Is the 2021 Acura RDX’s True Touchpad a Pain to Use?

Testing cars can be more work than you think it is sometimes. As auto journalists, we need to press every button, sit in every seat, and figure out the functionality of every system in each car in order to accurately report our findings. We are also tasked with giving our opinions on small things on the cars like their infotainment systems so that in case you’re shopping for a car like the Acura RDX, you at least know what you’re looking at when you hop in the car for a test drive at the dealership.

Speaking of infotainment systems, I’ve complained about a few of them from Mazda and Honda over the past few months, so I figured it was time to address Acura’s True Touchpad interface when I received the RDX as a press car. Here is what I found.

Acura’s True Touchpad is responsive and intuitive

At first glance, you might think that Acura’s True Touchpad is a lot like Lexus’ remote touchpad system and you would be somewhat correct. However, instead of it acting and reacting like a laptop computer touchpad, which is way too sensitive and clunky to use while driving, Acura’s True Touchpad responds to your finger’s inputs with a 1:1 reaction on the infotainment screen.

What that means is wherever you touch on the touchpad corresponds to the buttons or menu items that are on the touchscreen. It’s kind of like the layout of the screen is simulated on the blank touchpad.

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How easy is it to use while driving?

One of the main points that I always gripe about when reviewing these infotainment setups is how easy to use while driving. Gone are the days of being to drive while aimlessly twiddling a tuning knob to find the right station. Nowadays, you have to be able to toggle through countless menus on an infotainment screen to even get to the radio function. So what’s it like in the Acura RDX?

2021 Acura RDX Infotainment Screen
2021 Acura RDX Infotainment Screen | Joe Santos

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I’m pleased to say that the designers at Acura are definitely onto something with the creation of the True Touchpad. No, it’s not super seamless and I can’t gush that it’s the “best thing since the back-up camera,” but the True Touchpad is definitely a step in the right direction, finally. While driving, I noticed that it was easier to keep my eyes on the road while flipping through each menu.

Apparently, the intuitive nature of the setup makes it easy to quickly glance at the infotainment screen when needed, or simply look at it in your peripheral view, in order to get to the applications that you want. What’s even better is that the whole system is customizable in that you can select which apps you use the most and make them easy to access. Much like you would do on your phone.

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Disadvantages of the True Touchpad interface

A downside to the system as a whole is that the RDX’s infotainment system is currently compatible with apps like Android Auto, Sticher, or Aha, but if you’re a savvy iPhone user, then you’re in luck, as it is compatible with Apple Carplay. Also, I found the touchpad to have a bit of a learning curve to get right at first and it was annoying whenever my finger would slip too far and accidentally click on an app that I didn’t want, which mainly happened while driving, which I’m sure would get easier over time if I owned the car.

2021 Acura RDX True Touchpad
2021 Acura RDX True Touchpad | Joe Santos

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Leaps and bounds better than before

Otherwise, I personally think that the True Touchpad interface in the current-generation Acura RDX is leaps and bounds better than the two-tiered setup that came in the RDX of yesteryear. It’s responsive and mostly intuitive, but if I really had to be nitpicky, I still think Acura could benefit from a normal touchscreen that’s within the driver’s reach, like what you find in the Subaru Forester. But if the True Touchpad is what we can expect in the forthcoming Acura models, then I won’t be one to complain.