Unless you’re a superfan, it’s all but impossible to tell the facelifted 2022 Acura RDX apart from the 2021 version. Since it’s the best-selling product in the small luxury SUV class, the RDX clearly didn’t need many alterations to keep up with shoppers’ tastes. Nevertheless, Acura insists it made several tweaks to its littlest crossover.
The most relevant change is the arrival of a new trim level. The old RDX was available in base, Technology, and Advance forms, with an A-Spec appearance package optional on the middle trim only. Dealer and customer feedback led Acura to offer the 2022 RDX in a new A-Spec Advance trim, which bundles the former’s sporty exterior styling with the latter’s well-equipped interior and standard adaptive dampers. That’s the vehicle we drove for a few days around Southern California, and it’s likely to be the most desirable model in the lineup (save the range-topping PMC Edition, which comes with the NSX’s Long Beach Blue color for 2022).
|2022 Acura RDX A-Spec Advance
|272 Horsepower / 280 Pound-Feet
|21 City / 26 Highway / 23 Combined
|29.7 / 58.9 Cubic Feet
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Minorest Model Change
We traditionally refer to midcycle updates as “facelifts,” but the new RDX looks so much like the old one that it’s more like collagen injection than cosmetic surgery. The front bumper receives the most obvious alteration, with a simpler lower air intake and MDX-aping vertical air curtains instead of the outgoing model’s crumpled-paper appearance. Acura also claims that the Diamond Pentagon grille is wider, with a thinner and more sophisticated bezel. Around back, models without the A-Spec pack get bright-finished rectangular exhaust outlets, while our tester’s round pipes carry over from 2021.
Inside, the changes are even more subtle, with identical design hiding a few key technology additions. Acura has made wireless charging standard on the Technology and Advance packages, and wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard across the board. A USB-C charging port now appears in the center console, and built-in Amazon Alexa helps the RDX integrate with smart home devices and shopping lists.
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Mechanically, not much has changed. The carryover turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four still makes 272 horsepower and 280 pound-feet, with a 10-speed automatic gearbox sending power to the front wheels. The base and Technology packages offer all-wheel drive for $2,200, while the Advance and PMC Edition get it standard. The only noteworthy change to the driving experience is revised tuning for the Advance model’s Adaptive Damper System, skewing further toward comfort or sporty driving, depending on the driver’s tastes.
The 2022 Acura RDX also gets improved sound deadening, with more noise insulation in key areas like the wheel arches and cargo area, as well as thicker carpeting throughout. Revised motor mounts quell vibrations from the carryover turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder, and for 2022, the Technology package gets acoustic laminated glass on the front doors, while the Advance adds acoustic rear-door glass as well. A laminated windshield is standard, as it has been since 2018.
Out on the road, those seemingly minor changes actually make an impact on the experience. The cabin of our A-Spec Advance tester is impressively hushed thanks to all that acoustic glazing, and tire slap over expansion joints is muted and unobtrusive.
The retuned drive-select system is also a notable alteration, with Comfort mode offering a decidedly smoother ride over bumps and imperfections than Normal or Sport. That said, we prefer the Normal setting’s slightly firmer steering for daily driving, so we’d love to see Acura offer an individual or custom drive mode like many of its competitors do. Even so, the RDX is a nice highway companion, especially thanks to carryover standard adaptive cruise control and lane-keep assistance. Blind spot collision avoidance and low-speed front and rear automatic emergency braking are newly standard for 2022, as well.
The new RDX features the same infotainment package as before, with a 10.2-inch center screen and smallish 7.0-inch driver information display between two analog gauges. Acura’s unique True Touchpad Interface (TTI), which debuted on the 2019 RDX, carries over unchanged, taking the place of a more traditional touchscreen. In Acura’s native infotainment software, TTI is easy to use; simply touch the console-mounted pad in the same place as the screen icon you want to select.
However, Apple CarPlay won’t support Acura’s direct-position touch functionality, so the interface turns into a frustrating trackpad if you want to use your smartphone apps. Making matters worse is a split-screen function that can’t be turned off – the right third of the 10.2-inch display is always devoted to a clock, embedded navigation, or audio display. That makes the screen feel smaller than it is, particularly if using smartphone mirroring. The TTI is an admirable out-of-the-box attempt, but unfortunately, a conventional touchscreen would still be better.
Beyond that complaint, the Acura RDX is still as pleasant as ever. The RDX Advance and A-Spec Advance get standard 16-way power seats with thigh and side bolster adjustments, and the front buckets and rear bench are all supportive and comfortable for most average folks. Heated front seats are standard on every RDX, with ventilation appearing on the A-Spec, Advance, and A-Spec Advance. The latter two trims also get heated rear seats.
With the standard panoramic moonroof, the RDX has 40.0 inches of front and 38.0 inches of rear headroom, a bit short on the BMW X3’s 41.5 and 38.5 inches but comparing decently to the Mercedes-Benz GLC’s 39.6 and 39.3 inches. Legroom beats out the others, with 42.0 inches up front and 38.0 inches in back that eclipse the BMW’s 40.3 and 36.4, as well as the Benz’s 40.8 and 37.3. Tall folks riding in the rear seat brush the headliner, but it’s not objectionable and the commodious legroom helps compensate. A 29.7-cubic-foot cargo area expands to 58.9 with the rear seat folded – a bit larger than the X3 and significantly larger than the GLC.
Acura likes to call itself Honda’s performance division, but that claim draws some skepticism in the RDX’s case thanks to its moderate, persistent understeer in aggressive driving. Part of the problem may be the tires – even the sporty A-Spec Advance gets relatively tame Goodyear Eagle RS-A rubber, howling its way through corners at anything above a mild pace. As on the MDX we drove earlier this year, making quick work of a winding road means entering a corner slowly to avoid front-end push, then throttling out just before the apex to allow Acura’s torque-vectoring Super Handling all-wheel drive system to work its magic.
Like its larger sibling, the RDX works better in spirited, rather than aggressive, driving. The turbo four offers plenty of power and minimal lag, and it works well with the 10-speed auto when driving at a reasonable pace – the gearbox does get a bit clunky when pushed hard. The adaptive dampers keep body motions nicely in check when in Sport mode, but even Comfort doesn’t allow for much wallowing over big undulations. The steering may be devoid of feel, but it is still accurate and ready to slice up a city street with some enthusiasm.
It’s not hard to understand why the Acura RDX is the hottest-selling small luxury crossover, bundling a comfortable interior and attractive styling with a comfortable, sporty-ish driving experience. And even if the 2022 model is only slightly updated, it’s still a clear improvement over its 2021 equivalent. If nothing else, consumers will arrive in Acura showrooms keen to sample the sport/luxury A-Spec Advance package, but once out on a test drive, they’ll appreciate the split-personality dampers and reduced noise, vibration, and harshness.
Adding to the appeal is a base price of just $40,345 including $1,045 destination. Even our fully equipped A-Spec Advance SH-AWD tester cost a reasonable $52,845, its only option being a $500 coat of lustrous Apex Blue paint. A BMW X3 xDrive30i with the RDX’s comfort features would cost at least $53,015 – add adaptive dampers and M Sport exterior styling bits and the price goes up to $56,270. Mercedes hasn’t released pricing for the 2022 GLC yet, but rest assured, the Acura will almost certainly be cheaper.
Were it our cash, we’d be tempted to forego the A-Spec package and opt for the Advance trim instead. With the only functional difference being 19-inch wheels instead of 20s, the Advance would likely perform nearly the same as the A-Spec at a savings of $2,000, and its bright exterior accents and open-pore wood trim appeal to your author’s sensibilities more than gloss black and aluminum.
No matter how it’s spec’d, the 2022 RDX is a very good deal, dollars-wise. But a premium-feeling interior, attractive styling, and fine-and-dandy performance mean it doesn’t need to make any apologies for its price. Sure, the German competition may have some unquantifiable valet-stand panache, but the RDX is still a solid pick among a popular class.
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Gallery: 2022 Acura RDX Review
2022 Acura RDX A-Spec Advance