1 - Absolute Positioning
Unlike touch pads and controllers in other cars, Acura’s new True Touchpad uses a new technology called absolute positioning. In the brand’s own words, “when you tap on the left corner of the touchpad, the touchpad corresponds with the action precisely on the top left of the center display.” You don’t drag a cursor across the screen to get to the part you want; just touch the pad in whatever location on the screen you want to click. Voila.
Admittedly, absolute positioning takes some getting to use to. Before someone walked me through it, I was trying to use the True Touchpad like I use the touchpad on my laptop, and it was frustrating. Once how it worked was explained to me, though, the process quickly became intuitive and easy to master.
2. Single 10.2-inch HD display
Acura has thankfully ditched its old, ill-begotten, mis-matched dual screen setup in favor of a single, gorgeously high-res screen that stretches 10.2 inches diagonally. Its graphics are fresh and crisp and show off the specs of the screen’s display.
3. A/B Zone Operating System
The user interface of the RDX’s Android-powered operating system uses “A” and “B” zones. The A zone occupies the left three-quarters of the 10.2-inch display and the smaller B zone gets the last quarter on the right. These two zones can each display any part of the infotainment system, but not the same at once. Usually one displays something like navigation and the other audio, for instance.
What makes this UI so powerful is how easy it is to swap the zones and configure what each one displays. Just like the user interface is split into two zones, the True Touchpad controlling the display is split in two as well. The larger part of the pad on the left controls the A zone and the smaller, vertical part on the right controls the B zone. At any time, you can push down on the B zone’s touchpad to swap the content of both zones, and you can swipe up and down to change the content of the B zone to any of the major systems.
This interface makes navigating the entirety of the infotainment system and configurating its displays much easier and more intuitive than any system we’ve tried in the past. In short order, we were swapping screens and hopping around the operating system like we had been using it for years.
4. Reconfigurable Home Screen
Anything can go on the home screen, not just the main access points to navigation, phone, music, and settings. Individual radio and satellite stations, particular locations for the navigation system like your home… almost any item from within the system can be lifted and placed on the home screen for easy access.
5. Head-Up Display Superiority
The new head-up display in the Acura RDX is one of the best we’ve seen. Its size is enormous: a full 10.5 inches. The graphics are also multi-color and the resolution is high enough that pixels can’t be seen.
Not only can the HUD show typical info like vehicle speed, navigation directions, a compass, and recognized traffic signs, but you can customize what it displays just like the infotainment system’s home screen.
6. Intuitive and Instant Handwriting Recognition
When using the True Touchpad to input numbers or letters, you don’t have to wait after writing each character for the system to process and recognize what you wrote. Just keep writing – the system begins to fade each character as you begin writing a new one, and accurately interprets each one while needing no break in between.
7. Exceptional Sound
The RDX offers a premium audio system named ELS Studio 3D. No, it’s not as well known a name like Bose or Bowers and Wilkinson, but it sounds as good as any system we’ve heard in a luxury vehicle.
Developed by Panasonic in conjunction Elliot Scheiner, a well-regarded producer in the music business, it offers 16 speakers and 710 watts of power, the ability to reproduce incredible-sounding 5.1-channel surround sound audio, and it can play FLAC files, which are digital audio files that use a lossless compression algorithm to maintain 100% of their data in a file about 40% of the size. These files provide better quality sound than formats like the more widely used MP3 and AAC. Acura provided us a thumb drive full of different types of music in the FLAC format, and the higher fidelity was even noticeable to my dull ears.
You don’t have to have a thumb drive of these special audio files to appreciate the ELS system, though. It also makes music streamed from your smartphone sound great, kind of like a 4K TV can upgrade the quality of your cable provider’s 1080p video signal.
8. A Real Volume Knob!
Perhaps we shouldn’t be praising Acura for offering a real volume knob again, but it’s been missing for a few years and critics and customers alike have bemoaned its absence. There’s now no more sliding your smudgy fingers up and down a touch screen to change the volume; just reach out and twist.
For good measure, Acura also included buttons for skipping forward and back next to the new volume knob, so you’ve got physical controls for your three most used inputs for audio all together now.
9. Keeping Climate Controls Off The Screen
Another thing Acura has learned is that not every system should be accessible via software alone. We’re happy to see this full slate of physical buttons for the climate control system in the RDX that gives you immediate access without having to navigate through a labyrinth of menus. The control panel is tastefully designed here in the RDX, as well as compact. It doesn’t take up much vertical space on the elegantly designed center stack.
The RDX also offers front seats that are both heated and cool, but if you press the button marked “AUTO” in between the hot and cold settings, the climate system will automatically choose the right seat setting to match the temperature you’ve set for the cabin. It’s set-it-and-forget-it technology that works very well to make your back and bottom feel equally as comfortable as the rest of your body.
10. Apple CarPlay
Having Apple CarPlay doesn’t make this new infotainment system the best; most cars now offer this technology. Acura, however, hasn’t until very recently. It’s one of those basic features that every new car should come with, and its absence, especially from luxury brands like Acura, is very conspicuous. If Acura had continued not to offer it, well, we couldn’t have written this article.
Android Auto, meanwhile, is still absent, which is especially conspicuous considering this all-new infotainment system is powered by an Android operating system. Acura, however, says Android Auto will be introduced later pending Google’s certification of the new True Touchpad input system.
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