2020 Acura RDX vs. 2019 GMC Terrain

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

For enhanced safety, the front seat shoulder belts of the Acura RDX are height-adjustable to accommodate a wide variety of driver and passenger heights. A better fit can prevent injuries and the increased comfort also encourages passengers to buckle up. The GMC Terrain doesn’t offer height-adjustable front seat belts.

Both the RDX and the Terrain have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, front wheel drive, plastic fuel tanks, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available all wheel drive, blind spot warning systems, around view monitors and rear cross-path warning.

For its top level performance in IIHS driver and passenger-side small overlap frontal, moderate overlap frontal, side impact, roof strength and head restraint tests, its standard front crash prevention system, and its headlight’s “Good” rating, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the RDX its highest rating: “Top Pick Plus” for 2019, a rating granted to only 46 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The Terrain was last qualified as only a standard “Top Pick” in 2017.

Warranty

The RDX comes with a full 4-year/50,000-mile basic warranty, which covers the entire truck and includes 24-hour roadside assistance. The Terrain’s 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty expires 1 year and 14,000 miles sooner.

Acura’s powertrain warranty covers the RDX 1 year and 10,000 miles longer than GMC covers the Terrain. Any repair needed on the engine, transmission, axles, joints or driveshafts is fully covered for 6 years or 70,000 miles. Coverage on the Terrain ends after only 5 years or 60,000 miles.

The RDX’s corrosion warranty is unlimited miles longer than the Terrain’s (unlimited vs. 100,000 miles).

Reliability

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Acura vehicles are more reliable than GMC vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Acura 12 places higher in reliability than GMC.

Engine

The RDX’s 2.0 turbo 4-cyl. produces 102 more horsepower (272 vs. 170) and 77 lbs.-ft. more torque (280 vs. 203) than the Terrain’s standard 1.5 turbo 4-cyl. The RDX’s 2.0 turbo 4-cyl. produces 20 more horsepower (272 vs. 252) and 20 lbs.-ft. more torque (280 vs. 260) than the Terrain’s optional 2.0 turbo 4-cyl.

As tested in Motor Trend the Acura RDX is faster than the GMC Terrain 2.0 turbo 4-cyl.:

RDX

Terrain

Zero to 60 MPH

6.4 sec

6.8 sec

Quarter Mile

14.8 sec

15.4 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

94.7 MPH

89 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

The RDX has 2.2 gallons more fuel capacity than the Terrain’s standard fuel tank (17.1 vs. 14.9 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups. The RDX has 1.5 gallons more fuel capacity than the Terrain’s standard fuel tank (17.1 vs. 15.6 gallons).

Environmental Friendliness

In its Green Vehicle Guide, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rates the Acura RDX higher (6 out of 10) than the GMC Terrain (3 to 5). This means the RDX produces up to 23.4 pounds less smog-producing pollutants than the Terrain every 15,000 miles.

Transmission

A 10-speed automatic is standard on the Acura RDX, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only a nine-speed automatic is available for the Terrain.

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the RDX’s standard brake rotors are larger than those on the Terrain:

RDX

Terrain

Front Rotors

12.4 inches

11.8 inches

Rear Rotors

12.2 inches

11.3 inches

The RDX stops much shorter than the Terrain:

RDX

Terrain

60 to 0 MPH

116 feet

130 feet

Motor Trend

60 to 0 MPH (Wet)

129 feet

136 feet

Consumer Reports

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the RDX has larger standard tires than the Terrain (235/55R19 vs. 225/65R17). The RDX A-Spec’s tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Terrain (255/40R20 vs. 235/50R19).

The RDX’s standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 55 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Terrain’s standard 65 series tires. The RDX A-Spec’s tires have a lower 40 series profile than the Terrain’s optional 50 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the RDX has standard 19-inch wheels. Smaller 17-inch wheels are standard on the Terrain. The RDX A-Spec’s 20-inch wheels are larger than the 19-inch wheels optional on the Terrain.

Suspension and Handling

The RDX has standard front and rear stabilizer bars, which help keep the RDX flat and controlled during cornering. The Terrain’s suspension doesn’t offer a rear stabilizer bar.

The RDX offers an optional driver-adjustable suspension system. It allows the driver to choose between an extra-supple ride, reducing fatigue on long trips, or a sport setting, which allows maximum control for tricky roads or off-road. The Terrain’s suspension doesn’t offer adjustable shock absorbers.

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the RDX is 1.9 inches wider in the front and 2.2 inches wider in the rear than on the Terrain.

The RDX AWD handles at .81 G’s, while the Terrain Denali AWD pulls only .79 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

For greater off-road capability the RDX has a 1.3 inches greater minimum ground clearance than the Terrain SLE (8.2 vs. 6.9 inches), allowing the RDX to travel over rougher terrain without being stopped or damaged. The RDX’s minimum ground clearance is .3 inch higher than on the Terrain SLT/Denali (8.2 vs. 7.9 inches).

Passenger Space

The RDX has .7 inches more front legroom, .6 inches more front hip room, 2.5 inches more front shoulder room and 1 inch more rear shoulder room than the Terrain.

Cargo Capacity

The RDX has a much larger cargo volume with its rear seat up than the Terrain with its rear seat up (31.1 vs. 29.6 cubic feet). The RDX has a much larger cargo volume with its rear seat folded than the Terrain with its rear seat folded (79.8 vs. 63.3 cubic feet).

A standard locking glovebox (which can’t be accessed with the valet key) keeps your small valuables safer in the RDX. The Terrain doesn’t offer locking storage for small valuables.

Servicing Ease

The RDX uses gas struts to support the hood for easier service access. The Terrain uses a prop rod to support its heavy hood. It takes two hands to open the hood and set the prop rod, the prop rod gets in the way during maintenance and service, and the prop rod could be knocked out, causing the heavy hood to fall on the person maintaining or servicing the car.

J.D. Power and Associates surveys of service recipients show that Acura service is better than GMC. J.D. Power ranks Acura 6th in service department satisfaction (above the industry average). With a 26% lower rating, GMC is ranked 14th.

Ergonomics

The RDX’s standard easy entry system glides the driver’s seat back, making it easier for the driver to get in and out. An easy entry system costs extra on the Terrain, and is not available on all models.

The RDX Advance has a standard heads-up display that projects speed and navigation instruction readouts in front of the driver’s line of sight, allowing drivers to view information without diverting their eyes from the road. The Terrain doesn’t offer a heads-up display.

The RDX’s front and rear power windows all open or close with one touch of the switches, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths, or when talking with someone outside of the car. The Terrain’s passenger windows don’t close automatically.

If the windows are left open on the RDX the driver can close them all at the outside door handle or from a distance using the remote. On a hot day the driver can lower the windows from a distance using the keyless remote. The driver of the Terrain can only close the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

The RDX’s standard speed-sensitive wipers speed up when the vehicle does, so that the driver doesn’t have to continually adjust the speed of the wipers. The Terrain’s manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted. The RDX Advance’s standard wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically according to the amount of rainfall on the windshield.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) conducts detailed tests on headlights for their range both straight ahead and in curves and to be certain they don’t exceed acceptable amounts of glare to oncoming drivers. The RDX’s standard headlights were rated “Good” by the IIHS, while the Terrain’s headlights are rated “Poor.”

The RDX has a standard dual zone air conditioning allows the driver and front passenger to choose two completely different temperatures so people with different temperature preferences won’t have to compromise. This makes both the driver and front passenger as comfortable as possible. Dual zone air conditioning costs extra on the Terrain and isn’t available on the Terrain SL.

The RDX’s standard automatic temperature control maintains the temperature you set, automatically controlling fan speed, vents and temperature to maintain a consistent, comfortable environment. The Terrain SL doesn’t offer automatic air conditioning.

The RDX’s available GPS navigation system has a real-time traffic update feature that plots alternative routes to automatically bypass traffic problems. (Service not available in all areas.) The Terrain’s available navigation system doesn’t offer real-time traffic updates.

Economic Advantages

Insurance will cost less for the RDX owner. The Complete Car Cost Guide estimates that insurance for the RDX will cost $155 to $1445 less than the Terrain over a five-year period.

The RDX will cost the buyer less in the long run because of its superior resale value. The IntelliChoice estimates that the RDX will retain 51.89% to 53.05% of its original price after five years, while the Terrain only retains 45.99% to 49.47%.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the RDX is less expensive to operate than the Terrain because it costs $373 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost much less on the RDX than the Terrain, including $57 less for a water pump, $520 less for a muffler, $205 less for fuel injection, $205 less for a fuel pump and $488 less for a timing belt/chain.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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