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Worth the wait

Acura isn’t promising speedy delivery, but the RDX will put a smile on the driver’s face

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Look up the 2022 Acura RDX on the company’s Canadian website and staring at you in big red letters are the words, “Go away!”

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Look up the 2022 Acura RDX on the company’s Canadian website and staring at you in big red letters are the words, “Go away!”

No, the website isn’t really that harsh, but there is a bold warning that suggests you not hold your breath for an RDX. “Due to strong demand and supply-chain inventory challenges, some 2022 models may be almost sold out and may not be available in every region or at every dealer,” the ominous warning begins.

“There may be significant delivery delays on ordered models. Delivery times cannot be guaranteed. Speak with your local Acura dealer for more information or to ask about upcoming 2023 models.”

Which may well be Acura’s way of saying by the time you get one, it will be a 2023 model. Not that it affects the following review, since spokesman John Bordignon says the 2023 model is a carryover, meaning no changes.

The RDX is also among the last gasps of fuel-burning Acuras, as well. Bordignon notes Acura’s plan to transition entirely to electric vehicles, starting next year when the 2024 ZDX arrives in Canada.

Inventory challenges continue to plague the industry, from COVID-induced plant shutdowns to COVID-induced shortages of many components — not the least of which are the microchips that vehicle computers require — and so the industry has pretty much entirely pivoted to an order-and-wait business model. In an industry that has embraced just-in-time manufacturing wholeheartedly, even a little hiccup is felt through the entire supply chain, let alone the momentous interruptions as we see now.

The RDX is a two-row luxury crossover that competes with such rivals as the Lexus RX350, Infiniti QX50 or Mercedes-Benz GLC. Arguably, the RDX isn’t quite as luxurious as its rivals, but luxury is in the eye of the beholder: buyers seeking more of a techno interior, rather than wood, satin chrome and highly polished composites might prefer the RDX’s minimalist ethos.

That techno interior is driven by Acura’s loved or hated use of plenty of buttons. It’s something I appreciate, as I find most of the systems that put too many controls into the infotainment screen too distracting to use while driving. With hard buttons, you just need to know where the button is and can intuitively find it while keeping eyes on the road. One control you won’t miss is a massive knob in the centre of the dash that switches between driving modes.

Less successful is Acura’s use of a haptic touchpad for controlling navigation, audio and some of the functions within the infotainment screen. It’s too easy to move your finger too quickly and then have to go back, but one nice accommodation to that is the need to actually push on the pad to activate the highlighted control. You can figure out when you’re on the right control with brief glances at the screen rather than needing to guide your finger to exactly the right spot on the screen. It’s still not as easy as a knob.

As with other models in the Acura lineup, there’s a bar upon which to rest the heel of your palm while using the touchpad, which does improve the controllability of your finger’s movements across the pad.

The move towards smaller engines with turbochargers hasn’t bypassed the RDX: there’s a 2.0-litre turbo four under the hood driving a 10-speed automatic transmission and Acura’s Super-Handling All-wheel Drive.

If you’re thinking that moniker means the RDX’s all-wheel-drive system is designed more for on-road comportment and less for off-road ability, you’re very perceptive. There’s little expectation Acura’s customers will do more than take it down a gravel road. Heck, the specifications don’t even state approach and departure angles, two key considerations for off-road use.

Still, put winter tires on the RDX and the SH-AWD will do a fine job of getting around town and to the cottage in winter. (No, AWD is not a replacement for winter tires.) The SH-AWD, as with many current systems, pre-loads torque to the rear wheels on takeoff, helping with launch even on slippery surfaces. Just don’t let that trick you into thinking the roads have more traction than they do.

What the SH-AWD does do is create very stable handling. The system directs torque left and right as needed to aid in cornering. It will drive the wheels on the outside of corners harder than the wheels on the inside. Cool is that you can see this torque split on a display in the IP. Of course, if you’re watching the IP and not where you’re going, you’re not driving very effectively.

All of which is where the RDX earns its luxury chops. It may not have the polished pinstripe wood trim of a Lexus RX or the gleaming satin chrome trim of a Mercedes GLC, but it does have power and handling befitting a premium product. The torque from the turbo engine arrives quickly, spinning up the little four-banger into its peak horsepower range with smile-inducing aplomb.

The all-wheel drive transfers that fun into the pavement smoothly and effectively, while the Macstruts up front and multi-link independent rear suspension keeps it level through corners and helps the vehicle belie its added height.

While the RDX will be pleasing to all its occupants, my bet is it’s the occupant in the front left seat who will enjoy it the most.

kelly.taylor@winnipegfreepress.com

Kelly Taylor

Kelly Taylor
Copy Editor, Autos Reporter

Kelly Taylor is a Winnipeg Free Press copy editor and award-winning automotive journalist. He's been a member of the Automobile Journalists' Association of Canada since 2001.

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