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Honda engineers used a mixed-materials strategy to create the RDX’s stiff body structure. (Acura)

What We’re Driving: 2020 Acura RDX

Best-selling Acura a satisfying package despite some user-interface fussiness.

Acura’s RDX midsize crossover has established itself as an industry benchmark in body engineering, vehicle dynamics, cabin design and related metrics. All this basic goodness has helped this 2-row SUV to be Acura’s best-selling model. The 2020 edition mainly carries over from last year’s all-new product so there’s plenty to applaud – and a few things left for engineers to amend.

For the 2020 North American Utility of the Year judging, I spent time in an all-wheel-drive RDX stickered at more than $48,000. It was equipped with the ‘Advance’ package—pretty much what customers wanting posh seating and audio would order, plus head-up display and foot-swoosh liftgate operation. The RDX’s powertrain continues to impress: the 272-hp (202-kW) turbocharged 2.0-L four mated with Honda’s own 10-speed automatic transaxle and the company’s ‘super handling’ SH-AWD driveline provide responsive thrust and reassuring grip on a multitude of road surfaces, particularly on slick pavement.

But I’ve yet to drive a Honda 10-speed that I felt was perfectly calibrated, and the one in the RDX tester needed more cal attention. Throttle tip-in felt lazy, as did the CUV’s willingness to deliver lower gear ratios when needed on some freeway on-ramp accelerations.

The RDX’s cockpit appears overly busy at first, but the HMI is easy to learn and acclimate to. Well, mostly. While Honda’s brief march away from any audio-control knobs has been somewhat remedied, driver frustration is now ensured by the Acura’s control touchpad. The device is simply a poor-functioning novelty in a vehicle that has no use for such things.

2020 Acura RDX

Base price:         $38,595
As tested:           $48,695
Highs:                 Superb overall package
Lows:                  Another reason to abandon touchpad controls                  
The takeaway:   Class benchmark in many areas

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