The Acura RDX Needs One Change To Be Perfect

Opinion / 4 Comments

It's the one change it didn't get for 2022.

There's a lot to love about the 2022 Acura RDX. We should know; we drove it to and from the Miami F1 Grand Prix through some abysmal traffic and painful Florida heat. The RDX is a compact luxury crossover that we've enjoyed since the third-generation launched in 2019. This 2022 model bring a few minor updates, culminating in an even more superior product. Though the changes aren't revolutionary, they keep the RDX competitive within its segment. There's just one thing missing.

Along with a subtle (barely noticeable) exterior facelift, most of the improvements to the RDX focus on the interior and the option sheet. We'd like to talk about those changes, why they feel like positive additions, and what singular change could have made the 2022 RDX even more compelling.

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What Exterior Changes?

According to the Acura press release, "the Diamond Pentagon front grille of the 2022 RDX features a new thinner, more sophisticated chrome surround. With broad aggressive forms and a larger air intake, its new front fascia is similar to the MDX and makes the RDX appear wider and more powerful." In other words, the changes are so subtle, you may not notice them unless you see the new model next to the old one. We've included a picture of a white 2021 RDX so you can spot the minor changes to the front fascia.

Honestly, we are completely indifferent to the exterior changes. The RDX was a handsome crossover previously and it remains one now. Especially in the sporty A-Spec trim, this is one of the most attractive vehicles in its segment, and Acura's updates have done nothing to disturb that.

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Quality Of Life Improvements

The changes to the cabin of the 2022 model are far more extensive. Additional features include wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, built-in Alexa integration, Enhanced Active Sound Control (noise canceling), more sound deadening, and a flat-bottom steering wheel. These changes make the RDX feel easier to live with and more technologically advanced.

If you get the A-Spec with the Advance Packed (more on that later), it unlocks a new Orchid white interior option from the TLX and MDX Type-S models. This interior option probably isn't the best option if you have kids because it's bound to get dirty, but it looks very premium.

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A-Spec And Advance Finally United

Acura previously locked the Advance Package, so it could not be combined with the A-Spec appearance trim unless you opted for the limited edition PMC Edition. For 2022, these options can finally be selected together, adding some key features that were missing from the A-Spec. Some notable additions include a head-up display, surround-view camera system, rain-sensing wipers, heated steering wheel, and heated rear seats. It's a hefty $4,150 upgrade over the regular RDX, but we are happy to see that Acura no longer keeps the features locked from its most attractive trim level.

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Drive Modes Now Have More Character

The RDX only comes with one engine, a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder producing 272 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque. It's the same basic engine used in the Honda Civic Type R, only the RDX oddly sounds better. With the Type R's powerplant, the RDX has one of the most potent base engines in the compact crossover class. For 2022, Acura retuned the drive modes, which include Normal, Comfort, Sport, and Snow, in order to differentiate them from each other. It's a subtle update, but the RDX now changes personality quite significantly from Comfort to Sport mode. The adaptive damper system feels more comfortable in Comfort mode, but more taught and controlled in Sport mode.

Acura's ten-speed automatic shifts smoothly and quickly, though it requires an extra button tap to enter "S" mode, where the transmission responds more rapidly. It's a bit too aggressive for stop-and-go driving, but pairs fabulously with the recalibrated Sport mode, which works independently from the transmission mode. Overall, the RDX offer a genuinely enjoyable driving experience compared to some of its competitors in this segment.

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Where's The Hybrid?

While we enjoy putting the RDX into Sport mode and revving up that Type R-derived motor, that happiness can quickly turn into anguish when it's time to fill the gas tank. In A-Spec guise with Super-Handling All-Wheel-Drive, the RDX is rated at 21/26/23 mpg city/highway/combined. Those are the type of numbers you expect to see on a full-size pickup truck, not a small four-cylinder crossover. There's an easy way for Acura to improve the fuel economy without hurting the driving experience: make the RDX a hybrid.

Acura previously offered the MDX Sport Hybrid as the most powerful version of the MDX. The company has mostly shifted away from hybrids with its current product lineup (except the NSX supercar), as it focuses on its next generation of electric vehicles. In other words, an RDX Hybrid almost certainly won't happen.

We're excited to see what EVs Acura has in store, but right now we think the company is ignoring customers who still want a gas-powered RDX but crave better fuel economy. If Acura built an RDX Hybrid, it would doubtless be one of the best vehicles in its segment.

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2020 Acura RDX Test Drive Review Heart Of An R

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