What is Acura True Touchpad Interface?

Chris Teague | Apr 13, 2022

Thanks to rearview cameras and safety equipment regulations, nearly every new vehicle comes with a screen on the dash. Further, automakers have come up with various ways to interact with that screen, taking cars way past the simplicity of a touchscreen. Some install rotary dials, and some opt for a mousepad-style trackpad, but Acura has taken a different approach.

Acura True Touchpad Interface Infotainment System Controller

Called True Touchpad Interface, Acura's infotainment system lets users control the display using a location-sensitive touchpad that eschews the "traditional" swiping motion with a design that reacts to where the user touches the pad. Most Acura vehicles come with the system, except for those where there's a traditional gearshift lever or limited space.

As with anything new, Acura has seen mixed reactions and reviews of its True Touchpad Interface over the years, ranging from people who love having a new way to interact with their car to those who don't see the point in recreating the wheel.

How Does Acura True Touchpad Interface Work? - Find the best Acura deals!

Rather than featuring a touchscreen, Acura's True Touchpad system controls infotainment options using a flat plastic interface in the center console. It looks nearly identical to a mouse trackpad on a notebook computer, but its intended use is different.

Acura's touchpad interface uses what the automaker calls "absolute positioning technology." This means that a press in one area of the pad corresponds to a reaction to the same area of the screen. The system breaks up screen real estate into blocks that work with the segmented touchpad to create a faster way to navigate infotainment options.

The touchpad interacts with the larger portion of the screen, but a separate touchpad controls another smaller part of the display. Unlike the main pad, the smaller touch unit is mainly intended to swipe through a few supplementary screens on the side of the display. Users can view audio information, the time, and other data on the smaller portion of the screen.

Is True Touchpad Better than a Touchscreen? - Find the best Acura deals!

First, the good stuff: The Acura touchpad (and all other touchpads, for that matter) gives the driver a more ergonomic method to control the infotainment system. Shorter people and those with mobility issues may have trouble reaching forward to interact with a touchscreen, so a touchpad offers a less strained way to control the system. It may also reduce distraction and allow the driver to return their hands to the wheel more quickly.

User reviews and complaints around Acura's touchpad system tend to revolve around the absolute positioning tech because it's not how many people expect a touch interface to behave. Smartphones have trained our brains to expect a swipe-and-drag motion to navigate up or down in a menu, so the action of pressing a specific part of a touchpad seems unintuitive at first.

Once over the learning curve, the system becomes much easier to use, but there are still situations where a touchscreen would be better. The first is scrolling through lengthy menus where a long swiping motion could quickly move the list, but repeatedly tapping and moving the touchpad gets annoying. The biggest issue is with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, where the positioning system doesn't work as well, and the user is left swiping at the touchpad instead.

Which Acura Models Have True Touchpad Interface? - Find the best Acura deals!

Most Acura models come with the trackpad interface, but a couple do not. The MDXRDX, and TLX have push-button gear selectors, which accommodate the touchpad in the center console. The ILX sedan has a traditional gearshift lever and does not have room for the pad, and Acura mounted the NSX supercar's push-button shifter on a narrow center console with no extra space. The upcoming 2023 Integra will also have a gearshift in place of a trackpad when it's released.

Outside of Acura, other automakers have taken similar approaches, though without absolute positioning technology. Lexus has used trackpads in several of its models but hasn't broken through to widespread acclaim. Mercedes also uses a similar system in its cars, but it functions more like a traditional mousepad.

Summary - Find the best Acura deals!

The Acura True Touchpad Interface infotainment system is just another way to interact with your car, but it may be outside of the norm for many people. Though it doesn't take long to learn, the touchpad departs from a traditional touchscreen or trackpad-like controllers. It's also not quite as intuitive as a rotary dial, where there are only two directions a user can select. That said, it's essential to try the system for yourself, as it's neither as bad as some people say nor as innovative as others believe. If you are comfortable with the trackpad, it's a perfectly acceptable method for controlling your car's infotainment system.

Check out our Shopping Guides section for more information on other new-vehicle technologies, car buyer's guides, and more.

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