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2006 BMW X3 vs Acura RDX



  • As I said, I do not think the performance envelope is likely to be an issue for all but a tiny tiny minority of folks.

    Yet, the "purists" seem to howl a mighty howl when they see an AWD vehicle that is not at least 50 50 split "out of the gate."

    For some folks, the fact that during acceleration (load shift rear) less than 50% of the power is on the rear wheels is "of concern." The argument seems to be that with 55% of the power on the front end (which is undergoing a lessening of weight) and 45% on the rear (which is undergoing a load shift to the rear), there is a loss of power to the wheels where it could be doing the most good.

    Hence, the argument goes, putting the power down thusly is not as effective because it is less than optimally efficient.

    Once again, I say "practically" speaking this is probably of little impact for most drivers going about the business of driving under public highway circumstances.

    Yet, there will be times and circumstances -- even if they are rare -- that having less than 51% of the power being sent to the rear will be an issue, will reduce the accelerative capability, etc etc etc.

    The purists -- and I do debate with them with some frequency -- just want either "real" RWD or rear biased AWD and will "barely" accept 50 50 or neutral bias.

    My thoughts and no one has ever told me these are appropriate, is that I would prefer my Audi to be 50 50 weight balanced more than I would want it to be 40 60 power biased.

    The TorSen system being nominally a 50 50 system instantly shifts the power to the rear under hard acceleration -- no wheel slippage period, no loss. Yet, Audi has spent money with TorSen to engineer a rear wheel drive bias.

    This, of course, had to be an economic decision, since doing this was probably less expensive than figuring out how to move the engine backwards, thereby improving the weight balance.

    So, of the two things that Audi could have done to appease the RWD purists, rear biased AWD was the most expedient and lower cost choice.

    Acura, for right or wrong, is sometimes ridiculed as being a "poser" since it is "in normal driving conditions" a front wheel drive biased AWD vehicle. Volvo gets the same (bad) rap.

    I don't know the engineering muscle that would be required to make the Acura SH AWD system (which I think is a clever and fine system) rear biased -- for MARKETING reasons alone. I do, however, think that for those who care, they would put Acura back on their shopping list.

    Those who don't care, won't care if SH AWD becomes rear biased or stays front biased.

    Being able to advertise your rear wheel drive biased AWD system (as does BMW) is good for sales. That reason alone should motivate Acura to stop fighting those who call SH AWD a "poser" system.

    By the way -- were I to find merit in the RDX vs another X3, its (the Acura's) current SH AWD system would not be an issue of any import with respect to buying one.

    Three Audi TT quattros taught me (and my wife) to believe I would not feel shortchanged if the AWD car offered less than a 50 50 torque split.

    Heck we drove the Volvo S60 Type R (95% f 5% r, nominally) and it was an absolute blast -- it could accelerate like a rocket. In fact, during the test drive, it never even occurred to us that the Volvo was mainly a front driver.

    Marketing. Just get it to be rear biased and shut the naysayers up.

    If you are an automotive journalist looking to score points on the track and impress your readership, you may actually NEED rear biased AWD. Most of the time most of us will never know the difference.

    If you are one of the folks who can really distinguish 40 / 60, 50 50, or even 90 10, I avert my eyes to your sensitivity and skill.

    I love my TorSen (quattro), but my wife's X3 has NEVER been an issue either. I can tell them apart, for certain -- but NOT because of their AWD bias.

    I'm just not that good. :surprise:
  • nyccarguynyccarguy Stamford, CTPosts: 7,413
    it all comes down to preference. BMW's rear drive biased X-drive results in a more neutral handling car or SUV. Also when cruising on the highway, 100% of the torque is sent to the rear wheels increasing fuel economy.

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

  • bodble2bodble2 Posts: 4,519
    Most "purists" just want to think they can discern the advantage of RWD, or rear-biased AWD.
  • pgeterspgeters Posts: 12
    Wow, I haven't looked at the Edmunds X3 lists lately because they were so dormant. Lots of action lately. Regarding the RDX I thought I would repost something I put up back in June somewhere else. There was an article that said something about the RDX "walking all over the X3":

    Well, the news wasn't all bad for the X3:

    First of all, MotorTrend said that in the world of "SUVs that no longer ride like lumbering buses" BMW took the lead in this "exclusive segment" with the X3 several years ago.

    Also Acura made it clear that the X3 was their target. Acura's engineer's goal was to "beat the BMW" (X3). They even gave the journalists an X3 so they could compare. That's nice that they think so highly of it.

    Plus, later in the article, they said that they thought the RDX steering was "hesitant and not communicative" especially when compared to the X3. That just happens to be a large part of what I like about the X3.

    Ummm, their 4 wheel drive system normally sends 90% of the power to the front wheels. Car and Driver said that with the "front-biased power delivery" that the RDX "behaves like a front-drive vehicle and understeer is it's defining characteristic". That walks all over the X3?

    Autoweek said: "But we prefer the X3 by a fair margin over twisty two-lanes, despite Acura’s claim the RDX’s use of high-strength steel makes it torsionally stiffer than the X3."

    Ahh, their storage space is 10 cu ft. smaller than the X3 (61 vs. 71).

    C&D estimated about the same 0-60 time as the X3.

    What else, oh yeah, the RDX is ugly!!! OK that may be subjective, but still... Makes the X3 look amazing IMHO. Big thanks to Acura for making me like the looks of the X3 more!
  • I agree.

    However, how much of the neutral handling credit comes from a better balanced vehicle?

    I do not want BMW to change their ways to prove a point -- but if BMW's X3 had its torque split reapportioned to 50 50 or 90 10, wouldn't it still be a better balanced vehicle than the Acura (hence a more neutral handler)?

    It is my opinion (that is it, opinion only) that being nose heavy hurts more than rear bias helps. BMW's rear bias is a plus, to be sure, but the balance scores more in the handling department 90% of the time than any other characteristic.

    Now, I wonder what would happen were Acura to get the RDX and the RL for that matter to have less weight on the front end?

    Clearly another nose heavy company, Audi, is working on pushing their engines back, using aluminum where possible, shifting the battery to the boot, etc AND working with the TorSen engineers to create 40 / 60 f/r biased systems across the entire Audi lineup.

    BMW, to its everlasting credit, either by great design or luck has, for years, had very well balanced and poised cars, even with the addition of X drive.

    Acura's SH AWD and the help it can provide in handling is a good thing to be sure. Perhaps part of the argument is (or should be) SH AWD and rear biased TorSen (in Audis case) are needed to help overcome a less than optimal weight balance.

    Audis next gen chassis (some of them) are said to be better balanced than the current gen. Coupled with rear biased TorSen, it raises the question just how much better will they get since they have been lauded even with their heavy noses as being good handling vehicles.

    I can't wait.

    Acura, and others, needs to work toward balance and a more marketable power distribution.

    Of course, there is still that issue of the RDX being about $10,000 less than a comparably contented X3.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    Excellent post, couldn't have said it better myself.

    The truth of the matter, regarding the SH-AWD system, is written in plain black and white within the owners manual.

    "Tire chains should be installed on the front wheels ONLY."

    That is NOT indicative of a SAFE AWD system when considering satisfactory handling charactoristic on an adverse roadbed surface.

    They might as well say NEVER use tire chains on this vehicle as to do so on the front only is patently UNSAFE and potentially HAZARDOUS.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    Only really, Really, REALLY matters when you're right on the "cusp" of losing directional control, or just have lost directional control. It's at that particular point that you REALLY want/desire that the ENTIRE front roadbed contact patch be dedicated to lateral traction.

    And rear biasing certainly doesn't hurt when you get off the gas at that point and engine compression braking on the rear contact patch acts as an anchor, even ever so slightly, and helps pull the vehicle back into "line".

    I'm now too old to be able to recount the number of times back in MT winters that slight application of the e-brake helped me straighten the "line" on a slippery downhill drive.
  • Again I agree.

    What I would want is as close as possible to a favorable weight distribution FIRST, then neutral or rear biased torque distribution SECOND.

    Overall, a 50 50 split with split second reflexes probably would work for the "5 9's" (99.999%).

    My main reason for suggesting rear bias is MARKETING -- not so much performance or even safety, even though I do think a case for those can be made.

    Perception is reality.

    Although rear biased can be demonstrated to be superior, it is, I think, a nit. It is NOT a MARKETING/ADVERTISING nit, however.

    "Have a nice hot cup of shut the hell up" -- We ARE rear biased AWD! Or at the very least 50 50 torque split nominally if there are engineering costs of note that makes RWD bias cost prohibitive.

    Just being able to SAY you are not FWD biased is probably worth some car sales -- and, I would argue, therefore, "worth it."

    It is a funny world where it almost doesn't matter if there is much practical value in being one way or another, just as long as the perception is tracking with what's popular.

    Right now rear biased AWD is popular.

    Apparently some companies are addressing this.

    Good weight distribution should be popular and perhaps it is, it just doesn't get the press that rear biased AWD gets at this moment in time. :shades:
  • timmbojtimmboj Posts: 123
    I looked at the RDX this weekend. Didn't drive it, just looked. Content and price is great, and surely competitive to the X3. To me the exterior just doesn't look "right". Ugly would be too harsh a word, but it sure doesn't excite me. The interior is beautiful, and I bet quite pleasing for the "touchy/feely" in me. Too bad the interior of the X3 doesn't have the same BMW-ishness like the new 3-Series and X5 do. Still, the X3 is nice inside.

    RDX 19/23 MPG is disappointing -- especially from Honda. I'm looking forward to the MPGs on the new engine for X3 2007MY.

    Thankfully BMW will always offer most of its vehicles with a manual shift.

    The RDX will be great competition for the X3. Frankly, the X3 needs more competition -- I've got my fingers crossed it will help drive prices down, and spur better lease and purchase deals for potential X3 consumers.
  • :shades: I did take an extensive test drive of an RDX with the Technology Package ($37K.)

    My wife's 2005 X3 was MSRP'd @ $47K.

    If the RDX had a 6 speed auto and a manual offering, were I BMW, I would be "concerned."

    We had the luxury, so to speak, of driving four identical test loops in the RDX (2 with the sound system on, 2 off.)

    We had the luxury, likewise, of arriving and departing in the X3.

    We took the RDX to 95MPH. It is pretty good up to 80MPH and it is not bothered at 95MPH. It is winded a bit earlier than we would like -- but then again it is $10K less than the BMW.

    The one we drove had the 18" wheels. Our X3 has the sport package and it handles much better. But, you have to push the envelope to notice how much better the X3 is -- and although it is easily better, it is debatable if it is $10K better for most folks.

    Our X3 has the stick, the RDX had the five speed auto which is overdriven in 4th and 5th.

    The sound system in the Acura was to be worshipped.

    The seats in both cars are good, the X3's more supportive but the Acura's more comfortable on the first two loops of a four loop test drive.

    The interior (dash) of the RDX is much more upscale than the 2005 X3, not so much though when you look at the upgraded 2007 X3.

    A bit of a [turbo?] lag in the RDX, but it could be driveline lash -- it is pretty minor if it is lag.

    The AC system in the Acura isn't as capable of keeping the back seat cool, but this car had the black leather interior and our X3 is terracotta.

    It was a very humid day, and to keep the car cool, we had to run the AC at 67 degrees -- the BMW can be left at 70.

    There was some body roll in the RDX, but overall a very stiff chassis is underfoot and underbutt.

    The Acura was a bit lower in road noise.

    The brakes in the BMW are much better, the Acura's while easily modulated felt spongy on our simulated panic stop from 40MPH (part of our test regimen.)

    The Navigation system in the Acura was very good, better than the BMW's in terms of its ability to use both a touch screen and voice commands (the BMW has neither.)

    The handling in a circle indicated that the BMW can go faster in a circle with the wheel locked all the way to the left than can the Acura which gets a bit tippy feeling while BMW just seems like it would have its tail break loose -- the BMW is perfectly balanced that is.

    If you had 25,000 miles under your belt with a high zooted X3 and drive the RDX, you WILL BE impressed but you will note the BMW is still a higher performance car in every aspect and a notch or two lower in pure lux content (the seats in the BMW, however, are fantastic, a notch or two better than the very very good RDX's seats.)

    The auto trans needs another speed. It is difficult to say much more, since the X3 was a stick.

    There is NO shudder that we could feel in either car even over potholes and "washboard" road surfaces.

    Although fine at speed, the BMW does seem to have longer legs and makes 95MPH just a smidge more "effortless" feeling.

    At any speed below 75, though, they are both great in virtually all respects.

    The interior of the RDX can be had in either wood or aluminum, so can the BMW, ours has wood and the RDX demo had none -- with wood, the RDX would have, speaking of the dashboard, alone, really outclassed the BMW.

    The BMW steering wheel is meatier (sport wheel.) The Acura wheel is pretty but it has a bunch of buttons and aluminum and it looks a little bit like a nice car with great factory wheels that someone has added "spinners" to. For our tastes, that is, the Acura steering wheel just seems busy and the feel, although quite good is not as "in command" as the feel one gets from gripping the X3's (the standard X3 wheel though, would have lost out to the RDX's.)

    The throttle tip-in on the RDX is "perfect" for urban areas, not to be critical of the BMW's in any respect, it is just a great feel with the RDX, "peppy and responsive" from a full stop. Indeed, the RDX was very smooth, speaking of the combo of the throttle and transmission, but the X3 is a stick shift and there ARE inherent differences. This would be, more or less, a draw. My memory tells me the current X3 with the 5 speed steptronic would feel a bit out of breath and not quite as smooth as the RDX's (this is NOT from a back to back however and, as such, is subject to the fading memory of two 50 something year olds.)

    Did I mention the RDX was $10,000 less and in some respects had quite a bit more "content?" Did I mention that?

    The BMW is better looking on the outside and the RDX vs the current X3 is better looking on the inside.

    Colored and configured with pleasing color combos, the RDX could certainly carry off "style, grace and taste," with equal aplomb as the BMW. The newly designed BMW X3 interior and better color coordination with the bumpers, etc, does up the ante though -- so don't count the BMW out.

    Two interior colors can be had with the RDX black or beige. All exterior colors can be had with either interior leather color.

    The 19" wheels on a black pearl RDX with the beige interior would be hard to find fault with in almost any beauty contest with the X3 -- I still prefer the German Look to the Japanese Look, but the RDX ain't no Tribeca-Subaru-Looking thang, not at all.

    The RDX can send "up to 45%" of the power to the rear wheels under hard acceleration and sends nominally 90% of the power to the front wheels.

    I am "intellectually" aware of this distinction between this and the X3 and it is of concern.

    Did I mention the $10,000 difference?

    The RDX has a tune up at 100,000 miles and essentially oil and filter changes as maint items otherwise.

    The RDX appears to be the higher value car at this point -- the BMW is the car for those who want to be fully engaged in and rewarded by driving.

    From a practical standpoint, on a lease -- the differences between these two vehicles today is probably a hundred bucks a month.

    If this remains true with the 2007 X3, I'd still go with the BMW, for it is worth more for the things "we" value in a car.

    Were I given an RDX, however, I would keep it.

    One of my tests of a car is to ask and answer the question, "if given this car would I keep it or sell it?"

    I'd keep the RDX. At this point, I probably wouldn't buy or lease it.

    Acura adds perhaps 5% more HP/torque, a 6 speed auto, memory for the driver's seat and offers a sport suspension and keeps the price at least a high 4 figure number lower than the BMW's -- well the RDX would certainly make justifying the BMW difficult indeed.

    You must drive both the 2007 BMW X3 and the RDX to be fair.

    Drive it like you live! :shades:
  • bbydadbbydad Posts: 58
    Great post. Very thorough and helpful to this undecided buyer. I didn't realize the 2007 X3 was already out. I will have to compare. I don't drive manual, so I will be interested in seeing how the X3 automatic compares with the RDX.
  • Much as I complain about autos (the Audi and BMW 5 speed autos in particular), the newest gen of German automatics from Audi and BMW are very easy to like and almost able to be loved.

    The 5 speed Acura transmission isn't bad -- it needs another gear to be able to marry its somewhat strange (for a turbo) torque curve to its final drive ratio.

    I would think a 2007 X3 6spd Steptronic would be much more impressive.

    I have come to really respect, like and darn near want to praise my Audi 6speed tiptronic. I have no reason to believe BMW's would be anything less.

    I would still consider the stick, but there is now no longer any price reason and the performance difference is hardly worth mentioning at 2/10ths of a second.

    The step has a sport mode which I assume does the same as the Audi's tip sport mode and that is to pretty much stamp out transmission lag.

    The RDX is not to be dismissed entirely out of hand, that is. Of course, just when the RDX cranks up the performance quotient, you can rest assured BMW will come up with the next gen X3 and up the ante again.

    The price point does deserve some thought though -- personally the voice command is impressive. Moreso than the voice control in my Audi.

    BMW has voice and voice dialing, etc etc etc -- hopefully it can be had in the X3.

    That being said, the controls in the X3 ARE easier to use since they have for the moment avoided going to iDrive. The Acura has a bit of an iDrive or MMI or COMMAND like system and although I am certain it will not require a rocket surgeon to use, it isn't as easy to use first time as the Bimmer's "traditional" control set up.

    Check out the 2007 X3 if the aesthetics are of concern, that new interior and new engine and new transmission in the '07 X3 are not simply a fresh coat of paint.
  • driver100driver100 Burlington, ON 7 mo/Tampa FL 5 moPosts: 11,690
    Thanks Mark...your comments are much appreciated.
    I'd like to see the 07 X3 and then test drive an RDX.

    2012 535ix 2013 Audi A4 2013 Passat

  • nyccarguynyccarguy Stamford, CTPosts: 7,413
    Has anybody mentioned that they are test driving the 2 vehicles (X3 & RDX) to the dealer they are working with? Did the Acura dealer have some trash to talk about the BMW? The only reason I ask is (and again, EVERY dealership & salesperson are DIFFERENT) because a few years ago when I was test driving an Acura MDX (Comparing it to a BMW X5), the Acura salesman asked me what else I was looking at. Before I could get the W in BMW out he kinda got this defensive tone in his voice he blurted out "How could you even compare the X5 to our MDX, they are problematic and ALWAYS in the shop." I then went ahead to explain to him how BMW includes scheduled maintenance for the duration of the warranty period. He replied with "I think umm they're stopping that next year."

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

  • We did tell the Acura dealer we also had an X3. The salesrep said part of his training was to learn about the X3 AND the RDX since the RDX's target was the X3 customer -- or something that led me to believe he did have some ammo.

    His only comment was that the RDX was stiffer than the X3 and that it would handle and ride better. He wouldn't really badmouth the X3 (at that time.) So, perhaps he would have turned up the X3 criticism as we progressed.

    He seemed to want to tell us about the RDX, NOT defend it or attack the Bimmer.
  • steverstever YooperlandPosts: 40,012
    2007 Acura RDX Road Test -- Going After BMW, Again (Karl on Cars)

    Keep reading for the rest of the quote. :shades:

    Need help navigating? - or send a private message by clicking on my name.

  • timmbojtimmboj Posts: 123
    Good article. I have a sinking feeling that most buyers in this particular vehicle segment are going to opt for the RDX over the X3 -- if they're comparing the two. I am one that prefers the BMW "drive" and that super sweet 6-speed manual.

    Sheesh, but that big $10K difference is haunting me... could I get used to looks of the RDX exterior and its automatic? Yikes! Though what I'm really hoping is that BMW will be forced into lowering their price on the X3, or offering deals that no one could pass up. Then there'd be no question at all. The X3 wins!
  • driver100driver100 Burlington, ON 7 mo/Tampa FL 5 moPosts: 11,690
    2007 Acura RDX Road Test -- Going After BMW, Again (Karl on Cars)

    That is scary! :cry:

    I'd like to try one, but I sure do have to get used to the looks.

    2012 535ix 2013 Audi A4 2013 Passat

  • Hmm, yep, I again ask "Did I mention that the RDX is $10,000 LESS than the X3?"

    Frankly, it kindof boils down to the lease deals (for the BMW) at this price point.

    My wife's $47K BMW is $581/mo (including tax) 36 mo/15K no money down.

    A CR-V from Honda for 42 months TODAY was $399/mo. If the RDX is even close to being similarly priced, the RDX would be what $499 or more per month, same term?

    MSRP doesn't always tell the tale.

    Real or artificial, the residual of the BMW does tend to make it (them) "within reach," far more than the MSRP might suggest.

    Besides, I do think the BMW X3 is a better total package AND actually is worth more from an asking price perspective.

    I guess from THAT perspective, it is that it is $10,000 more than the RDX that is most troublesome (unless there's a few thou hidden in the BMW's glove box.)
  • bodble2bodble2 Posts: 4,519
    "I then went ahead to explain to him how BMW includes scheduled maintenance for the duration of the warranty period"

    But it wouldn't actually reduce the frequency of service visits, free or otherwise, would it? I assume your time is of some value to you. And I think that was the point the Acura salesman was trying to make.
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