In Wheel Time: Acura RDX and Lexus RX350

By Don Armstrong

No longer do we have to have deep pockets to enjoy the finer things in life, including personal transportation. Car makers have known for some time that “near” luxury can be “pure” luxury for most of us. Acura and Lexus are fierce competitors in this segment, so we compare two of the most popular models.

Acura RDX

Brand loyalty is big at Acura, a marque well known for building reliable, quality, machines. Its compact RDX model hits a sweet note with the Bay Area buyer and rightfully so.

The RDX’s body lines are unique in an otherwise one-look-fits-all mindset. Its upswept beltline, curved rear quarter haunches and rounded front wheel opening meld into a sporty look. An oversized Acura emblem embellishes the edgy grill.

The interior is different than its competitors. A touch pad on the center console controls most display screen functions. We found the infotainment system logic a little confusing at times. The transmission controls are in a standalone pod that joins the center stack and center console.

A turbocharged, 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder engine delivering 272-horsepower to the front wheels through a 10-speed automatic transmission should be a nice match for most.

We’re sure the 2020 Acura RDX is capable of some lite off-roading, but we prefer it’s more sophisticated on-road manners and handling.

Pricing starts at $37,600.

2020 Acura RDX A-Spec

Lexus RX350

Considered one of the first luxury crossovers in the U.S., the Lexus RX remains a top seller. Since making its debut in 1998, the small do-all has grown into the mid-size category but remains as popular as ever.

The exterior has an edgy design starting with the signature Lexus “spindle” grille. Headlamps, front splitter, air ducts, lower rocker panels; all have hard lines than slash their way into a modern fighter jet silhouette.

The interior isn’t quite as cohesive. The infotainment system received a major overhaul this year after lots of complaints. In place of a joystick, a touch pad and a new, larger display control functionality.

Leather seating quality and color choices are high on the satisfaction scale. Rear seat legroom and storage are more than adequate.

The Lexus RX 350 is equipped with the 3.5-liter V-6 engine in the base and F Sport trim levels. Producing 295-horsepower, it powers the front wheels through an 8-speed automatic transmission.   

MSRP begins at $44,150.

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