If you’re looking for a new luxury crossover and don’t need 3-row seating or a cavernous cargo area, you might want to consider a smaller crossover such as the 2016 BMW X3 or the 2016 Acura RDX. Both models offer excellent equipment, great safety features and compelling designs, and both are recently updated.
But which one is better? And which one should you get? We’ve created a close comparison to help you answer those exact questions.
2016 BMW X3
The BMW X3 is largely unchanged for the latest model year. See all 2016 BMW X3 models available near you
2016 Acura RDX
Acura has given the RDX a facelift for 2016. Not only does it offer a slightly new look and an updated interior, it also touts a long list of cutting-edge, new safety features that will please any shopper who especially prioritizes car safety. See all 2016 Acura RDX models available near you
The reliability experts at J.D. Power gave the RDX a better-than-average score for overall dependability. Meanwhile, the X3 earns only an average rating. Those ratings are underscored in the firm’s Vehicle Dependability Study, which examines automakers as a whole. There, Acura landed among the top 10 overall automakers, while BMW was roughly in the middle.
The RDX also has an advantage over the X3 in terms of warranty length. While the BMW touts 4 years or 50,000 miles of overall warranty coverage, the RDX matches that figure and adds an additional 2 years or 20,000 miles of powertrain coverage. As a result, the RDX easily wins this category.
The RDX offers only one engine, a 3.5-liter V6 that touts 279 horsepower and 272 lb-ft of torque. A 6-speed automatic transmission is standard. Gas mileage reaches as high as 20 miles per gallon in the city and 29 mpg on the highway with front-wheel drive or 19 mpg city/28 mpg hwy with optional all-wheel drive.
Meanwhile, the X3 touts three powertrain choices. Base models get a 240-hp 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder, which offers up to 21 mpg city/28 mpg hwy regardless of whether you choose rear- or all-wheel drive. Drivers looking for more power can get a 300-hp 3.0-liter turbocharged 6-cylinder that returns 19 mpg city/27 mpg hwy, while shoppers interested in better gas mileage can opt for the diesel-powered X3 xDrive28d, which uses a 2.0-liter turbodiesel 4-cylinder that touts 180 hp, 280 lb-ft of torque and up to 27 mpg city/34 mpg hwy.
The result? The winner here is the diesel-powered X3. But if you don’t want to pay a premium for a diesel model, the RDX and X3 tie in terms of base-level gas mileage — though it’s worth noting that the RDX offers an extra 40 hp.
Both the 2016 Acura RDX and the 2016 BMW X3 earned a perfect 5-star overall crash-test rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The RDX also earned the coveted Top Safety Pick+ designation from the nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, though the X3 hasn’t yet been subjected to enough crash tests to qualify for that rating.
As for safety features, both models offer just about everything you might want or need. In addition to the basics such as standard side-curtain airbags and anti-lock brakes, the X3 and RDX both offer lane-departure warning, forward-collision warning with automatic braking, a blind spot monitoring system and a multi-angle camera system. Both models also offer a few extra features you can’t get in the other one — a head-up display in the BMW, for example, and lane-keep assist in the Acura.
Still, unless there’s a specific feature you really want that’s unique to either the RDX or the X3, either of these two SUVs would be a great choice for a driver especially interested in safety.
As you may have guessed from reading the Safety section, the X3 and RDX offer long lists of modern technology, and they aren’t only limited to today’s top safety features. Both models offer adaptive cruise control, a large center screen, app connectivity, dual power front seats, a power lift gate, adaptive headlights and much, much more.
Of course, just like in the Safety section, there are a few features unique to one model or the other. Only the RDX offers remote engine starting, for instance, while the X3’s surround-view camera system is more comprehensive than the Acura’s. But despite a few differences, the X3 and RDX offer largely the same excellent level of gadgets and features, and we think either one would be a great choice for technophile car shoppers.
There’s no denying that the BMW X3 is priced higher than the Acura RDX: The X3 starts around $39,900 with shipping, while the RDX comes in around $36,200 including destination. That price difference only increases as you move through the trim levels, as a fully equipped RDX costs $44,400, while an X3 with every option is well over $50,000 with shipping.
Is the BMW worth the extra money? If value is a major concern, the answer is probably no: The RDX offers just as much equipment as the BMW, if not more, along with a longer warranty, more-standard hp numbers and better reliability. The X3, meanwhile, offers less tangible benefits, including the high-end BMW brand name and improved cornering and roadholding capabilities.
Despite similar sizing and relatively similar pricing, the Acura RDX and BMW X3 are very different vehicles aimed at different shoppers. Specifically, the RDX is for drivers interested in the best possible value — a luxury crossover with the most equipment per dollar that won’t require many trips to the dealer for repairs. Meanwhile, the X3 is for shoppers who prioritize handling, performance, cornering and an upscale BMW badge above the overall sticker price. The one you’ll prefer will likely depend on your personality and priorities.