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How Well Does A Acura RDX Drive In The Snow? (Explained)

When you are looking for something reliable in snow, the Acura RDX is on the potential list. However, you need to know a couple of things about this car when driving it in winter conditions. In a nutshell:

Acura RDX is one of the best driving vehicles in the snow if paired with good snow tires. It comes with two types of drive systems *-(FWD and the AWD(. The front-wheel-drive is okay in the snow; however, the SH-AWD does wonders on slippery terrains. The RDX comes equipped with Vehicle Stability Assistance, which is exceptional in providing the RDX with grip.

However, that doesn’t tell the whole story; it’s just the tip of the iceberg. We have all the aspects discussed in detail, and below we’ll start with a selection of curated comments from owners about the performance of Acura RDX in snowy conditions. After that, we’ll take a deep dive into this SUV’s specifics, such as tires, drive systems, and electronic support systems.

Finally, we’ll talk about the ground clearance, the weight distribution, and the wheelbase. We’ll finish with a few suggestions for optional traction devices that can provide even more grip. Read on!

Note: If you are looking to buy one of these, you might also want to look into our researched analysis on how many miles it will last you before going to heaven. You can check that out here.

Also read: 14 Common Problems Of An Acura RDX

Experience Of Acura RDX Owners

The verdict is unanimous; the RDX is a beast in the snow, especially with the optional AWD. We looked at several forums and opinion columns, and we must say that RDX owners absolutely love this car. In fact, many owners felt “thrilled” while driving the RDX in snow, which says a lot about its drivability in snow.

Although the RDX owners rave about its Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) capability, and the FWD RDX also gets the owner’s approval for handling, it is recommended to have snow tires. The Acura RDX is a superior handling crossover, and the following owner reviews vouch for that.

The RDX is a beast in all winter conditions. From ice, slush, or 16 inches of snow in the mountain passes. But it has its downside. For example, stopped at a light on ice, the RDX sends most of the power to the front wheels; they start to slip, and rather than split the power better, it cuts the power before sending more to the rear.

Turn off VSA, and it pulls away a lot quicker. Go easy on the throttle, and it’s fine. This is a design flaw in the RDX’S FWD biased SHAWD all the other SH-AWD equipped vehicles to transfer the power to the rear quicker. Overall it’s a beast in the winter. And handles the worst conditions you’ll find in comfort and control.


 live in the country, and the RDX was amazing when driving in 6-12in of snow! Of course, good winter tires are a must but paired with the SH-AWD system; I find the RDX to be amazing in the snow


I’m in upstate NY (where they just closed part of the NY thruway). I posted on Oct 28 about excellent handling in snow. I don’t want to be smart-alecky in my answer, but you shouldn’t be taking fast turns in snowy conditions. I have since put on snow tires, and handling is even better, but snow is snow.


Also read: Types Of Gas A Acura RDX Takes (All Generations)

Does Acura RDX Have Snow Tires?

You get the P235/55R19 all-season tires from the factory, which can do pretty good in all types of weather for sure, but they can’t give traction when you are driving in snow. No matter what systems you have integrated to prevent your wheels from sliding, you will suffer in winter without snow tires.

If you live in a region that sees a lot of snow, then make sure to put on nice snow tires so the wheels will remain happy with their relationship with the road. Otherwise, they will block their connection with it, and you will lose signal from the road, which will cost you a lot of time.

Why should you go with the snow tires?

Well, snow tires have the following characteristics that make them suitable in heavy snow to black ice, and everything in between that winter has to offer.

The Tread Rubber

Extreme cold temperatures cause the tread rubber of an all-season or summer tire to stiffen and become less able to provide sufficient traction. To combat this, the tread rubber compounds of winter tires are composed such that they remain flexible, allowing the tire to grip the road better.

Tread Depth and Patterns

Unique to snow tires are deeper tread depths and unique tread patterns. Deeper tread depths reduce snow buildup and thus provide better traction on the snow. The tread patterns, too, are designed to channel snow and slush and expel water.

Biting Edges

Snow tires have many biting edges and high densities of small slits that increase the tread surface area, thus increasing grip in wet, icy, and snowy conditions.

Have Snow Tires Equipped As Soon As Possible

If you want to buy snow tires, we advise you to use Tirerack. They have a great tool that allows you to find the perfect fit for your exact model, so you won’t have to worry about fitment issues. Furthermore, they also offer free shipping on most of their orders. Check out their store here!

What Drive System Does An Acura RDX Have?

Front-Wheel Drive

The most commonly used drivetrain is FWD, in which power from the engine is transferred to the front wheels, which then essentially pulls the vehicle. With the engine’s weight essentially on the front wheels, FWD vehicles tend to have much better traction on snow, have better fuel economy, and produce less carbon dioxide emissions.

All Wheel Drive

In an All-Wheel drivetrain, engine power is transferred to both the front and rear wheels. However, unlike 4WD, AWD distributes power based on the weight of each wheel. The Acura RDX uses Super Handling AWD, which uses sensors to monitor and alter power distribution according to the situation continually. With need-based power transfer to each wheel, traction and handling of the vehicle are greatly improved.

Also read: The Exact Bolt Pattern Of An Acura RDX

What Electronics System Helps The Acura RDX In The Snow?

Vehicle Stability Assist® (VSA®)12 with Traction Control and Motion Adaptive Steering

The Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA) is a standard feature in all MDX. To help maintain control in spirited or emergency driving situations, the Vehicle Stability Assist™ (VSA®) with traction control and motion adaptive steering system continually monitors vehicle speed, throttle position, individual wheel speeds, steering angle, lateral g-force, and rate of change of angular velocity to detect oversteer or understeer.

The VSA system works differently in SH-AWD and FWD. In SH-AWD versions, VSA initially engages by using the SH-AWD to redirect power among the wheels to prevent instability. The next step, the initial step for front-drive models, involves reducing the engine’s torque and using the ABS to apply brakes to each wheel as needed to help stabilize the vehicle.

The response in all cases is often so quick that the instability may be corrected even before the driver realizes that it is occurring.

Also read: The Exact Towing Capacity Of An Acura RDX (And More..)

Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS)

One of the earliest safety features to be introduced in vehicles, the Anti-Lock Braking System, is now a standard feature in all cars. When emergency brakes are applied in non-ABS vehicles, more often than not, the wheels get locked, the car then skids and the driver no longer has control of the car.

On the contrary, wheel sensors in ABS systems detect the onset of tire lock and repeatedly apply and release the brake, thus preventing the tires from skidding.

Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD)

While braking, the weight of the vehicle shifts across its four wheels. Therefore, it is likely that during hard braking, the momentum of the vehicle will keep it moving at a faster speed than the speed at which the wheels are rotating. The result is a loss of traction between the tires and the road surface.

Whereas ABS functions to prevent wheel locking under emergency braking, EBD ensures the right braking force for every wheel to bring it to a complete halt.

Brake Assist

Based on research carried out by Mercedes-Benz, 90% of drivers fail to brake with enough force when faced with an emergency. The Brake Assist feature was the result of this study. In this feature, the system continually measures and monitors the normal braking behavior of a driver.

When the speed and force with which the brake pedal is pushed diverts from this pattern, the system determines that the driver is trying to execute an emergency stop. And if the brake pedal is not fully applied, the system takes over, and full brakes are applied until the anti-lock braking system (ABS) takes over to stop the wheels from locking up.

Weight Distribution

The curb weight is important because it impacts the performance and safety of the vehicle.

Lighter cars have better fuel economy, respond quicker to acceleration, and have better performance. Heavier cars are safer, provide better protection to the occupants when involved in a crash, and have better road traction.

A more important spec is the weight distribution. It impacts several key performance parameters such as response to acceleration/deceleration, cornering stability. Ideally, while braking, the weight distribution should be equal on all four tires.

Normally, the weight distribution differs in each trim level, and on top of that can differ even among the same trim levels due to different packages and add ons.

2021 ModelsWeight Distribution F/R
RDX All Wheel Drive57/43
RDX PMC Edition57/43

This is on the better side of the spectrum, which has greatly improved the RDX’s winter capabilities.

Ground Clearance (in): 5.7

When deciding on buying a vehicle to drive in snow, ground clearance is an important aspect. Ground clearance is the distance between the chassis and the ground and is one of the basic dimensions of any vehicle. Lower ground clearance means more likelihood of the underbelly of the car scratching against the ground.

The low ground clearance can be a major issue if you live in an area with lots of snowfall. The higher the ground clearance, the better. We know it, and there is no way to refute this. Higher ground clearance adds to the vehicle’s winter-aptness.

A vehicle can easily knife through thick layers of snow with higher ground clearance, as that is one major point of concern for any winter driver. The sweet spot of ground clearance comes at 8 inches and above.

The Acura RDX has a ground clearance of 5.7 inches which might not appear that much, and you might think it would get stuck in the snow if the snow is thicker than this, but you would be wrong. Even though it’s not above 8 inches, the Acura RDX still performs like those with more than 8 inches of ground clearance. 

Vehicles do get stuck on those piles left by the plows on the sides, so make sure to steer clear from those. Drive on the tire marks left by other vehicles or make your own marks.

Wheelbase (in): 108.3

The wheelbase is the distance between the centers of the front and the rear tires. The wheelbase dimensions affect the vehicle’s weight distribution and are a key spec in determining the balance and steering. Having a longer wheelbase means that the vehicle would be more stable at higher speeds.

On the other hand, vehicles with short wheelbase can usually corner faster but are less aerodynamic. In other words, a longer wheelbase translates into more stability because in cars with a longer wheelbase, the onset of sliding is delayed, thus giving the driver more time to make adjustments.

Acura MDX has a wheelbase of 108.3, which appears to be less, but the winter drivability remains good with the whole package.

What Traction Device You Can Use On The Acura RDX?

Drivers in areas where they see heavy snow and severe winters, there are a few devices that can come to your rescue ‘snow traction devices’ as they like to call them. One of such devices is Cable chains. Cables chains can assist with building traction at the tires, and drivers can have a better driving experience than driving without them.

In addition to the built-in stability and control features, several alternates, such as snow tires (which we have already discussed), snowplows, and chains, are available that can be used in heavy snow. Each has its pros and cons.

Snow tires are expensive and require professionals to install and uninstall. In contrast, snow chains are relatively cheaper and easy to put on and take off but are more damaging to dry pavements and the SUV itself.

There are various options for one to choose from the plethora of available products in the Class S chain cables. Amazon is one marketplace where you can easily find quite a few options for Class S cable chains.

Keeping in mind all of the suggestions, we would recommend using the Peerlesschain, where you can find which chain would be the one for your tires as fitment is an important aspect when searching for snow chains. Manufacturers mostly recommend s class chains, and on this site, you will be able to choose from many different options.

When you are equipped with 19-inch tires, you should go for the Z-575, which we have linked here on Amazon.

Happy driving.