The 2022 Acura RDX Has Sporty Luxury Nailed

2022 Acura Rdx Featured Image. Photo: Annika Carter
2022 Acura RDX Featured Image. Photo: Annika Carter

The 2022 Acura RDX gave me the blues…when I had to give it back!

In 2022, the Acura RDX received a facelift, so I was anticipating an updated look. But when I accepted delivery of the 2022 Acura RDX for a week of testing, I was absolutely struck by the appearance. The blue, I mean THE BLUE, is just gorgeous. The color on this A-Spec sport package is an upgrade, but it would be so worth it. It isn’t strictly common to find colors with this depth to them. The contrast between the light blue in the sun and the dark blue in the shade, accentuates the sharp, sinewy lines of the RDX.

The new looks include larger, more prominent intakes on the front bumper, a new rear bumper, and large dual exhaust tips (although these round tips are specific to the A-Spec Package. The standard RDX comes with rectangular exhaust tips). The slanted running lights in the front give this SUV the feeling of motion, reminiscent of its faster brother, the NSX. While I do like the blacked-out trim on the A-Spec package a good bit more than the standard chrome accents, this car is easy on the eyes in any trim level. The RDX front wheel drive starts at $40,100. Adding the A-Spec package will bump the price up to $45,750. The RDX all wheel drive starts at $42,300, adding the A-Spec package will bump that price up to $47,950.

Related: Which Acura SUV is Right for Me: RDX VS MDX?

2022 Acura Rdx Front Seats. Photo: Annika Carter

2022 Acura RDX front seats. Photo: Annika Carter

A Gorgeous Interior Makes Up for the Super Sporty Exterior

Step inside and the Acura RDX sportiness morphed to pampering. The A-Spec Package offers beautiful two-toned leather seats with suede inserts. If the suede isn’t enough to keep your sweaty legs from sticking to the seats in the hot summer sun (if you’re in the South like me), then the ventilated seats will get the job done!

For those worried cold temps, don’t worry, the seats are heated, too, as are the rear seats and the steering wheel. The seats have an auto climate control button which enables the seats to adjust their temperature depending on the ambient temperature in the car to keep you comfortable at all times.

To some who may be more accustomed to the minimalistic dashboards that are becoming more and more prevalent, the dashboard of the RDX may look busy with a multitude of audio controls, climate controls, and a large drive mode dial. I don’t mind the buttons, though. Personally, I find buttons easier to utilize while driving — it is much easier for me to find a button to press than to surf through multiple menus on a large touchscreen just to turn the air conditioning on.

At night, the cockpit is illuminated with elegant ambient lighting that can be customized to pre-set themes, some of which are inspired by world-famous race tracks (and you KNOW I chose one of those). While we’re talking about driving at night, the headlights do a fantastic job illuminating the road in front of you, with auto high-beams and cornering lights.

Related: USED: 2018 Acura TLX AWD A-Spec Review: A Sport Sedan That Offers Affordable Luxury, Too

Annika Driving The 2022 Acura Rdx. Photo: Annika Carter

Annika driving the 2022 Acura RDX. Photo: Annika Carter

Wait. Where’s the Gear Shift?

Also on the dash, I noticed the gear select buttons. That’s right, like many other modern-era cars, the RDX lacks a gear shift. A large gear selector sticking up out of the center console is not at all necessary with modern electronically-controlled transmissions. This vestigial design element continues to exist because drivers are just familiar with it. And, after all, doesn’t it look weird to not have a gear selector? But in my opinion, it can really get in the way! Have you ever dropped your purse on the passenger seat floorboard and had it poking you in the armpit while you lean over to retrieve your spilled belongings? So while this new design seems polarizing, the lack of a gear selector really frees up space for extra storage and cupholders. 

Related: Five Things I Love in the 2022 Acura MDX Sporty SUV

2022 Acura Rdx Driver'S Seat. Photo: Annika Carter

2022 Acura RDX driver’s seat. Photo: Annika Carter

Is the Multimedia System Touchpad Intuitive?

Above the center dash is a 10.2” multimedia screen. The screen is controlled with a touchpad beneath it that looks like a mousepad on a laptop. The touchpad is essentially a miniature version of the 10.2″ screen, so each point on the screen correlates to a point on the touchpad.

While Acura calls this system intuitive, I have to say that I found it just the opposite. It was very clumsy to use and get used to, and it doesn’t quite operate the same when using Android Auto. With Android Auto or Apple CarPlay pulled up, the touchpad is no longer correlated with points on the screen, now it just functions like a mouse, scrolling left or right between elements on the screen.

So now I find myself scrolling three or four times just to select a new station on Pandora. To me, this was distracting, and I would prefer a simple dial that provides an easy tactile response and makes selecting while driving an easier feat. 

Related: Apple CarPlay and Android Auto: How to Get the Most Popular In-Car Phone Systems

2022 Acura Rdx Front Angle. Photo: Annika Carter

2022 Acura RDX front angle. Photo: Annika Carter

Does the Acura RDX Sound as Good as it Looks?

Despite the difficult-to-learn touchpad, the RDX is stocked full of technology. It has Android Auto and Apple CarPlay (and they’re wireless!), as well as Amazon Alexa integration. Beneath the center console is an extra storage compartment with a USB-C charging port, 12V port, and wireless phone charger.

The trim I tested also had the Technology package (a $2,650 upgrade), with built-in navigation, rear seat USB ports, and a 12-speaker ELS Studio audio system with speakers in the headliner providing an excellent surround sound experience. 

Related: Acura’s ELS Sound System: A Great Car Stereo That Makes Music Come Alive

2022 Rdx Cargo Cubbies. Photo: Annika Carter

2022 RDX cargo cubbies. Photo: Annika Carter

Even More Storage … Under the Cargo Floor

Storage is definitely not an issue in this car. The RDX has ample trunk space with the rear seats occupied, but the space can be expanded by folding the rear seats down. I loved the storage available beneath the floor of the trunk, as well. It came in handy when I was transporting my work bag and a dog — I didn’t want the dog sitting on my computer!

Related: Dog Car Seat Covers: The Secret To Keeping Pet-Friendly Cars Clean

2022 Acura Rdx Cargo Space With Doggo. Photo: Annika Carter

2022 Acura RDX cargo space with doggo. Photo: Annika Carter

Toggling Between Comfort Mode and Sport Mode is a Blast

Driving the 2022 Acura RDX is a positively enjoyable experience. With a 272 hp 4-cylinder turbocharged engine, it has plenty get-up-and-go. The gas pedal gives you great responsiveness when accelerating off of a red light, although the responsiveness can be toned down by switching the car into Comfort Mode, which keeps the torque from pushing you back in the seat on acceleration to keep the ride smooth.

The cabin is quiet while driving, although a little bit of engine noise makes its way inside in all drive modes, with Comfort Mode the quietest and Sport Mode the loudest. Of course, this engine noise is all artificial and pumped into the cabin through the speakers, but there is something reassuring about hearing the roar of an engine when you step on the gas pedal after switching into Sport Mode!

The adaptive dampers (adjustable shock absorbers) keep the RDX comfortable at all speeds. The dampers are soft enough to provide that rocking SUV feel at slow speeds, but they stiffen up when taking turns at higher speeds, such as on the highway on-ramp. Combined with the optional SH-AWD drive train, this keeps the car from pushing or feeling unruly when accelerating through a corner. The ride is comfortable over bumps in the road as well, keeping passengers comfortable and keeping the car grounded and in control.

Through all my testing-including many instances of “pedal to the metal”-I averaged 22-23 MPG driving in Atlanta traffic, a competitive fuel economy for the class.

The Acura RDX I tested had ample safety features, including front crash alert, a heads up display, lane keep assist, steering assist, adaptive cruise control, rear cross traffic alerts, blind spot monitoring, and parking sensors.

Related: What You Need to Know About Headlights

2022 Acura Rdx Rear Exterior. Photo: Annika Carter

2022 Acura RDX rear exterior. Photo: Annika Carter

The 2022 Acura RDX is a Little Sensitive. And That’s Okay.

I found the heads-up display to be one of my favorites I’ve used yet. The text is large and bold, making it easy to see even on light-colored roads. I also enjoyed that the display was customizable, so you can select how much or how little information to adorn the screen. When there is a change to the multimedia system, for example the volume is adjusted or a new song begins playing, the information pops up on the HUD.

If you receive a text message or phone call while driving, the details of the message or call also appear on the HUD. With the multitude of information available on the HUD, there truly aren’t many reasons to remove your eyes from the road and play with the central multimedia system while driving. 

I found the front crash alert to be a little sensitive. In Atlanta traffic, you can’t help but have cars occasionally cut you off a little close, and these cars would often trigger the front crash alert. While the RDX didn’t apply the brakes immediately, the bright orange notification on the HUD and gauge display was definitely distracting!

That being said, I guess this sensitivity would come in handy in a true emergency situation. I would always prefer manufacturers to lean on the side of over-sensitivity with these important crash safety systems.

Related: New Automotive Safety Systems Will Soon Be Able Communicate with Traffic Lights, Bridges and Toll Roads, Thanks to Harman

2022 Acura Rdx Rear Seats. Photo: Annika Carter

2022 Acura RDX rear seats. Photo: Annika Carter

Driver Assist Systems are a Win, Even in Heavy Traffic

The adaptive cruise control is, as it has been, probably my favorite feature on modern cars, and the RDX didn’t change that. In the 2022 RDX, I enjoyed how gentle the feature was. While adaptive cruise control can be a little jarring in other vehicles (mashing the gas when a car moves out of your lane, or slamming on the brakes if you approach a slower-moving vehicle), the RDX’s adaptive cruise control is smooth. The automated inputs are much more akin to an attentive driver looking up the road and reacting to situations before you are immediately upon them.

The one downside to the gentle braking of the cruise system is that sometimes it doesn’t quite brake hard enough when you are approaching truly slowed (or stopped) traffic. I would recommend leaving the cruise following distance set at the furthest or second-furthest setting and, of course, keeping yourself alert to account for this. 

Speaking of being alert, the driving alerts systems, including the blind spot monitor and rear cross traffic alert, worked as expected. My concern with these systems, though, was simply the volume of the alerts. It feels as if Acura worried too much about making the alerts pleasant, and forgot that these alerts need to catch your attention if you’re about to hit another vehicle or an object.

If you turn the audio system up loud enough (really anything past a gentle “inside voice”), it is very easy for the alert to get lost in the music. While I can understand that some drivers may find the alerts annoying, I like to remember that these alerts exist for emergencies, and in those scenarios, they need to be noticeable! I scoured the settings for a volume adjustment, but wasn’t able to find one. A simple setting to adjust the volume of the alerts would help drivers customize their driving experience.

Related: 6 Ways to Test a Car’s Audio and See If It’s Right For You

2022 Acura Rdx Side Angle. Photo: Annika Carter

2022 Acura RDX side angle. Photo: Annika Carter

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed driving the Acura RDX. It was luxurious and fashionable, with the space of an SUV but the nimble, controlled handling of a much smaller vehicle. So you can see why when I had to give it back, I was definitely a little blue.

Disclosure: Acura provided the 2022 RDX for me to test. All opinions and impressions are my own.

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Annika Carter has over four years of performance driving experience, both with and without professional instruction. She has driven... More about Annika Carter