Acura's future cars will feature new tech that could give it an edge against Lexus and Infiniti
- Acura has rolled out a new infotainment system: True Touch Interface, or TTI.
- I sampled the system in a 2019 Acura RDX SUV.
- It takes some getting used to, but in the end, it's a major improvement over previous Acura systems.
We've driven plenty of Acuras over the past few years and named the TLX A-Spec sedan as a runner-up for our 2017 Car of the Year award.
Acuras aren't always spoken of in the same breath as BMWs or Mercedes, but Honda's luxury brand has been in the game for decades and has a sterling reputation for reliability, performance, engineering, and technology.
In our recent experience, however, Acura's infotainment systems have been less impressive than those from other luxury marques. Acura's setup hasn't been bad - it's more than the company hasn't quite been keeping pace with some of the new developments, such as large touchscreens.
For what it's worth, Toyota's Lexus brand and Nissan's Infiniti haven't blown us away on infotainment either. And Audi has won our Infotainment System of the Year Award two years running, a German brand like BMW and its iDrive still isn't as effective as we think it could be.
This is all important because folks pay well over $50,000 in some cases for luxury vehicles, yet infotainment systems have been tagged with numerous complaints in quality studies. The luxury buyer is demanding: he or she doesn't appreciate a frustrating infotainment setup.
A little while back, I got to check out Acura's new "True Touchpad Interface" on a 2019 RDX SUV. The upshot is that the system is a big improvement over what we'd seen on previous Acura vehicles that we've tested. But it still had some quirks.
Before I dive in, it's worth noting that both the old systems and TTI are capable and effective. Bluetooth device pairing works fine, there's good GPS navigation, the audio system provides plenty of options, there are USB/AUX inputs, voice recognition is available, and Apple CarPlay connectivity is included.
What we're really dealing with here is a new approach to the user interface. TTI doesn't employ a touchscreen. Instead, users have a touchpad and some buttons to control a fairly large high-resolution screen that juts from the dashboard. In practice, this can be less distracting than a touchscreen setup, which has to be within arm's reach and is usually located below a line-of-sight to the road.
The touchpad has an interesting technology that requires a bit of getting used to. It uses something called "1:1 mapping" to enable the user to drop a finger on the pad and land on a region of the touchscreen. The touchpad itself is also divided into primary and secondary regions, corresponding to the same regions on the screen. The narrow section on the right is for scrolling, and the larger pad allows swiping and multi-finger inputs.
I got the hang of it in about 15 minutes and liked the system, in particular, the comfortable, padded wrist rest. Business Insider's Ben Zhang was less impressed. But he agreed that it's an improvement over what Acura had been installing, an example of which is below.
The TTI has a lot of options for customization, throughout the system. I especially like the voice-recognition feature, which is quite accurate across the various functions.
The bottom line is that the TTI system is a major improvement for Acura. Yes, it represents an intentional compromise: no touchscreen and an "eyes on the road" configuration. But systems that are designed this way, in my experience, can be easier to use once you become accustomed to them. The learnings curve for TTI isn't all that steep, either.
Not an A+ infotainment system, but a solid B+ or A- in my book.
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