BMW X3 vs. Acura RDX

By

Automotive Editor

John Diether has been a professional writer, editor, and producer since 1997. His work can be found on TV, radio, web, and various publications throughout the world.  He is a graduate of Northwestern University and has a 1992 Cadillac Brougham d’Elegance in his garage. 


, Automotive Editor - August 22, 2018

BMW's senior compact crossover, the X3 received a full redesign for the 2018 model year, bringing revised styling and more power under the hood. Similarly, the Acura RDX is all new for the 2019 model year with a long list of standard features as it emphasizes luxury and technology over sportiness. Which approach to small luxury crossovers works better in our view?

See a side-by-side comparison of the X3 & RDX »

What the X3 Gets Right

The changes to the X3's body are subtle, but very effective. The updated BMW's nose and smoother sides give the X3 its own distinctive character. It won't be confused with the brand's subcompact and mid-size crossovers, which wasn't always the case.

The xDrive all-wheel-drive system is a $2,000 option and has been calibrated for increased stability and sharper response on curvy roads. The standard turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine lays down 248 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. According to EPA estimates, the X3 delivers 23 miles per gallon city, 30 mpg highway, and 26 combined with rear-wheel drive, or 22/29/25 mpg (city/highway/combined) with AWD. The new M40i version of the X3 gets a 3.0-liter six-cylinder turbocharged engine with 355 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque. This makes it the fastest X3 ever produced. Both engines are paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission.

With the rear folded, the X3 offers 62.7 cubic feet of cargo space. That's actually quite good for the compact luxury class, which usually emphasizes performance over utility.

What the RDX Gets Right

The all-new 2019 RDX also packs a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine under the hood. It delivers 272 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque, giving it an edge over the X3. All models get a 10-speed automatic transmission, while Acura's all-wheel-drive system is also a $2,000 option. Fuel economy checks in at 22/28/24 mpg with front-wheel drive, or 21/27/23 with all-wheel drive, putting it just short of the X3 in the efficiency department.

Where the redesigned RDX really shines is the list of standard technology and safety equipment. The AcuraWatch suite of safety features is standard on all RDX models, bringing adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assist, forward collision warning, lane departure warning, road departure mitigation, and automatic emergency braking.

The RDX is also the more affordable option. The base model starts at $38,295, including the $995 destination charge, while the BMX X3 starts at $41,995 including destination. That $3,700 difference is enough for buyers to equip their RDX with one of the Technology Package, A-Spec Package, or Super Handling All-Wheel Drive system and still check in under the X3's starting price.

The Bottom Line

The BMW X3 is easy to appreciate for its sprightly handling and thoroughly modern design. The Acura RDX counters with better performance numbers and long list of standard safety features. It's a sophisticated small crossover that blends well with many lifestyles.

Our Verdict: BMW X3

With the updated X3's boost in looks and performance, as well as BMW's knack for offering seemingly unlimited ways to customize your X3, it comes out on top over the Acura RDX.

Take a closer look at the BMW X3 »

Take a closer look at the Acura RDX »

Side-by-side comparison of features, pricing, photos and more!

, Automotive Editor

John Diether has been a professional writer, editor, and producer since 1997. His work can be found on TV, radio, web, and various publications throughout the world.  He is a graduate of Northwestern University and has a 1992 Cadillac Brougham d’Elegance in his garage.