By Aaron Gold
I've spent the last four years complaining about how complicated Acura interiors have become; I've long suspected that they hired the same interior designer who did IBM computer consoles in the 1960s. So the restraint exhibited by the RDX's interior came as a pleasant surprise. I'm still not won over by the dash design -- I think Lexus and Infiniti have a better grasp of what luxury ought to look like -- but the layout is cleaner than other Acuras, and the number of buttons has been greatly reduced; it's now possible to turn down the fan or change from CD to iPod without staring at the dash for precious seconds while the car drifts into oncoming traffic.
That said, as a parent, I'm a bit offended by Acura's insistence that this is a vehicle for the broodless, because I think it would make a wonderful family car. The cabin is airy and spacious, making the competing BMW X3 feel claustrophobic by comparison. The second row is roomy and comfortable, not just for kids but for adults -- and, in the case of my family, adult-sized kids. Storage bins abound, and the 26.1 cubic foot cargo bay looks just the right size for a family vacation. Folding the seats yields a flat load floor and 61.3 cubic feet of space, perfect for those home-improvement projects that I never get to do because I live in an apartment.
One big complaint: I do wish Acura would modernize their navigation and Bluetooth systems. The display is big and crisp, but the images on it look a decade out of date, and the LCD display for the stereo and climate systems is pure Clinton era. The navigation system is slow and awkward to program, and the voice recognition is downright primitive. You can program the latest Ford system by simply saying the address all at once, but Acura's voice recognition requires you to say individual words and sometimes individual letters, and then pick them from a list on the screen -- and isn't the purpose of voice recognition to keep your eyes on the road? The Bluetooth system still has limited phone compatibility, and while Acura touts the fact that it can now read text messages, it's incompatible with the Apple iPhone and several popular Android units. What's the point?