2022 Acura RDX SH-AWD A-Spec Review

Midpack excellence


Amos Kwon, Editor-In-Chief



Positives: Handsome styling and great paint color, quiet and comfortable interior, SH-AWD system provides solid handling.
Negatives: Noticeable turbo lag, overly complex infotainment and controls, confused transmission shifts too frequently.
Bottom Line: The RDX is a sporty crossover that's a few notches shy of thrilling. It ticks the aesthetic boxes, but its transmission and turbo lag hamper the excitement. While it's better to drive and more comfortable than most in this segment, it leaves us wanting. The mediocre infotainment system and convoluted controls need work, as well.
There's a lot of competition in this premium sporty compact crossover segment, and the RDX is showing some early gray hairs. It has to go up against the likes of the Audi Q5, BMW X3, Mercedes GLC, Volvo XC60, and our personal favorite, the Genesis GV70. The good news for Acura is that the RDX still looks attractive, provides ample space and levels of comfort, and the excellent SH-AWD performance all-wheel drive system is available across the trim line. We drove it fully outfitted with the Tech and Advance packages, as well as the sportier-looking A-Spec package. Read our detailed review below.
 

Driving Experience

7.6

 

The RDX is on the border of feeling athletic in its performance. It's better than the last RDX, but some elements are lacking. We also aren't fans of the engine not being artificially piped into the cabin.

Ride Quality: The RDX's ride is a great balance between comfort and sport. Even when dialed into Sport mode, it doesn't feel harsh.

Acceleration: The torque is noticeable, but there's some real turbo lag off the line. The 10-speed transmission shifts a bit too much for our liking and doesn't hold gears as a good sporty crossover should. You need to switch it to Sport mode to make this happen.

Braking: The brakes are strong, but the nose of the RDX dips under hard braking and makes the experience feel unsettling.

Steering: Steering is numb in terms of feedback, but it's on center and turn-in is responsive.

Handling: The 4,000+ lb RDX is heavy, and you feel it in the corners. It's not dynamic, but at least the suspension manages to keep some of the weight in check.

Technology

7

 

Call us old, but the RDX's infotainment system is too complex an the learning curve is overly challenging when it doesn't need to be. Overall, the in-car tech looks and feels overdone. At least the twin screens are gone.

Infotainment System: The 10.2-inch screen is clear but too far to reach, so it gets a True Touchpad Interface (TTI) that rests between the seats in the center console. There's also a split-screen function that divides and conquers. We had trouble figuring out how to play music from our smartphone, and the system isn't very intuitive.

Controls: TTI is responsive, but it's only a benefit when you're finally able to figure out how the system works. We really hate the gear selector buttons, which take too much time to use versus conventional shifters, and the drive mode selector knob is way too large and placed in the center stack, a lousy location.

Styling

9

 

The RDX is definitely in its prime in terms of looks, but when you compare it to the new MDX, it falls a bit short and is starting to look dated. The darker A-Spec sporty trim helps, as does the racy blue paint.

Front: It's good Acura finally decided to design a grille that looks distinct without being weird. The "diamond pentagon" grille looks great in dark mesh with the "jewel eye" headlights.

Rear: Despite no longer sharing a platform with the Honda CR-V, the RDX's rear end kind of resembles an upscale version of the Honda crossover. It's not as daring as the front end, but it still looks good. It errs on the side of simplicity.

Profile: A muscular and creased body is peppered with too much chrome, in our opinion. Otherwise, it looks good with its sloping roofline and attractive black wheels. Overhangs are properly short.

Cabin: The handsome two-tone seats with contrast piping look amazing. Sporty pedals, crisp analog gauges, and quality trim provide an attractive place. We just don't like the convoluted appearance of the center stack.

Comfort

8.5

 

There seating and the space make for a comfy cabin. Aside from the befuddling ergonomics in the center stack, it's a well-made cabin that offers a pleasurable riding experience.

Front Seats: The sport seats have soft leather and great bolstering and cushioning. These are some of the best in the industry. The seating position is also very good.

Rear Seats: Both outboard positions have good seat contouring, and there's more legroom and headroom than in the Jaguar F-PACE.

NVH (noise/vibration/harshness): Aside from the weird and artificial engine note pumped into the cabin, it's quiet and well-made inside. It was still hushed at highway speeds, too.

Visibility: There was good visibility out the front with easy placement in turns and parking lots. The rear 3/4 view is compromised by thick D-pillars and small rear side windows.

Climate: Despite the overly thin HVAC vents in the center stack, the system works well, as do the heated/ventilated seats.

Safety

9.5

 

The RDX has a ton of great safety features, and it scores at the top of the heap in terms of crash safety. Buyers should feel very safe in the RDX.

IIHS Rating: For the 2021 model year, it earned the Top Safety Pick+ rating. It scored "good" in every crash test, "superior" for accident avoidance tech, and "good" for headlights, as well as "good+" for a great LATCH system with an extra set of latches for the middle position.

NHTSA Rating: The NHTSA gave the RDX five stars in crash tests, the top score.

Standard Tech: Our tester came fully festooned with features such as Blind Spot Information, Rear Cross Traffic Monitor, Front and Rear Parking Sensors, AcuraWatch: Collision Mitigation Braking, Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Keeping Assist System, Forward Collision Warning, Lane Departure Warning, and Road Departure Mitigation.

Optional Tech: None.

Storage/Cargo

7.7

 

The RDX falls near the top of the small luxury crossover rankings in terms of interior cargo space, and the small item storage isn't bad. Small families should feel good taking a road trip as long as packing is on the mildly conservative side.

Storage Space: The drive mode selector knob and gear selector buttons occupy space where cubby would normally sit, robbing the driver of dedicated small item storage where it's most easily accessible. You'll have to settle for the large cupholders with the retractable sliding door and the medium-sized armrest.

Cargo Room: 29.5 cubic feet lies behind the 2nd row, and 58.9 cubes show up when the 2nd row is folded flat. That's a smidge larger and a couple of cubes smaller than the X3's interior dimensions, respectively.

Fuel Economy

6.7

 

The RDX's EPA rating of 27 highway is pretty good. We didn't approach the combined number of 23 mpg, but that's because we drove it hard in sport mode most of the time. .

Distance Driven: 144 miles.

Audio

8.8

 

Our tester came standard with the upgraded ELS system with a booming 16 speakers. The sound quality is top notch, and we enjoyed listening to the system. Music came through clear and crisp with ample bass and no distortion even at higher volumes.



Final Thoughts

The RDX is a very good sporty crossover that most buyers will be happy with, but when you compare it to newer competitors, it falls a bit short in terms of performance and technology. It's still fun to drive, but it lacks the precision and power of the GV70 3.5T and the BMW X3 M40i. In terms of safety, the RDX is hard to beat. The comfort and build quality are very good, as are the looks, but the RDX is due for a redesign in the next couple of years.
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