By Andy Stonehouse
Properly equipped for the winter, which we have an abundance of in Colorado, even the fanciest import sports SUV or sedan makes sense. Smaller, stylish and still speedy, the five-passenger Acura RDX offers great looks and excellent performance.
That was the much happier experience I had with a 2022 edition of Acura’s RDX, a one-size-smaller rendition of the ever-popular MDX, which was delivered, in the winter, with a set of high-performance winter tires (amazingly, this is a rarity, even as my travels take me into a high-altitude climate where I have literally been on traction-challenged ski trips weekly between October and early May). I cannot stress how much that amplified the driving experience and the sense of security, especially as it was the fancier A-Spec Advance Package edition of the vehicle.
After driving a reasonably similar 2022 Lexus NX and a larger RX sandwiched around the Acura, I feel confident in saying that it’s probably exactly the vehicle I might invest in, if my circumstances called for a flashy, rock-solid and speedy five-passenger SUV. It’s not so tall and gigantic that you can’t reach up to brush snow off the roof, it’s got tons of visual appeal and its 272-horsepower 2.0-liter turbo setup pretty much blew away the NX in every circumstance.
I also got to enjoy Acura’s “super-handling” all-wheel-drive system and its active torque vectoring during snowy outings and then again on a very busy trip to Loveland Ski Area, on the Continental Divide. Both circumstances showed the Ohio-assembled, $52,845 vehicle to be the right size and the right power for the job.
Your feelings on the Acura’s very quiet but hyperstyled cockpit and its overly busy center stack could be an issue, however. Things are still focused around a giant drive mode knob that either lightens the throttle for Snow or apparently throws you into hyperspace in Sport, plus still-curious vertical shift buttons and a broad display screen controlled by a wide, slightly weird touchpad. Unlike most other manufacturers, its traffic data was also 100 percent accurate between the tunnel and Idaho Springs.
The A-Spec rendition gets more dark trim around the starburst-styled grille, window frames and body panels, plus beautiful multi-spoke 20-inch wheels, and its seats are even sportier than the standard model, with suede inserts and pretty aggressive bolstering. In the back, slightly silly oversized chrome exhaust ports convey the RDX’s somewhat boisterous, sporty character; the seven-lens jewel eye LED headlamps are an equally pleasant (and bright) touch.
I mostly liked that fact that RDX’s mass was never overwhelming or made it feel cumbersome, either on icy surfaces or while running up that horsepower on dry roads. The 10-speed automatic transmission can be pretty actively engaged via paddle shifters, and steering feel and braking capabilities are both accurate and effective.
The 2022 model included the very tangible suspension and dynamics system upgrades, plus wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and built-in Amazon Alexa.
Sí: RDX offers a right-sized mix of power, sportiness and versatility, without the mass and mess of large SUVs.
No: That center stack design is a whole lot to take in, for limited real-world usefulness. But if you like knobs, Acura’s knobs are as ornate as they come.
Andy Stonehouse is a guest contributor to Latino Traffic Report and a freelance automotive journalist based in Lakewood, Colorado. All photos are stock, not as-tested.