Is the Honda CR-V a Budget Acura RDX?

Sometimes deciding between a mainstream model and a luxury one is tough, especially if you have extra money to spend. If you’re a Honda fan, you may fancy the CR-V but its luxury counterpart, the Acura RDX, is within reach too. Is it fair to say that the CR-V is a budget version of the RDX?

Driving the Honda CR-V vs. the Acura RDX

A sharp, gray 2020 Honda CR-V Touring model parked in the city.
2020 Honda CR-V Touring | Honda

Since Honda owns the Acra luxury brand, that makes the CR-V and RDX corporate cousins. The CR-V competes against other mainstream compact SUVs like the Toyota RAV4, while the RDX fights in the same realm as the BMW X1. Both crossovers stand out in their respective classes for their unique body styles and polished driving dynamics. 

Neither the CR-V nor the RDX has significant changes for 2021. Under the hood of the CR-V is a turbocharged 190-hp, 1.5-liter four-cylinder linked to a continuously variable automatic. The CR-V is a zippy performer and is one of the most fuel-efficient options in the class. Front-wheel drive is standard; all-wheel drive is optional. The CR-V is also available as a hybrid.  

2020 Acura RDX A-Spec
2020 Acura RDX A-Spec | Acura

The RDX packs more of a punch than the CR-V does. With the RDX, you get a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder that produces 272-hp. A smooth-shifting 10-speed automatic is standard; you also have the choice between FWD and AWD. Overall, the RDX gets credit for its sportiness and sleekness. However, the extra power makes it less fuel-efficient than the CR-V. 

Comparing creature comforts 

The front interior of a 2020 RDX with an instrument cluster.
2020 Acura RDX infotainment display | Acura

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The RDX boasts a luxurious cabin, and the CR-V’s is upscale too. Both SUVs have generous space for five people. Synthetic leather upholstery is standard for the RDX, while CR-V comes with cloth seats. Genuine leather is available on both. A plus for the RDX is that it comes with heated front seats, as U.S. News highlights. Out of the two, the CR-V offers more cargo space.

Both SUVs come with a suite of advanced safety features, including forward-collision warning and automatic emergency braking. However, infotainment is another story. The RDX comes with a 10.2-inch display and a touchpad control. It’s not the most user-friendly interface, but the RDX’s redeeming quality is that Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and a wifi hotspot are standard features.

Honda CR-V icompact crossover SUV interior on display at Brussels Expo
The interior of the Honda CR-V | Sjoerd van der Wal/Getty Images

Standard infotainment features on the CR-V include a 5-inch display screen and Bluetooth. You can upgrade the CR-V with a 7-inch touchscreen and with smartphone connectivity apps. The CR-V’s touchscreen setup is easier to navigate than what the RDX offers. 

So, is the CR-V a budget RDX?

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A brand new 2020 RDX begins at $37,800 while a 2020 CR-V starts at $25,150. The top-of-the-line CR-V Touring trim is $4K cheaper than the base RDX. But even though you can equip the CR-V with deluxe amenities, it’s not a budget version of the RDX. The CR-V is truly a utility-focused vehicle, while the RDX boasts futuristic luxury inside and out.