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Acura RDX A-Spec Against the QX50 and XC60: Pros and Cons

Motor Trend logo Motor Trend 8/2/2019 Motor Trend Staff

a car parked on the side of a road: 2019-Acura-RDX-A-Spec-rear-three-quarter-1.jpg
Luxury crossovers seem to be almost everywhere you look at MotorTrend, and the segment is booming—our fleet alone includes the 2019 Acura RDX A-Spec (17,000 miles and counting) as well as a 2019 Infiniti QX50 and a 2019 Volvo XC60 T5. These premium people-movers provide a more commanding view of the road, have plenty of space in two rows, and include decent-sized cargo areas. What's not to like? Well, a bunch, depending on what you really want from a crossover.

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After spending some time with each of our long-termers, I've got a few thoughts on how the Volvo and Infiniti compare to the Acura I've spent so much time with.

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a car parked in a parking lot: 2019 Acura RDX A Spec vs Infiniti QX50 vs Volvo XC60© Motor Trend Staff 2019 Acura RDX A Spec vs Infiniti QX50 vs Volvo XC60

Acura RDX and Infiniti QX50: Where the Infiniti Wins

This QX50 is one of the best applications of Infiniti's current design language, from the stylish headlights to the way the dramatic D-pillar is echoed by the shape of the window trim. I like the Acura, too, and some will favor its more SUV-like rugged-premium look to the Infiniti's unapologetic urban appeal.

Inside, the QX50 wins what's perhaps a hollow victory. Our long-term QX50's gorgeous combination of light wood, a brown dash, and dark blue faux suede is far cooler than the respectable Acura interior in any trim. Keep in mind, however, that this combo is only available on the $50,000+ top trim QX50; other trims skip the Ultrasuede and get leatherette (all but the base RDX gets real leather). In a recent long-term update, we said we were still overall impressed by the QX50's interior, but we did wonder how that Ultrasuede would wear over the course of three years.

a car parked on the side of a dirt field© Motor Trend Staff

Our RDX A-Spec includes black Ultrasuede on the passenger-side dash and in inserts on the seats. So far, the trim has worn well, though the Ultrasuede seat insert on the driver's seat cushion has a habit of appearing unsettled or loose (not taut like the other seats that have less day-to-day wear).

Acura RDX and Infiniti QX50: Where the Acura Wins

The Acura's 10-speed automatic could use some further refining, but even that transmission is better sorted than the Infiniti's CVT, which is mated to a variable compression ratio turbo-four.

The Acura also includes most of its active safety equipment as standard on the base model. That means automatic emergency braking, a lane-centering system, and more are standard—though like the Infiniti, blind-spot monitoring is available on most but not all trims. On the Infiniti, many active safety tech features that are either standard on the Acura or available lower on the lineup, are only on fully loaded cars.

Acura RDX and Infiniti QX50: Where They Both Lose

Infotainment. The RDX and QX50 fall far short of the class leaders in terms of ease-of-use. I've written before that my feelings on the RDX's infotainment have soured over my time with the vehicle despite its inherent advantages, but the QX50 has an infotainment system that we said felt "a generation behind."

Acura RDX and Volvo XC60: Where the Volvo Wins

a car parked in a parking lot© Motor Trend Staff

Then there's the Volvo. As a result of issues I have with the QX50's driving performance and infotainment system (still no Apple CarPlay), I'd skip its sexy sheetmetal for our other two long-termers, the Acura and the Volvo.

I admire the way the XC60 manages to look premium without sacrificing rear visibility. Spending time in the Volvo is always a brighter experience, simply because I can see out of the back better than I can in the Acura. The Volvo's convenient remote-folding rear outboard headrests also deserve mention. You never need to trudge all the way to the back seat to fold them down; just press a button from the driver's seat. And if you're searching for a way to startle an unsuspecting passenger, with this feature the Volvo has you covered.

Although all of Pilot Assist's tech isn't perfect, I found the Volvo's adaptive cruise control system to be better than the RDX's system but not as good as the Audi Q5's tech. And for a more sensitive driver such as myself, this is the difference between almost never using the feature versus sometimes letting it ease a rush-hour slog home.

Acura RDX and Volvo XC60: Where the Acura Wins

Then you actually start driving, and it all changes. I took the Volvo to a world-class driving road I visit on occasion with the RDX, and the XC60 seemed to wonder why. It's a competent driver, but certainly no match for the sporty responses of our RDX A-Spec, excepting brakes that have too much travel before any actual braking occurs. And for what it's worth, our staff felt similarly, both positive and negative, about a non-A-Spec RDX at 2019 SUV of the Year testing.

The Acura also beats the Volvo in a weird area you may not notice on a test drive: The center console. Our Volvo long-termer is more expensive than our Acura, yet the RDX has leather-like material where your knee will rest at a red light, to the Volvo's hard plastic. On top of that, the Acura offers super-flexible storage: two cupholders, an area for your phone, a covered storage area underneath an elbow rest, and an open area underneath the base of the center stack. Just the other day, I stuck a drink in the cupholder, charged my phone, and carefully placed a box of protein bars sideways in the open storage area (thanks, mom).

For those who want luxury but aren't interested in making an especially overt statement, the Volvo might be a better pick. Even so, both cars have their advantages and drawbacks. Check out long-term updates on the Volvo (here), Infiniti (here), and Acura for more insights.

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Read more about our long-term 2019 Acura RDX A-Spec:

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