It’s Clear Who Should Get the Lexus NX and Who Should Get the Acura RDX

If you’re shopping for a small luxury SUV that’s still relatively affordable, you’ll probably get stuck between the Lexus NX and the Acura RDX. These SUVs stand out in the class for their curvaceous style and dependability. Deciding between the NX and the RDX may seem challenging initially, but it’s pretty clear on the type of driver each model will appeal to.

What it’s like to drive the 2021 Lexus NX 

A red Lexus NX on the track.
2021 Lexus NX | Lexus

I recently got to test drive the 2021 NX 300, and I found it to be an enjoyable ride. Many reviewers throw a little shade at the NX since it does feel as sporty as it looks. Even so, the NX has gained mass popularity for its swift acceleration and refinement.

The entry-level NX 300 comes with a turbocharged 235-hp, 2.0-liter four-cylinder linked to a six-speed automatic. Front-wheel drive is also standard. The NX 300 is also a decent choice if you care about fuel efficiency; it has an EPA rating of 25 mpg overall. 

For a flashier NX experience, there’s the NX 300 F Sport model. This trim is Car and Driver’s favorite pick since it adds an adaptive suspension and G-force and turbo-boost gauges. You may also want to enhance this version with all-wheel-drive, which costs an additional $1400. Separately, the NX is available as a hybrid that can get up to a combined 31 mpg. 

What It’s like to drive the 2021 Acura RDX 

A red Acura RDX parked curbside.
The 2021 Acura RDX

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Acura’s RDX packs more of a punch than the NX does. Critics favor the RDX for its athleticism and comfort. What makes this luxury compact SUV interesting is that it’s only available in one trim level. However, Acura offers different packages that allow you to customize your RDX. 

All RDX models get a turbocharged 272-hp, 2.0-liter four-cylinder paired to a 10-speed automatic. The RDX’s potency doesn’t sacrifice fuel economy either. Standard models with FWD have an EPA rating of 24 mpg; opting for AWD reduces fuel economy by one point. Reviewers especially like the RDX with AWD. It presents four different driving modes: Snow, Comfort, Sport, and Sport+.

Comparing the SUVs’ car cabins 

The Lexus NX interior in Roja Red.
Lexus NX F Sport model interior | Lexus

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On the inside, the NX satisfies with a gorgeous, well-insulated cabin. It features intricate trimmings and standard synthetic leather. This Lexus can seat up to five. You can upgrade the interior with genuine leather or heated seats if you’d like. 

Additionally, the NX comes with lots of tech, including safety features such as blind-spot monitoring and forward-collision warning. All models also have infotainment features, including Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and a wifi hotspot. But the NX’s Remote Touch infotainment display isn’t the most user-friendly.

Front seats of the 2021 Acura RDX.
2021 Acura RDX interior | Acura

The RDX provides a similar car cabin experience compared to the NX. Although, you may gravitate toward the RDX if you’d like a more futuristic-looking cabin. The RDX is also a five-seater that comes with synthetic leather. Its passenger space is generous, and it also has sufficient cargo room.

Every RDX comes with helpful active safety features, including adaptive cruise control and lane departure mitigation. The RDX also comes with smartphone apps, including Apple CArPaly and Android Auto. Similar to the NX, the RDX has a touchpad-based infotainment system that’s not the most intuitive. But it works fine once you get the hang of it. You may want to upgrade the RDX with the available Technology Package, which adds leather upholstery and more gadgets such as a navigation system and blind-spot monitoring

Should you get the NX or the RDX?

A 2021 NX begins at $37,510; the 2021 RDX begins at $38,200. If you care more about refinement and fuel economy, the NX is the better choice for you. But if you want a punchier driving experience, the RDX is the one.