Acura is not only one of the most popular luxury brands but also one of the most popular automakers worldwide. Because Honda owns Acura, consumers typically associate the company’s luxury nameplate with reliability and value. Those are two outstanding qualities, especially in the competitive SUV segment. However, Acura makes only two SUVs: the RDX and MDX. So, which is the best Acura SUV?
The 2023 Acura RDX is arguably Acura’s best SUV
According to MotorTrend, the 2023 Acura RDX is one of the top four luxury compact SUVs. Of the 15 SUVs ranked, the RDX lost to only the Tesla Model Y, Genesis GV70, and BMX X3. The EV likely won for its sporty performance (not always a given in this segment) and all-electric fuel efficiency.
However, while the Model Y received some disdain for its rigid suspension, the Acura RDX’s ride quality garnered no complaints. The RDX’s interior was also one of MotorTrend’s favorite aspects of the vehicle, whereas the Model Y’s build quality looks shoddy by comparison.
The Genesis GV80 won points for its numerous standard features on the base trim, including all-wheel drive and plenty of modern tech. However, Genesis also locks several features behind price and package upgrades. The Acura RDX offers more standard safety features and a slightly larger cargo area.
Here’s why drivers and critics love the Acura RDX
Although the Acura RDX got a slight refresh for the new model year, it still offers only one engine. It’s a 272-hp turbo-four paired with a 10-speed automatic and a choice between front-wheel drive or AWD. MotorTrend recommends the AWD version because it’s the quickest, and its responsive handling boosts the fun factor. AWD is standard on the Advance and A-Spec Advance trims, priced at $51,550 and $53,550, respectively.
No Acura RDX matches the athletic caliber of the Tesla Model Y, but the A-Spec boasts some sporty exterior and interior elements. The RDX also has annoying blind spots but includes blind-spot monitors even on the base trim.
In addition, Acura’s special SH-AWD system sends more torque to the rear wheels as needed, allowing for the best traction. AWD models earn up to 21/27 mpg city/highway, while the RDX with FWD is rated for 22/28 mpg. Neither model’s fuel economy is notable for the segment.
However, the Acura RDX provides one of the most spacious interiors in its class, boasting more rear legroom than the GV70. The RDX boasts a maximum 59 cubic feet of cargo space and almost 30 cubic feet behind the rear seats. And even the base trim has faux-leather upholstery and heated sports seats for cabin occupants.
The Acura RDX Technology trim, which adds upgraded leather and a premium stereo system, is an exceptional value at $44,200. However, every RDX has a somewhat frustrating infotainment interface. Though it’s nicely equipped with navigation and wireless smartphone pairing, it uses an annoying touchpad instead of a touch screen.
How does the 2023 Acura MDX compare?
The 2023 Acura MDX has a decent overall score, but it places only sixth among 10 models in MotorTrend’s luxury three-row SUV rankings. Testers were mainly impressed with the Type S trim, which packs a twin-turbo V6 and adaptive suspension. Like the RDX, it also loads the base trim with tech features.
However, MotorTrend Felt the MDX’s interior quality was below average by the brand’s standards. Most drivers won’t appreciate its thirsty powertrains, and several rivals offer better infotainment systems. And because owners likely won’t get much use out of the MDX’s tiny third row, we recommend the RDX for smaller families.