What to do about the Acura RDX? Luxury Segment Comparison

Acura RDX vehicle badge

What happens when you're a tween in the Luxury Segment?

The Acura RDX is Acura’s problem child in the luxury segment, but in a good way. It’s come a long way from its late 2012 redesign. I was at the Toronto Auto Show watching the presentation of the 2013 model year RDX. A gentleman leaned over towards me as the presentation unfolded, and asked what I thought of the styling.

I looked at the slab sides, the lack of accent creases and found the lines didn’t draw the eye to really anywhere on the vehicle. I pronounced that it looked like a refrigerator on its side. After a brief pause, the gentleman handing me his business card and walked away. He was the brand manager for Acura in Canada. Whoops.

But I hold to my assessment. Over the years leading up to its 2019 redesign, Acura continued to tweak the exterior, adding a dash of chrome here, a body side crease there, especially with the 2016 facelift.

Refrigerator no more. The stance of the latest RDX echos the rake of Mercedes-Benz SUVs while keeping its own highly technical style.

Here’s the issue. It slots in between models from BMW and Audi. A direct comparison is tough.

Wherefore art thou, RDX?

RDX:

  • is much larger than a BMW X1
  • matches up well on price with X1
  • has a slightly greater length than BMW X3
  • has a shorter wheelbase than X3 by more than four inches
  • is 10 inches longer than an Audi Q3
  • matches up in price more with a Q3 than an Audi Q5
  • is longer than Q5, but has an almost three inch shorter wheelbase

After all of my prevaricating, here’s our take at comparing RDX with what we think is its closest competitor in the luxury segment, the Audi Q5. To get these vehicles close on MSRP, let’s look at US models for the 2020 Acura RDX AWD with the Tech Package versus the 2020 Audi Q5 Premium.

Luxury Segment Comparison between 2020 Acura RDX and 2020 Audi Q5

Common Equipment

Let’s look at the Common Equipment. Hold on to your hat, it’s a long list!

Common Equipment between Acura RDX and Audi Q5

As expected, these two luxury vehicles have a very long list of standard equipment. Both have turbocharged four cylinder engines, automatic emergency braking, automatic temperature control, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, and a full suite of safety features.

Now for the nitty gritty

The Feature Difference seems almost as long as the Common Equipment between these two well-equipped vehicles.

Feature difference between Acura RDX and Audi Q5

RDX brings an awful lot to the feature list. At the Tech Package trim level, RDX includes adaptive cruise control, a panoramic moonroof, and remote vehicle start in addition to an extra 24 horsepower. The Technology Package is aptly named. It packages items like a smartphone app, WiFi hot spot and tethering and a brand name audio system.

Q5 is no slouch here, either. Rear seat passengers will appreciate their own air conditioning system. Their seats slide and recline for more rear legroom. The safe exit system alerts rear passengers if there’s a vehicle coming and that they should wait to exit. The driver and front passenger enjoy wood trim accents. The driver can change the steering feel, fold in the mirrors at the touch of a button, and charge their phone wirelessly.

Alas, the home run features of that panoramic moonroof and adaptive cruise control are compelling differences for RDX, and the Automobl Value of RDX over Q5 is $4,720. That’s a serious difference in features and Automobl Value that’s difficult to ignore.

Or is it?

How do they measure up?

Measurement differences between Acura RDX and Audi Q5

Q5’s extra wheelbase length should yield a premium ride over RDX. There’s no substitute for hanging the wheels as close to the corners of the vehicle as possible to improve passenger comfort. Q5’s turning circle is a tad smaller than RDX and the extra almost two inches of front headroom will be appreciated by driver and front passenger alike.

But if you want to carry stuff, it’s hard to argue with RDX. The cargo area is more than four cubic feet larger with the rear seats up and almost six cubic feet larger with the rear seats down than Q5. RDX is just a little bit bigger all around with more height, more length and more width. The deficit in front headroom is partly made up by more front leg room.

In conclusion

Try to dial up your budget to the low $40s, and enjoy what these two vehicles bring to the luxury segment. Play with the trim comparisons, and you’ll see what I mean about how RDX is a Tween fitting betwixt compact and mid-size luxury SUVs. Use the Automobl Comparison Tool to help narrow down your choice. We’re adding vehicles in the luxury segment at a rapid pace, and we hope you find the Tool helpful in your search for your ‘just right’ vehicle.

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