2022 Acura RDX SH-AWD A-Spec ADV – Review by David Colman +VIDEO
Virtuous but not without a fault
Special Correspondent to THE AUTO CHANNEL
Acura's latest take on the RDX is an impressive hunk of SUV. The base price of the unadorned RDX is $39,300. Add $2,200 for all wheel drive. If you seek higher levels of trim and performance, you will need to upgrade the base RDX with grouped options Acura calls "Packages." Our Apex Blue Pearl ($500 option) test vehicle sported three Packages that hiked the base price to $51,300. The Tech Package adds parking sensors front and rear, very helpful since you can't see any of the RDX' corners. Tech also contributes Navigation and Voice Recognition.
The Advance Package adds a head-up display, surround view camera, 16-way power front seats, heated windshield, rain sensing wipers, power tailgate, and premium audio. The A-Spec Package brings you a hefty sport steering wheel, striking leather trimmed sports seats with ultrasuede inserts, and 20 inch A-Spec specific wheels mounting 255/40R20 Goodyear RS-A all season radials. However, none of these packages add an electric steering wheel adjustment. Flipping a flimsy paddle by hand seems entirely out of keeping with the brand's otherwise high level of attention to luxury.
The strong suit of the RDX is performance, both straight line and handling. Acceleration from a standing start is strong, with a 0-60 mph run taking less than 6 seconds. However, the turbocharged inline 4 hesitates for half a second whenever you drop the throttle. This disconcerting habit manifests itself when attempting to pass slower traffic on two lane roads, or merging onto freeways. Part of the problem stems from the indecision of the 10 speed automatic gearbox, which seems unsure about just which ratio to select when you floor the gas pedal. Once underway, the RDX storms ahead with an unexpected ferocity that is augmented by an infusion of artificial engine noise fed into the 16 speakers of the ELS Studio 3D premium audio.
Considering the 66 inch height of this SUV, and its sizeable two ton bulk, maneuverability is surprisingly athletic. Only once were we able to break the big Goodyears free from their grip on the pavement. That occurred when we purposely cranked in a lot of steering lock on a tight and slow freeway on-ramp. Otherwise, the RDX comported itself with unflappable serenity. On twisty back roads, it revealed a surprising athleticism that kept us nibbling apexes with great satisfaction. Acura attributes this prowess to its retuned damped system and 4th generation super handling all wheel drive (SH-AWD). The RDX benefits from a newly revised torque vectoring system which favors rear-biased torque distribution. An integrated dynamics system alters throttle response, shift map, torque vectoring, and active sound to best fit four driving choices controlled by a large knob on the center console. The offerings are: Snow, Comfort, Normal and Sport. Naturally, we elected Sport, and only wish we didn't have to reselect it every time we restarted the RDX.
The interior design of the RDX posts a number of extra base hits offset by one big whiff. The seats are boldly designed, exceptionally comfortable, and a pleasure to behold. We especially appreciated Acura's use of authentic materials in the cabin, especially the real textured aluminum panels. The steering wheel is rewarding to grasp, and heated as well, with heat the activation button conveniently located on the spoke, not lost in a sea of items on the dash. A two position memory switch on the door allows you to save your seat and mirror settings. We really liked the look and feel of the ultrasuede seat inserts.
The button activated shift mechanism always demanded too much attention. But that was a minor issue compared to the pain of operating the True Touch Interface (TTI) which controls most infotainment and navigation functions. We had hoped that a revamped RDX would bring a much needed revision to the system, but such is not the case. Simply put, TTI is virtually impossible for the driver to control while underway. It is oversensitive and dazzlingly incompetent at carrying out even your simplest instructions.
We liked the looks, handling and acceleration of the new RDX enough to compare it favorably with much more expensive SUVs from Audi (Q5) and BMW (X3). The buying public seems to agree, since the RDX has convincingly outsold those German brands since Acura debuted it in 2006. Aside from the control glitch posed by TTI, the latest RDX merits purchase consideration for its many other virtues.
2022 ACURA RDX SH-AWD A-SPEC ADV
- ENGINE: 2.0 liter inline 4, turbocharged VTEC, direct injection
FUEL CONSUMPTION: 21MPG City/26MPG Highway
PRICE AS TESTED: $52,845
HYPES: High, Wide and Handsome
GRIPES: 1500lb tow, TTI
STAR RATING: 8 Stars out of 10