2022 Acura RDX A-SPEC ADVANCE Review by Ben Lewis

2 years ago, we reviewed the then all-new RDX and were mightily impressed with both the SUV, but also direction the brand had been going. This was before the massive upgrade we saw on the TLX, and the introduction of the soon-coming, Integra 4-door.

But if you thought Acura would catch a breather, you’re wrong. We’ve just tested the 2022 model, and there are significant upgrades all around. Re-test one of our favorites? You bet!

Bolder = Better

The RDX was one of the first to get a hunk of love from the brand’s new design language, taking what was a pleasant design, and transforming it into an exciting, fashion-forward look. For 2022, the SUV gets some new tweaks that take that tasty design even further.

Up front, it looks a bit wider, thanks to larger front air intakes, and a wider “Diamond Pentagon” grille, with a splatter pattern that we think looks so cool, framed by one of the most distinctive “Jewel Eye” LED light displays you’ll find. Finishing it off is a new fog light display.

The profile remains athletic with wide shoulder lines. Being an A-SPEC model, you get some special badging and black trim to add some menace. A deep cut-in in the lower door, and a strong swept back line past the C-pillar looks sporty, while new design, black 20-inch alloy wheels hint that this is a serious driver’s vehicle.

The rear continues the sporty theme, with bold LED taillights, a deeply cut-in rear door, aero spoiler on top and two of the largest exhaust pipes you’ll find poking below any SUV. The finishing touch on our tester was the bold Apex Blue Pearl paint. We love that Acura has found a nice spot that looks strong and bold yet won’t be mistaken for an Audi or BMW.

Advanced Design

Inside, the RDX steps aside from the pure luxury vibes you find in Audi and BMW, and leans heavily on sport. Acura has a love of switchgear, and at first what looks to be a lot of controls turns out to be well laid out and thought out. Some manufacturers hide everything on page after page of info-tainmnet systems – here it’s all out in the open.

There is a definite cockpit feel, with large analog gauges that glow red at night, a thick flat-bottomed D-shape steering wheel, and a pronounced center console. At the top, a large and legible screen serves up info, with a (thank you!) volume knob below. Climate controls follow next, with a large Dynamic Mode button that’s a centerpiece and shows the brand’s focus on performance.

Below that is a pushbutton automatic transmission – we’re still not warming to these on any manufacturer’s models – we’d much rather have a shift lever. And behind that is a touchpad controller for the info-tainment system – it’s a good system, but a little fidgety. Thankfully, Acura gives a lot of shortcuts, so you spend less time fiddling, and more time driving.

Acura has upped their game on tech for 2022, with Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Amazon Alexa Built-in, available wireless charging and LED interior ambient lighting.

It’s also a nice place to be, with goodies like real textured aluminum trim, Ultrasuede with contrasting stitching, and on our tester, Orchid leather interior color. It is gorgeous, although we are partial to the red trim you normally find on the A-Spec models. Still, it is elegant, and it’s nice to have a choice!

Whatever color hide suits your stride, you’ll find the sport seats exceptionally comfortable up front – heated and cooled, with 16-way power adjustability for both sides. We also love the seating position for the driver – you may be sitting up high, but it feels cozy and coupe like.

Rear seat room is spacious, and with the rear seats up, there’s plenty of cargo space. Those rears fold down easily too, and below the cargo floor is a nice hidden storage area to keep valuables and items you don’t want rolling or sloshing around.

That’s all nice, but how does it drive?

Glad you asked! For those who love to drive, the best news is Acura is constantly tweaking to make the RDX a better drive. Under the hood remains a 2.0-liter turbo, 4-cylinder that feels even stronger than its 272 horsepower and 280 lb.-ft of torque. It’s got a great throaty note, and when you put it in Sport Mode, it really pulls hard and shifts quick.

Handling those quick shifts is a 10-speed automatic, while our tester had the SH-AWD all-wheel-drive system that biases the power to the rear wheels for a better performance feel.

Speaking of a better feel, Acura has made the driving modes of Comfort, Normal and Sport more distinct, and it’s noticeable. Normal is really perfect for around town driving, but once you feel the enhanced response of Sport, you’re a goner…it’s way too much fun not to stay in the most aggressive mode.

Ride quality is quite good, even in Sport, and handling has that superb Acura feel of being light on its feet, precise and easy to toss around with plenty of grip. We’ve noticed this in all the Acuras we’ve tested lately, and it shows how thoroughly engineered the vehicles are.

Adding to that, Acura says the ’22 model is 30% improved in making a quieter cabin, and it does feel extremely well put together. The RDX easily holds its own with the pricier German brands, but still has a unique Acura feel. That is exceptional.

They’re also smart to know that in a premium market, all the safety features are expected, so on top of the AcuraWatch suite of safety gear, the RDX now adds Traffic Sign Recognition, Blind Spot Indicator with Lane Change Assist, Rear Seatbelt Reminder, and Low Speed Autonomous Emergency Braking.

Would we write an RX for the RDX?

The good Doctor says yes! Most of the changes for 2022 are across the board, so it’s really about finding the trim that appeals to you. The entry-level model is extremely well equipped, starting at $39,300. ($41,500 for AWD). 

At the other end of the spectrum was our tester, an all-new trim level combining A-Spec and Advance Package (including Surround View Camera, Head-Up Display, Adaptive Damper System and more). Makes sense – the best looks with all the goodies. Doing so brings a sticker of $51,300, adding our stunning Apex Blue Pearl paint ($500) and destination ($1,045) rings the bell at $52,845.

Close competitors would include the all-new Genesis 2022 GV70 2.5T AWD – sure to be a nice vehicle and competitive at $54,295. On the Euro side a comparable Audi Q5 would come in at $54,590, so we’d say the Acura has a small price advantage, in a very competitive segment.

We love the 2022 RDX. Continuous improvement keeps it as one of the best SUVs in its class, with exciting performance, crisp looks and loads of tech, combined with pure Acura DNA make it a standout in crowded field.