4 Acura RDX Years You Really Need To Avoid

The Acura RDX is a great choice for anyone for a used luxury crossover, but not all RDXs are created equal. Here are the Acura RDX years to avoid.

acura rdx years to avoid 1 4 Acura RDX Years You Really Need To Avoid

What are the worst model years for the Acura RDX?

Acura has always had a great reputation when it comes to reliability and the RDX is no exception. While most model years of the RDX are very good, the models that should be avoided are the 2013, 2016, 2019, and 2020 RDXs. These versions of the RDX received by far the most complaints from owners. 

Luckily, trusted websites like KBB, Consumer Reports, and carcomplaint.com all track valuable data on how well these cars hold their value, what kind of complaints they receive, and what the common issues are. With my own expertise and the data collected by these websites, I’ve determined that these are by far the worst model years for the Acura RDX.

Acura RDX Overview

The Acura RDX is a compact luxury crossover produced by Acura. Beginning production in 2006, the RDX has spanned three generations with the first lasting from the 2007 to the 2012 model years, the second generation lasting from 2013- 2018, and the current third generation starting in 2019.

Initially sharing a platform with the Honda CR-V and Civic, the first generation was incredibly reliable and came standard with a 4-cylinder turbocharged engine, all-wheel drive, leather seats, and a moonroof.

In 2010 the first-gen RDX was given a facelift, incorporating Acura’s more modern design philosophy and adding the option for front-wheel drive.

Also sharing a platform with the Honda CR-V, the second generation RDX kicked off with the 2013 model year, and it featured a more powerful and fuel-efficient 6-cylinder engine as well as impressive technology like a keyless entry, push to start, a review camera, and hands-free Bluetooth calling all standard.

The third and current generation RDX was introduced in 2019 and featured its own brand new platform, developed by Acura specifically for the RDX.  

Offering a sportier design, impressive power and fuel efficiency, and more standard tech like Acura’s new True Touch Pad Interface infotainment system, Wi-Fi hotspot, and compatibility with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

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What Acura RDX Years Should I Avoid?

Overall, I think it is important to state that Acura, being Honda’s luxury division, has a great reputation when it comes to reliability. In fact, RDXs are consistently ranked as some of the most likely cars to reach 300,000 miles.

That being said, there are a few years from each generation that had a few more issues than the others, so here are the Acura RDX model years to avoid.

2019 and 2020 Acura RDX

Being the first model year of the next generation RDX most people had high expectations for the new and improved model. Unfortunately, though the 2019 RDX really delivered in a lot of areas, it has also received by far the most complaints from owners when compared to all other RDX model years. 

Most of these complaints had to do with a particularly dangerous engine problem, as well as, issues with the brakes and infotainment system. 

Unfortunately, most of the issues with the 2019 model persisted into the 2020 model as well, however, they did seem to improve the car marginally. The 2020 model received a little less than half the number of complaints as the 2019 model according to carcomplaints.com.

Engine Problems

The biggest and most dangerous problem reported by 2019 RDX owners has to do with the engine suddenly entering “limp mode” and losing power. Imagine being on the highway traveling at 65 mph when suddenly the engine loses power and reduces your speed to 25. This is what many 2019 RDX owners reported experiencing. 

This most likely happens because of a faulty sensor telling the engine that something isn’t working properly causing the engine to enter “limp mode” in an attempt to prevent any further damage.

Still, this is an incredibly dangerous problem that could easily cause a deadly accident and the number one reason you should avoid the 2019 RDX.

Infotainment System

Another big source of complaints about the 2019 RDX is the infotainment system. Many people reported that the system is incredibly unreliable and inconsistent, constantly freezes, and stops working altogether. 

This is not only incredibly annoying but if the infotainment system freezes or otherwise malfunctions, this denies the driver access to any sort of music, navigation, and hands-free calling, the latter two being necessary for safety reasons. 

Squeaky Brakes

Another problem that the 2019 RDX has is its squeaky brakes. Many drivers have complained about the fact that their RDX’s brakes started making a loud squeaking sound within as little as the first 400 miles driven. 

When brought to the Aura dealership to be fixed many owners reported being told that Acura simply hadn’t figured out how to fix the problem yet and there was nothing that they could do. 

However, there have been no complaints about the RDX’s brakes failing completely, so this is only an issue of noise and not a safety concern.

DENSO Fuel Pump Recall

In May 2020 the 2019 RDX was also affected by a fuel pump recall that rocked the whole automotive industry. DENSO, an international manufacturer of car components issued a recall on 2 million of their low-pressure fuel pumps.

Essentially, these fuel pumps were found to have some internal defects that could cause the pumps to crack or otherwise deform, preventing the pump from supplying the right amount of fuel to the engine consistently. 

This could often cause the engine to lose power and stall out. 

This is an incredibly dangerous fault as stalling out while at high speeds on the highway could easily lead to a life-threatening crash. 

In the end, this recall affected cars from Toyota, Subaru, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Ford, and, of course, Honda, which had to recall over 700,000 vehicles, including the 2019 RDX. 

While it was recalled and owners could get the part replaced for free it is still something important to be aware of if you are thinking about buying the 2019 model. Make sure that you can confirm the part was replaced before you make any decisions.

2016 Acura RDX

After the 2019 and 2020 RDXs, the 2016 is the next worst model that should be avoided. According to carcomplaints.com, it received the third most complaints after the aforementioned model years. The most common issues reported about the 2016 RDX are with the brakes, electronics, and transmission. 

Brake Problems

Quite similar to the 2019 and 2020 models, the 2016 has also been reported to have incredibly squeaky brakes that start to make noise within the first 10,000 miles of driving the car. Though the problem can be fixed by buying new brake pads and rotors, this oftentimes wouldn’t permanently fix the issue with some owners reporting no improvement at all.

Battery Issues

The second biggest complaint from 2016 RDX owners is that they’ve had problems with the batteries of their vehicles draining unacceptably quickly.

Many reported that their cars wouldn’t start because their battery had died, with many complaining that they’ve had to replace their battery almost every year since they bought the car. 

One of the potential causes of this problem is the RDX’s hands-free unit which has been reported to fail over time. When this malfunction occurs, the hands-free unit is essentially never powered off, even when the rest of the car is, draining all the power from the battery in the process. 

Acura has not issued a recall to address this problem and one owner reported they had to pay $1300 dollars to replace the hands-free unit in order to solve the problem.

Transmission Troubles

A few 2016 RDX owners have complained about their cars not being very responsive and hesitating to accelerate, most likely due to a faulty transmission. Most complaints occurred after reaching 65,000 miles driven, however, some owners experienced this issue much early on in the lifespan of their RDXs.

2013 Acura RDX

The last Acura RDX model that should really be avoided is the 2013 model year. While not having nearly as many issues as the 2019 or 2020 model, this year still experienced quite a few problems mostly having to do with the suspension, battery, and interior deterioration.

Problems With The Suspension

The most common problem with the 2013 RDX has to do with the suspension. Lots of owners complained that the suspension made lots of noise and felt shaky while going over bumps in the road. The rear suspension was specifically mentioned by a few owners as being particularly noisy and shaky.

Battery Problems

Just like the 2016 model year, the 2013 model also has problems with the battery dying very quickly, although the source of this problem seems to be unclear. 

Whatever the issue that causes the battery to drain, many owners complained that their batteries would die in mere months with one owner reporting that his battery died within just 5 days of driving it off the lot.

Interior Deterioration

Another unfortunate problem with the 2013 RDX is that many of the surfaces of the interior have been reported to deteriorate and deform quickly. Lots of owners complained that the leather of their seats faded and wore down within the first 10,000 miles of driving. 

Other owners noted that the sun visors felt cheap and broke easily, which doesn’t bode well for a luxury brand.

Takata Airbag Inflators Recall

One important issue to be aware of that affected every Acura RDX model year from 2007 through 2016 was the Takata Airbag Inflator Recall.  This recall was the biggest automotive recall in the history of the U.S. and it affected over 100 million cars made by numerous automakers. 

Basically, the chemical that Takata used to inflate the airbag was prone to becoming unstable if exposed to changes in temperature and humidity. If this occurred the airbag would explode with enough force to blow up the whole gas canister which would send flying pieces of metal into the cabin with enough speed to injure and even kill the occupants. 

To this day these exploding airbags have been responsible for at least 15 deaths and over 250 injuries in the U.S.

That being said the recall allowed all owners of these vehicles to replace the faulty airbags for free. Depending on the particular RDX you end up buying, the faulty airbags may have already been replaced. 

Still, this is something to be aware of if you are thinking of buying a used RDX from one of these model years. You should make sure to find out if the previous owner of your vehicle had the airbag replaced or not before you decide to buy.

Key Takeaways

  • The 2019 Acura RDX is by far the worst model year and should be avoided at all costs.
  • Other Acura RDX years that should be avoided are 2020, 2016, and 2013.
  • The most common issues experienced involve loss of engine power, excessive battery drainage, infotainment system problems, and squeaky brakes.
  • Though these are the absolute worst years, the best Acura RDX model years are incredible vehicles.

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