2022 Acura RDX: fresh look for popular premium-compact crossover

2022 Acura MDX prototype (above) could preview 2022 RDX styling updates
2021 Acura RDX

By Chuck Giametta

What changes will make the 2022 Acura RDX different?

Updated styling and perhaps more standard safety features for Acura’s most popular vehicle and America’s top-selling premium compact crossover SUV.

The changes aim to sustain RDX as a value-for-money standout in a hotly contested segment. Its price advantage against rivals such as the BMW X3, Audi Q5, and Mercedes-Benz GLC is apt to be challenged, however, by the 2022 Genesis GV70. That all-new entry from the upscale brand of South Korea’s Hyundai is also expected to undercut the Europeans on price – while exceeding the RDX for luxury and performance.           

Acura is likely to wait until the RDX’s next full redesign – anticipated for model-year 2025 — to boost performance significantly. But the model-year-2022 refresh could strengthen an already comely crossover by drawing inspiration from Acura’s hot new TLX sedan and its dramatic next-generation MDX midsize crossover.

Should I wait for the 2022 Acura RDX or buy a 2021?

2021 RDX Advance

Wait for the ’22 to get styling and features that should be unaltered through the conclusion of today’s third-generation RDX design. Wait as well to see if Acura enhances standard features, for example, by including blind-spot and rear cross-traffic detection with the entry-level trim.

Buy a ’21 if you’re content with a five-passenger crossover that still looks fresh and are disinclined to pay more for a ‘22 model that won’t be fundamentally different. Acura won’t change the ’22 RDX’s main body panels, its engineering, or powertrain. It’ll probably carryover a proven model lineup, too.  

Expect the return of a Base RDX that can be bolstered with three extra-cost packages: Technology, A-Spec, and Advance. Each should again be priced as a separate model, a custom Acura borrows from parent company Honda. The sole engine should remain a turbocharged four-cylinder paired with a choice of front-wheel drive or Acura’s Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD).

Acura also could extend for another year the PMC Edition, an RDX flagship hand-built alongside the company’s NSX sports car at its Performance Manufacturing Center (PMC) in Ohio. Acura introduced the PMC Edition as a 2021 model and limited production to just 360 units, all finished in Thermal Orange Pearl set off by exclusive trim. Return of a PMC Edition could lend extra pizzaz to the refreshed ’22 lineup.

Will 2022 Acura RDX styling be different?     

2022 MDX prototype could foreshadow ’22 RDX taillamp design
2021 RDX

Yes, with changes concentrated on the nose and tail. The RDX was last fully redesigned for model-year 2019. Larger and better-looking than its 2013-2018 predecessor, it was given its own understructure, one no longer shared with the less prestigious Honda CR-V crossover.

It also introduced a new Acura design language, a racier look that influenced the newest TLX and MDX. For ’22, themes seen on those vehicles could filter back to the RDX. Look for a leaner interpretation of the brand’s inverted pentagonal grille, narrower LED headlamps, and a less fussy front fascia. In back, the taillamps could adopt the new “Chicane” shape.

The ’22 RDX’s basic shape and dimensions won’t change. And visual distinctions between trim levels should remain subtle, with A-Spec and Advance sporting LED fog lights, for instance. If Acura doesn’t bring back the PMC Edition, with its unique paint and trim, expect the A-Spec to again be the most eye-catching RDX, with gloss black exterior accents and 20-inch “shark gray” wheels in place of the other versions’ polished 19-inch alloys.

2021 RDX Advance

Inside, Acura could alter some surface textures but the ’22 RDX will retain a dual-cockpit layout and a tablet-style 10.2-inch display atop the dashboard. The screen is wide enough to present a range of infotainment, navigation, and vehicle data simultaneously. The system responds well enough to voice commands, but your primary interface will again be a roughly 2-square-inch laptop-type trackpad on the center console. Acura calls it the True Touchpad Interface.

We find it less user friendly than a conventional touchscreen and far more distracting than the turn-and-push central control knob found in some rivals. It uses a feature dubbed absolute positioning. A finger on the pad displays a cursor in the corresponding location on the screen. It reacts accurately to a tap, but your natural tendency to slide your finger from one quadrant to another can confuse it. Its handwriting recognition is relatively crude, too. Haptic feedback helps, but the driver is still prone to glance frequently between screen and pad to synchronize commands.

’21 RDX Integrated Dynamics controller (from top), transmission buttons, True Touchpad interface

Note that the new TLX introduces more advanced True Touchpad Interface software. Acura says it has more accurate “swipe zones,” better handwriting recognition, and other performance enhancements. We’d urge Acura to update the ’22 RDX’s version to reflect these changes. Either way, try before you buy.

Some drivers are likely to prefer a conventional transmission lever to the RDX’s console buttons, which require acclimation and never seem to achieve the second-nature status of a good-old gear lever. The design does allow storage space beneath the console to go with the cabin’s versatile array of pockets, bins, and boxes.

2021 RDX rear seat

Pricier rivals can be more opulent, but the RDX’s cabin materials should remain praiseworthy. Expect abundantly padded surfaces, solid panels, and precision switchgear. Leatherette upholstery and brushed-aluminum trim should remain standard. Leather should again be included with the Technology and Advance packages, the latter exchanging aluminum accents for natural olive ash burl wood. The A-Spec package should retain Milano premium leather with Ultrasuede inserts and dark aluminum trim.     

2021 RDX

Every ’22 RDX will again furnish generous room front and rear on comfortable, supportive seats. Ample cargo room is another asset, with 29.5 cubic feet behind the rear seatbacks, 58.9 cubic feet with them folded, and a handy underfloor box in the luggage area.

Any 2022 Acura RDX mechanical changes?

2021 RDX A-Spec

Enthusiasts could clamor for a high-performance RDX Type S with the 355-horsepower turbocharged V-6 from the TLX Type S and upcoming RDX Type S. Most rivals – including the Genesis GV70 — offer models with that level of power, or more.

Environmentalists might pine for an RDX hybrid to match the conventional and plug-in editions of compact premium crossovers from Audi, BMW, Lincoln, Mercedes Benz, and Volvo.

Unfortunately, neither a Type S nor an electrified RDX is likely to arrive before the next full redesign. The ’22 should be a mechanical repeat of the ‘21, returning with one engine in a class where multiple engine choices are the rule. The ’22 RDX’s turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder should again generate 272 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque (think of torque as the force that gets a vehicle moving, horsepower as the energy that keeps it moving). It’ll pair again with a 10-speed automatic transmission with steering-wheel paddle shifters.

At 5.7 seconds 0-60 mph, acceleration would remain competitive with base-engine versions of most rivals. The transmission in our most recent RDX tester, a 2021 A-Spec, suffered lackadaisical downshifts, however. That shortchanged if of the quick reaction required to safely exploit gaps in traffic and delayed highway-passing response. Once power came on, the RDX smoothly delivered impressive speed.

2021 RDX

We’ll also note that any powertrain apathy was effectively eliminated by selecting the Sport+ setting of the Integrated Dynamics system that’ll again be standard on every ’22 RDX. The system provides a console dial to select Snow, Comfort, Sport, and Sport+ powertrain modes.

The RDX will also have to await a redesign for a chance at the performance sophistication of the double-wishbone front suspension Acura’s putting in the new TLX and RDX. Until then, its MacPherson-strut front suspension will team with a stout underskin structure to furnish rewarding highway stability and sporty road manners around town and on curvy roads. Steering should remain sharp, body lean in fast turns well controlled.

Most RDX buyers will again choose wisely and opt for SH-AWD. It’s a boon to traction in the snow but also justifies its $2,000 premium by markedly improving handling on dry surfaces. Normally operating in front-wheel drive, it transfers up to 70 percent of available torque rearward to allay front-tire slip and maximize grip off the line. It can also distribute torque to either rear wheel, bolstering cornering prowess in most any situation. 

For best ride quality, look to the Advance Package, which comes with a driver-adjustable suspension as part of the Integrated Dynamics system. It smooths out some of the abrupt reactions suffered by the other versions over sharp bumps and ruts. This dearth of absorbency isn’t a deal breaker, but it should factor into your decision about the A-Spec package, where the low-profile 20-inch tires tend to exacerbate impact harshness.

Will 2022 Acura RDX fuel economy improve?

2021 RDX Advance

Unlikely. Expect the 2022 RDX’s EPA ratings to repeat those of the 2021 model, which were about average for premium compact crossovers with 2.0-liter turbo fours.

Look for the ’22 RDX to again rate 22/28/24 mpg city/highway/combined with front-wheel drive and 21/27/23 with AWD. The A-Spec Package’s 20-inch tires should again contribute to a rating reduction, to 22/27/24 mpg with front drive and 21/26/23 with AWD.

Acura should continue to recommend premium-grade 91-octane gasoline for the ’22 RDX.

Will the 2022 Acura RDX have new features?

2021 RDX panoramic moonroof

We’ll hold out hope for the updated Touchpad interface. And we’ll suggest Acura expand amenities by offering, say, a video rearview mirror that allows the driver to “see through” rear passengers or cargo. But adding significant new features is less likely than shuffling an item or two among trim levels.

Most significant would be extending the safety of blind-spot and rear cross-traffic detection to the Base-level 2022 RDX. Granted, Acura says only 15 percent of RDX buyers opt for the Base grade. But folks who don’t at least spring for the Technology Package – at $2,900 for 2021, the least expensive way to add those driver assists – deserve their protection, too.

Still, even the Base RDX will again come with a good selection of safety features as part of the standard AcuraWatch suite. It includes autonomous emergency braking designed stop the crossover automatically to mitigate a frontal collision with another vehicle, object, or pedestrian. Lane-departure warning with automatic steering correction is included. So is adaptive cruise control designed to maintain a set distance from traffic ahead, even in stop-and-go driving. Brake hold that keeps the vehicle stationary without requiring constant pressure on the brake pedal will be another returning convenience.

2021 RDX Advance

In addition to features mentioned earlier, expect the 2022 RDX Base grade to again come standard with automatic highbeam headlights, dual-zone automatic climate control, keyless access with pushbutton ignition, heated front seats, a 12-way power driver’s seat, a power rear liftgate, a panoramic moonroof, and ambient cabin lighting.

Connectivity via the standard AcuraLink telematics should again include a WiFi hotspot, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay with Siri Eyes Free, and a multi-angle rearview camera. Also available through AcuraLink should be Key by Amazon In-Car Delivery. It enables RDX owners with Amazon Prime to use their cellphone to remotely unlock and then relock their vehicle to accept a package.

The choice of about 40 percent of buyers, the Technology Package should remain the most popular 2022 RDX upgrade. It’ll again add an imbedded navigation system that can provide real-time GPS in the absence of a cell signal, Acura’s excellent ELS audio system with 12 speakers, and two USB charging ports for rear-seat occupants.

Acura probably will continue make the Technology Package a prerequisite for either the A-Spec or Advance package. About 20 percent of buyers should again opt for A-Spec kit. In addition to its appearance and upholstery upgrades, the package should again add ventilated front seats, a 16-speaker ELS audio system, a unique steering wheel, a black headliner, red instrument panel lighting, and sport pedals.

The choice of some 25 percent of RDX buyers, expect the Advance Package to also include ventilated seats and the 16-speaker audio upgrade, along with the adaptive suspension, rain-sensing windshield wipers, hands-free operation for the power liftgate, LED fog lights, extra sound insulation for the front side windows, a rear camera washer, a head-up instrument display, 16-way power adjustable front seats, heated outboard rear seats, and a surround-view camera.

How will 2022 Acura RDX prices be different?

PMC Edition was 2021 RDX limited-production flagship

They’ll likely increase. Prices rose an average of $1,400 for model-year 2021; a similar hike seems reasonable for the ‘22. Still, the 2022 RDX should remain the most affordable crossover in the segment, with an average sticker price around $45,750, including destination fee. That’s about where most competitors will start.

Pricing is clearly critical to RDX’s popularity. So is Acura’s reputation for reliability and resale value. Whether you consider Acura a true luxury brand may have a bearing on its value equation, too.

Price estimates here include Acura’s destination fee, which was $1,025 for the ’21 RDX. And remember, there are no factory options.

Expect the Base RDX to be priced around $40,600 with front-wheel drive and around $42,600 with AWD. With the Technology Package, estimated prices are $43,500 with front-drive and $45,500 with AWD.

With the A-Spec Package, estimated prices are $46,500 and $48,500, respectively. Figure the ’22 RDX with the Advance Package to be priced around $48,400 with front-drive and $50,400 with AWD.

If Acura reprises a PMC Edition, it would again come with every RDX feature, plus its exclusive appearance touches, and SH-AWD. Expect it to be priced around $54,400.

When will the 2022 Acura RDX come out?

2021 RDX

Expect a 2022 RDX release date in spring 2021.

Best 2022 Acura RDX competitors

Alfa Romeo Stelvio, Audi Q5, BMW X3, Cadillac XT5, Genesis GV70, Infiniti QX50, Jaguar F-Pace, Land Rover Discovery Sport, Range Rover Velar, Lincoln Corsair, Mercedes-Benz GLC and GLB, Porsche Macan, Tesla Model Y, Volvo XC60

About Chuck Giametta

This nationally recognized, award-winning writer brings to Carpreview.com two decades of automotive testing and reporting for newspapers, books, magazines, and the Internet. The former Executive Auto Editor of Consumer Guide, Chuck has covered cars for HowStuffWorks.com, Collectible Automobile magazine, and the Publications International Ltd. automotive book series. This ex-newspaper reporter has also appeared as an automotive expert on network television and radio. He’s a charter member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association, the president of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Media association, and a juror for the annual Active Lifestyle Vehicle of the Year awards. Chuck writes from Colorado Springs, Colo. If you have a question for Chuck, write to him at [email protected]