The verdict: Styling and handling updates bring many strengths to Acura’s most popular SUV, the RDX. Unfortunately, the brand’s dedication to hard controls remains a potential deal breaker.
Against the competition: The RDX’s roominess, quality and handling are competitive with other small luxury SUVs, but Acura’s insistence on a console controller instead of a simple touchscreen makes operation unnecessarily confusing. Lexus, Mercedes-Benz and others are abandoning this approach; it’s high time Acura did too.
The third-generation RDX has been around since the 2019 model year, its last complete redesign. Changes for 2022 involve some mild visual updates, more noise-cancellation, a retuned suspension option and new wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Acura offers six trim levels, most of which are marketed as packages. The latter three can have front or all-wheel drive, while the others are all-wheel drive only. Stack the 2021 and 2022 RDXs or compare 2022 trim levels. We tested a well-equipped A-Spec RDX with Acura’s Advance package and all-wheel drive.
Related: 2022 Acura RDX: more standard technology, less noise
About these controls
Having driven hundreds of vehicles that orient their dashboards around a major display, we can say with the utmost confidence that directly manipulating a touchscreen is far superior to managing a display via fingertip controls. next to the cup holders. Some leading consumer studies indicate that shoppers also prefer touchscreens, although some more recent ones are less conclusive. Regardless: brands like Audi, Mercedes-Benz and Lexus, which at one point were all anchored to console controllers, have given way to touchscreens. That makes Acura’s insistence on its True Touchpad interface, a standard RDX feature, all the more vexing.
With TTI, the RDX’s 10.2-inch dash display isn’t a touchscreen – and even if it were, its location at the top of the dash would have a long reach. Instead, you manage it via a dual-zone tactile touchpad at the arm. Acura offers individual mapping, where an area on the touchpad equals that area on the screen, but it’s infuriating to use. Accomplishing simple tasks, like surfing Apple CarPlay, involves shuffling around the pad and cursing the lack of a blasted touchscreen.
There are two parts to the widescreen, with around two-thirds of the screen showing the main functions while the rest shows a secondary menu. That exposes another flaw: the screen is around 9.5-inches wide but only 3.6-inches high, so interfaces like CarPlay, the navigation map and the rear-view camera don’t make full use of the display; at most, they can occupy around 70% of the screen, which equates to a screen of only 7.5 inches diagonally.
The peculiarities continue. Above the console controller is a push-button gear selector – a unit we’ve never found particularly intuitive in any of its iterations from Acura or its parent company, Honda. Acura devotes a ton of space to that giant drive-mode selector, which probably won’t see much use except among the most drive-focused owners. The climate controls, meanwhile, are undersized, with just a small knob for stereo volume and no adjustment knob.
how it rolls
The RDX’s sole powertrain, a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder producing 272 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque, delivers smooth build power and is powerful enough at low revs to feel reasonably quick from a standstill. . It works through a 10-speed automatic transmission with smooth shifting that responds well if you need more power while you’re already in motion. In the transmission’s Sport mode, the 10-speed can downshift several gears with little lag rather than stuttering through the middle gears. The 10-speed and 2.0-liter turbo make for a responsive and eager combination.
The top three trim levels of the RDX come with adaptive dampers, the firmness of which you can change with the drive mode. For 2022, Acura has added more distinct character at both ends of the spectrum: softer in Comfort mode, firmer in Sport mode. Our test car had the adaptive setup, and the expanded spectrum is noticeable — a rarity among adaptive dampers, which typically exhibit only minor differences in straight-line ride quality in their various drive modes. Shock absorption in the RDX is polished in all modes, with a taut chassis and little excessive body movement. Still, it can drive a bit busy at times, even in Comfort mode. I’d appreciate isolation a little better to go along with stiffness – two aspects that don’t have to be mutually exclusive.
The RDX’s available AWD system uses torque vectoring for improved handling; Acura markets it as the Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive. Sub-freezing temperatures kept us from throwing the SUV around much, but the handling held up without too much understeer – even when I tried to induce some with quick steering inputs. This matches our previous experience with SH-AWD, a system that has paid off across the Acura lineup, not just in terms of traction, but handling as well.
Taller drivers may feel limited by the sliding range of the front seat, but the setup at least preserves rear knee clearance (although the low cushion height may leave the knees of rear passengers with longer legs uncomfortably high). Material quality is nice overall, with lots of overlapping seams and padded surfaces where your arms and elbows fall. Not that you have to look far to see signs of cost cutting: materials are depreciating below the arms and in the rear, but it’s no worse than what you’ll find in other SUVs. luxury compacts.
With easily accessible locking anchors and ample clearance for the front seats, the RDX passed our car seat check with flying colors. Additionally, according to Cars.com’s independent accounting, the RDX has 18.30 cubic feet of cargo volume behind the rear seat. That’s relatively good — on par with our results for the Lexus NX 350 (18.27 cubic feet) and well ahead of the Genesis GV70 (16.15) and Lincoln Corsair (14.13). Likewise, the RDX’s bridge-style console features a large bin below the gear selector, opening up more driver-accessible storage than you’d typically find in a luxury SUV. Well done.