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2006 BMW X3 vs Acura RDX

steverstever Posts: 52,462
edited March 2014 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.


  • . . .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: 13,364
    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 Prelude Type SH, 2015 Infiniti Q40 AWD, 2017 Honda Pilot Touring AWD

  • 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.)

  • 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: 13,364
    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 Prelude Type SH, 2015 Infiniti Q40 AWD, 2017 Honda Pilot Touring AWD

  • 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: 168
    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.

  • 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.
  • 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: 13,364
    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 Prelude Type SH, 2015 Infiniti Q40 AWD, 2017 Honda Pilot Touring AWD

  • 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:
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