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2021 Lexus NX vs. 2021 Acura RDX: Which Is Better?

The 2021 Lexus NX offers a mix of luxury and space-aged looks while the 2021 Acura RDX offers reliability and style. Which is better?

Quick Facts

  • Lexus NX: Reliability meets high resale value in one space-aged looking package.
  • Acura RDX: Priced below German rivals, it delivers quality, features and value.

2021 Lexus NX 

2021 Lexus NX

Base price: $39,225 / Read our 2021 Lexus NX Review

What we like: Luxury, safety and reliability in one good-looking package; generous rear legroom; excellent dealer experience; great resale value; NX 300 F-Sport and NX 300h hybrid also available; AWD is optional

What we would change: Not as engaging a driving experience as its European competitors; frustrating Remote Touch interface; smallish cargo area

Overview: Good-looking with a sense of purpose, the 2021 Lexus NX luxury compact crossover SUV features the latest design language from Toyota’s luxury division. The NX delivers with a long list of standard features, a well thought out interior and competitive pricing. The brand’s impeccable reputation for strong sales and great reliability, make it easy to consider. 

What’s new for 2021: Blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert are now standard, along with power-folding side mirrors, and wipers that are newly redesigned. Black Line Special Edition is a new trim option.

Features and technology: Following the brand’s rep for luxury and reliability, the Lexus NX includes loads of technology and style. Both NX and NX F-Sport models are powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4 making 235 hp. This engine is matched to a 6-speed automatic transmission. The NX 300h features a hybrid 2.5-liter inline-4 with electric motor generator that provides 194 net hp. Power delivery to the AWD system occurs with a continuously variable transmission with step-down mode.

Inside, the build quality is flawless. Technology includes an 835-watt Mark Levinson audio system with 14 speakers and Harman/Kardon Clari-fi technology to restore audio quality from compressed digital music files.

What does the future hold: According to Japanese auto magazines, rumors suggest the 2022 model will be all-new with a choice of three powertrains. Find a 2021 Lexus NX for sale near you

2020 Acura RDX

2021 Acura RDX

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

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

What we would change: Add a sport Type-S edition; bring RDX’s level of prestige up to that of the competition; increase 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 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque, which just happens to be more than any of its German rivals. Power gets to the wheels through a 10-speed automatic transmission and standard FWD or Acura’s Super Handling All-wheel-Drive (SH-AWD).

Inside, the RDX includes features and technology 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 navigation with real-time traffic updates, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, 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. Find a 2021 Acura RDX for sale near you

NX vs RDX: Strengths Comparison

Lexus NX benefits: The Lexus NX is not too big, or not too small; easy to live with. 

Acura RDX benefits: More conventional appearance may not be as off-putting as NX

2021 Lexus NX vs. 2021 Acura RDX: Which is better?

The Lexus NX is loaded with space-aged looks, reliability and good resale values with a great dealership experience. The Acura RDX offers bulletproof reliability and features with a more traditional appearance. It’s Buck Rogers, or buck the trend. Being traditionalists, we think the Acura RDX is better. Find a 2021 Lexus NX for sale or Find a 2021 Acura RDX for sale

2021 Lexus NX 2021 Acura RDX
Popular Powertrains
Engine 2.0-liter turbo inline-4 2.0-liter turbo inline-4
Horsepower 235 hp @ 4,800 rpm 272 hp @ 6,500 rpm
Torque 258 lb-ft @ 1,650 rpm 280 lb-ft @ 1,600 rpm
Transmission 6-speed automatic 10-speed automatic
Fuel Economy 25 mpg (22 city/28 highway) 24 mpg (22 city/28 highway)
Also Available  AWD; hybrid model; luxury trim levels  AWD; luxury trim levels
Warranty 4 years/50,000 miles 4 years/50,000 miles
Powertrain Warranty 6 years/70,000 miles 6 years/70,000 miles
NHTSA Safety Rating 5 star 5 star
Max Seating Capacity 5 5
Wheelbase 104.7 inches 108.3 inches
Overall Length 182.7 inches 186.7 inches
Width 73.6 inches 74.8 inches
Height 64.8 inches 65.7 inches
Turning Diameter 37.4 feet 39.0 feet
Headroom, Front 38.2 inches 40.0 inches
Headroom, Rear 38.1 inches 38.0 inches
Legroom, Front 42.8 inches 42.0 inches
Legroom, Rear 36.1 inches 38.0 inches
Shoulder Room, Front 57.3 inches 60 inches
Shoulder Room, Rear 55.3 inches 57.0 inches
EPA Passenger Volume 71.6 cubic feet 104.0 cubic feet
Cargo Volume 17.7 cubic feet/54.6 cubic feet 29.5 cubic feet/58.9 cubic feet



Mark Elias
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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