Those seeking a compact SUV with a premium badge and an athletic chassis will find the 2022 Acura RDX fits that brief and doesn’t require Porsche Macan or Mercedes-Benz GLC-class money. Sure, it’s not as deluxe as those German nameplates—nor does it carry the same cachet among the one percent—but the RDX’s perky turbocharged four-cylinder is similarly perky and similarly tech-heavy. The complaints we have center on the RDX’s less-than-luxurious cabin environs and a 10-speed automatic that is sometimes infuriatingly slow to downshift to spool up the turbo to its boiling point. Those issues aside, the RDX is a roomy, practical, fun-to-drive, and comprehensively equipped compact SUV that is largely satisfactory.
What’s New for 2022?
The RDX receives a light facelift for 2022 that includes tweaks to the SUV’s grille, larger air intakes on the front bumper, and a revised rear bumper with rectangular exhaust tips. Two new colors are available—Liquid Carbon Metallic and Phantom Violet Pearl—and the RDX’s interior is enhanced with new standard and optional tech features. All models now come with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity as well as Amazon Alexa integration; a wireless smartphone charging pad is now available; and Technology models now offer an interior ambient-lighting system with 27 colors. A limited-production PMC Edition model will be offered again this year—there will be just 200 units—and wears Long Beach Blue Pearl exterior color with an Orchid interior color scheme.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
Every RDX is powered by a 272-hp turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder that pairs with a 10-speed automatic transmission and either front- or all-wheel drive (or “SH-AWD” in Acura-speak). The A-Spec version we tested had a responsive gas pedal at low speeds, and it pulled away from stoplights with authority. The transmission could be quicker to downshift, especially when the driver uses the steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters. The turbocharged engine makes the RDX sound a bit like the NSX, with a high-pitched roar during hard acceleration, but much of that noise is artificial and piped into the cabin through the audio system’s speakers. The RDX we drove had large 20-inch wheels that are included with the A-Spec package and the standard suspension setup. Models with the Advance package have adaptive dampers that allow you to adjust the ride quality. While our test vehicle failed to isolate the cabin from harsh impacts on the roughest roads, it was never punishing or noisy. The torque-vectoring SH-AWD system also helped the RDX change directions quickly and was backed by precise-feeling steering. The RDX leaned only when we attacked a highway on-ramp, but otherwise, it was wonderfully balanced. Unfortunately, the brake pedal diminished the experience, due to its inconsistent firmness and responsiveness.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
The RDX has competitive EPA fuel-economy ratings that approach the mid-20s, with the front-drive model getting slightly higher city and highway estimates than the all-wheel-drive one. The former is rated at 22 mpg city and 28 mpg highway; both those numbers drop by 1 mpg when you select all-wheel drive. Opting for the A-Spec package will reduce both highway estimates by 1 mpg, for 27 mpg with the front-driver and 26 mpg for the SH-AWD car. We tested an RDX A-Spec SH-AWD on our 75-mph highway fuel-economy route, which is part of our extensive testing regimen, and achieved 25 mpg—1 mpg shy of its EPA rating. For more information about the RDX’s fuel economy, visit the EPA’s website.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
Inside, the center stack is a little busy, with a lot of buttons, a touchpad, and a large rotary drive-mode selector sitting front and center. The version we tested had the A-Spec package’s flashy red seats and several other exclusive styling bits. While the cabin’s notable build quality and desirable standard features (ambient lighting; power-adjustable, heated front seats; dual-zone climate control) were appreciated, the RDX fails to feel luxurious. The Acura delivers a sportier experience than something like the Honda CR-V could ever provide. Nothing feels cheap or chintzy, and the driving position is high enough to satisfy SUV fans and flexible enough to appease driving enthusiasts. A handle on the outboard seats will release the back row so you can fold it flat. Or you can lower the seatbacks from the cargo hold using the secondary releases. We managed to fit eight carry-on bags with the seats up and 22 with them folded. The RDX has a large passthrough storage tray beneath its floating center console, too.