Acura RDX In Snow & Winter Driving? (Explained)

The RDX not only tops Acura’s sales charts, it’s also one of the best-selling small luxury SUVs. 

It’s fun to drive, spacious, refined, and has a strong reputation for reliability. 

But how good is it as a daily driver in the winter when there’s lots of snow?

Read on to find out…

Here is the short answer to whether the Acura RDX is good for snow and winter driving:

The Acura RDX is the perfect choice for winter driving and is good in snow thanks to its generous 8.2″ ground clearance, Super-Handling AWD, and many safety features. It has Stability Assist, ABS, Traction Control, and a Snow Mode which means you can safely drive on snow-covered roads, ice, and slush.

Is the RDX Good in the Snow?

The Acura RDX has the two most important things you’ll need to deal with harsh winters: good ground clearance and an excellent All-Wheel Drive system. 

With a ride height of 8.2 inches, the RDX can easily traverse unplowed roads and do some light off-roading when you need it to.

Acura’s Super Handling All-Wheel Drive system has been praised as one of the best systems available and greatly enhances stability on snow and ice by intelligently sending power to all four wheels.

Front-wheel drive models aren’t the optimal choice for such conditions, however will still perform well due to the weight of the engine sitting over the driven wheels which provides plenty of grip.

If you regularly drive through deep snow and ice-covered roads, the AWD models will offer significantly more traction and driver confidence.

The RDX also comes with a plethora of advanced driver aids and safety features such as stability and traction control, ABS, torque vectoring, and a dedicated Snow Mode.

Models from 2016 onward have all received the Top Safety Pick+ award from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, scoring near perfect results for various safety and crashworthiness tests.

All these attributes make the Acura RDX an extremely well-mannered and sure-footed winter vehicle. 

What Features Will Improve Winter Driving?

Detailed below are some of the features that make the RDX a great winter vehicle.

Super Handling All-Wheel Drive

SH AWD actively distributes power front to rear and side to side which makes driving on slippery surfaces easier.

  • This means you’ll find it much easier to get moving since AWD turns four wheels instead of two, therefore theres more available traction.
  • When grip is low you can accelerate better, with less or even no tire slippage, the vehicle feels stable and doesn’t slip or fishtail.

What sets it apart from other AWD systems is the addition of rear-axle torque vectoring – that’s the Super Handling bit – to add a measure of performance to its vehicles, although this is designed to give a boost to dry-road handling.

SH-AWD is exclusive to Acura vehicles and is not available in other Hondas.

Traction Control

Traction Control helps your wheels grip the road better by preventing wheelspin when driving on slippery surfaces.

When the system detects that the wheels are ‘over-spinning’, it will automatically apply the brakes and limit engine power.

It is most effective when:

  • Accelerating from a stationary or slowed position
  • When trying to accelerate up a slippery hill

If stuck in snow or mud the traction control can be disabled at the press of a button, you’ll also want to disable it if you install tire chains.

Vehicle Stability Assist

Vehicle Stability Assist is a great safety feature in the winter when roads are slippery – should the system detect understeer or oversteer i.e. loss of control, it will respond by:

  • Sending power from the front to rear
  • Applying brakes to individual wheels
  • Limiting the flow of fuel to the engine

The aim is to stabilize the vehicle and correct its trajectory, the response is so quick that the instability may be corrected before you even know it’s occurring.

This system utilizes various sensors which assess:

  • Vehicle speed
  • Throttle position
  • Individual wheel speeds
  • Steering angle

Integrated Dynamics System

The Acura RDX has a Dynamic Mode dial that allows you to switch between different driving modes. 

The RDX has 4 Driving Modes:

  • Comfort – This is the standard vehicle setting that provides maximum steering assist
  • Sport – Increases throttle response and rear-wheel torque bias; and decreases the steering assist to make you feel more connected to the road
  • Sport+ – Gives you additional throttle responses and makes the transmission shift map more aggressive
  • Snow – Reduces throttle sensitivity and makes the vehicle start in a higher gear to minimize wheelspin on slippery surfaces

With different driving modes at your disposal, you can adjust the RDX’s driving characteristics based on the situation at hand. 

Anti-Lock Braking System

During hard braking or on slippery surfaces, a driver may apply a braking force that is greater than the tires capacity to grip.

If this happens the wheels can ‘lock up’, causing the vehicle to skid out of control.

By preventing this lock-up the vehicle stops sooner and remains under the driver’s control.

The ABS system on the RDX provides this assistance by releasing and then reapplying or ‘pumping’ the brakes, 100’s of times a second.

Sensors on each wheel are used to detect ‘locking’.

Electronic Brake Force Distribution

EBD ensures the right amount of brake force is applied to each wheel, this helps significantly reduce the risk of:

  • Wheels slipping
  • Fishtailing
  • Oversteering
  • Understeering

Since braking is more effective on vehicles with EBD, you will also notice a reduction in stopping distance.

Brake Assist System

Brake Assist is designed to help drivers apply the vehicle’s full braking force in a panic-stop situation.

It does this by detecting extreme force on the brake pedal and then ensures the vehicle comes to a stop in the shortest possible distance.

Related: 6 Most Common Acura RDX Problems (Explained)

Heated Seats, Steering Wheel and Side Mirrors

The Acura RDX comes standard with heated side mirrors to improve visibility in cold weather. 

Heated front seats are also available on all trim levels. The Advance Package adds heated rear seats and a heated steering wheel. 

Once you’ve experienced this kind of luxury you won’t want to back to anything that isn’t heated.

Remote Start

The Acura RDX can be equipped with Remote Engine Start by the dealer. 

This allows you to start the engine and turn on the heater from up to 328 feet away using the key fob or through the AcuraLink app on your smartphone. 

With the remote start option, you won’t have to wait for the cabin to warm up when you first climb into the vehicle.

It can also help thaw out doors that have been frozen shut when it’s left outside in the freezing cold. 

Collision Mitigation Braking System

Accidents are more common in the winter for various reasons such as poor visibility and lack of tire grip.

Acura’s Collisions Mitigation Braking System aims to minimize these risks by helping drivers avoid frontal collisions.

The system works in three stages:

  • STAGE 1: If the system determines there is a risk of collision with a vehicle or pedestrian detected ahead, it will issue visual and audible alerts to the driver.
  • STAGE 2: If the risk of a collision increases and the driver takes no action, the system will continue the visual and audible alerts, and begin to apply light braking.
  • STAGE 3: If the system determines that a collision is unavoidable, it will continue the visual and audible alerts, and apply strong braking to help mitigate the forces of the collision.

You may also be interested in our article: How Long Do Acura RDX Last?

Does the Acura RDX Have Snow Mode?

The Acura RDX comes with a dedicated Snow Mode that’s perfect for driving on slippery roads – this can be enabled using the Dynamic Mode dial on the center console. 

Snow Mode reduces wheelspin by reducing throttle sensitivity and adjusting the transmission settings so it starts off at a higher gear to reduce the torque that’s sent to the wheels. 

The car defaults to Comfort Mode every time you start it.

Can You Install Additional Snow Gear on an Acura RDX?

The Acura RDX can easily be fitted with special snow gear and winter accessories such as:

  • Winter tires
  • Tire chains
  • Snow socks
  • Studded tires
  • Engine block heater
  • Roof racks
  • Snowboard racks

Acura recommends installing tire chains only on the front wheels because mounting them to the rear wheels can damage the wheel wells and brake lines. 

You should always check your state laws before using tire chains or studded tires.

How Much Snow Can an Acura RDX Handle?

The Acura RDX has pretty good ground clearance for a compact SUV at 8.2 inches. 

It can easily drive through 7 inches of snow and although it can handle much more we wouldn’t advise it.

Driving through deep snow that touches the underside of the vehicle is not recommended because it can damage the underbody components and increases your risk of getting stuck.

How Does the Acura RDX Handle Low Winter Temperatures?

Acura and its parent company, Honda, are highly regarded for their reliability. 

The Acura RDX also uses an extremely reliable direct-injected 16-Valve, 2.0-Liter turbocharged engine, so you won’t have to worry about poor performance and sudden breakdowns in the middle of winter.

If you want to make sure the RDX runs flawlessly in freezing temperatures, here are a few things you can do:

  • Switch to cold weather-rated engine oil and antifreeze
  • Install an engine block heater
  • Keep it garaged and use a battery tender
  • Install the remote start option
  • Clean out any corrosion that forms on the battery terminals

Acura dealers offer engine block heaters as an optional accessory for the RDX so you don’t have to worry about voiding your warranty.

You may also be interested in our article: Range Rover in Snow & Winter Driving

Can an Acura RDX Drive on Ice?

The Acura RDX can drive on ice reasonably well thanks to its advanced AWD and traction control systems, studded tires will provide the best traction for such conditions.

When driving on ice you should be extra cautious: avoid harsh braking and acceleration or aggressive steering; reduce your speed smoothly and use brakes gently.

Keep in mind that stopping distances can be ten times longer when driving on ice,

What About Older RDX Models And Winter Driving?

The first model year of the RDX goes back to 2007.

The first and second-generation models use the same platform as the Honda CR-V, unlike the latest generation which uses its own platform that’s built from the ground up.

These older RDXs will have much of the same winter and snow driving capabilities as the latest generation and they all use a similar SH-AWD system.

They also have many of the same driver aids such as Vehicle Stability Assist, ABS and Traction Control making them extremely capable in the snow.

Do Acura RDXs Need Snow Tires?

If you only have to deal with a handful of light snow days in the winter, you can keep using the stock all-season tires all year long.

For harsher winters though, you’ll definitely need to equip your RDX with a good set of winter tires.

Winter tires are proven to significantly improve handling and stopping distances in winter driving conditions.

  • The compound is made to grip the road better in lower temperatures as it remains soft and flexible in cold weather.
  • The tread pattern is designed to push the snow out from underneath the tire.

Can You Mount A Snow Plow on an Acura RDX?

We don’t recommend mounting a snow plow on your RDX.

Not only will it damage your bumper and body panels, it will also wear out the drivetrain much faster and will likely invalidate its warranty.

Resources

https://www.acura.com/rdx

https://enginepatrol.com/how-long-acura-rdx-last/

https://www.motortrend.com/features/best-selling-luxury-vehicles-2020

https://owners.acura.com/vehicles/information/2020/RDX/features/Collision-Mitigation-Braking-System