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    Acura RDX vs MDX: Which Luxury SUV is Right For You?

    Acura RDX vs MDX: Which Luxury SUV is Right For You?

    Deciding between the Acura RDX and Acura MDX ultimately comes down to your budget and lifestyle needs. As Acura's two most popular luxury SUV models, both offer refined driving dynamics, ample performance, and creature comforts. However, some key differences set them apart.

    This comprehensive comparison examines the RDX and MDX models side-by-side, providing an in-depth analysis across over 15 categories. Read on to determine which Acura SUV best fits your wants and needs.

    Acura Brand Overview

    As the luxury division of Honda Motor Company, Acura offers sophisticated vehicles that combine dynamic performance, innovative technology, and premium comfort. The brand debuted in the late 1980s as the first Japanese luxury marque focused on refining the entire customer ownership experience.

    Over the past three decades, Acura evolved to feature five key pillars:

    • Precision Crafted Performance - Balancing power and efficiency through engineering prowess.
    • Inspiring Design - Sculptural aesthetics reflect timeless beauty.
    • Intuitive Technology - User-friendly tech enhances connections.
    • Timeless Value - Quality, reliability, and retention of worth.
    • Exhilarating Performance - Innovative engineering enables precise handling.

    The current Acura lineup includes three SUVs (RDX, MDX, ZDX), two sedans (ILX, TLX), a sports car (NSX), and a hybrid model (the MDX Sport Hybrid). As their best-selling models, the MDX and more compact RDX make up over 65% of Acura vehicle sales.

    Dimensions and Capacity

    The first major difference comes down to the sheer size and interior room.

    As a midsize 3-row SUV, the Acura MDX offers more overall passenger and cargo volume to meet the needs of larger families. With an optional third row, the maximum seating expands from 5 to 7 occupants.

    The MDX also provides more maximum cargo room behind the first row (71.4 cu ft compared to 61.6 cu ft). This adds to its versatility for road trips and home improvement hauls.

    MDX Dimensions:

    • Length - 198.4 inches
    • Width - 78.7 inches
    • Height - 67.1 inches
    • Wheelbase - 111.0 inches

    RDX Dimensions:

    • Length - 186.8 inches
    • Width - 74.8 inches
    • Height - 65.6 inches
    • Wheelbase - 108.3 inches

    So while the RDX is smaller in pretty much every exterior dimension, it still offers adequate interior room. This allows it to comfortably seat five adult passengers along with a solid cargo room.

    The RDX competes directly with other compact luxury crossovers like the BMW X3, Audi Q5, and Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class. So families looking at this segment may find the RDX strikes the best balance of size, luxury, performance, and overall value in its class.

    Spec Acura MDX Acura RDX
    # Rows 2 or 3 2
    Passenger Capacity 5 to 7 5
    Cargo Capacity (cu ft) 16.3 Behind 3rd row; 38.4 Behind 2nd row; 71.4 Behind front seats 28.9 Behind rear seats; 58.9 Behind front seats
    Vehicle Class Midsize SUV Compact SUV
    Length (in.) 198.4 186.8
    Width (in.) 78.7 74.8
    Height (in.) 67.1 65.6
    Wheelbase (in.) 111.0 108.3

    Powertrain and Performance

    In terms of motivation, both SUVs provide spirited acceleration along with composed, luxury-tuned rides. However, the larger Acura MDX has a clear edge when it comes to overall performance.

    Acura MDX Powertrains

    The standard MDX features a 3.5-liter i-VTEC V6 engine producing:

    • 290 horsepower
    • 267 lb-ft torque

    The available MDX Type S variant steps things up with a turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 generating:

    • 355 horsepower
    • 354 lb-ft torque

    It adds lighter components like Brembo brakes while enhancing dynamics with stiffer suspension tuning. As Acura's highest-performing SUV, the MDX Type S rockets from 0-60 mph in just 5.4 seconds.

    Acura RDX Powertrains

    Every 2023 RDX comes equipped with a 2.0-liter VTEC turbocharged 4-cylinder engine sporting:

    • 272 horsepower
    • 280 lb-ft torque

    So while the RDX gives up some power compared to the MDX V6, it still delivers lively acceleration and passing abilities. Turbocharged low-end punch helps it sprint from 0-60 mph in 5.6 seconds with the A-Spec package.

    In terms of fuel economy, the RDX bests both MDX models by a decent margin. It earns up to:

    • 22 mpg city
    • 28 mpg highway

    The additional size and weight of the MDX line lowers its potential mile-per-gallon averages down to:

    • 19 city/26 highway (standard)
    • 19 city/24 highway (Type S)

    So families focused on saving money at the pump may want to take a closer look at the RDX. However, the MDX continues closing the fuel economy gap with each model year refresh.

    No matter which model you choose, the available Super Handling All-Wheel DriveTM (SH-AWD®) system actively distributes torque to all four wheels. This further bolsters performance while enhancing all-weather traction and control.

    Spec Acura MDX Acura RDX
    Engine 3.5L i-VTEC® V6 (standard)
    3.0L Turbo V6 (Type S)
    2.0L VTEC® Turbo 4-Cylinder
    Horsepower 290 hp (standard)
    355 hp (Type S)
    272 hp
    Torque (lb-ft) 267 (standard)
    354 (Type S)
    Drivetrain Front-engine, SH-AWD® Front-engine, SH-AWD®
    Transmission 10-speed automatic 10-speed automatic
    0-60 mph (sec) 6.4 (standard)
    5.4 (Type S)
    Top Track Speed (mph) 155 155
    EPA-Rated Fuel Economy (mpg) 19 city/26 hwy (standard)
    19 city/24 hwy (Type S)
    22 city/28 hwy

    Both SUVs meet ultra-low-emissions vehicle (ULEV-70) standards in all 50 states. So you can enjoy saving money on gas without excess environmental impact.

    Design and Styling

    Acura touts "precision crafted performance" as a brand ethos when it comes to design. The MDX and RDX reflect much of the same DNA with flowing sculptural forms and a wide athletic stance.

    Signature Acura cues include prominent chrome grilles, Jewel EyeTM LED headlights, and ChicaneTM LED taillights. Open the doors and you will find dual-screen displays with touchpad controllers along with available open-pore wood and aluminum cabin accents.

    Exterior Design

    The fourth-generation MDX went through a full redesign for the 2022 model year. This brought a more chiseled shape and bold proportions to reflect Acura's commitment to dynamic design. It stretches nearly 16 inches longer overall than the RDX with more prominent character lines and athletic flairs.

    While the RDX saw its last full redesign back in 2019, the style remains contemporary and modern. It sports a sportier stance than most compact luxury SUVs with available gloss black accents on the A-Spec model. Panoramic moonroofs also come standard across MDX and RDX grades to enhance natural lighting.

    Both models offer buyer-pleasing color options that make a personalized styling statement:

    • MDX - Four premium paints (Phantom Violet Pearl, Liquid Carbon Metallic, Performance Red Pearl, Majestic Black Pearl)
    • RDX - Five premium paints (Sonic Gray Pearl, Performance Red Pearl, Liquid Carbon Metallic, Majestic Black Pearl, Urban Gray Metallic)

    Interior Design

    Step inside and you will find both cabins reflect Japanese minimalism with clutter-free layouts. Top-shelf materials like open-pore wood brushed aluminum, and soft-touch surfaces surround occupants in luxury.

    The MDX interior goes more upscale by incorporating hand-wrapped leather on upper grades. Front passengers also get ultra-comfortable 16-way power sports seats with available ventilation and massage functions.

    In terms of space and storage, the MDX comes out ahead. The two-row RDX still carves out decent room yet taller rear passengers may find headroom slightly cramped.

    Spec Acura MDX Acura RDX
    Seating Material Perforated or Milano leather Perforated leather
    Seating Adjustments 12- or 16-way power front 12-way power front
    Ventilated Front Seats Available Not Available
    Heated Rear Seats Available Available
    Interior Styling Open-pore wood-brushed aluminum Brushed Aluminum
    2nd Row Legroom 36.6 in (35.6 in on Advance) 38.3 in
    Total Interior Volume 153.9 cu ft NA

    So while the RDX offers a satisfying level of luxury similar to rivals, the range-topping MDX Advance takes things to an extra echelon with executive-style refinements.

    Technology and Connectivity

    Acura packs both the MDX and RDX with user-friendly tech. This includes standard Apple CarPlay/Android Auto integration across model lines along with available wireless device charging.

    Infotainment Displays

    Dual center screens provide vivid graphics and a responsive interface. The true touchpad system enables smartphone-like tap, pinch, and swipe commands.

    • MDX - 12.3-inch HD center display with available 12.3-inch HD instrument panel
    • RDX - 7-inch touchscreen + 7-inch driver meter (no full digital instrumentation)

    Audio Systems

    Acura equips all SUVs with premium audio featuring complimentary SiriusXM® radio trials. The available ELS STUDIO 3D® system takes things to the next level with:

    • 1000+ watts power
    • 21 custom-tuned speakers
    • Elliptical sound chambers

    This creates a multi-dimensional listening experience on par with high-end home audio.

    Available Safety/Driver Assist Tech

    • Blind spot information system
    • Multi-angle rearview camera
    • Surround view camera
    • Front and rear parking sensors
    • Automatic emergency braking
    • Adaptive cruise control
    • Lane-keeping assist
    • Road departure mitigation
    • Traffic sign recognition

    So when it comes to entertainment and amenities, both SUVs hit far above their weight with cutting-edge offerings. This allows you to stay safe while connected on every drive.

    Spec Acura MDX Acura RDX
    Infotainment Display 12.3 in HD center display + available 12.3 in HD driver display 7.0 in center display + 7.0 in driver display
    Premium Audio System 16-speaker ELS Studio 3D® Not Available
    Wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto Available Not Available
    Built-In Navigation Available Available
    Wi-Fi Hotspot Capability Available Available
    USB Ports 8 (Charge only: 2 front, 2-second row. Data/charge: 1 front, 1-second row, 2 third row) 5 (front x2, second row x3)
    Wireless Charging Available Available

    Safety Ratings

    Safety remains a top priority for Acura SUVs thanks to an advanced body structure and an abundance of active driver aids. Engineers used leading-edge computer modeling and crash testing to maximize collision protection.

    This rigorous development led both the 2023 MDX and 2023 RDX to earn coveted 5-star overall safety scores from NHTSA. They similarly earned Top Safety Pick+ status from IIHS with top "Good" marks in all crash evaluations.

    Such standout results give added peace of mind to families along with technology like included multi-angle rearview cameras and traffic sign recognition.

    Trim Levels and Pricing

    The MDX offers broader lineup diversification with five grades: Standard, Technology, A-Spec, Advance, and Type-S. Conversely, Acura keeps things simpler on the RDX front with just three core trims: Standard, Technology, and A-Spec. Most buyers stick with the mid-level Technology grade to maximize value.

    MSRP pricing sits lower on the RDX lineup versus comparable MDX models. However, Acura provides complimentary scheduled maintenance as an ownership perk across all vehicles. This covers services for two years or 24,000 miles to save time and money.

    2023 Acura MDX Trim Pricing

    • MDX ($48,895) - 291 hp V6, heated front seats, wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto
    • MDX w/Tech ($52,195) - Adds navigation, ELS audio, hands-free power tailgate
    • MDX A-Spec ($57,195) - Adds sport-tuned chassis, 21" wheels, 16-way seats
    • MDX Advance ($61,695) - Adds rear captain’s chairs, air purification, acoustic glass
    • MDX Type S ($73,245) - Turbo V6, Brembo brakes, AMG-inspired styling

    2023 Acura RDX Trim Pricing

    • RDX ($43,245) - 272 hp turbo-4, panoramic moonroof, heated front seats, dual-zone climate
    • RDX A-Spec ($46,645) - Adds sport-tuned chassis, larger wheels, multi-angle rear camera
    • RDX Tech ($48,145) - Adds navigation, ELS audio, perforated leather seating, more driver assists

    In terms of sheer value, the RDX delivers luxury, safety, and performance rivaling competitors like the BMW X3, Lexus NX, and Audi Q5. Yet it manages to significantly undercut those models when it comes to MSRP and ownership costs.

    Spec Acura MDX Acura RDX
    Number of Trims 5 3
    Trim Level Names Standard, Technology, A-Spec, Advance, Type S Standard, Technology, A-Spec
    Available Packages Handling, Luxury, Towing Tech, Sensory
    Starting MSRP $48,895 $43,245
    Most Popular Trim A-Spec ($57,195) Technology ($48,145)
    Highest Trim (MSRP) Type S ($73,245) A-Spec ($46,645)

    Warranties and Owner Perks

    All new Acura models come standard with an impressive 4-year/50,000-mile limited warranty. This protects against defects while also boosting resale value.

    Powertrain coverage stretches to 6 years/70,000 miles for extra peace of mind. Additional owner benefits include two years of free scheduled maintenance along with Acura Concierge services. These provide 24/7 roadside assistance and even dinner reservations when miles away from home.

    The overall combination of Acura's warranty protection, maintenance savings, and Concierge perks make for a very satisfying ownership experience. Drivers can enjoy more carefree adventures thanks to this comprehensive support network.

    Verdict - Which Model is Right For You?

    So should you go with the Acura RDX or Acura MDX? Here is a quick summary:

    2023 Acura MDX

    • Better Performance: More horsepower and torque
    • Extra Passenger/Cargo Space: Available 3rd-row seating
    • Range-Topping Luxury: High-grade advanced model with more features
    • Improved Towing: 5,000 lb max tow rating (optional)

    2023 Acura RDX

    • Lower Starting Price: Around $5k less to start
    • Better Fuel Economy: Up to 22 mpg city/28 highway
    • Solid Power: 272 hp turbo engine still feels quick
    • Compact Luxury: Ideal size for most families without a third-row squeeze

    Ultimately, the seven-passenger MDX makes the most sense for growing families that require maximum passenger and cargo flexibility. It offers luxury refinement nearer the top of the segment with an unbeatable combination of amenities, space, and performance.

    Yet even empty nesters may appreciate the MDX's extra room for frequent guests or bulky shopping hauls. Go for the RDX to save some money upfront while still getting a satisfying serving of style, safety, and Acura engineering magic applied to a city-friendly footprint.

    Regardless of which model you pick, rest assured knowing Acura owners enjoy decades of reliability and consistently high resale values. This adds extra value for the years ahead while you soak up all the performance, amenities, and renowned owner benefits available across the Acura lineup.