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2006 BMW X3 vs Acura RDX

Stever@EdmundsStever@Edmunds YooperlandPosts: 38,910
edited March 25 in Acura
The X3 is one target for Acura's RDX - maybe you are cross-shopping the RDX with something else? Here's the place to figure out the pros and cons.
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Comments

  • . . .of the RDX with technology package and a couple of accessories -- which would make it about $10,000 less than a comparably equipped X3.

    Now, don't get me wrong, we love our X3. But, we looked at an RDX today and couldn't believe the content, warranty and price.

    It also comes with 240HP and 260 pound feet -- 19" wheels are a sub $2K option, but even with that, the thing would be about $38 grand.

    Similarly equipped the X3 would be just south of $50K.

    Don't know how the thing drives, but GULP -- damn -- it seems like a lot of car for $36K as we saw it equipped.

    Now, I can only assume it can't drive like a BMW -- but if it even comes a little bit close, the money difference should give any but the most anti-Japanese car folk a pause.

    I think this merits a drive.

    We're frankly thinking this almost seems too good to be true.

    Anyone drive BOTH?
  • nyccarguynyccarguy Stamford, CTPosts: 7,091
    someone will start a BMW X3 vs. Acura RDX comparison thread, but I'd like to make a few points comparing the 2 from what I saw (when I sat in the RDX at the NY Auto Show), what I've driven, & what I've read.

    Warranty: Acura & BMW both give you 4 years/50,000 miles of bumper to bumper coverage. As you know mark, BMW also includes scheduled maintenance for same term.

    With 260 horsepower & 225 lb feet of torque the 2007 X3 will be no slouch.

    I think X-Drive is a superior AWD system. It starts out with a rear bias. Honda's SH-AWD system is FWD based.

    Most important: I do not believe ACURA will offer an RDX with a MANUAL TRANSMISSION.

    Price: While I like how you get a lot of features for your money with Acura, I wouldn't load up the X3 the same way.

    But I'd like to see how they drive back to back.

    2001 Honda Prelude Type SH/ 2011 BMW 328xi / 2011 Honda Pilot EX-L w/ Navigation

  • bodble2bodble2 Posts: 4,519
    "Now, I can only assume it can't drive like a BMW..."

    It's interesting (and surprising) to note Acura's perspective on the driving dynamics of the RDX. From the current issue of "Expression", Acura's corporate magazine, I quote, "We were talking about BMW as a benchmark and it is here, in ride and handling, that the RDX and the X3 part ways. Absolutely, Acura's 2.3 litre has the guts to run with the 3.0 litre BMW, and SH-AWD is arguably a more complex system than X-Drive. But in terms of ride and handling, the two companies take widely divergent approaches. Ultimately, the BMW X3 is a cushy luxo barge compared to the RDX's sportscar dynamics."

    Of course, part of that is marketing bravado, but I find it interesting nonetheless. So as you said, I think it merits a drive.
  • rickgarrickgar Posts: 8
    I looked at both of these at the Chicago Car Show in the spring, and one point I'm surprised no one ever mentions is that the X3 seesm to have considerably more cargo space than the RDX. The space behind the RDX ear seats seemed tiny in comparison.
  • A friend of mine got into his 2003 Acura MDX as we were exiting a building together the other day -- I asked him "how do you like your Acura."

    He said he had saved and slaved all his life to buy a Mercedes E class -- which he did in 2001 or 2002, as I recall.

    He also said, he was often allowed to visit it at the dealer's service center since it spent more time there than in his own garage. After nearly two years of "nuttin' but trouble" he bought the Acura.

    He claims that the Mercedes "may have been a better car" in some ways -- but it was so unreliable and the technology (which was said to be the root cause of the poor reliability) was "way behind" the Acura's.

    He said "nevermore" on the Mercedes -- but didn't think this would mean he would exclude BMW's -- but, he added, the Acura is very car like, goes great in all weather and makes him feel a trip to Indianapolis (some 100 miles from Cincinnati) is not to be feared. The same, he claimed, was not the case when he had the Mercedes.

    One story does NOT a trend indicate. I do not think his comments were off-putting with respect to the Mercedes. But, they were encouraging as far as the Acura was concerned.

    I read one of the early test reports of the RDX and while I find it difficult to believe it has cracked the BMW feel, the view through the window was more than sufficient to make me think the RDX deserves being tested against the X3.

    Now, no 6 speed auto IS a pretty big deal and no stick shift is a very big deal (for my wife and me); but, I doubt anyone else would think the lack of a stick is of concern.

    The thing is, the RDX in its first year looks (LOOKS) as if it could make you wonder where the extra $10K is in the Bimmer in terms of CONTENT.

    Don't take this to mean that I am somehow suggesting the RDX is an X3 killer. Also don't take this to mean the X3 will be left cooling its heels on the showroom floor next time. Just know there are lots of folks who may be tempted to remark "where are the emperor's clothes?"

    Change the 5 speed transmission to a 6, add a couple of miles to the MPG meter and add (via some improved breathing, compression or whatever trick the engineers can come up with) another 10 or 20 HP and lower the torque curve and the RDX will give many customers "pause" when looking at the X3 (this opinion may change once we drive one of these little dudes.)

    :surprise:
  • shikemshikem Posts: 7
    Bmw includes more than scheduled maint. They include all maint. They even replace brake pads and rotors free of charge for 4 yr/50k.
  • bodble2bodble2 Posts: 4,519
    "Change the 5 speed transmission to a 6, add a couple of miles to the MPG meter and add (via some improved breathing, compression or whatever trick the engineers can come up with) another 10 or 20 HP and lower the torque curve and the RDX will give many customers "pause" when looking at the X3"

    Those may very well appear as part of the mid-cycle freshening.
  • bodble2bodble2 Posts: 4,519
    "They even replace brake pads and rotors free of charge for 4 yr/50k."

    Uh...aren't those considered scheduled maintenance, and only if BMW deems them to be scheduled maintenance items? :confuse: It can't be card blanche to have those items replaced anytime, anyhow. If somehow, your driving style results in your going back for pad and rotor replacement, say, every other month, I wouldn't think they would still cover you free of charge. There must be some "user negligence" or "user abuse" exclusion in the fine print.
  • shikemshikem Posts: 7
    Of course they will not replace them every month.
    They do cover all maint, both scheduled and unscheduled. They will replace or change all fluids, filters, belts, hoses and pads and rotors free of charge durinfg the 4 yr 50 k warranty.
  • bodble2bodble2 Posts: 4,519
    I understand. My point was that they would only do items according to their maintenance schedule. So, for pads and rotors, how many scheduled replacements would be specified during the first 4 years? Once?
  • shikemshikem Posts: 7
    There is no schedule for brake pads as it is a wearable item. I work at a BMW dealership.
    The car comes in at about 15k or once a year for an oil change and or other maint items. If it needs brakes during those visits they get replaced fre of charge. Coolant, wiper fluid and an extra qt of oil(m cars) are not supposed to be free unless it comes in for its once a year but most dealers including my will do it anyway.
  • The BMW 50K maint is GREAT, it is all it is cracked up to be.

    However, my X5 driving friends brakes needed replacement at 58,000 miles. $940 for the fronts (there was an oil change in there too.)

    The reason for this cost was the rotors AND the pads have to be replaced at the same time, the rotors cannot be turned per BMW, according to the local dealership.

    One way to look at it is, the cars require little maint and very little wears out. I do not think 58K miles is too long or too short -- I'd say, for the fronts, that's pretty good.

    The lesson is to CPO the car (which requires you to do so before 50K miles) if you plan to keep it to help offset some of the high maint/replacememnt costs.

    Sure, BMW will, without hesitation or argument replace your brakes, rotors, pads, fluid, etc etc. It is, however, not that likely it will need to be done in 45K miles (typical lease term), but if it needs it, it will get it and there will be not questions asked.

    Our dealer hands out wiper blades as often as needed and will add any fluid in between service. Free carwashes anytime are also part of the deal.

    It is true, the BMW seems to require darn little in the way of maint for 50K miles -- and afterwards it can be quite costly.

    I am, however, not suggesting that the BMW is scamming its customers with free maint which is really of little dollar value. Some folks need more maint than others.

    I'd get the extension were I to keep the car beyond 50K miles.

    I wish one replacment for the sat nav map came as part of the deal. It is a somewhat small cost $199, but I'd like to get ONE replacement DVD gratis (or apparently so) -- there there is the argument "why bother" the changes are usually pretty minor.
  • nyccarguynyccarguy Stamford, CTPosts: 7,091
    My Dad actually has an '04 X5 3.0iA that he leased for 42 months and 20,000 miles per year. He bought the Extended Maintenance (from BMW) which gives him 6 years/100k miles of service. His X5 which has been absolutely flawless will probably require new brakes again and an Inspection II before his lease is up in August 2007 when he will have somewhere around 75,000 miles.

    2001 Honda Prelude Type SH/ 2011 BMW 328xi / 2011 Honda Pilot EX-L w/ Navigation

  • robertsmxrobertsmx Posts: 5,525
    I think X-Drive is a superior AWD system. It starts out with a rear bias. Honda's SH-AWD system is FWD based

    How does that make it superior? Biases aside, you're getting AWD to work like an AWD. Why get AWD if "biased driving" is the goal?

    Out of the gate, SH-AWD distributes torque close to the weight distribution of the vehicle (it never is FWD "based", but always has all wheels powered).
  • jrynnjrynn Posts: 162
    It's surprising to me that Acura omitted a memory driver's seat and a power passenger seat from the RDX. Both could have been included without seriously denting the SUBSTANTIAL price advantage the RDX has over the X3.

    Perhaps, as with the TSX which was launched without either of these features but which has both now, Acura will add them to future RDX's.

    In the meantime, though, having to readjust the driver's seat and mirrors everytime you trade driving duties with your significant other will be a major pain in the a**, and it'll be plain embarassing to have to tell a passenger in your "luxury" vehicle to yank on a bar underneath and then manually turn a wheel on the side to adjust the passenger seat.

    These are needless (but constant) reminders that Acura either decontented the car to meet a price point or left out basic features so it could "add" them in later model years.
  • davidc1davidc1 Posts: 167
    I didn't know that. Memory seat is a must for me as my wife and I share on a regular basis. That's a no go for my wife.
  • robertsmxrobertsmx Posts: 5,525
    These are needless (but constant) reminders that Acura either decontented the car to meet a price point or left out basic features so it could "add" them in later model years
    I would go with the latter, but that is an area Acura needs to understand better, from the point of marketing a vehicle. Little things like manual driver seat adjustment in RDX stands out to me at this price point. It just spells cheapness. Yes they will add it a year or two later, but why not now?
  • The holy grail (at the very least from a marketing standpoint) of AWD these days is to be Rear Biased as the default.

    There are several reasons that rear biased AWD is superior to front biased AWD. Indeed, even Audi with its quattro system (speaking of the TorSen version, only) has stated it will soon abandon 50 50 bias in favor of 40 60 (f/r) bias.

    BMW, Infiniti and some others have made a pretty big deal out of the superiority of RWD biased AWD.

    There are threads here on edmunds that explain the virtues of both neutral and especially rear biased AWD. Suffice it to say "everyone" agrees Rear Biased AWD is more desirable than Front Biased AWD. If you personally don't agree, that is fine with me -- for the truth of the matter is that SH-AWD from a practical standpoint is fine. What it may lack, since it is AWD derived from FWD (like the RL) will effect most drivers seldom if ever.

    Do know, however, that rear biased AWD is superior especially at the limits of the performance envelope.

    I seriously doubt that I could feel the difference between an X3 and an RDX 90% of the time (or more, as a matter of fact.) But, I rarely would be pushing my daily driver to where the rear bias advantage would be a factor.

    From what I have seen "out of the gate, SH-AWD is sending more torque to the front wheels than to the rears, making the car a bit more like a front driver than a rear."

    As far as I know, the weight distribution has nothing to do with the power sent to the front or rear ends.

    What typically determines the power distribution is "wheel spin" -- either actual or impending. The SH-AWD system and X-drive are reactionary systems, that is, wheel slip must occur for the system to redirect power. TorSen systems, on the other hand, are real - time systems shifting power not in reaction to slippage, but seemingly "in anticipation OF slippage." TorSen systems act, not react, that is. TorSen systems, since they are mechanical "bind in real - time," no signal or clutch or electronic mechanism or hydraulic fluid is required to act, reflex like, when slippage has already started.

    The SH-AWD system reacts in a fraction of a second, and for all practical purposes this reaction is perceived as "virtually" real - time. Ditto X-Drive, in that regard.

    X-Drive and Quattro distribute power "out of the gate" without regard to the weight distribution of the vehicle, just like SH-AWD. The Audi's today are typically "nose heavy" (even the RS4 with lots of aluminum in the front end, is nose heavy) -- yet most Audis "out of the gate" have a f/r power split of 50 50, some, like the RS4, however, have a f/r split of 40 / 60.

    BMW's are typically better balanced, but often their AWD systems are 30 / 70.

    And, yes, all the wheels are all the time powered in all of these systems. Even when power is shifted from one end to the other, the other ends remain powered.

    With respect to SH-AWD, the information I have been able to find says that "out of the gate" it is 90 /10 f/r biased, BTW.

    :shades:
  • rickgarrickgar Posts: 8
    I agree with this 100%. It just seems very odd to leave out things that are considered standard in the luxury class. It would have been smarter to leave out or charge more for some of the whiz bang electronics. I really wanted to like this car, given the price point and Acura's reputation for reliability, but their cheapness on some of these small items and the cramped cargo space have unfortunately really turned me off.
  • robertsmxrobertsmx Posts: 5,525
    There are a few differences between RL and RDX when it comes to tuning of the SH-AWD. And that, apparently, has to do with differing handling dynamics of the two vehicles.
    In RL,
    Torque split during cruising (70% front, 30% rear minimum)
    Torque split during acceleration (60% front, 40% rear maximum)
    Torque split during hard cornering (30% front, 70% rear maximum)

    During cornering, the rear outer wheel can get 100% of the available torque at the rear axle and is overdriven by up to 5.7%.

    In RDX
    Torque split during cruising (90% front, 10% rear minimum)
    Torque split during acceleration (55% front, 45% rear maximum)
    Torque split during hard cornering (30% front, 70% rear maximum)

    During cornering, the rear outer wheel can get 100% of the available torque at the rear axle and is overdriven by constant 1.7%.

    Honda makes it clear that difference in handling dynamics resulted in different tuning in overdriving of the outer rear wheel during cornering. I have to assume that the rest of the differences also stem from difference in chassis set up between the two vehicles (note, RL is sending more torque to rear wheels during straightline cruising).

    More interesting is that RDX gets more torque to the rear in straightline acceleration than does RL. Could it be due to RDX having weight bias that is closer to 50-50 (52-48 to be exact) as opposed to RL which is front heavy? If I had to place a bet, I would on this logic.

    Do know, however, that rear biased AWD is superior especially at the limits of the performance envelope

    And that performance envelope doesn’t show up on straight line. Better yet, it is nicer to have a continuously progressive distribution than a fixed by default one. SH-AWD is designed to push that performance envelope (the reasoning behind acceleration device in RL, and constant overdrive of one wheel in RDX besides being able to deliver 70% of all torque to just one wheel). I somehow don’t see pushing the performance envelope in a straight line cruising situation.
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