2021 Acura RDX vs. 2022 BMW X3 Comparison

Erin Riches-Wong | Aug 26, 2021

Compact premium SUVs sell in brisk numbers to consumers seeking a blend of everyday utility and high-end amenities in a reasonably sized package. Buyers in this class are often looking for a bit of athleticism as well. If you fit that profile, the 2021 Acura RDX and 2022 BMW X3 have much to offer.

Unquestionably, the Acura RDX appeals more to shoppers seeking maximum value from a compact premium SUV purchase. It costs less than the X3 and only comes with a turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, whereas BMW offers potent but pricey 6-cylinders on the X3's higher trims. The RDX also trails the X3 in advanced safety technology and infotainment functionality, but a refreshed 2022 Acura RDX will likely address these issues.

Regardless of the model year, both the RDX and X3 warrant consideration, particularly if you're shopping for a compact premium SUV that's engaging to drive. Here's a 2021 Acura RDX vs. 2022 BMW X3 comparison to aid your research.

Price and Value

2021 Acura RDX PMC Edition Orange Front Quarter View

2021 Acura RDX PMC Edition

Consumers researching the 2021 Acura RDX will find that this compact premium SUV comes in five basic trim levels or packages: base, Technology Package, A-Spec, Advance Package, and PMC Edition. All RDXs use a turbocharged 4-cylinder engine.

Pricing on the 2021 RDX ranges from $38,400 to $51,000, not including the destination charge, which is $1,045 on most versions and $1,995 on the Acura RDX PMC Edition. Most trims have front-wheel drive (FWD) as standard. You can get Acura's Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) system as a $2,000 option; it's standard on the PMC Edition.

Acura offers a helpful array of connected services for the 2021 RDX. Some are complimentary for the first year of ownership, including automatic collision notification and live emergency assistance. Others are free only for the first six months. This list includes remote access features (locking, engine start), concierge services, geofencing boundaries for less trusted drivers, and Amazon package delivery straight to your Acura RDX. Every RDX has a Wi-Fi hotspot.

Acura does not offer free scheduled maintenance for the 2021 RDX.

Consumers will find that the 2022 BMW X3 comes in three basic versions. The base model comes in rear-wheel-drive X3 sDrive30i and all-wheel-drive (AWD) X3 xDrive30i variations and has a 4-cylinder engine. The mid-range BMW X3 is the M40i, which has a turbocharged 6-cylinder engine and standard AWD.

At the top of the line, you'll find the high-performance 2022 BMW X3 M. It features an even more powerful turbo 6-cylinder engine that's available in regular and Competition states of tune. For 2022, BMW has discontinued the X3 xDrive30e plug-in hybrid model.

Pricing on the 2022 X3 ranges from $43,700 to $69,900, not including a $995 destination charge. Budget an extra $2,000 for AWD on the 4-cylinder BMW X3.

Connected services on the 2022 BMW X3 include remote access features, live emergency assistance, concierge services, digital key access, and even a drive recorder. You might need to purchase additional options to unlock specific features, and then you'll need to manage them in the My BMW app. There's also a Wi-Fi hotspot.

BMW offers complimentary scheduled maintenance for the first three years or 36,000 miles that you own a new X3.

Advantage: Acura RDX

Reliability and Quality

2022 BMW X3 xDrive30e Sophisto Grey Metallic Front Quarter View

2022 BMW X3 xDrive30e

Neither the Acura RDX nor the BMW X3 ranks among the top three Compact Premium SUVs in the J.D. Power 2021 Vehicle Dependability Study or the 2020 Initial Quality Study. Acura and BMW tie in the Vehicle Dependability Study at the brand level and rank above the industry average. BMW ranks higher in the Initial Quality Study.

The 2021 Acura RDX comes with the following warranty and roadside assistance coverage:

  • Standard warranty: 4 years or 50,000 miles
  • Powertrain warranty: 6 years or 70,000 miles
  • Roadside assistance: 4 years or 50,000 miles

The 2022 BMW X3 comes with the following warranty and roadside assistance coverage:

  • Standard warranty: 4 years or 50,000 miles
  • Powertrain warranty: 4 years or 50,000 miles
  • Roadside assistance: 4 years and unlimited mileage

Advantage: Acura RDX

Performance and Efficiency

2021 Acura RDX Advance Interior Dashboard

2021 Acura RDX

Every 2021 Acura RDX comes with a turbocharged, 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine that makes 272 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque. A 10-speed automatic transmission drives the front wheels if your Acura RDX is FWD. On vehicles equipped with the SH-AWD system, engine torque goes to all four wheels (up to 70 percent of it to the rear wheels). In addition, the Super Handling part of the AWD system moves torque between the RDX's rear wheels as needed to improve grip and performance.

However you equip it, the RDX offers strong acceleration in most situations, and Acura provides paddle shifters and selectable drive modes to help you tailor the experience to your liking. The Advance Package and PMC Edition models also include adaptive suspension damping. If you can get your hands on the limited-edition PMC Edition (and you're OK with its very orange paint), it's the best-handling RDX as it combines the upgraded suspension with 20-inch wheels and tires.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that the 2021 Acura RDX will return 24 mpg in combined city and highway driving with FWD and 23 mpg with the SH-AWD system.

The 2022 BMW X3 also has a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder as its standard engine. The X3's turbo 2.0-liter generates 248 hp and 258 pound-feet of torque. For 2022, BMW has added a 48-volt mild-hybrid system that powers the X3's electrical system, provides a modest power boost in certain situations, and smooths out the operation of the SUV's automatic engine stop/start system. Both the rear-drive X3 sDrive30i and AWD xDrive30i use an 8-speed automatic transmission.

If you'd rather have a 6-cylinder engine, the BMW X3 M40i offers a delightful, turbocharged, 3.0-liter inline 6-cylinder rated at 382 hp and 369 pound-feet of torque. The X3 M40i also has the mild-hybrid system and uses an 8-speed automatic transmission.

BMW offers a dynamic handling package for the X3 30i and M40i models that includes adaptive suspension damping and upgraded steering and brakes. It's a worthwhile option if you like to drive.

If you're looking for serious performance in a compact premium SUV, the 2022 BMW X3 M has it. Every X3 M comes with a 3.0-liter, turbocharged inline-6 engine developed by BMW's M performance division (this is not the same engine as in the M40i). The standard version of the X3 M's turbo inline-6 makes 473 hp and 457 pound-feet of torque. The X3 M Competition version cranks out 503 hp and 479 pound-feet. An 8-speed automatic transmission with multiple shift modes (including a proper manual shift mode) is standard, and the AWD system biases engine torque to the rear wheels.

The EPA rates the rear-drive 2022 BMW X3 sDrive30i at 25 mpg in combined city and highway driving, while the AWD X3 xDrive30i rates 24 mpg. The 2022 X3 M40i rates 23 mpg combined. The 2022 BMW X3 M and X3 M Competition rate 17 mpg combined; this is a 1-mpg improvement over the 2021 model year.

Advantage: BMW X3

Safety and Driving Assistance

2022 BMW X3 xDrive30e Sophisto Grey Interior Dashboard

2022 BMW X3 xDrive30e

You can equip the 2021 Acura RDX with essential advanced driving assistance aids (ADAS), but it doesn't offer the same level of technology as other compact premium SUVs, including the BMW X3. Acura will likely address this on the upcoming 2022 RDX. Standard equipment includes a forward-collision warning (FCW) system with automatic emergency braking (AEB), as well as lane-departure warning (LDW). Acura also provides lane-keeping assistance (LKA), which the automaker calls Road Departure Mitigation and lane centering, which confusingly is known as Lane Keeping Assist.

If you want a blind-spot warning (BSW) system with rear cross-traffic warning, make sure to select an RDX with the Technology, A-Spec, or Advance Package, or get the PMC Edition. These models also provide basic Level 2 semi-autonomous driving assistance, thanks to their adaptive cruise control (ACC) with stop-and-go capability.

The 2021 Acura RDX earned a top 5-star rating in National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) testing, though it received 4 stars for frontal-impact crash protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) named the 2021 RDX a Top Safety Pick+, the Institute's highest designation for overall safety.

The 2022 BMW X3 offers a better menu of standard and optional ADAS. The X3 comes standard with Active Driving Assistant, which includes FCW with pedestrian detection and AEB, as well as LDW and BSW with rear cross-traffic warnings.

The available Driving Assistance Professional package adds LKA, upgraded side-collision avoidance functionality for the BSW system, and front cross-traffic warning. You also get a more deluxe Level 2 traffic jam assist (TJA) system, including ACC with stop-and-go capability, lane centering, and evasive steering assistance.

The 2022 BMW X3 earned a 5-star overall rating from the NHTSA and 5 stars in the frontal-impact category. The IIHS has not rated the 2022 X3. The 2021 X3 also earned Good ratings in all the crash tests conducted by the IIHS but wasn't a Top Safety Pick due to Marginal ratings for headlight performance and child-seat anchor location.

BMW ranks second in the J.D. Power 2020 U.S. Tech Experience Index (TXI) Study at the brand level, while Acura ranks near the bottom.

Advantage: BMW X3

Infotainment and Technology

2021 Acura RDX PMC Edition Orange Rear Quarter View

2021 Acura RDX PMC Edition

Every 2021 Acura RDX comes with a 10.2-inch infotainment display backed by Acura's True Touch Interface (TTI). It's a crisp, colorful display, but it's not a touchscreen. Instead, you operate it with a touchpad panel mounted on the center console. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone integration are standard, and the system uses over-the-air (OTA) updates. Acura offers two different ELS audio systems, and the 16-speaker system is especially good.

The 2022 BMW X3 has a 12.3-inch touchscreen interface backed by the iDrive 7 platform. Wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay functionality are standard, and the system uses OTA updates. A Harman Kardon surround-sound audio system is optional.

Although BMW's iDrive interface is known for its steep learning curve, it is the better option. The RDX's TTI interface is frustrating to use even after you acclimate to it, and Acura's voice-control technology isn't a sufficient workaround.

Advantage: BMW X3

Comfort and Utility

2022 BMW X3 xDrive30e Sophisto Grey Metallic Rear Quarter View

2022 BMW X3 xDrive30e

Inside the 2021 Acura RDX,there are a lot of dramatic shapes and surfaces. This is not a bland interior, and the furnishings are high in quality. The challenging infotainment interface compromises overall ease of use, but separate climate and audio controls allow you to make basic adjustments without using the TTI.

The front seats offer superb comfort, though the available sport seats can make it hard to get in and out. The rear seat should work fine if your passengers are in car seats, but its low, angled rear-seat bottom cushion is often uncomfortable for adults and teenagers.

The 2021 RDX offers above-average cargo capacity for a compact premium SUV. Its cargo bay measures 29.5 cubic feet, and practical under-floor storage compartments add another 1.5 cubic feet. With the rear seats folded, the RDX provides 58.9 cubic feet of cargo space, or 79.8 cubic feet if you move the seats forward and load your gear up to the headliner. Either way, it's a lot of room for a compact utility vehicle.

In contrast to the Acura, the 2022 BMW X3 has a conservative interior design that's indistinguishable from other models in the BMW lineup. As compensation, the X3 offers rich, high-quality materials and refreshingly simple controls. The X3 M provides a little more excitement, as it features BMW's Live Cockpit 12.3-inch digital instrument panel as standard (it's optional on other X3s) along with carbon-fiber trim and sport seats with quilted inserts.

Seat comfort is excellent in the BMW X3, and the thick-rimmed steering wheel feels just right in your hands. You won't get any complaints from the back seat, either, and the X3 offers just enough legroom for a long road trip with four adults.

Although storage slots for small items are hard to come by, BMW's compact premium SUV offers ample cargo capacity for Costco or Sam's Club runs. The cargo bay measures 28.7 cubic feet, and folding the rear seats provides 62.7 cubic feet.

Advantage: Neither

The Acura has the edge in design and cargo capacity. The BMW has better seats.

Learn More About the Acura RDX and BMW X3

If you'd like to learn more about these compact premium SUVs, be sure to read our reviews of the 2021 Acura RDX and 2022 BMW X3. To find out how people like you rate models in this segment, be sure to check out our ratings from verified vehicle owners.

Also, please keep in mind that while the information in this article was accurate and valid on August 25, 2021, it may have changed since that date. Always confirm product details and availability with the automaker's website or your local dealership.

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