2020 Acura RDX vs. 2019 Subaru Outback

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

The RDX Advance has a standard Surround-View Camera System to allow the driver to see objects all around the vehicle on a screen. The Outback only offers a rear monitor and front and rear parking sensors that beep or flash a light. That doesn’t help with obstacles to the sides.

Both the RDX and the Outback have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, height adjustable front shoulder belts, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, crash mitigating brakes, daytime running lights, lane departure warning systems, rearview cameras, available all wheel drive, blind spot warning systems and rear cross-path warning.

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 Outback’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 Subaru covers the Outback. Any repair needed on the engine, transmission, axles, joints or driveshafts is fully covered for 6 years or 70,000 miles. Coverage on the Outback ends after only 5 years or 60,000 miles.

Reliability

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Acura vehicles are better in initial quality than Subaru vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Acura 24th in initial quality. With 3 more problems per 100 vehicles, Subaru is ranked 25th.

Engine

The RDX’s 2.0 turbo 4-cyl. produces 97 more horsepower (272 vs. 175) and 106 lbs.-ft. more torque (280 vs. 174) than the Outback 2.5i’s standard 2.5 DOHC 4-cyl. The RDX’s 2.0 turbo 4-cyl. produces 16 more horsepower (272 vs. 256) and 33 lbs.-ft. more torque (280 vs. 247) than the Outback 3.6R’s standard 3.6 DOHC 6-cyl.

As tested in Consumer Reports the Acura RDX is faster than the Subaru Outback:

RDX

Outback 2.5i

Outback 3.6R

Zero to 30 MPH

3 sec

4.2 sec

3.2 sec

Zero to 60 MPH

7 sec

10.5 sec

7.4 sec

45 to 65 MPH Passing

4.9 sec

6.2 sec

4.7 sec

Quarter Mile

15.5 sec

18.1 sec

15.7 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

95 MPH

81.4 MPH

92.6 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the RDX AWD gets better fuel mileage than the Outback 3.6R (21 city/27 hwy vs. 20 city/27 hwy).

In heavy traffic or at stoplights the RDX’s engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. The engine is automatically restarted when the driver gets ready to move again. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) The Outback doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.

The RDX has a standard cap-less fueling system. The fuel filler is automatically opened when the fuel nozzle is inserted and automatically closed when it’s removed. This eliminates the need to unscrew and replace the cap and it reduces fuel evaporation, which causes pollution. The Outback doesn’t offer a cap-less fueling system.

Brakes and Stopping

The RDX stops much shorter than the Outback:

RDX

Outback

70 to 0 MPH

177 feet

180 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

116 feet

129 feet

Motor Trend

60 to 0 MPH (Wet)

129 feet

147 feet

Consumer Reports

Tires and Wheels

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

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 Outback 2.5i/2.5i Premium’s standard 65 series tires. The RDX A-Spec’s tires have a lower 40 series profile than the Outback Limited/Touring’s 60 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the RDX has standard 19-inch wheels. Smaller 17-inch wheels are standard on the Outback 2.5i/2.5i Premium. The RDX A-Spec’s 20-inch wheels are larger than the 18-inch wheels on the Outback Limited/Touring.

The RDX has a standard easy tire fill system. When inflating the tires, the vehicle’s integrated tire pressure sensors keep track of the pressure as the tires fill and tell the driver when the tires are inflated to the proper pressure. The Outback doesn’t offer vehicle monitored tire inflation.

Suspension and Handling

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 Outback’s suspension doesn’t offer adjustable shock absorbers.

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the RDX is 2.4 inches wider in the front and 2.5 inches wider in the rear than on the Outback.

The RDX A-Spec AWD handles at .81 G’s, while the Outback 3.6R Limited pulls only .79 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

The RDX AWD executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 1.2 seconds quicker than the Outback 2.5i Limited (27.2 seconds @ .64 average G’s vs. 28.4 seconds @ .57 average G’s).

Chassis

The RDX is 3.1 inches shorter than the Outback, making the RDX easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

The RDX uses computer-generated active noise cancellation to help remove annoying noise and vibration from the passenger compartment, especially at low frequencies. The Outback doesn’t offer active noise cancellation.

Passenger Space

The RDX has 1.6 inches more front shoulder room and .3 inches more rear legroom than the Outback.

Cargo Capacity

The RDX has a larger cargo volume with its rear seat folded than the Outback with its rear seat folded (79.8 vs. 73.3 cubic feet).

Pressing a switch automatically lowers the RDX’s rear seats, to make changing between passengers and cargo easier. The Outback doesn’t offer automatic folding seats.

To make loading groceries and cargo easier when your hands are full, the RDX Advance’s liftgate can be opened and closed just by kicking your foot under the back bumper, leaving your hands completely free. The Outback doesn’t offer a hands-free gesture to open its liftgate, forcing you to put cargo down if your hands are full.

Servicing Ease

The RDX has a maintenance free battery for long life without checking the battery’s water level. The Outback doesn’t have a maintenance free battery, so the water level in the battery’s cells must be checked often to prevent damage.

J.D. Power and Associates surveys of service recipients show that Acura service is better than Subaru. J.D. Power ranks Acura 6th in service department satisfaction (above the industry average). With a 37% lower rating, Subaru is ranked 19th.

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. The Outback doesn’t offer an easy entry system.

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 Outback doesn’t offer a heads-up display.

The power windows standard on both the RDX and the Outback have locks to prevent small children from operating them. When the lock on the RDX is engaged the driver can still operate all of the windows, for instance to close one opened by a child. The Outback prevents the driver from operating the rear windows just as it does the other passengers.

The RDX’s front and rear power windows all open or close fully with one touch of the switches, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths, or when talking with someone outside the car. The Outback’s standard passenger windows don’t open or 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 Outback can only operate 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 Outback’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 RDX’s standard outside mirrors include heating elements to clear off the mirrors for better visibility. Subaru only offers heated mirrors on the Outback Premium/Limited/Touring.

When the RDX is put in reverse, both rearview mirrors tilt from their original position. This gives the driver a better view of the curb during parallel parking maneuvers. Shifting out of reverse puts the mirrors into their original positions. The Outback’s mirrors don’t automatically adjust for backing.

Optional air-conditioned seats in the RDX keep the driver and front passenger comfortable and take the sting out of hot seats in summer. The Outback doesn’t offer air-conditioned seats.

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 is only available on the Outback Premium/Limited/Touring.

Both the RDX and the Outback offer rear vents. For greater rear passenger comfort, the RDX has standard rear air conditioning vents to keep rear occupants cool in summer or warm in winter. The Outback Base/Premium doesn’t offer rear air conditioning vents, only heat vents.

Model Availability

The RDX is available in both front-wheel drive and four-wheel drive configurations. The Outback doesn’t offer a two-wheel drive configuration.

Economic Advantages

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the RDX is less expensive to operate than the Outback because it costs $282 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost much less on the RDX than the Outback, including $71 less for front struts and $286 less for a timing belt/chain.

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

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