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Comparison: 2021 Acura RDX vs. 2021 Lexus NX

“X marks the spot for two of the most popular luxury vehicles in Canada

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2021 Acura RDX


Starting Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price: $44,505 CAD

Pros

  • Relatively powerful engine
  • Generous interior room
  • Enthusiast-oriented handling

Cons

  •   Relatively poor fuel economy
  • Only one powertrain choice

 

2021 Acura RDX- Highlights

Over three generations, the all-wheel-drive (AWD) 5-passenger Acura RDX compact luxury SUV has evolved into an attractive package that includes value for money, excellent safety features, practicality, dependability, an athletic yet comfortable ride, and yes, even some road presence. Through 5 trim levels, Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Prices start at $44,505 in Canadian dollars and top out with the $55,055 Platinum Elite with the sporty $51,305 A-Spec in the middle.

Break out a measuring tape, and you’ll find the RDX offers more space for passengers and their trappings than the Lexus NX. The Acura’s front seats provide above-average support, and rear occupants won’t be complaining about legroom or headroom. And those requiring generous cargo volume will find 835 litres of it behind the rear seats; considerably more than the 500 litres in the NX 300 and 475 litres in the NX 300h hybrid.

Rated at a relatively powerful 272 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque, all 2021 RDXs use a turbocharged 2.0-litre 4-cylinder gas engine that offers more performance than the Lexus NX 300's turbo-4. All the Acura's oomph goes to all four wheels via a 10-speed automatic transmission. Offering more gears than found in the NX 300's transmission, the Acura's gearbox works smoothly while allowing highway cruising at low engine speeds.

Exercising the Acura’s muscle is also pleasurable. There’s no discernible power lag. But there’s a sweet spot (well, more of a sweet area) where both the turbo and the engine are on song and nicely responsive. The chassis is up to its task of containing and exploiting this energy while still keeping occupants in luxury-level comfort. Driving modes span various conditions—from Snow to Sport Plus—yet the cabin remains hushed. The sporty A-Spec trim enhances the driving experience by bringing bigger wheels and tires, cosmetic additions, heated/ventilated front seats, LED fog lights, and four more audio speakers.

 

2021 Lexus NX 

Starting Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price: $44,600 CAD

Pros

  •  Relatively good fuel economy from base turbo-4
  • Available hybrid powertrain
  •  Excellent towing capabilities

Cons

  • Less engaging to drive than the RDX
  •  Relatively small cabin
  • Performance more civil than sporty 

2021 Lexus NX – Highlights

There’s a refreshed model coming for the 2022 model year, but the existing AWD 2021 Lexus NX 300 and NX 300h gas-electric hybrid luxury compact SUVs each have a long list of standard features and competitive pricing, an impeccable reputation for reliability and strong resale values. Prices start with the $44,600 gas-engine NX 300, while the 300h begins at $47,100. Like the Acura, there’s a sporty NX: the $51,900 F Sport.

The inside of the NX is full of classy materials arranged in designs that bear some vague resemblance to the exterior’s lines. Surfaces, where elbows come into regular contact with in the cabin are cushioned, and the serene ambiance helps convey the overall air of luxury.

The NX 300 and NX 300 F Sport get a 235-horsepower and 194-pound-feet of torque turbocharged 2.0-litre 4-cylinder engine. The drive goes to all four wheels through a 6-speed automatic. While not as muscular as the Acura, the Lexus engine allows for a 2,000-pound (907-kilogram) towing capacity, while the RDX is limited to 1,500 pounds (680 kilograms). 

The NX 300h hybrid comes standard with AWD and a 2.5-litre gasoline engine paired with two electric motors for a total of 194 horsepower. Unlike the regular NX, the hybrid has a fuel-saving continuously variable transmission (CVT) that includes a kick-down feature for quick access to accelerative thrust, which enables it to score an impressive 7.5 litres per 100 kilometres combined city and highway estimate.

On the road, the focus of the NX is more on comfort than excitement. Even the F Sport trim, with its firmer suspension and sport bucket seats, doesn’t really convince. That’s not to say the NX handles poorly or lacks credible feedback from the steering and brakes. It’s just a more relaxed conveyance that most luxury buyers will appreciate.

 

Final Recommendation

For compact SUV buyers looking to upgrade from their mainstream Honda CR-Vs or Toyota RAV4s, the luxurious 2021 Acura RDX and 2021 Lexus NX deliver tangible qualities that justify their higher prices.

If excellent fuel economy (especially with the hybrid trim) or the need to tow is high on your wish list, the 2021 Lexus NX is worth a serious look. 

However, we think the 2021 Acura RDX, with its more powerful gas engine, roomier interior and more engaging driving characteristics, offers a better all-round compact luxury SUV experience.

 

Specs

2021 Acura RDX

2021 Lexus NX

Engine(s)

2.0-litre Turbocharged I4

300 - 2.0-litre Turbocharged I4

300h – 2.5-litre I4 + Electric motors

Horsepower

272 hp @ 6,500 rpm

300 - 235 hp @ 5,700 rpm

300h – 194 hp Net

Torque

280 lb-ft @ 1,600-4,500 rpm

300 - 258 lb-ft @ 1,650-4,000 rpm

300h – 152 lb-ft @ 4,000 rpm

Transmission(s)

10-speed automatic

300 - 6-speed automatic

300h – Continuously variable automatic

 

Drivetrain

All-wheel-drive

All-wheel-drive

Fuel Economy

11.0 L/100 km (8.6 city, 9.9 hwy)

A-Spec – 11.3 L/100 km (10.3 city, 9.1 hwy)

300 – 9.7 L/100 km (10.7 city, 8.5 hwy)

300h  – 7.5 L/100 km (7.2 city, 7.9 hwy)

Warranty

4 years/80,000 kilometres

4 years/80,000 kilometres

Max Seating Capacity

5

5

Wheelbase

2,750 mm

2,660 mm

Overall Length

4,743.6 mm

4,640 mm

Width

1,900 mm

1,845 mm

Height

1,667.8 mm

1,645 mm

Curb Weight

1,827-1,844 kg

1,755-1,896 kg

Headroom, Front

1,007 mm

970 mm

Headroom, Rear

974 mm

964-968 mm

Legroom, Front

1,057 mm

1,088 mm

Legroom, Rear

975 mm

918 mm

Shoulder Room, Front

1,517 mm

1,455 mm

Shoulder Room, Rear

1,437 mm

1,405 mm

Cargo Volume Behind Rear Seats

835 L

475-500 L

Maximum Towing Capacity

1,500 lbs (680 kgs)

 

300 - 2,000 lbs (907 kgs)

300h - 1,500 lbs (680 kgs)

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