Used Car Reviews

2019-2023 Acura RDX Used Vehicle Review

The third generation of Acura’s best-selling model, which went on sale in Canada for the 2019 model year, boasted what the brand described as the most extensive redesign in over a decade.

Significantly, the restyled RDX was built on a reinforced platform and featured a sport-tuned suspension optimized to match a new turbocharged engine and standard all-wheel drive (AWD). Compared to previous versions, the latest system can deliver much more torque to the rear axle – and it can do so more quickly than its predecessor. Additionally, torque-vectoring technology helps utilize the sophisticated AWD system as an additional means of steering the vehicle and enhancing handling response.

Anyone transitioning out of a small sport sedan will find the RDX’s ride, road feel, and distinctive character refreshingly familiar. All models come with a 10-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters that’s paired with 272 hp 282 lb-ft of torque.

This generation of RDX has been noted by experts and owners alike for its dynamic performance, and its prowess on snow-covered roads (with a quality set of winter tires, of course). Still, some pre-purchase cautions are highly advised.

What Owners Like

Owners tend to appreciate the RDX’s interior quality and style, as well as its sport-sedan driving feel and nicely tuned steering. The engaging drive and long list of often-optional features on competitor models help drive up the value. A strong safety story and reputation for resale value help round out the package.

What Owners Dislike

Common complaints include an often fussy touchpad-based infotainment system, and sometimes inconsistent throttle and transmission response.

Navigating Model Years

Though the RDX went through the first few years of this generation with minimal updates, shoppers should be aware that a refresh in 2022 brought more standard technology (wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Amazon Alexa functionality), added colour options, and a retuned suspension designed to further optimize both handling and ride comfort.

Brake Check

Enough RDX owners reported irritated squealing and squeaking noises from their otherwise healthy braking systems that Acura released a service bulletin in late 2019 to help technicians address the problem. This is a common complaint in modern vehicles and is often the result of poor-quality brake pads and/or rotors. When test driving the RDX you’re considering, place the back of your hand near a front brake rotor before setting off to be sure they’re cold, and haven’t been pre-warmed ahead of your test drive. Be careful, though – brake rotors can be extremely hot.

After starting your test drive, quiet the cabin and open the windows. Apply very gentle braking from about 30 km/h or so, multiple times. Both Acura and the RDX owner’s community acknowledge that the brake squeal, if present, is much more likely while the brakes are cold.

Healthy brakes should have a firm feel and pull the vehicle down from speed quickly, smoothly, and in a straight line. If anything sounds or feels unusual, book an appointment to have the vehicle seen by a technician before you buy.

Note that certified pre-owned (CPO) models are subject to rigorous quality tests, including of the braking system, before being offered for sale.

Sunroof Check

Other service bulletins issued by Acura helped instruct technicians to fix owner-reported problems, including some related to the sunroof. According to these service bulletins, test-driving shoppers have a few problems to be on the lookout for.

First, close the RDX’s sunroof and start looking for somewhere to flex the vehicle’s body a little. Pulling into a steep driveway at a sharp angle or engaging a tall speed-bump one wheel at a time (diagonally) should do the trick. This sort of situation twists the structure of the vehicle ever so slightly, coaxing out squeaks and pops in some cases.

Listen closely for a popping sound from the sunroof area, likely towards the rear of the vehicle, repeating the test several times to try and coax out the sound. If you hear it, the sunroof frame may have shifted in place, resulting in a condition that makes this popping sound permanent. The solution involves replacing the sunroof frame, as well as 20 bolts that fasten it in place.

Other complaints include loss of functionality of the sunroof and sunshade switch, so be sure to try both out on your test drive as well. If you notice a loss of automatic functionality, or a switch that doesn’t respond at all, have a technician assess the sunroof. This problem is likely electronic and not mechanical in nature, but it pays to know before you buy.

Oil Dilution

The Acura RDX owner’s community has done a good job of documenting problems with oil dilution, which can be very harmful to an engine. Some owners have reported oil dilution problems with the engines in their RDXs. Many have not. It’s not clear how widespread this problem is, or even if there’s a fix – but it does pay to be on the lookout.

Your engine has both oil and gasoline moving around inside of it, but it’s very important that these two liquids are kept separate. If gasoline enters the engine oil supply, the oil becomes diluted. This contaminated oil isn’t slippery enough to protect the engine properly, and increases wear and tear are the result.

Engine oil dilution has been documented in other modern Honda engines, and it may be more likely in cold climates or with engines frequently used for shorter trips. If the RDX you’re considering has an engine oil dilution problem, you may smell unburned gasoline in or near the vehicle, and especially when removing the engine oil dipstick. An oil level that’s above the full mark, or oil that seems to be extra runny, are both clues that this problem is at play..

Avoid a used RDX that exhibits any of these signs, and continue to monitor oil levels on a very regular basis during ownership. Report any issues to your dealer’s service department right away. There is no additive or adjustment to driving style that will fix this issue if present; contact your dealership and let the powertrain warranty do its job.

Sudden Power Loss

Enough owners reported issues with sudden and alarming power loss from their RDXs that another service bulletin was released to replace the intercooler and associated plumbing in affected models, which could allow moisture to accumulate and be drawn into the engine.

This issue seems to have affected 2019 and 2020 models before Acura introduced a revised intercooler design at the factory. Many affected owners dealt with this sudden power loss problem for months before a solution was made available.

The problem seems likely at heavy throttle and higher speeds, for instance when passing or merging. It’s caused by water drops, formed from condensation within the intercooler and associated plumbing, being drawn into the engine, causing a misfire and putting the engine into limp mode.

This loss of power could result in a collision, though there’s no official safety recall for it, only a service bulletin instructing dealers to replace intercoolers and plumbing and reflash the engine’s computer. Typically, this problem is reported at lower mileage, so it’s covered under warranty. Ask if the 2019 or 2020 RDX you’re considering has ever experienced this problem, or been repaired for it.

Other service bulletins deal with misfires, sloppy idle, rough acceleration, and other driveability-related concerns from the driveline, with some requiring an oil change and software update to correct. To protect yourself from potential trouble, opt for a model sold as part of a CPO program at an Acura dealership, opt for any available extended warranty coverage, and be sure the RDX you’re considering is running the latest software updates for its driveline and related systems.

Note that while the RDX is capable of over-the-air (OTA) updates, these only apply to its infotainment system, not its drive systems.

Flat Tire Repairs

To avoid nasty surprises in the event of a flat tire, it pays to know what sort of emergency mobility provisions your vehicle comes with – a spare tire or inflator kit. When buying a used vehicle, checking the condition of these parts can prevent unpleasant surprises, too.

The Acura RDX you’re considering likely has an inflator kit, not a spare tire. If you suffer a puncture, the inflator kit may allow you to repair the tire on the roadside (without removal) so you can drive immediately to a tire shop for a replacement tire.

If you blow a sidewall, the inflator kit will leave you stranded, as it’s designed to repair punctures. Here, you’ll need a temporary or full-size spare to continue your trip.

Consider your experience and locale, and then consider the spare tire or mobility provisions in the RDX you’re considering. If you need a temporary or full-size spare for your new-to-you RDX, your dealer may be able to set you up with one (or both) as accessories.

Safety Ratings

IIHS: Top Safety Pick+ (2019)

NHTSA: 5/5 Stars (2019)

Here’s a list of recalls.