The 2021 Acura RDX and the 2021 BMW X3 are two upscale compact crossovers. Here’s how they compare.
2021 Acura RDX
Above Average: Standard engine’s solid power output; sharp handling; lots of passenger and cargo space.
Below Average: Awkward touchpad infotainment interface; just one engine option; gimmicky pushbutton gear selector; tows just 1,500 pounds.
Consensus: The well-rounded, nicely finished Acura RDX treads a line between luxury and sport. It’s also keenly priced compared to its German rivals.
2021 BMW X3
Above Average: Engaging handling; agreeable infotainment tech; available high-performance variants.
Below Average: Pricey; firm ride.
Consensus: The 2021 BMW X3 incorporates much of the persona of the brand-defining 3 Series into a practical SUV shape. Unfortunately, it also follows BMW norms with its premium pricing.
RDX vs. X3: Compact Luxury in a Sporty Vein
The Acura RDX utilizes a transverse-engine, front-wheel-drive platform, but it’s not shared with Honda. Acura’s 272-horsepower 4-cylinder turbocharged engine is the sole offering, paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission, and the brand’s SH-AWD torque-vectoring all-wheel drive is available.
Acceleration is brisk, and turbo lag is not an issue. Fuel economy is 21–22 mpg city and 26–28 mpg highway. The handling is sharp but would be more rewarding with better steering.
The five-seat cabin has a contemporary design, and its roominess is enhanced by the standard panoramic sunroof. Cargo space is 29.5/58.9 cubic feet (rear seatbacks up/folded). A 10.2-inch infotainment display is operated via Acura’s unusual True Touchpad interface. In place of a shift lever is an arrangement of pushbuttons and switches, another ergonomic oddity.
Standard features include adaptive cruise control, forward-collision warning, and lane-keep assist. The available Tech Package is a worthwhile upgrade that brings blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, parking sensors, navigation, leather, and a rockin’ ELS 12-speaker audio system.
The 2021 BMW X3 covers a wide bandwidth. The base sDrive30i and xDrive30i use a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder with 248 horsepower, while the xDrive30e is a plug-in hybrid that adds an electric motor to produce 288 horsepower. The X3 enters the high-performance realm with the twin-turbo 6-cylinder M40i with standard AWD. The blistering X3 M wrings 473 horsepower from the same engine, and the X3 M Competition cranks out 503 hp.
The X3 in general is sportier to drive than the segment norm; add Dynamic Damper Control (to the 30i) or the Adaptive M suspension (to the M40i) for even greater athleticism.
There’s also practicality here, with the base car’s 25 mpg EPA combined fuel economy, the PHEV’s 31 miles of EV range, and a max towing capacity of 4,400 pounds. All X3s offer a spacious cabin with good legroom front and rear. Cargo space stands at 28.7 cubic feet, expanding to 62.7 cubic feet with the seatbacks folded.
The infotainment system uses a standard 8.8-inch display or an available 10.25-inch screen and is operated via BMW’s convenient iDrive interface. Standard features include a power liftgate, tri-zone climate control, 10-way power seats, and faux-leather seating.
Fuel economy; cargo volume; NHTSA 5-star safety rating.
2021 Acura RDX Advantages
Lower pricing; more standard horsepower; reputation for reliability.
2021 BMW X3 Advantages
Engaging driving character; superior infotainment interface; available PHEV and high-performance variants.
Which One Is Right for Me?
The 2021 Acura RDX is value-priced, reliable, and a great overall choice for most buyers in this segment.
The BMW X3 offers something more with its sporty driving character and available high-performance versions, although that comes at a cost.
Ready to buy an Acura RDX or a BMW X3? Shop for one on sale near you
|2021 Acura RDX||2021 BMW X3|
|Engine||2.0-liter turbo I4||2.0-liter turbo I4|
|Horsepower||272 hp @ 6,500 rpm||248 hp @ 5,200 rpm|
|Torque||280 lb-ft @ 1,600 rpm||258 lb-ft @ 1,450 rpm|
|Transmission||10-spd automatic||8-spd automatic|
|Fuel Economy||24 mpg (22 city/28 hwy)||25 mpg (23 city/29 hwy)|
|Also Available||AWD||3.0-liter turbo I6; hybrid; AWD|
|Warranty||4 years/50,000 miles||4 years/50,000 miles|
|Powertrain Warranty||6 years/70,000 miles||4 years/50,000 miles|
|NHTSA Overall Safety||5 stars||5 stars|
|Max Seating Capacity||5||5|
|Wheelbase||108.3 inches||112.8 inches|
|Overall Length||186.7 inches||185.9 inches|
|Width||74.8 inches||74.4 inches|
|Height||65.7 inches||66.0 inches|
|Turning Diameter||39.0 feet||39.4 feet|
|Headroom, Front||40.0 inches||41.1 inches|
|Headroom, Rear||38.0 inches||39.1 inches|
|Legroom, Front||42.0 inches||40.3 inches|
|Legroom, Rear||38.0 inches||36.4 inches|
|Shoulder Room, Front||60.0 inches||57.6 inches|
|Shoulder Room, Rear||57.0 inches||56.0 inches|
|EPA Passenger Volume||104.0 cubic feet||101.4 cubic feet|
|EPA Cargo Volume||29.5/58.9 cubic feet||28.7/62.7 cubic feet|
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