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2006 BMW X3 vs Acura RDX



  • belias,

    Interesting observations. I'm curious as to what the inside of an RDX looks and feels like, and plan to sit in one at the Washington DC Auto Show this week. We have a 2006 X3, and I'm having trouble figuring out what is not to like in the X3's interior!

    FWIW, we specifcally avoided the sport suspension, and I like the ride of our X3- controlled and responsive but not harsh.

    I would think another noticeable difference is the 6 speed auto in the X3 versus the 5 speed auto in the RDX. Our X3 has the 5 speed auto, we used to have a 2001 330Xi with a 5 speed auto, and we now have a 2006 330Xi with the 6 speed auto.

    I know its not strictly an apples to apples comparison, but I find the 6 speed auto much more responsive than the 5 speed auto, and to me much more desireable. I know it doesn't make good financial sense, but my wife and I have talked about trading our 2006 X3 for a 2007 X3 to get both the more powerful engine and the 6 speed auto.

  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    Regardless of the number of gear ratios in each the RDX transaxle must be "tuned" for FWD "responsiveness" and for eliminating even minor levels of engine compression braking whereas the X3 can stick to the "old school" (no throttle lag) tuned firmware.
  • Do you think the issues with BMW service is unique to the dealership(s) in your area or throughout the BMW system? I have a friend with a 5 series in Illinois and he speaks very highly of the service.
  • beliasbelias Posts: 316
    I definitely agree that not only is the 6-speed auto on the X3 superior to the 5-speed on the Acura, but it is superior to many other 6-speeds and definitely CVTs.
    As far as the interior goes, it is not so much that the X3 has a bad interior as it is that its implementation of technology is not as refined as Acura's. So, in terms of materials, build quality, seat comfort, etc. that is all perfectly fine in both cars and is more subjective and may come down to just personal perference.
    What I think is lacking in the X3 is a well-designed integration of the technology. It has to do with how you are able to get the vehicle to do what you want it to do easily and accurately. That is to say, things like voice-controlled features for the Navigation, the menu and subfolder structure of the control of electronics, preferences, and settings.
    You may not be able to see it when you go to the auto show, but if you get the chance to see it at an Acura dealer, take a good look at it. It will require you turning on the vehicle and actually going through the system.
    That said, the RDX is far from perfect... lack of memory seats, and a power passenger seat just boggles the mind. My only explanation is perhaps they are leaving that for a short-list of improvements for next year's model.
    So again, to summarize, it is really the integration of the technology (and especially the GUI) that is lacking in BMW products. Many people may or may not find that an important consideration. On the whole, it may not matter to many people. But for me, since I can't make as much use of the actual performance benefits during my drive (yes I must go through the D.C. beltway everyday), it is the other interior features and the convenience and comfort that they provide that matter to me more. That plus the price difference makes it harder for me to justify (though I will still take a test drive of the new 2007 model to make sure my comparisons are well thought out).
  • beliasbelias Posts: 316
    Good point rickgar,
    Here is my overall observation about service centers in general. Always talk to people at the dealership! In other words, go to the coffee room and ask people what their experience has been and what they think overall. You may be surprised at what you hear. Don't listen to the salespeople!! For one, they aren't working in the service department so they may not truly appreciate what the experience is like, and secondly what are they gonna tell you if it is bad? They want to sell you a vehicle, not turn you around and shove you out the door of the dealership. So, bias has a lot to do with it.
    Reading forums probably doesn't help because there is likely to be 10 complaints for every 1 positive experience... people tend to complain more than to praise more.
    Based on most people I know that have BMWs, including some relatives and very close friends, I have yet to hear of any truly above-average service at their dealerships. I think my wife gets better treatment at her Honda dealership and they don't compare with how I get treated at Acura. My sample size isn't great... around a dozen people, but that is from Maryland, D.C., North Carolina, and California.
    The best thing you can do is check out the dealership for yourself by asking others there who are getting serviced. Try to be discreet about it if you can... people won't tend to vocalize their feelings in public if they think they will embarass others or will be treated worse if the dealer hears about complaints (i.e. like complaining about food in a restaraunt before being served -- you don't want the cook to spit on your plate because you said he wasn't good).
  • belias,

    Thanks for the useful post. I really resonated with your comment ... "since I can't make as much use of the actual performance benefits during my drive (yes I must go through the D.C. beltway everyday)"!

    My wife and I are in a similar position vis a vis DC area rush hour traffic. One of our escapisms is frequenting our favorite B&B in West Virginia on weekend getaways as the roads are fun and uncrowded, and I don't think we've ever seen a patrol car or radar trap to inhibit our driving enjoyment.

  • beliasbelias Posts: 316
    Yeah, there are certainly a lot of troopers here in MD, so the ability to have fun every once in a while is tempered by the fact that I don't want to get a speeding ticket! Of course the occasion is so rare anyway that you have to wonder what the speed limit signs are for anymore... traffic is the limiting factor now!
    I did want to ask you about what you thought of your 2006 X3? Is there anything in particular (other than the engine) that you want to get in the 2007 model that isn't available in the 2006? Are there particular features that you like/dislike (i.e. things that are definitely worth getting vs. things that you think aren't particularly useful to you)?
    I saw a pretty good deal for lease prices... I think $379/month for 24 months with ~ $2500 down. Of course that is for a base model, so options will definitely add to that. One thing I didn't mention in my previous posts that I should have mentioned is that the residual values for BMW are generally very good. That is especially true for the 3 series. The 5 and 7 series tend to depreciate faster, but that is pretty much true of all higher-end vehicles in that price bracket.
    Were you able to get any kind of significant deal on your X3? I priced out a 2007 model with a number of features online and it came out to about $46K + TTL. A lot higher then I wanted to be at, but if it were closer to $40K, I think that would be close to a deal closer. I'm in no rush right now though, I'm looking more closely near the end of the year or this time next year. I'm also hoping to find a dealer near my home that will treat both my wife and I well. That will take some scouting out and some time to invest in, but I believe in doing that before talking about any deals. That way, I don't get stuck with getting a great deal but having to drive a long way to get to a dealer that will service the car well and treat its customers properly.
  • belias,

    What I would really like is an X3 with the 3.0 liter twin turbo engine and 6 speed auto!

    In addition to the more powerful engine in the 2007 model, I would also like to have the 6 speed vice 5 speed auto.

    On our 2006 X3, the only thing I wish it had but does not is the premium sound system. I don't remember if the 2006 premium sound option included Logic 7 or not, but the system in my 2006 330Xi (premium sound and Logic 7) is definitely better than the standard audio system in our X3.

    I would have also preferred to have had the satellite radio already installed as that gives you a 1 year pre-paid subscription. We added Sirius about 5 months after purchase.

    Of the things we do have, the heated seats are a must have, and I like the privacy glass, 18" wheels (non sport package), and retractable cargo net. I believe the 2007 model offers heated rear seats (as part of the cold weather package) and I would get that option.

    We purchased from the dealer closest to our house. We liked the salesman and their location is a big convenience factor. IIRC, we paid a little less than halfway between the invoice price listed by Edmunds and MSRP.

    Good luck,
  • I finally sat in an RDX at the DC Auto Show this past Saturday. I had to wait in line to sit in the one that was powered up as the show was very crowded, and couldn’t stay in the cabin long as others were waiting.

    The RDX was very nice, but I could not spend any time in the cockpit trying out things. Since I’ve never had a navigation system equipped car, or driven an Acura, I could not appreciate the advanced technology in the cockpit from a quick test seating. Maybe if I drove one for awhile, I would become accustomed to what it has and appreciate it more vis a vis the X3 interior.

    I liked the size of the RDX, but compared to our X3 it felt just a little:
    - Smaller
    - Less open
    - Less storage area in the back
    - Lower seating height

    If I didn’t already own an X3, and was in the market for a new vehicle of this type, I would definitely give the RDX a test drive.

    If I were to consider replacing our 2006 X3 however, then I would be more inclined to trade it for a 2007 X3 with the 6 speed auto.

  • We drove both, more than once, and bought the X3, for a couple of reasons.

    There was too much wheelslip in the rain in the RDX - I had to ask the salesperson if there was traction button turned off.
    I've had a turbo, and prefer an in-line 6 over the long haul, although feeling that turbo spool up is always a thrill.
    The RDX interior is too much like a spaceship - too distracting, we just want to focus on the road.

    My wife liked the Bimmer ride! She likes to feel the road!

    The RDX for sure offers more "technology" for the price, and probably better reliability, but it seemed a bit "immature" - it was like driving a video game piece, maybe it was the interior styling.

    A bit of vanity - the RDX just looked, to us, a bit too much like a toy.
  • varmintvarmint Posts: 6,326
    Agreed. Rather than going for luxurious, I think Acura opted to go high-tech with the interior. On paper that works for the target demographic (youngish urban males). However, I think it turns off the other buyers who just want a nicely put together, semi-sporty vehicle with some utility.
  • I can't say I fit the demographic stereotype living in a more rural area, a woman turning forty. But, while dealing with BMW (working out a lease.. not a purchase), I couldn't help but think what a ridiculous move I was making when I could afford to purchase the RDX. Clearly, In my mind, driving one right after the other, It was more vehicle for the money. I also felt it was MORE lux (but that's me) then the BMW inside, and the seats were more comfy. I liked the styling outside of the X3 better. I think in all, I almost leased it because of the stigma attached... and it has a pan sunroof! But it wasn't worth the price. I didn't get that "Wow" when I got in it.
    I've had the car now 2 months, and I'm still learning something new every day. I'm not "young" per say, but I still have that wild side, where I enjoy a sporty fun ride, with state of the art techno-candy. Maybe turning 60, I'll think about settling down into a refined quiet comfort, but until then, I'm spoolin ;)
  • bodble2bodble2 Posts: 4,519
    "I'm not "young" per say"

    Forty is young. You're only as old as you drive! (ie. don't buy a Buick, or a Caddie)
  • You can't go wrong with either one, it's art, not science, deciding between the two. The price might not be as far apart as you think, what with the BMW 4 year / 50K maintenance, etc, but then again, I bet you don't get to know your Service Manager as well as I will :-(
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    "'s art, not science, deciding between the two..."


    The X3 has a very definite RWD engine torque bias and also is available with a stick shift.

    If you have any expectation at all of often encountering wintertime adverse roadbed conditions the X3 will be the obvious choice of those with experience and knowledge of driving in those conditions.
  • >>If you have any expectation at all of often encountering wintertime adverse roadbed conditions the X3 will be the obvious choice of those with experience and knowledge of driving in those conditions<<

    It's hard to overstate how utterly silly this statement is. I've had a base RDX (no tech package) since October. I drove the car 25 miles over largely unplowed roads after a 12"+ snowstorm last week. No problems. Overall the best handling car I've owned. The car is phenomenal wet roads, snowy roads, dry roads. A bit stiff riding over some surfaces, but the handling is remarkable. Loving the car after 6500 miles.

    By the way, I got a tech package RDX as a loaner car and I greatly prefer my base car. The tech package was annoying. GPS screen is too small, too hard to read in bright daylight and is not a touch screen. The Nav in my 2004 TL is MUCH bigger, MUCH brighter, and MUCH easier to use. I'll stick with my little Garmin dashtop unit on those rare occasions when I need it. Works great. Fits in the center console of the RDX with my entire livingroom set.

    It is remarkable to me (and a real comment on how dopey many car buyers are) that the focus on the RDX is the tech package. IT's THE CAR STUPID. And the bluetooth, Nav, etc. are static compared to the core issues here. I have all those features on my TL. I don't use the bluetooth, voice commands, etc. Only the Nav. And I don't miss that at all with the Garmin at my disposal whenever I need it. Which is about 6x annually.
  • Well micckie, (and other looking at both an X3 and RDX) if those two last posts don't prove my point (deciding between the two is an art, not a science), then nothing does!

    I'm gonna go enjoy the drive......
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    Oh, now I see, you're saying the decision process is an art form, I'll agree with that.

    I am a great admirer of the SH-AWD system and the break-through technology and outside-the-box thinking it represents, and I have said so many places. But when it comes to recommending, nay, REQUIRING, a patently UNSAFE use of tire chains I'll always vote for the competition.
  • The X3 is a nicer car. And pricier. If you're leasing, the money BMW throws @ lease programs combined with the car's high residual might well make you lean towards the X3. If you're BUYING the car, the X3 is very pricey. Nicer? Yeah, OK. $8K nicer? Not for me. The Acura will probably be cheaper to own for a driver like me with higher miles (15K+ annually) who plans to keep the car 10+ years.
  • micckiemicckie Posts: 9
    Bimmer isn't giving the buyer anything but a base model car. Any options are pricey. When the warrantee runs out, you'd better run away. If you're leasing it, and you don't mind borrowing the car at a high price, then yea, it's a good choice. There's a whole lot more folks leasing Bimmers then buying them. Any sales associate will tell you that (especially those who have the $ to purchase them).
    Personally, to bring the X3 up to a comparable buy (what you get for your $) then that would be a ridiculous price to pat for the logo. As far as winter driving goes, where are the bimmer drivers getting this notion of better handling with back wheel drive? I see Bimmers in the snow spinning their back tires, and going nowhere. That's one of the main things that steer me away. Even Bimer drivers will admit that's what they hate. They lease the Bimmer for the handling, service/maintenance plan and stigma, Not for the resale value that the salesmen keep throwing back at ya (It is leased far more then purchased).
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