In Wheel Time: Acura RDX and Lexus RX350

April 3rd, 2020

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.

Luxury SUVs Defined

August 1st, 2019

By Don Armstrong

Do you define a luxury SUV by price, brand, content or a combination of all three? This month, Bay Area Houston Magazine takes a look at one all-new crossover and one that’s been around awhile, but they may blur your definition of luxury.

2019 Cadillac XT4 Sport

Cadillac XT4
The XT4 is an all-new, entry-level crossover from Cadillac and pricing alone will surely drive a lot of first-time buyers to this traditional American luxury brand.

Exterior styling mimics Cadillac’s other SUV’s, an edgy front fascia with creative lighting, conservative body side-sculpting and unique rear lighting that begins in the c-pillar and curves inward toward the center license plate cove.

The interior is spacious when compared to other small, 2-row crossovers, leather is Cadillac grade and the dash nicely carved. Two rows of horizontal HVAC buttons under the infotainment screen are easy to read and convenient for both driver and front passenger. The reconfigurable instrument cluster lets you display multiple info screens.

There’s only one engine and it should be plenty for most. The 2.0-liter turbo 4-cylinder delivers 237-horsepower, 258-lb.ft. torque and is connected to a 9-speed automatic transmission. It’s rated at 24 mpg-city and 30-highway. 4-wheel drive is available and may come in handy on slick boat ramps.

We recommend the nicely equipped mid-level trim, Premium Luxury. Pricing starts at $35,695.

2019 Jeep® Grand Cherokee Summit

Jeep Grand Cherokee
The current Jeep Grand Cherokee body style has been produced since 2011 and still remains the most awarded SUV ever. This is a rolling testament to the designers at Jeep that had a vision to create an SUV we love.

Starting at $31,945 – that can blossom to $54,955 – price alone will tell you that the Grand Cherokee is offered with so many options, you can have it built to fit your most detailed desire.

Around Bay Area streets, the V-6 with two-wheel drive may work just fine. A Hemi V-8 is also offered along with a diesel and the mind-warping SRT performance model along with 4-wheel drive.

Interiors range from cloth to high-end leather, heated and cooled seating, the nicely sorted Uconnect infotainment system, and the list goes on and on.

Jeep knows a thing or two about 4-wheel drive and the Cherokee ranks among the best at real off-roading capability, unlike many other manufacturer’s offerings.

Whether you’re shopping Land Rover, Lexus or Cadillac, the Jeep Grand Cherokee should be on your shopping list too.