2021 BMW 5 Series Sedan vs. 2020 Acura RLX

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

© 1999 - 2020 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2020/10/27

The 5 Series Sedan has standard PostCrash iBrake, which automatically apply the brakes in the event of a crash to help prevent secondary collisions and prevent further injuries. The RLX doesn’t offer a post collision braking system: in the event of a collision that triggers the airbags, more collisions are possible without the protection of airbags that may have already deployed.

Over 200 people are killed each year when backed over by motor vehicles. The 5 Series Sedan offers optional Active Park Distance Control that uses rear sensors to monitor and automatically apply the brakes to prevent a rear collision. The RLX doesn’t offer backup collision prevention brakes.

A passive infrared night vision system optional on the 5 Series Sedan helps the driver to more easily detect people, animals or other objects in front of the vehicle at night. Using an infrared camera to detect heat, the system then displays the image on a monitor in the dashboard. The RLX doesn’t offer a night vision system.

The 5 Series Sedan’s driver alert monitor detects an inattentive driver then sounds a warning and suggests a break. According to the NHTSA, drivers who fall asleep cause about 100,000 crashes and 1500 deaths a year. The RLX doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

Both the 5 Series Sedan and the RLX have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, plastic fuel tanks, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, crash mitigating brakes, daytime running lights, lane departure warning systems, blind spot warning systems, rearview cameras, rear cross-path warning, available all wheel drive and around view monitors.

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 5 Series Sedan its highest rating: “Top Pick Plus” for 2019, a rating granted to only 82 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The RLX has not been fully tested, yet.

Warranty

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The 5 Series Sedan’s corrosion warranty is 7 years longer than the RLX’s (12 vs. 5 years).

BMW pays for scheduled maintenance on the 5 Series Sedan for 3 years and 36,000 miles. BMW will pay for oil changes, lubrication and any other required maintenance. Acura doesn’t pay scheduled maintenance for the RLX.

There are over 29 percent more BMW dealers than there are Acura dealers, which makes it easier should you ever need service under the 5 Series Sedan’s warranty.

Reliability

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A hardened steel chain, with no maintenance needs, drives the camshafts in the 5 Series Sedan’s engine. A rubber cam drive belt that needs periodic replacement drives the RLX’s camshafts. If the RLX’s belt breaks, the engine could be severely damaged when the pistons hit the opened valves.

To reliably start during all conditions and help handle large electrical loads, the 5 Series Sedan has a standard 570-amp battery. The RLX’s 550-amp battery isn’t as powerful.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2020 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that BMW vehicles are better in initial quality than Acura vehicles. J.D. Power ranks BMW 18th in initial quality. With 9 more problems per 100 vehicles, Acura is ranked 23rd.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that BMW vehicles are more reliable than Acura vehicles. J.D. Power ranks BMW 7th in reliability, above the industry average. With 49 more problems per 100 vehicles, Acura is ranked 26th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2019 Auto Issue reports that BMW vehicles are more reliable than Acura vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks BMW 11 places higher in reliability than Acura.

Engine

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The 5 Series Sedan has more powerful engines than the RLX:

Horsepower

Torque

540i 3.0 turbo 6-cylinder hybrid

335 HP

332 lbs.-ft.

M550i 4.4 turbo V8

523 HP

553 lbs.-ft.

RLX 3.5 SOHC V6

310 HP

272 lbs.-ft.

RLX Sport Hybrid 3.5 SOHC V6 hybrid

377 HP

341 lbs.-ft.

Fuel Economy and Range

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On the EPA test cycle the 530i RWD gets better fuel mileage than the RLX FWD V6 (25 city/33 hwy vs. 20 city/29 hwy). The 540i RWD gets better fuel mileage than the RLX FWD V6 (25 city/32 hwy vs. 20 city/29 hwy).

Regardless of its engine, regenerative brakes improve the 5 Series Sedan’s fuel efficiency by converting inertia back into energy instead of wasting it. Acura only offers a regenerative brake system on the RLX Sport Hybrid.

Regardless of its engine, the 5 Series Sedan’s engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) Acura only offers an automatic engine start/stop system on the RLX Sport Hybrid.

The 5 Series Sedan has 2.9 gallons more fuel capacity than the RLX Sport Hybrid’s standard fuel tank (18 vs. 15.1 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups.

Transmission

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The 5 Series Sedan’s launch control uses engine electronics to hold engine RPM’s precisely in order to provide the most stable and rapid acceleration possible, using all of the available traction. The RLX doesn’t offer launch control.

Brakes and Stopping

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For better stopping power the 5 Series Sedan’s brake rotors are larger than those on the RLX:

530i

M550i

RLX

RLX Sport Hybrid

Front Rotors

13.7 inches

14.7 inches

12.3 inches

13 inches

Rear Rotors

13 inches

13.6 inches

12.2 inches

12.2 inches

The 5 Series Sedan’s standard front and rear disc brakes are vented to help dissipate heat for shorter stops with less fading. The rear discs on the RLX are solid, not vented.

The 5 Series Sedan stops much shorter than the RLX:

5 Series Sedan

RLX

60 to 0 MPH

103 feet

119 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels

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The 5 Series Sedan’s optional 245/35R20 front and 275/30R20 rear tires provide better handling because they have a lower 35 series front and 30 series rear profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the RLX’s 40 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the 5 Series Sedan offers optional 20-inch wheels. The RLX’s largest wheels are only 19-inches.

Changing a flat tire near traffic can be dangerous and inconvenient. The run-flat tires standard on the 5 Series Sedan can be driven up to 50 miles without any air pressure, allowing you to drive to a service station for a repair. The RLX doesn’t offer run-flat tires.

The 5 Series Sedan offers an optional space-saver spare tire so you can replace a flat tire and drive to have the flat repaired or replaced. A spare tire isn’t available on the RLX; it requires you to depend on roadside assistance and your vehicle will have to be towed.

Suspension and Handling

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The 5 Series Sedan 540i/M550i offers active sway bars, which help keep it flat and controlled during cornering, but disconnect at lower speeds to smooth the ride and offer greater off-road suspension articulation. This helps keep the tires glued to the road on-road and off. The RLX doesn’t offer an active sway bar system.

The M550i offers an available adjustable active suspension system, which counteracts cornering forces actively, limiting body roll and improving handling and stability. Acura doesn’t offer an active suspension on the RLX.

The 5 Series Sedan 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. The RLX’s suspension doesn’t offer adjustable shock absorbers.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the 5 Series Sedan’s wheelbase is 4.9 inches longer than on the RLX (117.1 inches vs. 112.2 inches).

The 5 Series Sedan’s front to rear weight distribution is more even (50.5% to 49.5%) than the RLX’s (57% to 43%). This gives the 5 Series Sedan more stable handling and braking.

The M550i xDrive handles at .92 G’s, while the RLX pulls only .80 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

The M550i xDrive executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 2.4 seconds quicker than the RLX (24.9 seconds @ .77 average G’s vs. 27.3 seconds @ .64 average G’s).

For better maneuverability, the 5 Series Sedan’s turning circle is 1.1 feet tighter than the RLX’s (39.4 feet vs. 40.5 feet).

Chassis

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The BMW 5 Series Sedan may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 100 to 200 pounds less than the Acura RLX.

The front grille of the 5 Series Sedan uses electronically controlled shutters to close off airflow and reduce drag when less engine cooling is needed. This helps improve highway fuel economy. The RLX doesn’t offer active grille shutters.

Passenger Space

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The 5 Series Sedan has 1.2 inches more front headroom and .6 inches more rear headroom than the RLX.

Cargo Capacity

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The 5 Series Sedan’s standard rear seats fold to accommodate long and bulky cargo. The RLX doesn’t offer folding rear seats, only a ski pass-through.

To make loading and unloading groceries and cargo easier when your hands are full, the 5 Series Sedan’s trunk can be opened just by kicking your foot under the back bumper, leaving your hands completely free. The 5 Series Sedan also offers an optional power trunk, which opens and closes automatically by pressing a button or just by kicking your foot under the back bumper. The RLX doesn’t offer a power or hands-free opening trunk.

Servicing Ease

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The engine in the 5 Series Sedan is mounted longitudinally (North-South), instead of sideways, as in the RLX. This makes it easier to service and maintain, because there are no rear spark plugs and the accessory belts are in front.

Ergonomics

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Unlike the driver-only memory system in the RLX, the 5 Series Sedan offers an optional passenger memory, so that when drivers switch, the memory setting adjusts the driver’s seat, steering wheel position, outside mirror angle, climate settings and radio stations and the front passenger seat also adjusts to the new passenger’s preset preferences.

The power windows standard on both the 5 Series Sedan and the RLX have locks to prevent small children from operating them. When the lock on the 5 Series Sedan is engaged the driver can still operate all of the windows, for instance to close one opened by a child. The RLX prevents the driver from operating the other windows just as it does the other passengers.

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 5 Series Sedan’s available headlights were rated “Good” by the IIHS, while the RLX’s headlights are rated “Acceptable.”

To help drivers see further while navigating curves, the 5 Series Sedan has standard adaptive headlights to illuminate around corners automatically by reading vehicle speed and steering wheel angle. The RLX doesn’t offer cornering lights.

The 5 Series Sedan offers optional massaging front seats in order to maximize comfort and eliminate fatigue on long trips. Massaging seats aren’t available in the RLX.

To quickly and conveniently keep personal devices charged without cables tangling and wearing out, the BMW 5 Series offers an optional wireless phone charging system (Qi) in the center console. The RLX doesn’t offer wireless personal charging.

The 5 Series Sedan’s optional Parking Assistant Plus can parallel park or back into a parking spot by itself, starting, stopping and changing direction automatically. Optional Remote Control Parking will park and retrieve your car remotely: press a button and watch it park itself. This is ideal for tight locations. The RLX doesn’t offer an automated parking system.

Recommendations

© 1999 - 2020 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2020/10/27

The BMW 5 Series outsold the Acura RLX by almost 38 to one during 2019.

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