheels, LED lighting, a panoramic sunroof, and power-operated tailgate with height adjustment capability. An acoustic windshield and active sound control ensure a serene cabin atmosphere while dual zone climate control, heated front seats, and ambient lighting keep occupants cozy.

AcuraWatch is standard and includes six driver-assistance aids like adaptive cruise control and road departure mitigation. A 10.5-inch landscape-orientation touchscreen handles infotainment duties as does the console-mounted touchpad. Apple and Android smartphone integration is embedded along with Siri EyesFree tech. There is also Wi-Fi capability with a subscription plan.

2021 Acura RDX Technology - carsforsale.com
2021 Acura RDX Technology - carsforsale.com

Technology – $41,300

For $2900 extra, the Technology package lives up to its name with rear cross-traffic monitoring, navigation with 3D graphics, and GPS-linked climate control. That last feature will track the sun and automatically adjust climate settings to ensure a pleasant cabin temperature. Seating is upgraded with perforated Milano leather and contrast stitching, while audio steps up to a 12-speaker, ELS Studio 3D system.

2021 Acura RDX A-Spec - acura.com
2021 Acura RDX A-Spec - acura.com

A-Spec – $44,300

Apex Blue Pearl is a smart looking paint job and only available with the $3,000 A-Spec package, which requires adding the Technology package as well. 20-inch wheels are mounted on meaty, 255/45 sized tires, which are complimented by unique front and rear bumpers, larger dual exhaust outlets, and smoked internals on the head and tail lamps. Racy looking A-Spec seats feature Ultrasuede trim and gain ventilation. A red theme is applied to the gauge cluster and ambient lighting, while dark brushed aluminum trim and sport pedals complete the sporty look.

2021 Acura RDX Advance- acura.com
2021 Acura RDX Advance- acura.com

Advance – $46,200

Requiring the Technology package, but not compatible with the A-Spec setup, ticking the Advance box costs an extra $4900. Adaptive suspension and front lighting make driving easier as does the 10.5-inch HUD that comes with this package. The front seats have 16-way adjustability including a thigh extender and the steering wheel picks up heating as do rear outboard seating positions. Rain-sensing wipers and an exterior surround-view camera fill out the tech list with natural olive ash burl wood trim dressing up the interior.

Warranties

Though swimming in luxury waters, the Acura RDX notably omits any complimentary maintenance. However, the powertrain is covered with a 6-year or 70,000-mile term while the vehicle itself sees 4 years/50,000 miles of coverage. Under the Acura Total Luxury Care portion of the included warranty, roadside assistance and service loaners are taken care of for the first four years or 50,000 miles of ownership.

What we think

2021 Acura RDX - acuranews.com

2021 Acura RDX – acuranews.com |  Shop 2021 Acura RDX on Carsforsale.com

The 2021 Acura RDX represents an entry into the luxury compact SUV market, at a discount to the competition with higher perceived brand cachet. Straightforward pricing and packaging makes the buying process easy and it helps that those options pack plenty of upmarket features.

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Niel Stender
Niel Stender

Niel got his start in the car world as a vehicle dynamics engineer with SVT at Ford. He still has dreams of running figure eights on the wet pad in an S197 GT500. These days, when not fending off karate kicks from the 3 tiny humans that run his household, he can be found on St. Louis backroads pretending to be Ken Block in his 6-speed Mazda 6.

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