As is often the case with late-model cars, the in-cabin electronics are a source of both convenience and frustration. The inexact science of human-machine interface continues to be an evolving field. Adding to the frustration level are the legal departments of manufacturers that seem to err on the side of caution when it comes to driver distraction, as well as often generation-old electronics when the vehicle finally reaches showrooms after being in development for three or four years. This was Motor Trend associate editor Scott Evans' experience with our long-term 2013 Acura RDX.

Simply wanting a full display of artist and song data on the RDX's center display, he was frustrated by the incomplete display of the song metadata. The RDX displays the standard 16 character description. However, unlike other vehicles that will scroll the complete title and artist metadata when tuned in to a specific station, the RDX continues to only display the abbreviated information. Evans inquired with Acura engineers and product planners about the matter, who responded that they decided against the extended metadata display for driver distraction and safety concerns.

Such a primitive interface and display would perhaps be acceptable in an entry-level econobox, but when Kia Rios are offering slick, responsive, full-featured interfaces, such an oversight in a $40,000 luxury-brand SUV is embarrassing.

Evans says he understands the OE's overly-cautious approach in this day and age of lawsuits and distracted driving, but asks why the user experience has to be sacrificed so much in the process. He's hoping for a future firmware update to rectify the situation, but in the meantime, this frustration mars an otherwise enjoyable and well-designed premium SUV.


Our Car
Service life 12 mo/23,118 mi
Average fuel economy 21.8 mpg
CO2 emissions 0.89 lb/mi
Energy consumption 155 kW-hrs/100 mi
Unresolved problems None
Maintenance cost $356.88 (3-oil change, inspection; 2-tire rotation; 1-differential fluid change)
Normal-wear cost $0