Acura Is Starting To Drop Its Controversial Touchpad Infotainment Controls

The refreshed 2025 MDX will feature a touchscreen instead of the pad.

byChris Tsui|
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Anybody who has had a difficult time getting to grips with the laptop touchpad-style infotainment controller in a modern Acura product, rejoice: the company looks like it's finally moving away from that divisive tech.

As part of a business briefing on Wednesday, Honda told media that the 2025 Acura MDX would get a refresh involving revised styling, Bang & Olufsen audio instead of ELS, and more advanced ADAS. "MDX also will trade its touchpad for a new touchscreen driver interface and a more usable center console," reads a press release, emphasis theirs. This new infotainment will also follow in parent company Honda's footsteps in featuring Google services built-in.

For those unfamiliar, Acura uses an "absolute positioning" touchpad as an infotainment input device instead of the regular touchscreens or rotary knobs found in other cars. Touch the top-left corner of the pad and the "cursor" is in the top-left corner of the screen, and so on and so forth. In theory, it's a solution that keeps the display high and well within the driver's line of sight but doesn't require a big reach whenever you want to interact with it. In practice, however, it's been widely panned as being finicky and hard to learn.

The current 2024 Acura MDX, with its touchpad at center. Acura

The Drive's newsroom, though, seems to be fairly divided on the topic. Some say it's fine once you truly get used to it (difficult to accomplish within, say, a weeklong press loan), some unsurprisingly aren't fans at all, and some—myself included—conclude that the touchpad is good for simple, broad commands (e.g. swapping between media sources, navigating menus) but a complete dumpster fire for more complex ones (e.g. typing an address). Not helping things is the fact that the whole "absolute positioning" thing goes out the window when you use it to control Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, at which point it reverts to a more traditional, swipe-y touchpad pretty much just like how the one on a laptop works.

In any case, it looks like it's curtains for the Acura touchpad starting with the 2025 MDX. The company did not comment on whether future updated Acuras would also go in the same direction, but we can almost guarantee that this isn't going to be a one-off. For reference, the Integra and upcoming ZDX EV also do not have the touchpad, but we suspect that's mostly because those cars are based on the Honda Civic and GM's Ultium platform, respectively. Badge engineering: Not always a bad thing!

Got a tip or question for the author? You can reach him here: chris.tsui@thedrive.com

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