2022 Acura RDX Review Update

Chris Teague, Independent Expert | Feb 08, 2022

Introduction - Find the best Acura deals!

The Acura RDX is a compact premium SUV with a zesty turbocharged engine and sharp styling. It forms the smaller half of the Acura SUV lineup, including the MDX. Because of its price and positioning, the RDX sees competition from both premium and mainstream brands. The Acura brings a taut chassis, sporty style, and decent tech, but it's not as plush as its European rivals, and some mainstream models offer the same or slightly better experience for less money.

Acura completely redesigned the RDX for the 2019 model year. A few years deep into its third generation, the SUV gets another refresh with updated front-end styling and new standard tech. Updates for 2022 include:

  • Restyled grille and front fascia
  • New tech, including wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
  • Interior noise reduction
  • A-Spec now available with Advance Package

Standard AcuraWatch safety package now includes blind-spot warning

Acura's trim levels are different from other manufacturers in that it calls them "Packages." The 2022 RDX model line includes:

  • RDX
  • RDX with Technology Package
  • RDX with Advance Package
  • RDX A-Spec with Technology Package
  • RDX A-Spec with Advance Package

Acura offered a limited-production PMC Edition for a short time. The 200-unit run came in a special Long Beach Blue Pearl paint color from the NSX Type S. All 2022 RDXs come with a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine that produces 272 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque. It's paired with a 10-speed shiftable automatic transmission and either front- or all-wheel drive.

Previously, J.D. Power reviewed the 2021 Acura RDX. This review focuses on the RDX's updates for 2022 and how they potentially impact its overall appeal to consumers.

What Owners Say About the Acura RDX - Find the best Acura deals!

2022 Acura RDX A-Spec Advance Apex Blue Front Quarter View

Photo: Christian Wardlaw

The Acura RDX competes in the Compact Premium SUV market segment. According to data collected from verified new-vehicle buyers for the J.D. Power 2021 Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study, 56 percent of new Acura RDX buyers are male (vs. 53% for the segment), and the median age of a new RDX buyer is 60 years (vs. 60).

As part of the APEAL Study, owners rated the RDX in 10 primary categories. Listed below in descending order, you'll find their preferences from their most favorite thing about the vehicle to their least favorite:

  • Exterior styling
  • Driving feel
  • Feeling of safety
  • Getting in and out
  • Interior design
  • Powertrain
  • Driving comfort
  • Setting up and starting
  • Infotainment system
  • Fuel economy

In the 2021 APEAL Study, the RDX ranks 10th out of 12 Compact Premium SUV models.

What Our Independent Expert Says About the Acura RDX - Find the best Acura deals!

In the sections that follow, our independent expert analyzes an RDX A-Spec Advance Package equipped with the following options:

  • All-wheel drive
  • Heated sport steering wheel
  • All-weather interior floor mats
  • Illuminated door sill trim
  • Welcome lighting
  • Apex Blue Pearl paint

The price of the test vehicle came to $55,432, including the $1,045 destination charge.

Updated Styling, Inside and Out

2022 Acura RDX A-Spec Advance Interior Dashboard Orchid Leather

Photo: Christian Wardlaw

Acura updated the RDX's styling for 2022, with the most noticeable changes taking place up front. Revisions to the SUV's grille include a thinner chrome surround, but previous years' unique diamond grate pattern remains. Enlarged air intakes and a new front fascia design are reminiscent of the features found in the larger MDX SUV, and Acura says the new styling is intended to make the RDX look wider and more powerful. RDXs equipped with fog lights get updated chrome trim.

The RDX gets a massaged backside for the new model year as well. The rear fascia is reshaped and houses new rectangular exhaust finishers. The sporty A-Spec trim gets large gloss-black exhaust finishers for a more aggressive look.

In addition to massaged exterior styling, the new RDX comes with an updated, quieter interior. Acura installed a new front fender liner to reduce road noise and retuned the vehicle's Active Sound Control system to cancel more exterior noise. Even the engine's idle speed got an adjustment, down to 950 rpm from 1100 rpm, to further reduce noise, and 2-wheel-drive models come with a new lower torque rod to minimize vibration.

The RDX Technology Package comes with new, thicker carpet padding, and the front doors get new sound insulation and acoustic glass. According to Acura, the top Advance Package brings the quietest cabin ever fitted to an RDX. The automaker says it added more sound insulation in the ceiling, behind the dash, under the hood, and around the drivetrain tunnel. The rear hatch also gets extra sound-deadening materials, and the cargo area bins now have sound insulation.

RDX A-Spec Now Available with Advance Package

The A-Spec configuration brings aggressive styling, dark wheels, large exhaust finishers, and interior updates such as an ELS Studio 3D stereo and synthetic suede upholstery. Though it significantly changes the RDX's styling, A-Spec does not alter its performance in any way. Buyers who opt for the upgrade can now add the top-level Advance Package to the RDX, including a surround-view camera system, a head-up display, heated and ventilated seats, and adaptive dampers.

All A-Spec-equipped RDXs have 20-inch wheels, special A-Spec badges, and unique interior styling touches. The A-Spec with Advance Package is available with a new orchid interior color option with black contrasting panels.

The RDX A-Spec has been available with the Technology Package for a while. The options group includes navigation, an ELS Studio premium audio system, leather upholstery, and a wireless charging pad.

Updated Drive Modes and Handling

2022 Acura RDX A-Spec Advance Safety System Display

Photo: Christian Wardlaw

The Advance Package picks up adaptive dampers for the new model year that work with the RDX's drive modes to improve the ride quality and handling. Drive modes include:

  • Normal: Balance between ride comfort and responsiveness
  • Comfort: Softest suspension setting with the quietest ride
  • Sport: Most aggressive suspension setting that provides the best handling
  • Snow: Soft suspension setting from comfort mode coupled with softened throttle response

Acura says the RDX's drive modes are now more distinct from each other, with unique programming of the electronic power steering system, throttle, active sound control system, and LED ambient interior lighting. Additionally, the brake booster system has been retuned for better pedal feel.

New Standard Tech and Safety Features

Acura added several new infotainment and tech features to the RDX for 2022 but left one controversial detail in place. The standard 7-inch infotainment display now includes a digital speedometer. New standard features include wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, USB-C charging, and Amazon Alexa capability. Alexa can make calls, play audiobooks, play music, help find parking spots, and interact with other smart home devices. 

The RDX's trackpad controller system did not change with the tech updates and remained the only physical input method for its infotainment system. Making an on-screen selection requires pressing on the trackpad in specific places, which requires more attention than it should.

Every RDX comes standard with the AcuraWatch package of advanced driving assistance systems. It brings automatic emergency braking, pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control with low-speed follow, lane-keeping assistance, traffic sign recognition, automatic high-beam headlights, and hill-start assist. Blind-spot warning is also newly standard for 2022, improved with a new lane-change assistance feature and an extended 100-foot range.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) hasn't evaluated the 2022 RDX for crashworthiness, but the 2021 RDX earned top scores and took home a Top Safety Pick+ award. The structurally similar 2020 RDX was the last model tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration; it scored the highest-possible 5 out of 5 stars for overall crashworthiness.

Independent Expert Opinion - Find the best Acura deals!

2022 Acura RDX A-Spec Advance Apex Blue Rear Quarter View

Photo: Christian Wardlaw

Changes made to the Acura RDX for 2022 improved an already comfortable, sporty SUV with standout styling. Even so, it's outpaced and outclassed by most of its rivals, and there are several great alternatives for roughly the same amount of money. With all the things it does well, the biggest knock against the RDX is that its competition is just so good.

That said, there is a group of buyers for whom the RDX makes great sense. It provides an upscale, sporty experience at a price that undercuts the big-name competition from Europe. Buyers wanting the premium experience of a Mercedes-Benz or Audi without the stigma or the price tag will find that the RDX is a good choice. It delivers a majority of the high-end experience for less money, and there's not even a powertrain penalty for choosing the Acura now, as most automakers rely on a turbocharged 4-cylinder for all but the most premium or performance-oriented models.

There's also something to be said for the RDX's safety equipment and crash-test scores. Acura offers more standard features than most premium brands, and the inclusion of blind-spot warning for 2022 makes the package even more attractive. Volvo is one competitor that focuses heavily on safety, and the XC40 is a good alternative to the RDX at a lower price.

Chris Teague is an experienced writer in the automotive and technology fields. In addition to JDPower.com, his work appears in numerous digital and print publications, including Forbes, The Drive, Autoweek, and others.

The opinions expressed in this review are the author’s own, not J.D. Power’s.

No portion of these reviews may be reproduced, distributed, publicly displayed, or used for a derivative work without J.D. Power’s written permission. © 2022 J.D. Power

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