Acura RDX Tuning

"Thanks for reading my RDX tuning guide."

Fitted with the awesome  2.3 L K23A1 Turbo engine and inline 4 putting down 240bhp. Later models came with the 3.5 L J35Z2 V6 until 2019 when it was replaced with a more efficient 2.0 litre 4 cylinder turbo petrol engine

As a turbocharged engine it marked an unusual choice of powertrain for Honda who tended to focus on high revving NASP engines, but they did it well and the engine responds well to tuning upgrades, retaining the reliability you've come to expect from Acura.

Tuning tips and articles

A popular car for tuning up is the RDX and our members have some interesting projects on the go. We see lots of DIY modders wasting money on their RDX doing the wrong mods and then having to start over. Follow our pointers to avoid making the common mistakes

RDX Tuning modifications.

These mods performance upgrades are usually installed by our members, decide how far you want to push your car before you get started.

Getting the best motorsport modifications for your planned usage of the car is a time and money saver. Stage 3 (competition) mods just won't work well on the road making the car difficult to drive.

Please watch our video which covers the 5 principles of tuning your car. Be sure to subscribe and support our new channel.

Best Engine Mods for your Acura RDX

  1. Remapping - provides the most advantage in terms of cost savings,  aftermarket ECUs, and piggyback ECUs are all alternatives.
  2. Suspension upgrades - a low cost upgrade which really transforms the handling of your RDX.
  3. Fast road cams are one of the most significant mechanical changes, but they must be installed by someone who knows what they're doing and they are not always easy to source but you might find a local firm to regrind a stock camshaft.
  4. Intake and Exhaust - Note that on their own these mods will NOT ADD POWER in most cases, but they can help enhance power after other mods by removing the restriction.
  5. Upgrades to turbochargers and superchargers - forced induction is the most efficient approach to increase air supply, allowing you to burn more fuel and make more power. It is one of the most costly upgrades but provides the best gains.
  6. Head work - The goals of porting and flowing the head are to get air flowing into the engine while removing flow restrictions and turbulence.

Acura RDX Tuning Stages

Typical stage 1 mods often include: Panel air filter, Alloy wheels, Sports exhaust, Lighter flywheel, Remap, Suspension upgrade (drop 30-40mm).

Typical stage 2 mods often include: Fast road cam, Ported and polished head, fuel pump upgrades, high flow fuel injector.

Typical stage 3 mods often include: Adding or upgrading forced induction (turbo/supercharger), Sports gearbox, Competition cam, Engine balancing, Internal engine upgrades (pistons/head/valves).

Your goal when tuning should be a wide torque band. You don't want all the torque to be at the top end of the rev range unless you are creating a motor sport car.

The point of our guides is to give a little insight into the world of tuning mods and point you in the right direction, our forum is best place to go if you need more detailed advice and tips on your car tuning project, the best sport mods and all aspects of modding cars.Fast road cams offer one of the biggest performance gains for your money as far as a bolt on uprated parts goes on a NASP engine.

RDX Suspension Mods

Engine tuning Transmission tuning Care care Intake & exhaust mods Improve handling Forums

Improving the handling for many tuners first priority in your RDX tuning project. Drop the car by as much as 35mm and fit sports stiffer dampers, bigger drops will need other modifications in most instances.

Our aim in RDX engine tuning should be to increase peak power and Torque at the top end.

Following our guidance for tuning your RDX you will attain a practical sporty car that will potentially embarrass bigger cars.

Sadly with smaller engine sizes you are wasting your time spending money on modifications, so if this applies to you get yourself an engine swap then apply the following mods.

RDX Camshaft Upgrades

Performance camshafts raise the top end power so are more suited to petrol engines, than diesel ones. Most cars will see peak power increases through performance camshafts on most engines

The camshaft profile plays a big part in the engines power output so camshaft upgrades make quite a large difference. The intake & exhaust durations will alter depending on the chosen camshaft profile, so large engines power gains are on offer for camshaft upgrades.

Fast road camshafts usually push up the bhp and torque through the rpm range, you could sacrifice a little low down power but higher rpm power will be higher.

Competition camshafts, push up the higher rpm power band but as a result the car will not idle smoothly and low end power nearly always suffers.

A Motorsport and race cam makes it harder when driving around busy urban areas.

You should ideally match your power band to your cars usage so for a car driven daily stick with a mild fast road RDX cam.

It improves the intake and exhaust durations and pushes up the power if done right. Ideally you'd add other mods and finish up with a performance chip. TorqueCars would caution you not to go with a motor sport cam as this upsets the engines idling and general town driving characteristics. When pushing up the power you will need to increase to the fuelling. More power needs more fuel.

If you find you have flat spots and surges after your motorsport upgrades you should check the fuelling and try a higher octane fuel as well. Uprated injectors will enable you to supply sufficient fuel to the engine.

A fuel pump will only deliver a finite amount of fuel, so you may need to uprate this if your injectors are demanding more fuel.

RDX Turbo upgrades

The more air you can get into an engine, the more fuel it can burn and uprating the induction with a turbocharger upgrade makes massive power gains.

If the engine is turbo charged parts are more reliable and you will discover turbo engines use strengthened components.

There are weak spots for every engine, with some being very over engineered and some only just able to handle stock power. We recommend you find these limitations and upgrade to better pistons and crank to survive the power.

Big capacity turbochargers tend to experience no power at low rpm, and low capacity turbochargers spool up much more quickly but don't have the top end bhp gains.

In the last 10 years the selection of turbos is always developing and we now see variable vane turbos, where the vane profile is altered according to speed to lower lag and increase top end bhp and torque.

Twin scroll turbos divert the exhaust flow into two channels and direct these at differently designed vanes in the turbo charger. They also help the scavenging effect of the engine.

It is common that there is a limit in the air flow sensor (AFM/MAF/MAP) on the RDX when a lot more air is being pulled into the engine.

Going up you'll find 4 bar air sensors coping with quite large power gains, whereas the OEM air sensor was restricting bhp and torque at a much lower level.

Adding a supercharger or additional turbo will make large bhp gains, although more challenging to configure. We have this article on twincharging if you want to read more.

RDX Fuelling Upgrades

You will need to ensure that the engine is not starved of fuel so will have to pay attention to the fuelling when you start going beyond 20% of a power increase. Fuel pressure boost valves raise the fuel pressure, can improve throttle response.Most tuners we speak with say to over specify your injector capacity.

The rule of thumb is to add 20% when specifying an injector, this accounts for injector deterioration and gives you some spare capacity should the engine require more fuel.

We think this one is common sense, but you'll need to match your fuel injector to the type of fuel your car uses as well.

Acura RDX BOV

One of our readers told us he fitted a BOV on his and an intake and reports that it sounds great and h as more pick up. He also plugged off the electrical solenoids that control the bypass valve so the BOV manual blows off when the spring gets to its limit and no check engine light was coming up.

Acura RDX Intake and Exhaust Tuning.

Now we move on to the intake and exhaust and ensure proper flow through the engine. Contrary to popular belief there is usually a small if any power gain to be had by fitting an induction kit, they only become beneficial and are recommended after you increase the engines power to the point where the standard air intake box cannot cope!

Maximum power gains come from a full induction kit with a cold air feed on heavily tuned engines, this can be sited within an air box but a panel filter should suffice for most applications. TorqueCars suggest you use a panel air filter as these are easy to clean and maintain and generally perform better than paper ones.

Do not go with the largest exhaust you can get this will reduce the exhaust flow rate - the best for power gains are usually between 2 to 2.5 inches. It is the shape and material more than the bore size.

Airflow through the head can be dramatically increased with some professional polishing and ported. These should match and be setup to take into account any other engine mods.

Remaps offer massive power gains on all turbo charged cars. On NASP engines the benefits are doubtful. However a flashed ecu on a NASP engine will help unleash the potential if you have done a lot of mods.

We've also come across some owners playing with twin charging conversions and making some very high power figures.

Despite the large cost involved adding forced induction to a NASP engine will give large power gains. Turbos are often harder to add than a supercharger. With a turbo the boost curve is related exponentially to the engine speed making it difficult to map fuelling with.

Superchargers however will give a boost which is directly proportional to engine speed so is easier to map. To cope with forced induction you will usually need to decrease the compression ratio of the engine .

Alloy wheel upgrades.

Because alloy wheels are less heavy they improve performance and they help to cool the brake disks. It is worth noting that although they can look cool on the RDX large alloy wheels will actually decrease your performance. The larger you go the lower your acceleration will be - this to the change in your effective final drive ratio.

Due to this we would advise sticking to a maximum wheel size of 18 inches, although we know some of our members have with bigger wheels with no problems.

If you would like to know more, or just get some friendly advice on Tuning your car please join us in our friendly forum where you can discuss RDX options in more detail with our RDX owners. It would also be worth reading our unbiased Acura tuning articles to get a full grasp of the benefits and drawbacks of each modification.

Please help us improve these tips by sending us your feedback in the comments box below. We love hearing about our website visitors projects, especially the mods done and which work best for you on your car. Which helps us keep our guides and tips up to date helping others with their modified car projects. Your feedback and comments are used to keep this page up to date, and help improve the accuracy of these articles which are kept updated and constantly revised.

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