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2015 Acura RDX vs. 2015 Lexus NX: Which Is Better?

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author photo by Doug DeMuro February 2015

In the last few years, the compact luxury crossover market has exploded with new models from such automakers as BMW, Infiniti, Mercedes-Benz and Acura. To help you narrow down which model you might choose, we've created a detailed comparison between two of today's top compact luxury SUVs: the 2015 Acura RDX and the all-new 2015 Lexus NX. But before we get to it, let's take a look at what's new with both the RDX and the NX for the 2015 model year.

2015 Acura RDX

Although a face-lifted RDX will reportedly debut as a 2016 model, the crossover is unchanged for the 2015 model year.

2015 Lexus NX

The Lexus NX goes on sale for 2015 as an all-new model. Slotting below the popular Lexus RX crossover, the NX offers hybrid or turbocharged 4-cylinder powertrains and a wide range of today's latest gadgets and equipment.

Reliability

According to the experts at J.D. Power, the Lexus NX is a little too new for a reliability rating. But the Acura RDX earned an excellent four circles out of five in the firm's Power Circle Ratings, suggesting better-than-average reliability. When it comes to warranty length, the RDX and the NX offer the exact same term: 4 years or 50,000 miles of bumper-to-bumper coverage, and 6 years or 70,000 miles of powertrain coverage.

Although the RDX has already demonstrated its excellent reliability, we'll wait for final J.D. Power numbers on the NX before awarding this category to either vehicle.

Fuel Economy

The RDX offers only one engine: a muscular 273-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 capable of 20 miles per gallon in the city and 28 mpg on the highway with front-wheel drive, or 19 mpg city/27 mpg hwy with all-wheel drive (AWD).

The NX offers two engine choices. Standard is a 235-hp 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder that returns 22 mpg city/28 mpg hwy with front-wheel drive or 21 mpg city/28 mpg hwy with AWD. Shoppers interested in better gas mileage might want the other option, however: the hybrid-powered NX 300h. This model uses a 194-hp 2.5-liter hybrid 4-cylinder to return 35 mpg city/31 mpg hwy with front-wheel drive or 33 mpg city/30 mpg hwy with AWD.

As a result, this category goes to the Lexus, both for better standard fuel economy and its optional hybrid powerplant. But drivers interested in more power without sacrificing fuel economy will find that the RDX offers similar gas mileage numbers as the NX 200t, coupled with far better acceleration.

Safety

Both the NX and RDX offer excellent protection in the event of a collision. Although the NX is too new to be tested by the federal government's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), it earned an excellent Top Safety Pick+ rating from the nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The RDX also earned high marks from the IIHS, along with a perfect 5-star score from the NHTSA.

When it comes to safety equipment, however, the NX has a distinct advantage. While the RDX features all of today's must-have safety equipment (curtain-side airbags, anti-lock brakes and a standard backup camera), it doesn't offer any of the latest high-tech safety gadgets. That means no frontal-collision system, no rear cross-traffic alert, no adaptive cruise control and no lane-departure warning system, all of which are optional on the Lexus.

As a result, we believe that while both the RDX and the NX offer approximately the same crash protection, the NX offers more available equipment to help you avoid a crash in the first place. But an updated RDX, which is expected later this year, might level this playing field.

Technology

Comparing technology is similar to comparing safety in these models: The RDX has all the basics, but the NX goes above and beyond thanks to its newer design. For example, the NX offers a new smartphone-based app through its Enform system that allows you to control various vehicle functions from your phone. The NX also offers adaptive cruise control, which isn't available in the RDX, along with other modern gadgets such as LED lighting and ventilated seats, which the Acura also doesn't have.

Simply put, both the Lexus and the Acura have all the technology you need. But the NX also offers a few items you might want, especially when considering how much these two crossovers cost.

Value

The NX and the RDX start at almost the exact same dollar figure: around $35,500 with shipping for the NX, compared to $36,000 for the RDX. But the NX is equipped with far more features, including LED headlights, Bluetooth Audio, Siri compatibility for iPhones, dual 8-way power front seats and more.

But it's not just standard equipment where the NX boasts a value advantage. The small crossover also offers better gas mileage, an optional hybrid variant and technology and safety gadgets that aren't available in the RDX for any price.

AutoTrader's Advice

Although the 2015 Acura RDX was once the star of the compact crossover segment, its upper-echelon placement is fading quickly in the wake of fast-arriving competition from Lexus and others, as shown by this comparison. The RDX trails the NX in terms of gas mileage, technology, safety features, standard equipment and options. Simply put, the 2015 Lexus NX is a better car than the RDX, but we're excited to see if the upcoming 2016 RDX changes that with some major revisions.

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Used 2015 Acura RDX AWD w/ Technology Package
Used 2015 Acura RDX
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Used 2015 Acura RDX AWD w/ Technology Package
Used 2015 Acura RDX
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Used 2015 Acura RDX FWD
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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2015 Acura RDX vs. 2015 Lexus NX: Which Is Better? - Autotrader