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Both the RDX and the Q3 have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver and front passenger knee 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, 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 vehicle-to-vehicle front crash prevention system, its standard vehicle-to-pedestrian front crash prevention system, and its standard headlight’s “Good” rating, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the RDX its highest rating: “Top Pick Plus” for 2020, a rating granted to only 32 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The Q3 was last a “Top Pick Plus” in 2019 but no longer qualifies.
Acura’s powertrain warranty covers the RDX 2 years and 20,000 miles longer than Audi covers the Q3. Any repair needed on the engine, transmission, axles, joints or driveshafts is fully covered for 6 years or 70,000 miles. Coverage on the Q3 ends after only 4 years or 50,000 miles.
J.D. Power and Associates’ 2020 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Acura vehicles are better in initial quality than Audi vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Acura 23rd in initial quality. With 40 more problems per 100 vehicles, Audi is ranked 32nd.
The RDX’s 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder produces 44 more horsepower (272 vs. 228) and 22 lbs.-ft. more torque (280 vs. 258) than the Q3’s 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder.
As tested in Motor Trend the Acura RDX is faster than the Audi Q3:
Zero to 60 MPH
Speed in 1/4 Mile
On the EPA test cycle the RDX AWD gets better fuel mileage than the Q3 (21 city/27 hwy vs. 19 city/27 hwy).
The RDX has 1.2 gallons more fuel capacity than the Q3 (17.1 vs. 15.9 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups.
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 Q3 doesn’t offer a cap-less fueling system.
A 10-speed automatic is standard on the Acura RDX, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only an eight-speed automatic is available for the Q3.
The RDX stops shorter than the Q3:
60 to 0 MPH
60 to 0 MPH (Wet)
For better ride, handling and brake cooling the RDX has standard 19-inch wheels. Smaller 18-inch wheels are standard on the Q3.
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 Q3 doesn’t offer vehicle monitored tire inflation.
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 Q3’s suspension doesn’t offer adjustable shock absorbers.
For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the RDX’s wheelbase is 2.8 inches longer than on the Q3 (108.3 inches vs. 105.5 inches).
For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the RDX is 2 inches wider in the front and 2.8 inches wider in the rear than on the Q3.
The RDX AWD handles at .81 G’s, while the Q3 Premium Plus pulls only .79 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.
The RDX AWD executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 1.2 seconds quicker than the Q3 Premium Plus (27.2 seconds @ .64 average G’s vs. 28.4 seconds @ .65 average G’s).
The RDX uses computer-generated active noise cancellation to help remove annoying noise and vibration from the passenger compartment, especially at low frequencies. The Q3 doesn’t offer active noise cancellation.
The RDX has 20 cubic feet more passenger volume than the Q3 (104 vs. 84).
The RDX has 1.6 inches more front legroom, 3 inches more front shoulder room, .7 inches more rear headroom, 2.3 inches more rear legroom and 1.5 inches more rear shoulder room than the Q3.
The RDX has a much larger cargo volume with its rear seat up than the Q3 with its rear seat up (31.1 vs. 23.7 cubic feet). The RDX has a much larger cargo volume with its rear seat folded than the Q3 with its rear seat folded (79.8 vs. 48 cubic feet).
Pressing a switch automatically lowers the RDX’s rear seats, to make changing between passengers and cargo easier. The Q3 doesn’t offer automatic folding seats.
J.D. Power and Associates surveys of service recipients show that Acura service is better than Audi. J.D. Power ranks Acura 6th in service department satisfaction (above the industry average). With a 9% lower rating, Audi is ranked 8th.
The RDX has a standard remote vehicle starting system, so the vehicle can be started from inside the driver's house. This allows the driver to comfortably warm up the engine before going out to the vehicle. The climate system will also automatically heat or cool the interior. The Q3 doesn’t offer a remote starting system.
When two different drivers share the RDX, the memory system makes it convenient for both. Each keyless remote activates different, customized memories for the driver’s seat position, outside mirror angle, climate settings and radio stations. The Q3 doesn’t offer a memory system.
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 Q3 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 Q3 doesn’t offer a heads-up display.
The RDX’s power window, power lock, power mirror and cruise control switches are lit from behind, making them plainly visible and easier to operate at night. The Q3’s cruise control switches are unlit, making them difficult to find at night and operate safely.
To improve rear visibility by keeping the rear window clear, the RDX has a standard rear fixed intermittent wiper with a full on position. The rear wiper standard on the Q3 only has an intermittent setting, so in a hard rain visibility isn’t as good.
Consumer Reports rated the RDX’s headlight performance “Good,” a higher rating than the Q3’s headlights, which were rated “Fair.”
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 Q3’s mirrors don’t automatically adjust for backing.
Both the RDX and the Q3 have standard heated front seats. The RDX Advance also has standard heated rear seats to keep those passengers extremely comfortable in the winter. Heated rear seats aren’t available in the Q3.
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 Q3 doesn’t offer air-conditioned seats.
On extremely cold winter days, the RDX’s optional heated steering wheel provides comfort, allowing the driver to steer safely and comfortably before the vehicle heater warms up. The Q3 doesn’t offer a heated steering wheel.
The RDX is available in both front-wheel drive and four-wheel drive configurations. The Q3 doesn’t offer a two-wheel drive configuration.
Insurance will cost less for the RDX owner. The Complete Car Cost Guide estimates that insurance for the RDX will cost $690 to $1585 less than the Q3 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 51.11% to 51.6% of its original price after five years, while the Q3 only retains 44.62% to 45.25%.
According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the RDX is less expensive to operate than the Q3 because it costs $64 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost much less on the RDX than the Q3, including $237 less for a water pump, $184 less for a starter, $141 less for fuel injection, $396 less for front struts and $438 less for a timing belt/chain.
IntelliChoice estimates that five-year ownership costs (depreciation, financing, insurance, fuel, fees, repairs and maintenance) for the Acura RDX will be $2163 to $6356 less than for the Audi Q3.
The Car Book by Jack Gillis recommends the Acura RDX, based on economy, maintenance, safety and complaint levels. The Audi Q3 isn't recommended.
The Acura RDX outsold the Audi Q3 by over four to one during 2019.
© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.
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