Compact luxury crossovers are a red hot segment, and to keep pace with the ever-increasing onslaught of new and updated rivals, Acura is giving its entry a makeover. The 2022 Acura RDX aims to stand out from the crowd with a smoother exterior redesign and a more luxurious, tech-focused interior.
The third-generation RDX debuted in 2019, riding an all-new platform that shed any links with the Honda Civic and CR-V, close relatives of past RDXs. Minor updates since then included a single color added in 2020, Platinum White, and the hand-built PMC Edition unveiled for 2021 with an eye-catching Thermal Orange paint job and every option box checked.
For 2022, the RDX still employs the same turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four engine and ten-speed automatic transmission. Three options packages—Technology, A-Spec, and Advanced—segment the five-seater into stratified price levels, as does the choice between front and all-wheel drive, while the PMC Edition receives Long Beach Blue Pearl paint over an Orchid Milano interior
The RDX was Acura’s best-selling vehicle in 2020, but after anemic sales so far this year, it channels the visuals of its big brother, the new 2022 MDX, for a new look.
Smoothing Out Acura’s Angular Exteriors
Pandemic-related shortages led Acura to delay the larger MDX’s redesign, which was originally scheduled for 2021. Building on the themes of the MDX, the 2022 RDX sports a revised front fascia featuring vertically oriented air inlets and less of the overstyled angularity that typified the Honda subsidiary’s designs for the past few years. The chrome grille surround, a divisive Acura statement for more than a decade, shrinks even more on the new front end and helps the rest of the body’s unchanged aero lines somehow feel less busy.
The rear bumper also received attention, most noticeably a fascia featuring altered cutouts and rectangular exhaust tips. A new crop of wheels measuring 19 and 20 inches further contribute to the RDX’s reduced visual clutter, especially for vehicles equipped with the darker rims that come on the Advance, Technology, and A-Spec packages.
“The Most Premium RDX Cabin Ever”
Previous RDX cabins have trended towards feeling sporty rather than lush but upgradeded materials, increased sound deadening, and improved tech allow Acura to introduce model year 2022 as what it terms the “Most Premium RDX Cabin Ever.”
Carrying over from 2021, Acura’s Active Sound Control noise cancellation system contributes to a quieter ride—that is, until the system routes faux engine sounds into the cabin during acceleration. Additional isolation from road and wind noise comes courtesy of thicker carpet padding and acoustically optimized glass, extending even to additional insulation within the D-pillar.
For the most discerning auditory experience, however, buyers can tick the Advance Package box and add more sound insulation to the roof, rear doors, dash, drivetrain tunnel and engine bay. The Advance Package also features open-pore wood dash details, the swankiest among a plethora of upmarket materials that includes ultrasuede door panels and real aluminum trim now standard across all spec levels for 2022 (finished in a bronze tone on cars equipped with the Saddle Brown interior).
Acura also clearly recognized consumer demand for improved connectivity. Industry standards like wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as Alexa Built-In, filter into the 2022 RDX, while the Technology and Advance Packages both include wireless smartphone charging and a more modern USB-C port. An ambient LED lighting system clearly caters to the younger crowd offering 27 distinct color combinations.
Still, the majority of RDX buyers want a family-focused crossover, so the AcuraWatch suite of driver’s aids now comes standard across the board with safety features like blind spot monitoring, lane change assist, forward collision warnings with automatic emergency braking and more—Acura claims improvements throughout the system, like a four-fold range increase for lane change assist.
The Same Powertrain With Modified Drive Modes
The commitment to a quiet interior extends all the way to a lower cold idle for the VTEC inline-four, dropped from 1,100 to 950 RPM, plus a new torque rod on front-wheel-drive models that helps to reduce engine vibrations. Otherwise, the RDX employs an unchanged 2.0-liter mill routing 272 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque to the front or all four wheels via a ten-speed automatic transmission and the optional Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) system.
Acura did decide to update the powertrain’s four drive modes to go alongside the RDX’s cosmetic changes. Choosing between Normal, Comfort, Sport and Snow via the prominent Dynamic Mode Dial on the center console adjusts throttle response, electronic power steering assist and those fake engine noises.
The Advance Package, meanwhile, adds adjustable suspension damping between the drive modes, which should hopefully improve upon the handling that already helped earlier RDX model years stand out from the competition.
Keeping Up With The Competition
The swamped crossover market remains a challenge for any entrant, old or new. This year’s sales leaders have been the BMW X3, Lexus NX and Audi Q5—only the Audi did not receive a revamp for the forthcoming model year and the Lexus is new from the ground up.
The current RDX started strong in 2019 and kept up its sales pace in 2020, despite volume being down across the board due to Covid-19, but sales have been relatively flat or even down in 2021, with sales well short of the X3 and the dated outgoing NX. Perhaps Acura buyers emerging from lockdowns turned to the larger MDX for hauling the family and gear on outdoor adventures, as even it has outpaced the RDX throughout this calendar year.
Blame stimulus checks, pandemic wanderlust, redesigned competitors or perhaps the Tesla Model Y’s more than 500% year-over-year sales gains, but the RDX clearly needed a boost in the form of some MDX DNA.
Betting On The PMC Edition
Acura’s most prominent advertising will no doubt feature the photogenic PMC Edition, only 200 of which will be hand-built alongside the brand’s NSX supercars at the Performance Manufacturing Center in Marysville, Ohio.
But as much as it might seem designed to target Audi, BMW or Lexus, the outgoing PMC Edition stickered for $52,995 including a $1,995 destination charge (likely attributable to the included custom car cover and enclosed transport to dealerships). Its rarity has also meant buyers are unlikely to see one on the road and get curious about heading to the dealer, although plenty of TV promotion helps.
Acura has not yet revealed pricing for the 2022 RDX but a base 2021 started much lower at $38,400. Expect the full range of nine different variants for 2022, including all four trim packages in either front or all-wheel drive plus the AWD-only PMC Edition, to cover a similar spread when dealer deliveries begin November 2 of this year.