Road Test Review – 2023 Acura RDX – Light Updates Add New Vigor To SUV

The 2023 Acura RDX is a rare breed of SUV. Unlike others in the segment that prefer to focus on hauling people and leave any notion of fun to be served as a lingering flashback in the memory of the dad that had to sacrifice his bright red Camaro for the family life, the RDX is a rare combination of fun and functionality. Oh and did we mention that it looks good too? Acura made some light tweaks to the RDX for 2023 that aim to make this luxury lined bruiser a more composed SUV but have they also diluted the RDX’s core personality in the process?


RDX Is Still A Looker

The RDX received a light refresh back in 2022 that helped polish some of its lines and remove a few of the rough edges that we noticed in older models. The front fascia is more assertive with new headlights that share some family resemblance with the bigger MDX while the shield shaped grille is bigger and more prominent than ever. The rear fascia stumbles a bit, but in a segment where attractive rear styling is hard to come by, we are willing to give the RDX a pass here.

However, it’s also hard to ignore that the RDX is facing some serious competition from a growing pool of rivals including the Genesis GV70 which has been a strong seller for Genesis and it has also managed to draw stares thanks to its own enviable suit of clothes. With this much runway competition, it can be hard for the lightly updated RDX to stand out at times, but at least our tester had a nice shade of Apex Blue paint.

The RDX’s interior also carries over mostly unchanged and in the case of our A-Spec grade tester, it comes loaded to the gills with luxury and technology. Acura’s Touchpad system is still used and while it makes navigating around the 10.2 inch touchscreen easier than Lexus’s torture device of a touchpad, it does take a bit to master and new owners are advised to get in some practice before using the pad when out on the move. The overall design of the cabin is sporty though and makes you feel like your in a sports car, but owners looking for traditional luxury elements are advised ot move to the flagship MDX model instead. Otherwise, if your a weekend racer at heart, we think that you will be very pleased with what the RDX (especially in A-Spec guise) has to offer.


RDX A-Spec Sounds Like Track Darling, Steers Like An NSX, But Where’s The Soul?

All 2023 RDXs are powered by a 2.0 liter turbocharged four-cylinder that makes 272 hp and is mated to a 10-speed automatic. Our tester managed to make the sprint to 60 mph in 6.2 seconds which puts it right in the hunt with some of the segment’s best. The engine delivers a strong exhaust note but you’ll have to stick your head out the rear window to get the true story since Acura blurs the rules by pumping fake exhaust noise through the audio system.

The steering in our tester was very precise and when paired with the Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive system (SH-AWD) it allowed the RDX to have an impressive amount of poise in the corners. It won’t hold a candle to the recently axed NSX but at least it can offer a glimpse of what that car would be like to drive every day. We wish more SUVs had this baked in demeanor, but sadly, the RDX is blunted by two key categories, the transmission and the brakes. In the case of the transmission, shifts were smooth, but there were times where we caught the 10-speed sleeping on the job when we wanted quicker downshifts and we even had a jerky upshift or two. As for the brakes, our tester suffered from excessive pedal travel which made it difficult to find the bite point of the brakes in spirited driving but this problem is not an issue in urban driving where the four-wheel disc system puts on a commendable showing in going through the daily commute.

With rumors of a Type S RDX still smoldering both in the halls of Acura and in the minds of the brand faithful, it will be interesting to see how such a model would look like if it does make the leap to production. If we had a say, we would love to see stronger brakes, a slicker transmission, and 100 percent pure exhaust note.


Value Quotient:

Pricing for the 2023 Acura RDX starts at $42,545 which will get you a base RDX in front-wheel drive. Front-wheel drive models only get three packages to choose from (RDX, Technology, and A-Spec) but go for SH-AWD like our example and you get five packages to choose from with Advance and A-Spec Advance being the two additional packages on hand.

Our A-Spec Advance tester had a base price of $54,545 with a light sprinkling of options helping to nudge the price to just under $55,000. This pricing does put it in the race with the segment and the RDX is still a potent choice when compared alongside the Genesis GV70, Audi Q5, and even the BMW X4. This is elite company and while the X4 will undoubtedly have better dynamics when pushed hard, the Acura MDX does paint a compelling picture for itself when compared against select rivals including the Genesis GV70.