Review: 2019 Acura RDX Offers Novel Touchpad Infotainment Controls, but CarPlay Doesn’t Fully Support Them

As a part of my proceeding sequence of articles having a look at how automotive producers have built-in CarPlay into their infotainment programs, I have taken a have a look at the 2019 Acura RDX, the preferred crossover SUV from Honda’s luxurious logo. Acura has been step by step rolling out CarPlay strengthen throughout its lineup during the last few style years, and the brand new 2019 RDX is the primary of this style to strengthen the characteristic.


My take a look at car was once a well-equipped RDX with Acura’s Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD), Technology package deal, and an A-Spec trim designed for many who need a daring glance.

The Technology package deal provides a top rate ELS Studio audio gadget that gives 12 audio system, Acura’s navigation gadget, two rear USB charging ports, parking sensors, and blind spot and rear pass visitors caution programs.


The A-Spec package deal provides greater 20-inch wheels in “Shark Gray,” particular external accents like a singular entrance bumper with LED fog lighting, twin oval exhaust, and distinguished badging. Inside, the A-Spec package deal provides a recreation guidance wheel that feels nice within the palms, and leather-based seats in both complete black or pink with black inserts, together with heated and ventilated entrance seats. Regardless of seating colour, pink is a distinguished spotlight colour in different spaces of the A-Spec cabin, together with at the device panel and midnight ambient lighting fixtures. The audio gadget may be upgraded to 16 audio system, together with four embedded within the roof of the car.

There’s an extra Advance package deal that comes with any other great options reminiscent of rain-sensing windshield wipers, a heads-up show, a surround-view digicam gadget, and 16-way energy entrance seats together with thigh extensions and aspect bolsters, but apparently that package deal isn’t to be had on fashions geared up with the A-Spec package deal.

Acura tells me it is gained some comments from shoppers who would have preferred so as to add a few of these Advance package deal options to an A-Spec car, so it is probably one thing Acura might be having a look at for the longer term because it weighs customizability towards the simplicity of minimum trim programs.

Infotainment System Overview

Acura’s integrated infotainment gadget handles the entire same old purposes, together with radio, SiriusXM, Bluetooth telephone connectivity, voice keep an eye on, non-compulsory navigation and extra. A lovely 10.2-inch widescreen middle show is usual, as is CarPlay strengthen, which is a welcome determination when compared to a couple different producers that provide it best with sure trims or as a standalone possibility for an additional rate.

Acura RDX’s middle stack with high-mount infotainment show


As a part of its analysis, Acura’s product building staff made up our minds that the optimum placement for a big infotainment show is fastened excessive at the dashboard and driven again from the motive force, minimizing the space the motive force’s eyes wish to trip from the street to look on the show. What that implies, alternatively, is that touchscreen operation is infeasible, because it calls for a stretch to achieve even the close to aspect of the show.

Manufacturers have get a hold of more than a few answers to the infotainment keep an eye on factor, with some maintaining the show shut sufficient for touchscreen operation whilst others use some type of keep an eye on knob to permit for scrolling thru and settling on onscreen choices.

True Touchpad Interface


In the RDX, Acura has introduced a brand new True Touchpad Interface (TTI) inside simple achieve within the middle console, and whilst it isn’t the one automotive to supply touchpad keep an eye on of the infotainment gadget, it does be offering a singular absolute positioning design the place the small touchpad maps without delay to the show above – urgent the highest left nook of the touchpad turns on the icon or menu possibility on the best left of the show, for instance.

The TTI gadget takes a little bit bit of having used to, but when you get the hold of it and prevent looking to swipe round to the button you need at the show, it is a easy and pure method to navigate thru more than a few choices, and the RDX has a comfy palm leisure beneath the touchpad to strengthen your hand.

The touchpad is surrounded via a raised border that makes it simple to inform the place your finger is via really feel, and as your finger rests on more than a few spaces of the touchpad, the corresponding serve as at the show highlights to will let you know the place you might be. Once the specified serve as is highlighted, a press at the touchpad in that location registers your variety.

Display highlighting Navigation icon comparable to location being touched on TTI


Similar to a couple different widescreen infotainment programs, Acura’s gadget within the RDX permits for two separate content material home windows, a big number one one taking on the vast majority of the display screen, after which a smaller one off to the proper aspect that may display choices reminiscent of a clock or a secondary serve as of the gadget.


For instance, you probably have navigation up at the major a part of the display screen, the secondary portion of the show can display your present audio variety, whether or not it’s radio, SiriusXM, or any other supply.

The TTI gadget features a secondary touchpad, a skinny strip alongside the proper aspect that corresponds to the secondary content material zone of the show above. Swiping up or down in this portion of the touchpad scrolls in the course of the to be had content material displays like clock or audio news, and urgent this strip swaps the two content material zones, reminiscent of bringing the audio content material over to the main zone of the show whilst pushing navigation off to a small map at the appropriate aspect. It’s a to hand gadget that makes it simple to control a couple of purposes of the infotainment gadget.


Above the TTI touchpad is a suite of three bodily buttons: a Back button, a Home button, and a Cards button that permits you to temporarily get admission to the to be had content material for the secondary zone of the show while not having to scroll in the course of the choices one via one.

Top appropriate bodily button brings up card choices for secondary show zone


The TTI touchpad can be used to enter handwriting for operations reminiscent of spelling out a vacation spot or a telephone quantity. In observe, I discovered this to be slightly finicky and most often had a difficult time getting the gadget to acknowledge the characters I used to be intending to attract.

Steering wheel and multi-information dashboard show

(Voice keep an eye on button is at decrease left on guidance wheel)


Of route, the TTI is best one method to keep an eye on the infotainment gadget, with voice being the opposite number one gadget. The new RDX features a remodeled pure language voice popularity gadget, that means you do not wish to use explicit phraseology for the gadget to acknowledge your requests. I discovered the gadget to be slightly just right at spotting requests the usage of a lot of wordings, whilst a quite natural-sounding voice introduced audio comments and navigation activates.

Interface

One of the nice options of Acura’s infotainment gadget is the customizability of the house displays. Much like an iPhone, the gadget helps a couple of pages of “apps,” reminiscent of navigation, radio, SiriusXM, Bluetooth, Aux, Hotspot controls, CarPlay, and extra.


By urgent and retaining on an app icon the usage of the touchpad, you’ll input an edit mode that permits you to transfer the icon round the house display screen or to another web page. This permits you to put your maximum regularly used purposes at the entrance web page and in probably the most simply out there places reminiscent of within the corners.

Edit mode for rearranging house display screen icons


These house display screen icons don’t seem to be restricted to only normal purposes like navigation or radio. Various “Favorites” like regularly used locations, explicit telephone contacts, and radio stations will also be added without delay to the house display screen with their very own icons, making an allowance for one-touch get admission to. And for apps you recognize you’ll be able to by no means use, you’ll delete them completely from the house display screen.

“Home” favourite for one-touch get admission to to navigation direction house

Built-in Navigation

I discovered Acura’s integrated navigation to be slightly robust, simply spotting a lot of addresses and POIs whilst offering correct instructions and estimated arrival instances, in addition to useful voice activates. The gadget makes it simple to set favourite locations or choose from fresh ones, or you’ll temporarily seek for within reach POIs in more than a few classes.

Navigation seek effects


Several other perspectives are supported, together with 2D and 3-D perspectives with to be had “north up” and “heading up” choices for 2D mode. The gadget additionally presentations useful news like distance to subsequent maneuver, course and side road title of the following flip, follow-up maneuvers, and lane steerage. You too can simply upload waypoints if you want to make a forestall on how one can your ultimate vacation spot.

Aside from the usual navigation mode, the gadget additionally provides an exploration mode, which helps you to simply zoom and pan across the map for an summary of routes and visitors prerequisites, and you’ll choose places and POIs without delay from the map.

CarPlay

As with just about each and every different automotive producer, Acura’s CarPlay implementation is a stressed one, so you’ll be able to wish to plug your telephone right into a USB port within the middle console as a way to get CarPlay up and working.

Center console with telephone slot and cupholders


Fortunately, the middle console within the RDX features a handy slot housing the specified USB port and offering easy and space-saving garage of your telephone and cable whilst linked to the gadget. A sliding steel duvet can conceal away your telephone and different small pieces within the neighboring cup holders.

Center console with sliding duvet closed


CarPlay presentations up as its personal app at the RDX’s house display screen, making it simple to hop into CarPlay as wanted. And as with different apps, you’ll customise its location at the house display screen.


Once you input CarPlay, you’ll be able to be greeted with the acquainted 4×2 grid of app icons out of your iPhone, taking on the main zone at the RDX’s show. The secondary show zone isn’t devoted to CarPlay, so it could display content material from the local gadget reminiscent of a navigation direction in growth or the present audio news.


As same old, I would possibly not delve an excessive amount of into the specifics of CarPlay itself, as that is most often a constant revel in from car to car, but the one side that does range is gadget keep an eye on. CarPlay can strengthen each direct touchscreen manipulation and choice highlighting by the use of off-screen keep an eye on strategies reminiscent of knobs and jog wheels. But as you’ll be able to temporarily in finding while you input CarPlay for the primary time at the RDX, it does not strengthen absolute touchpad positioning, and that is the reason a disappointing realization.

You can for sure keep an eye on CarPlay the usage of the touchpad, but it is a conventional trackpad mechanism the place it’s important to swipe in more than a few instructions to transport the highlights at the consumer interface to the specified serve as. You cannot simply faucet at the touchpad within the location the place your meant CarPlay icon or menu possibility is displayed.

What this implies is that the process of controlling your infotainment gadget differs relying on whether or not you are within the local Acura gadget or in CarPlay, and that takes a little bit of mind processing energy to bear in mind as you unexpectedly transfer from side to side between the programs. Here’s hoping that Acura and Apple are operating in combination to deliver absolute touchpad positioning to CarPlay, as it is a to hand keep an eye on mechanism.

In reality, Android Auto is not supported in any respect at the RDX nowadays, as Acura says it is nonetheless operating with Google on creating the facility for Android Auto to acknowledge absolute touchpad positioning, and so Android Auto strengthen would possibly not be coming till a long term instrument replace.

Waze on CarPlay


The Back and Home buttons at the RDX do paintings with CarPlay to some extent, even though the combination might be progressed a little bit. The Back button does normally opposite thru your earlier movements, backing up thru menus or even shifting out of apps again to the CarPlay house display screen. I did in finding a couple of apps reminiscent of Google Maps and Waze, alternatively, the place urgent the Back button yielded a chime but did not in reality step again to the former motion.

The Home button at all times takes you again to the Acura house display screen, even though you are in CarPlay, and it will be great if the gadget may just intelligently take you again to both the CarPlay or Acura house display screen relying on which gadget you are recently in, with most likely a 2nd press of the button in CarPlay mode taking you the entire approach out to the Acura house display screen.

CarPlay can after all even be managed by the use of voice, and that capability is out there thru the similar guidance wheel button used for Acura’s integrated voice assistant. A brief press at the button brings up Acura’s gadget, whilst a protracted press brings up Siri.

I discussed previous that the dual-zone show permits you to temporarily switch from side to side between other purposes within the Acura infotainment, but CarPlay is a little bit restricted in that regard. If you are the usage of Acura’s navigation and taking note of tune by the use of CarPlay, the combination works effective and the secondary show zone will say “Apple CarPlay” and display the recently taking part in observe and art work, whether or not you are the usage of Apple’s Music app or any other provider like Pandora or Spotify.


Pressing the right-side strip at the TTI will then comfortably deliver your CarPlay audio over to the main zone and slide the Acura navigation over to the proper aspect.


With the playing cards choices for the secondary show zone, you’ll even assign audio to each zones, exhibiting the standard CarPlay “Now Playing” interface in the main zone and album art work within the secondary zone.


Things do not paintings slightly as nicely if you find yourself the usage of different purposes. For instance, in case you are the usage of CarPlay navigation in the main show zone and SiriusXM within the secondary zone, swapping the zones will transfer the SiriusXM controls to the main zone, but there is no “mini” mode for CarPlay‘s maps apps to turn within the secondary zone.

SiriusXM on left, CarPlay Apple Maps on appropriate


As a consequence, all you’ll be able to see at the appropriate is a CarPlay-like icon and textual content pronouncing “Apple CarPlay” and “Route Active” and not using a main points at the navigation in growth. You will, alternatively, nonetheless obtain navigation voice activates.

Ports and Connectivity

If you are looking to rate your units within the RDX, you’ll be able to in finding a number of choices, together with the distinguished USB port within the middle console that provides your instrument get admission to to the infotainment gadget. Another USB port is situated beneath the middle stack adjoining to a big cupboard space.

Ports underneath the middle stack


If you’ve got the Technology package deal, you’ll be able to get two extra USB ports at the rear of the middle console, giving your rear passengers handy having access to to charging. All of the USB ports within the RDX be offering 2.5A charging, so even units like iPads with challenging charging a lot will refuel quite temporarily.

Rear USB ports


Hotspot functions come usual at the 2019 RDX, even though you will have to subscribe to an AT&T knowledge plan. Conversely, you’ll tether the automobile on your telephone’s mobile connection to strengthen internet-connected options of the infotainment gadget.

Wrap-up

I got here away inspired with the entire riding revel in of the 2019 Acura RDX, and the infotainment gadget is one of the most efficient I have examined with a formidable navigation gadget, an awesome widescreen middle show, and a singular but natural-feeling touchpad keep an eye on interface. CarPlay works nicely, and I respect the facility to make use of the secondary show zone to turn main points on apps from the integrated gadget whilst the usage of CarPlay. It’s a to hand method to profit from CarPlay navigation and SiriusXM radio concurrently, for instance, and stay tabs on the whole thing directly. It’s a welcome enhancement to CarPlay‘s one-app-at-a-time revel in.

The most vital adverse is the loss of complete True Touchpad Interface strengthen in CarPlay, and optimistically that is one thing Apple will cope with in the future. TTI is a forged keep an eye on mechanism, but I believe like CarPlay hampered my talent to turn into fluent with it just because I used to be repeatedly switching between CarPlay and Acura’s gadget.

As a consequence, I nonetheless discovered myself dragging my finger round at the touchpad even if the usage of the local Acura gadget fairly than heading instantly for the realm comparable to my desired goal. I don’t have any doubt the interface would have turn into 2nd nature extra temporarily with out CarPlay and the integrated gadget repeatedly preventing to retrain my mind.

The 2019 Acura RDX begins at an MSRP of $37,300 with CarPlay supported on all automobiles together with the entry-level Standard trim. The Technology package deal provides $3,200 to the full price, and if you need much more you’ll go for both the A-Spec package deal for an additional $3,000 or the Advance package deal for $4,900, each on best of the Technology package deal. SH-AWD is an extra $2,000 on all ranges.

Related Roundup: CarPlay
Tag: Acura

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