Acura RDX vs MDX: Which is the Better Option?

The crossover market is approached by Acura from two angles. But which of these should you be focusing on? Since the brand first arrived in the U.S. nearly thirty years ago, the luxury division of Honda has been producing vehicles that compete with Lexus and Infiniti. Nobody should be surprised that Acura has a selection of crossovers and SUVs to fit a variety of demands and interests of vehicle shoppers of today.

Two of them—the RDX and MDX—cover a market that is almost as large as the turnpikes they are made to travel on. Acura has long since abandoned fabulous model names such as Vigor and Legend. The RDX is a two-row vehicle that features an all-wheel drive and a four-cylinder engine that has sporty pretensions. The MDX is its larger brother and has the power to support three rows of people. Which one fits you best?

Fuel Economy and Powertrains

Acura RDX: A turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine plus 272 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque can be found under the hood of any Acura RDX, regardless of how much cash you spend on it. With flappy paddles that are on the steering wheel, it is coupled to a 10-speed automatic transmission, providing some zing to the morning commute. It is optional to have power going to all four corners, and this option is marketed under the superb name Super Handling All-Wheel Drive.

The 2020 RDX’s front-wheel drive versions scored a 22 mpg rating in city driving. Except for A-Spec trims, which are penalized by 1 mpg due to different gearing, most models should achieve 28 mpg on the highway. Fuel economy is reduced by an additional mpg when all-wheel drive is added.

Acura MDX: Acura has discontinued the hybrid model with its most recent MDX. The 3.5-liter V6 engine produces 290 horsepower plus 267 lb-ft of torque. The Type S is an exception, as it comes with a 3.0 liter turbocharged V6 that is exclusive to Acura. Up to 355 horsepower plus a 354 lb-ft of torque are available. The EPA rates front-wheel drive versions at 19 mpg in city driving while 26 mpg on the highway.

Our two vehicles are unexpectedly equal while cruising down the open road, yet the smaller of the two competitors easily wins the ultimate fuel economy contest.

Cargo Capacity and Space

Acura RDX: The actual front row of the RDX has exactly 40.0 inches of headroom, while the rear seats have 38.0 inches. A bigger 42.0 inches of front legroom, more than even the larger Honda Pilot, demonstrates the RDX’s effective packaging. According to the EPA, the total passenger volume is 104 cubic feet.

Consumers looking to compare these vehicles should be aware of Acura’s creative method of checking and measuring interior space. The larger among the two sets of figures is usually given, and it also includes the underfloor storage plus the distance between the seats. The Acura RDX has 31.1 cubic feet of cargo space behind its back seats using this metric and 79.8 cubic feet with that row folded down.

Acura MDX: It might come as a surprise to learn that the larger MDX has somewhat less front passenger headroom than the RDX (38.5 inches), so just be sure to go for a long test drive before signing the contract. The Noggin space that’s in the middle and third rows can be compared to that of the Acura RDX’s back seat. In the middle and front seats, legroom is approximately the same, but it drops to only 29.0 inches in the third row. The passenger volume is approximately 132 cubic feet.

Using Honda measurements, owners can fit 18.1 cubic feet of gear behind the vehicle’s third row. The space is actually increased by 48.4 cubic feet when that seat is folded, and if all seats are stored behind both the driver and front seat passenger, there is an enormous 95.0 cubic feet of room available.

If carrying over five people is a regular task, the MDX will be appropriate, provided the passengers in the third row are just not NBA players. The RDX might be a better option for couples or families with up to four members because the smaller Acura isn’t technically a pipsqueak. The MDX, however, has a larger footprint and is more spacious in all regards when it pertains to cargo capacity.


Acura RDX: Although appearance is always a matter of opinion, the 2020 RDX is a lovely vehicle, especially in A-Spec trim, which is available in a jazzy red interior and eye-popping hues. A large Drive Select button that dominates its center stack is a bold design decision that is reminiscent of the NSX halo car. There are twin sewer cannons that protrude from the rear bumper cover, and there are several different wheel designs to pick from.

Acura MDX: Acura has successfully refined its angular exterior style, and the fourth-generation MDX shows the results. Although it is not significantly different from the model that came before, the various minor design changes considerably freshen the appearance. The MDX has a stronger presence, especially with a sportier A-Spec trim, thanks to thinner lighting components and sculpted sides.

Both vehicles are extroverted picks to some of the more upright competition, some of which make waiting for paint to dry a fun-filled experience. Both of these great vehicles won’t be lost in a crowded parking lot, especially if you choose a good color like Apex Blue or Performance Red.


Acura RDX: With a host of driver assistance features, including forward collision warning plus a multi-view camera system, all but the most fervent gadget aficionados will be content with their RDX. With the Acura/ELS Studio 3D premium audio system, this piece of equipment actually has no fewer than sixteen speakers and can simulate your favorite musician performing live on the dashboard.

Acura MDX: Every 2020 MDX comes equipped with a host of safety features, which include adaptive cruise control plus lane keeping. Passengers can also be pampered by luxurious features, including tri-zone climate control and power seats with numerous adjustments.

Each machine delivers to the party a high level of technology. The MDX barely edges out the competition despite having a nearly similar number of options thanks to its extra features, such as memory seating.


Acura RDX: Both front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive models of the RDX have an 8.2-inch ground clearance, which is fairly substantial for a car. This is comparable to the Jeep Cherokee models. The heaviest you can tow is 1,500 pounds. Although its departure angle of 22.7 degrees is nice, its approach angle of 17.2 degrees is not that promising.

Acura MDX: The MDX only features 7.3 inches of ground clearance in all versions. Models with front-wheel drive can tow 3,500 lbs., while the all-wheel drive versions can tow up to 5000 lbs. In addition, the approach and departure angles are also relatively lacking, measuring just 14.9 and 17.4 degrees.

For consumers who might have to slog through a January blizzard on their way to work or who want to park their vehicle a little closer to the shore on a summer day, the smaller RDX is just a better option. The added ground clearance is also beneficial.


Acura RDX: This year’s RDX enables buyers to select the $3,000 A-Spec specification without upgrading to the $2,000 all-wheel drive function, with entry-level front-wheel drive models starting at around $40,000 in price. Although A-suggested Spec’s retail price is $45,325, including destination, it does require the addition of a $2,900 Tech package.

Acura MDX: Starting at $47,925 for 2020, the MDX may be customized with features like all-wheel drive and the swanky A-Spec package. The price disparity between the two is $2,000 for the former and $5,000 for the A-Spec, which is priced at $3,500. The MDX’s highest price for the Advance Package is $61,675.

The more affordable RDX prevails in this comparison due to its increased utility in terms of practical considerations like ground clearance and somewhat more room for front-seat passengers.Acura RDX vs. MDX Final Verdict

The Acura RDX probably offers a superior overall value for the money despite its more compact size and lower cost. On a snowy day, you can benefit from improved ground clearance. The Acura RDX costs less unless you absolutely must have the third row of seats in the MDX.

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