If the compact luxury crossover segment isn’t the most competitive in the industry, then it’s definitely one of the most populated.
There are a ton of these. Every time I try to make a comprehensive list, I always end up forgetting a couple. Segment sales leaders like the BMW X3 and Lexus NX are gimmes, but what about the Cadillac XT5? Infiniti QX60? Jaguar E-Pace? I’d be willing to wager that a fair share of you didn’t remember that last one.
Placing somewhere in the upper-middle end of that scale of memorability sits the 2022 Acura RDX. It’s the luxury compact crossover from the folks behind the Honda Civic and CR-V, as well as the Acura NSX, and does its best to combine the virtues of that extensive portfolio into one practical, comfortable, reasonably entertaining, and luxurious package.
Due to that segment ubiquity and this specific example having been around for quite a while now, the Acura RDX is one of those crossovers that blends into the crowd. It’s not necessarily a bad looking CUV, but compared to stylistic segment stars such as the Genesis GV70 or Volvo XC60, the RDX can come off a little frumpy.
It received a mild mid-cycle refresh for 2022 that includes a slightly different lower fascia and a new rear bumper, although it’s definitely one of those facelifts that requires looking at the previous version at the same time to tell what’s changed.
The interior goes largely unaltered and continues to be a sufficiently attractive and comfortable place to sit. Brushed aluminum brightwork looks high-end and the soft plastic and leather surfaces are plush, while splashes of red-stitched suede look athletic yet fancy. Both inside and out, the RDX boasts an agreeable design that’s fairly luxurious while remaining as practical as a Honda product should be.
All RDXs come standard with adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist, traffic sign recognition, and — newly standard for 2022 — blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert. The semi-autonomous highway driving tech is decidedly not bad to operate, and is able to keep a safe distance from a leading vehicle with reasonable confidence and deal with other cars cutting in. Lane-keep assist was able to negotiate most highway curves unassisted with natural-feeling movements.
The 2022 RDX scored full marks with the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) in terms of crashworthiness, crash avoidance, and mitigation, as well as seat belts and child restraints, nabbing a Top Safety Pick+ award from the organization.
One Honda/Acura safety innovation that I would’ve liked to see here is the company’s advanced front airbags. Shaped like baseball gloves and donuts, they’re said to better cradle occupants’ heads in the event of a collision and are present in the new-gen MDX, TLX, and Honda Civic but apparently absent from this RDX.
As standard equipment, the RDX comes with a panoramic sunroof, 10.2-inch infotainment system with wireless Apple CarPlay and wireless Android Auto, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, LED lights all around, configurable ambient interior lighting, a rear camera washer, and dual-zone automatic climate with an air-filtration system. Step up to the Technology trim and Acura throws in rain-sensing wipers, a hands-free power tailgate, wireless charging, navigation, parking sensors, 12-speaker premium audio, and two USB-C charging ports in the rear.
Those who opt for the top Platinum Elite A-Spec version like the one tested here get sportier design touches, a very clean and straightforward-looking head-up display, three-zone climate with heated outboard rear seats, an array of surround view cameras, and a 16-speaker audio system that — as a bit of an Acura hallmark — sounds pretty darn great.
One feature that shows this crossover’s age is the instrument cluster complete with analog speedometer and tachometer. As most of its competitors have long moved on to fully digital systems, the RDX’s analog clocks seem almost quaint, like a mechanical Seiko in a market full of Apple Watches.
User Friendliness: 8/10
Confession time: Like most other people, I didn’t like Acura’s infotainment control solution — at first. But several Acura testers in, I’m starting to get used to the touchpad.
Moves that require precision and fine adjustments are still a challenge, especially in motion, but for the majority of inputs — say, switching from one audio input or radio station to the next — I actually find it pretty usable these days. The pad itself is positioned perfectly where your hand naturally falls and is placed in front of a nice palmrest. Another Acura control scheme that isn’t as bad as some may make it out to be is the button-based gear selector. All of the buttons feel deliberately distinct, and once you get used to it, switching from drive to reverse and vice versa becomes second nature.
Most other UX-related aspects of the RDX are pretty easy to figure out quickly. The HVAC is controlled via simple buttons, the steering wheel controls make sense, and Acura has placed the heated steering wheel button on the actual wheel where it belongs. One RDX-specific gripe, however: the volume knob and track buttons are placed super high on the centre console and require a bit of a reach. Other Acuras have these low in the cabin, often right next to the touchpad, and it’s where I would’ve liked them here as well.
I’ve previously praised parent company Honda’s breadwinning Civic compact for having a way bigger backseat than it really has to, and the brand has seemingly worked similar magic with its luxury compact crossover as well. Sitting in the back of the RDX, it feels noticeably more spacious than most other entries in this class, with loads of legroom and a more than acceptable amount of headroom. A very small and negligible centre hump means a nearly flat floor in the rear, while the big sunroof makes the space seem even airier than it already physically is.
Per official specs, the RDX, indeed, boasts a good amount more rear legroom than the Lexus NX, Genesis GV70, BMW X3, and Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class. Similarly, this Acura’s 835-L cargo area is significantly bigger than those of its major rivals, too, and can be expanded to 1,668 L by folding down the 60/40-split rear seats.
Even after a long journey, the RDX’s seats remained perfectly comfortable. The ride, while not at all floaty, is clearly calibrated for cushy, everyday motoring.
Heated front seats are standard as is a heated steering wheel. Ventilated front seats exclusively come in the A-Spec models, while heated rear outboard seats are reserved for the top Platinum Elite A-Spec. Par for the Acura course, front-seat temperature control is three-stage both ways and includes an auto setting. The 16-way power driver’s seat is immensely adaptable, too, with adjustable lumbar, thigh extension, and side bolsters.
As part of the 2022 refresh, Acura has outfitted the RDX with quite a bit more sound deadening. In addition to the standard acoustic windshield and improved adaptive sound control, the compact crossover receives a new front fender liner and thicker carpet padding with the Tech package, as well as new sound insulators in the front doors, the dash, rear doors, D-pillars, ceiling, under the hood, and under the drivetrain tunnel. Acoustic glass is now used on the rear doors, and Acura has lowered the engine’s cold idle from 1,100 rpm to 950 rpm for an even quieter experience.
I’d need a back-to-back drive with the pre-facelift RDX to really pin down how much difference all of these changes added up to but, for what it’s worth, not once with my time with the 2022 RDX did wind or road noise become an issue.
As for noises you should be able to hear driving the RDX, under the hood sits a turbocharged 2.0L four-cylinder making 272 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque. It’s paired to a 10-speed automatic transmission. Fundamentally, it’s the same engine out of the Honda Accord and Civic Type R, albeit tuned for lite luxury crossover duty. Here, it’s not what I’d call blisteringly quick, but it’s still more than adequate for everyday driving. For whatever reason, this engine sounds slightly more gruff than expected.
Driving Feel: 8.5/10
It may boast more room inside than expected but the RDX is about as unwieldy to drive around town as any compact commuter. Intuitive-feeling with an appropriately high driving position, the RDX may be one of the easiest vehicles to live with day-to-day. Highway cruising is smooth while that turbocharged 2.0L makes passes adequately easy.
Taken down a winding backroad, the RDX exhibits a Honda-typical lightness in its steering and chassis. Steering tactility falls somewhere in between the Kia Stinger-esque Genesis GV70 and the staunchly numb BMW X3; it’s pretty good but not class-leading. The front wheels respond to inputs fairly directly and quickly, though, and there’s even a subtle exhaust roar in sport mode that I heavily suspect is piped-in through the speakers.
On snow-covered paths, the RDX did equally admirably. The capable combo of winter tires, all-wheel drive, and the RDX’s dedicated snow mode meant it was well-behaved and controllable through tight unplowed corners.
Fuel Economy: 7/10
Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) lists the 2022 RDX at 11.3 L/100 km in the city, 9.1 on the highway, and 10.3 combined. After 560 testing km, my time with the RDX yielded a frankly wack 13.0 L/100 km. Premium fuel is recommended but the RDX can take regular-grade stuff, too.
The base Acura RDX starts at $46,900, but if you’d like a top Platinum Elite A-Spec model, prepare to pay at least $59,100. Including a $500 colour charge and destination, this luxury crossover came in at $62,075 as-tested. This makes it slightly less expensive but generally in line with well-equipped versions of the Lexus NX 350, BMW X3 xDrive30i, Mercedes GLC 300, and the Genesis GV70 2.5T Prestige.
Even so, this RDX still feels a bit too expensive for what you get considering for not a lot more cash, one could get into the much newer Lexus or the overall superior GV70 or either the X3 or GLC. Where the Acura’s value lies, however, is in those lower trims. For thousands less, a Technology pack or A-Spec RDX may pack fewer features but in my view, none of the Platinum-exclusive doodads are really must-haves. Merely jumping one rung down to the A-Spec RDX means it’s comparable in price to the base, $55,500 2.5T Advanced GV70. The NX 350 also starts at around $55,000.
A bit like the Civic Sport Touring hatchback I tested a while ago, Honda has placed an abnormally high paywall in front of the top trim RDX. Opt for one of the lower models, though, and good value can be had.
Even within the context of the not-all-that-exciting segment of luxury compact crossovers, the 2022 Acura RDX isn’t all that new or exciting. After a week with it, though, I quite like it. It’s comfortable to both drive and be in, its interior is appreciably nice, and — once you get used to that touchpad — not all that more complicated to live with than any other Honda product.
It wasn’t as fuel efficient as I’d hoped it would be and, in this top trim, slightly pricier than it probably should be, but that’s sort of where the big criticisms end. For better and worse, the 2022 RDX is a safe, reasonable choice. Stay away from the top Platinum trim and it could be a decent value as well.
|Engine Cylinders||Turbo I4|
|Peak Horsepower||272 hp @ 6,500 rpm|
|Peak Torque||280 lb-ft @ 1,600–4,500 rpm|
|Fuel Economy||11.3 / 9.1 / 10.3 L/100 km cty/hwy/cmb|
|Cargo Space||835/1,668 L seats up/down|
|Model Tested||2022 Acura RDX Platinum Elite A-Spec|
|Price as Tested||$62,075|
$500 – Platinum White Pearl paint