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2021 Acura RDX vs. 2021 Volvo XC40: Which Is Better?


The 2021 Acura RDX brings reliability and strong resale value while the 2021 Volvo XC40 shows Scandinavian heritage, safety and innovation. Which is better?

Quick Facts

  • Acura RDX: Priced below its European rivals, it delivers quality, features and value.
  • Volvo XC40: In addition to its gas-powered version, there’s a new EV model.

2021 Acura RDX

2021 Acura RDXBase price: $39,225 / Read our 2021 Acura RDX Review

What we like: Loaded with standard equipment; roomy interior; reasonably priced; top safety scores; a well-made premium compact CUV

What we would change: Add a sport Type-S edition; increase the prestige level to that of the competition; increase the meager tow rating above 1,500 pounds

Overview: It’s good-looking but a lack of flash and luxury will likely hold it back from the front row contestants. Still, if you bypass those reasons, the RDX’s Honda parentage and its reputation for reliability and resale value will reinforce your buying decision.

What’s new for 2021: There are no significant changes ahead in model year 2021 for the Acura RDX.

Features and technology: A well-built premium compact crossover utility vehicle, the Acura RDX includes a luxurious interior with the latest in technology and style. The RDX gets its motivation from a single source, but it is a good one. Its award-winning 2.0-liter turbo inline-4 produces 272 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque, which just happens to be more than any of its German rivals. From there power heads to the wheels via a 10-speed automatic transmission and either standard front-wheel drive (FWD) or Acura’s Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD).

Inside, the RDX includes such technology and features like push-button gear selectors that may take a couple of seconds to become familiar with, but will soon become second nature. A powered tailgate with height adjustment prevents accidental noggin-bopping. Items like 19-inch alloy wheels, an ultra-wide panoramic moonroof and dual-zone climate controls are just a few of the other items offered.

An RDX tech package includes blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, navigation with real-time traffic updates, front/rear parking sensors, GPS-linked climate control, leather upholstery, and a highly-rated ELS 12-speaker audio system. 

What does the future hold: Expect a complete model overhaul in 2021 as a 2022 model. There’s also talk of a new 10.2-inch touchscreen display. See 2021 Acura RDX models for sale near you 

2021 Volvo XC40

2021 Volvo XC40Base price: $34,695 / Read our 2021 Volvo XC40 Review

What we like:  Two gas-engine choices, new EV version makes three; stylish exterior; roomy interior; Volvo’s standard active-safety features

What we would change: Improve fuel-economy on base gas engine and range on EV version; less touchscreen, more physical control; redesign electronic gearshift

Overview: The family resemblance is apparent with the Volvo XC40. Small, but well thought out, it features the brand’s Scandinavian sensibilities for modern thoughtful styling and space utilization. Two flavors of 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4 gasoline engines, depending on your drivetrain: T4 FWD gets a 184 horsepower version while the T5 AWD model includes 248 horsepower and tows up to 3,500 pounds. Both engines mate to an eight-speed automatic transmission.

The new-for-2021 battery-powered XC40 Recharge P8 AWD offers a 402 horsepower motor-generator, but merely so-so mileage range of 208 miles. 

What’s new for 2021: The big news here is the XC40 Recharge P8 AWD electric model. Gas-powered Momentum model trim level adds blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, LED headlights with automatic high-beams and active curve illumination and other features. Additionally, all new Volvos can alert each other to slippery road conditions or vehicles with active hazard lights.

Features and technology: The XC40 T4 and T5 are offered in a choice of base Momentum, R Design, and Inscription trim levels. All models include a full slate of active-safety features. Momentum buyers will find leather, a power driver’s seat, a digital instrument cluster, and a 9-inch vertical touchscreen. The R Design steps it up a bit with a sport-tuned suspension, 19-inch wheels, Nappa leather/Nubuck upholstery, navigation, and more.

High-line Inscription model has standard suspension, wood trim, and a crystal shift knob. Available options include adaptive cruise with assisted steering, a 360-degree-view monitor, wireless charging, and self-parking. The Recharge P8 AWD comes in a single trim level. As in other Volvos, a vertical touchscreen is featured, but not so intuitive. More buttons and knobs would be welcome!

What the future holds: The addition of the Recharge P8 AWD rounds out the XC40 lineup. We expect it will receive only minor changes in the next few years. Find a 2021 Volvo XC40 for sale near you

RDX vs XC40: Strengths Comparison

Acura RDX benefits: The Acura RDX is a compact Crossover/SUV but it’s not small. It offers impressive power from its single engine choice.

Volvo XC40 benefits: The XC40 offers two engine choices, along with an EV, impressive towing and sophisticated Scan design.

2021 Acura RDX vs. 2021 Volvo XC40: Which is better?

We appreciate the reliability and resale value from the Acura RDX but are somehow attracted to the quirky design and capabilities of the Volvo XC40. For that reason, the XC40 is our choice. Find a 2021 Acura RDX for sale or Find a 2021 Volvo XC40 for sale

2021 Acura RDX 2021 Volvo XC40
Popular Powertrains
Engine 2.0-liter turbo inline-4 2.0-liter turbo inline-4
Horsepower 272 hp @ 6,500 rpm 187 hp @ 4,700 rpm
Torque 280 lb-ft @ 1,600 rpm 221 lb-ft @ 1,400 rpm
Transmission 10-speed automatic 8-speed automatic
Fuel Economy 24 mpg (22 city/28 highway) 26 mpg (23 city/32 highway)
Also Available  AWD; luxury trim levels 2.0-liter with 248 hp, AWD, Recharge EV model
Specs
Warranty 4 years/50,000 miles 4 years/ 50,000 miles
Powertrain Warranty 6 years/70,000 miles 4 years/ 50,000 miles
NHTSA Safety Rating 5 star 5 star
Max Seating Capacity 5 5
Wheelbase 108.3 inches 106.4 inches
Overall Length 186.7 inches 174.2 inches
Width 74.8 inches 73.3 inches
Height 65.7 inches 65.3 inches
Turning Diameter 39.0 feet 37.4 feet
Headroom, Front 40.0 inches 39.0 inches
Headroom, Rear 38.0 inches 39.1 inches
Legroom, Front 42.0 inches 40.9 inches
Legroom, Rear 38.0 inches 36.1 inches
Shoulder Room, Front 60 inches 56.7 inches
Shoulder Room, Rear 57.0 inches 56.3 inches
EPA Passenger Volume 104.0 cubic feet 98 cubic feet
Cargo Volume 29.5 cubic feet/58.9 cubic feet 20.7 cubic feet/47.2 cubic feet

Mark Elias
Mark Elias is a writer and photographer specializing in automotive topics ranging from new and used cars to classics and motorsports. His first car was a Matchbox Jaguar D-Type. From there, things have only become larger. During his professional career, he has been a staff photographer for the Associated Press, a contract photographer for Bloomberg News, and a contributor to automotive outlets... Read More about Mark Elias

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