Stick Shift: 2020 Acura RDX A-Spec

While many compact-luxury mash-ups like to keep you guessing between sporty and luxury, the Acura RDX couldn’t be more clear in its mission. Take one look, climb aboard for just one second, and the message is crystal. The Acura RDX A-Spec is here to provide fun for the senses first. Luxury comes second. As first impression are the longest lasting, this little Acura makes it count with super strong visuals from nose to tail. Continuing from its major redesign in 2019, it retains its strong proportions, sharp angular features and muscled bodywork. 

This is where the A-Spec trim really delivers. Big 20” alloy wheels balance with the size and sporty flair of the exterior perfectly. A nicely sculpted front grille settles in between two beautiful Jewel Eye LED headlights. On the inside, the A-Spec package grants flashy red leather-trimmed sport seats with ultra suede inserts. They compliment the sharp black headliner nicely. Front seats get ventilation as well as heating in this trim as well. On the whole, the interior matches the general theme of the RDX. It’s sporty before luxurious in every way. 

 A large rotary dial controls the infotainment system. It dominates the floating center console. A design choice that not only looks great, but that also offers great storage underneath. Nothing looks or feels cheap. The layout is clean and void of unnecessary clutter. The driving position is high enough to satisfy most crossover consumers while still appealing to the driving enthusiasts as well. 

The A-Spec package is purely visual, not actually adding any meaningful performance upgrades. Which is a shame. Still, the RDX comes equipped with an eager little 4-cylinder turbo. This engine is bolted to a 10-speed automatic transmission. For the liveliest driving experience, be sure to use the paddle shifters and ’S’ driving mode, where gears are held longer and downshifts happen quicker. With extra sharp steering for a crossover, the Acura RDX is, you guessed it, sporty first, luxurious second. It’s a lot of fun to toss around, and handles the abuse better than one would expect. The AWD option helps to take things a step further.

The turbo VTEC engine may not offer blistering acceleration, but with 272 hp, it can be poked and prodded into playing hard enough. In the wake of so many recent changes, 2020 ushers in an extra color option in the form of Platinum White. But not much else. I for one am OK with that. Though not perfect, the newest RDX will continue to be a top seller for Acura. It looks great, has a playful character and sportiness in spades with the A-Spec package. Fingers crossed for more power down the road.

Price as tested: $46,795.00

By: Brandon Randall

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