Restyling a Best-Selling Premium Compact SUV
The Acura RDX has been one of the best-selling compact premium SUVs since 2006, and has sold more than 50,000 every year since 2015. With this success you had better bet folks at Acura were careful when doing a light restyle for the 2022 RDX, with a refresh of the exterior, interior and suspension plus added standard technology.
The 272 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque comes courtesy of 91 octane pumping through a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine. Torque comes in at a low 1,600 rpm, getting power to the all-wheel drive system, which Acura calls SH-AWD, through a 10-speed automatic. Using the sequential SportShift paddle shifters helped the automatic get through the gears quicker, with zero-to-60 times consistently around 6.4-seconds.
The EPA fuel economy numbers of 21 mpg city/26 highway/23 combined are almost exactly what we got covering 301 miles driving through Southern California. We were hoping to get 30 mpg on the highway, but no matter how hard we tried the best we could do was 28.1 mpg over a 130-mile run with the adaptive cruise control set at 65 mph. It wouldn’t be a surprise if the next generation RDX is a hybrid or plug-in hybrid to get that fuel economy into the mid-30 miles per gallon range.
The four drive modes of Comfort, Normal, Sport, and Snow are part of the Integrated Dynamics System. Managed by the large wheel on the center console, selecting one of the modes integrates specific driving dynamics that affect the throttle response, steering, suspension dampers, and the exhaust note. The biggest swing is from Comfort to Sport where the feel is noticeable during acceleration and ride dynamics. Comfort was the place to be when on the open road, while Sport was where you want to be when carving through forests or mountains.
SH-AWD = Super Handling – All-Wheel Drive
The “SH” stands for Super Handling, a big promise from a 4,059-pound compact SUV. The engineered handling characteristics are delivered through the electrified torque vectoring that instantly applies traction to the wheel most in need of grip. Torque vectoring is most effective during accelerating and turning, where the engine torque is split right-to-left and front-to-rear.
Whether on high-speed freeway onramps or mountain corners, the driver doesn’t sense these torque transitions, except in the positive and predictable handling being delivered. Understeer was non-existent, so it was possible to get back on the gas quickly when hitting corners hard. The Brits call this “point and squirt cornering,” where you take aim, then using positive braking and a slow entry with quick steering, you can accelerate out of the corner hard and never lose grip or confidence. This describes the RDX SH-AWD with torque vectoring, perfectly.
The mechanical part of the handling includes front MacPherson struts, rear multi-link, stabilizer bars, and an active shock absorber suspension system that was retuned for 2022. The 20-inch aluminum alloy wheels are shod with 255/45 Goodyear RS-A all-season tires providing sure and confident grip, with the RDX SH-AWD feeling planted at highway speeds or aggressive cornering. Straight and consistent stops come from four-wheel ABS disc brakes and electronic brake force distribution and brake assist.
Exterior: A Family Resemblance
The RDX SH-AWD A-Spec Advance received styling changes for 2022 that make it resemble its larger sibling, the MDX. The Apex Blue Pearl on our RDX, set against the blacked-out grille had chrome restricted to the emblems, with the Shark Gray multi-spoke wheels adding a great look. The jewel-eye headlights are set wide on the fenders of the restyled diamond pentagon grille, which sports a very large Acura emblem. The sides are smooth with architectural sculpturing, the roof housed a panoramic power moonroof and ended with a very small spoiler over the hands-free power liftgate. LED tail lights and twin, round chrome exhaust tips on the outer edges of the fascia completed the rear design.
Interior: Quiet Comfort
Acura has improved interior quietness with Active Sound Control, which they say “cancels exterior sounds from polluting the interior ambiance.” What it does is uses interior microphones to detect noise, and then uses an amplifier to send a canceling noise to negate the unwanted sounds. Pretty fancy stuff that you don’t notice except that the RDX is a pleasant place to spend time.
Clean Fleet Report drove the 2022 Acura RDX A-Spec Advance, which is one of five trims–RDX, Technology, A-Spec, Advance, A-Spec Advance and PMC Edition,. Our RDX A-Spec Advance included the Tech and Advance packages, which loaded the interior with every feature expected on a premium SUV, including customizable, LED ambient lighting with 27 themes. The black dash with brushed aluminum and UltraSuede inserts was part of the interior’s overall Ebony and Graystone color scheme. The 16-way power ventilated and heated driver and front passenger seats were covered in Milano Premium leather.
Out back, the second row has generous head and leg room with heated outbound seats. HVAC vents, power ports and cup holders complete the rear seating environment. With the rear seat upright there is 31.1 cubic feet of space, but drop the 60/40 folding seat and the cargo room behind the front seats grows to 79.8 cubic feet. Make sure to lift the far rear floor cover to reveal handy storage compartments.
The cockpit design is driver-friendly, but the gauges would be easier to read if the numbers were black against a white background as opposed to being red. The usual type of gear shifter was replaced with a large chromed wheel located on the center stack. All controls are in easy reach, including those for the dual-zone automatic climate system. The heated, square-bottom leather-wrapped steering wheel contains audio telephone, Bluetooth and voice controls. The center console has a lower area to store smaller items and where the wireless phone charger is located.
Standard on the RDX A-Spec Advance is the great sounding 710-watt 16-channel, 16-speaker, Panasonic-developed ELS Studio premium audio system that included FM/HDAM and SiriusXM. There is an auxiliary audio jack for MP3 playback, two USB-A charge ports, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, with built-in Amazon Alexa. This sound system is amazing, quite possibly better than anything in your house.
Convenience features include a 10.5-inch head-up display, rain sensing wipers, rear camera washer, an auto-dimming rear view mirror, Homelink, a Wi-Fi hotspot, navigation with voice recognition and a Surround View Camera. The camera provides a downward 360º look at anything that may be in the vehicle’s surrounding area, and you will come to rely on it, especially when backing and parking.
One feature that is becoming more common is automatic brake hold, where at a stop light the brakes are automatically applied allowing drivers to release their feet from the pedal. This convenience feature saves on lower leg fatigue, relieving the need to firmly press on the brake pedal.
The RDX A-Spec Advance is well-equipped with the AcuraWatch suite of safety and driver assistance technologies. Some of these are lane keep assist, road departure mitigation, and lane departure warning. I had the unplanned opportunity to test the collision mitigation braking. Believe me when I tell you it works, and you will be glad it is on the 2022 Acura RDX.
Other safety features are eight air bags, a tire pressure monitoring system with a tire sealer and repair kit, collapsible steering column, anti-theft alarm, and an engine immobilizer.
The 2022 RDX has earned a U.S. Government National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) 5-Star Overall Vehicle Score, where 5 Stars is its highest safety rating. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has not rated the 2022 RDX, but did award the 2021 RDX its top safety pick for overall crash protection.
Pricing and Warranties
Clean Fleet Report’s 2022 RDX SH-AWD Advance, with the optional $500 Apex Blue Pearl paint and the not-at-all-optional $1,045 destination and handling and fee, came to $52,845.
The 2022 RDX comes with these warranties:
- New Vehicle – Four years/50,000 miles
- Powertrain – Six years/70,000 miles
- Roadside Assistance – Four years/50,000 miles
- Corrosion Perforation – Five years/Unlimited miles
Observations: 2022 Acura RDX SH-AWD A-Spec Advance
Built in the Honda-Acura plant in East Liberty, Ohio, the RDX has been a longtime Acura success story, and there is nothing about the 2022 RDX that should derail that record.
The 2022 Acura RDX SH-AWD A-Spec Advance offers good value for what it delivers, which is probably why consumers have made it a sales leader.
The 2022 refresh will take the RDX until the next iteration a few years from now, which may see the addition of some sort of electrification.
If you need a bit more space than a sedan, and want to step-up to a more premium SUV, then by all means visit your Acura dealership and take the RDX SH-AWD Advance for a lengthy test drive. We will be interested in what you think.
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Story and photos by John Faulkner.
Other Premium Compact SUVs We’ve Checked Out (& More Electrics Coming)
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Road Test: 2018 Volvo XC60 PHEV
Road Test: 2019 Infiniti QX50
Road Test: 2021 Buick Envision
Flash Drive: 2022 Lexus NX
Road Trip: 2021 Lexus NX 300h
Flash Drive: 2018 Alfa Romeo Stevio
Road Test: 2019 Genesis GV70
Clean Fleet Report is loaned free test vehicles from automakers to evaluate, typically for a week at a time. Our road tests are based on this one-week drive of a new vehicle. Because of this we don’t address issues such as long-term reliability or total cost of ownership. In addition, we are often invited to manufacturer events highlighting new vehicles or technology. As part of these events we may be offered free transportation, lodging or meals. We do our best to present our unvarnished evaluations of vehicles and news irrespective of these inducements.
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