2020 Audi Q5 vs Acura RDX Pros vs Cons. Should You Buy?
Looking for a high-powered, smooth-riding small luxury SUV this year? Then you might want to check out both the 2020 AUdi Q5 and the 2020 Acura RDX. They are similar in many ways, providing plenty of power and standard safety and infotainment features. They both have modest starting MSRPs and are known for having comfortable, spacious interior designs. But is one of them better than the other?
The RDX and Q5 have some noteworthy downfalls too. The RDX has a seriously confusing center console littered with pointless controls. The infotainment system is utterly befuddling, and the push button gear selector will take some getting used to. The Q5's stability control kicks in more than it should, but the controls for everything are a bit more user-oriented. In other words, you are going to need to do some serious thinking when trying to decide between these two SUVs.
But we can alleviate some of that burden. In this comparison review, we will look at the 2020 Acura RDX's and 2020 Audi Q5's powertrains, drivability factors, and safety features and scores and, in the end, let you know which vehicle we think you should choose based on its overall value.
First up we have to discuss powertrains since they greatly impact the driving experience. You're looking for something powerful, to be certain, and you deserve to know what you could be getting yourself into. We will first look at the powertrain equipped on the 2020 Audi Q5. There is only one powertrain available, so you cannot choose to get a boost in power. However, there is a hybrid powertrain called the PHEV, which we will also mention.
The 2020 Audi Q5 is powered by a standard 2.0-L turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that puts forth 248 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque. It is accompanied by a 7-speed dual clutch transmission (DCT) and all-wheel drive. The PHEV is a hybrid version that utilizes this powertrain plus its hybrid components to get a total of 65 MPGe. It is also able to get 20 miles of pure electric range. It is a solid powertrain overall, one that will cause very little fuss while you are on the road. You will not find a lot of DCTs in this segment, but this one is smartly matched with the engine to provide seamless transmissions between gears.
The 2020 Acura RDX has a 2.0-L turbocharged 4-cylinder engine as well, but this one gets 272 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque. It is matched up with a 10-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive is standard, but all-wheel drive is available as a stand-alone option. There is a good amount of low-end torque, but you do not get as much in the way of top-end - not like you would from a 6-cylinder engine. However, the 10-speed has gears that are closely spaced together to keep them shifting as smoothly as possible. As of right now, there is no hybrid option on the RDX, but a Sport Hybrid is available on its sibling, the MDX.
Just how drivable are each of these vehicles? Is there anything that holds either one back from being a totally solid performer? There are many aspects of driving to consider here, from acceleration to technological features. Let us take a look at how the Q5 and RDX stack up in terms of drivability.
The 2020 Audi Q5 has no issue with getting from 0 to 60 mph in 6.2 seconds, which is a decent time for this segment. The brakes always feel solid, never becoming squishy beneath your foot after some use. You can come to a panic stop pretty quickly when needed, and the wheels always feel like they are tracking straight on. The stability control system does kick in a bit too much, although handling feels really secure. The shifts on the 7-speed DCT feel remarkably seamless, as the transmission never pauses to search for gears.
The Q5 is a vehicle that might be small in stature but is easy to manuever through tight spaces, making it ideal for those who live and/or work in a crowded city. It also does well enough on fuel. EPA estimates give the Q5 a combined 24 mpg, but real world tests pit it even higher between 26 and 28 mpg combined. Of course, the PHEV is able to do even better and has that extra 20 miles of pure electric range.
The Q5 is comfortable on the inside, even though it looks like it would be a somewhat confined cabin. Audi trades cargo space for more second row room, creating a spacious cabin in which taller individuals can easily spread out and relax. The Q5 is built for long rides, too. It might not have the most thigh support or padding inside of the seat cushions, but they actually feel cozy and supportive enough. There is barely any noise that makes its way into the cabin; wind and road noise are inaudible. The engine only gets loud when you put her into full throttle. Otherwise, she purrs like a kitten.
Minimalism is the name of the game in the cockpit. The array of controls is simplified, with many controls being multi-functional. They are all well-labeled and placed easily within the driver's reach. Technology is user-friendly, even on the MMI infotainment system. You can sync your smartphone apps via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto if you prefer to use those. Visibility is also excellent, and the only real downside is that cargo space is limited. The fact that the rear seats do not fold down flat makes that even worse.
What about the 2020 Acura RDX? What does it have to offer in terms of drivability? Overall, the RDX feels pretty decent to drive. The brakes are definitely secure, making a panic stop from 60 mph in 121 feet, which is average for this segment. The stability system does routinely utilize the brakes to tighten things up on winding roadways though, so, yes, the brakes do soften sometimes. There is an appropriate amount of effort required by each of the driving modes. Comfort mode is rightfully light while Sport and Sport+ are significantly firmer. The variable steering ratio is well-tuned so that the vehicle is easy to maneuver through tight spaces, much like the Audi Q5. The RDX does get more understeering than you might like at first, and the A-Spec trim has larger, wider tires that do not offer a whole lot in the way of road grip. However, there is almost no noticeable body roll, and the SH-AWD you can opt for helps the vehicle power out of corners with ease.
On the inside, you get supportive and relaxing heated and ventilated front seats, and even the rear is quite spacious for a vehicle in this segment. The body is well-controlled, remaining composed on the highway and while going over those nasty potholes you encounter on the main roads. The engine remains mum throughout, and there is virtually no road noise that makes its way into the cabin. You will hear a small growl from the engine when taken up to full throttle, but that is about all.
The RDX's downfall is its cockpit layout. The center console is an absolute nightmare to mitigate. The climate control buttons are way too small, and most of the air just goes right to the driver's hands anyway. The controls all have a steep learning curve, and the touchpad won't be to everyone's liking.
Getting in and out is simple since there are wide door openings, and the adjustable driver's seat makes it simple to find a good driving position. The dash is kind of high, but it does not block any sight lines. Also, the panoramic sunroof does not cut into head space, and there is plenty of space to go around. However, outward visibility is poor since there are bulky roof pillars.
You will find small item storage areas in abundance, and the cupholder is cleverly stored under a sliding cover tray up front. The 31.1 cubic feet of cargo space bests the Q5's 26.8, and the RDX's rear seats do fold down flat. There is an impressive 16-speaker ELS 3D sound system available, but it does not play iTunes files with as much sound clarity as it does DVD-Audio source media. Also, Android Auto is not yet available, so only iPhone users can sync their apps. Voice control is a bright spot in terms of the vehicle's technology since it does a great job at recognizing natural speech patterns.
Safety is, of course, a major element to consider when buying a new car. What kinds of features come standard? How has it been rated in its crash tests? There are some noteworthy differences here between the 2020 Acura RDX and 2020 Audi Q5, so let us run down the list of those.
Both vehicles come loaded with all manner of standard safety features. The Q5 comes with automatic braking, forward collision warning, and cruise control, to name just a few of the driver aids. The RDX has AcuraWatch, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, collision warning, and emergency braking. So, in that way, they're pretty comparable.
Where they differ is in terms of ratings. The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS) assigned the Q5 "Good" marks on all but its headlights, for which it was "Marginal" (as the low beams were shown to be inadequate on left turns). The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) gave it 5 out of 5 stars overall, noting a 16.40% rollover risk, which is about average for this class. There is only one current recall for a detaching wheel arch trim.
Meanwhile, IIHS gave the RDX "Good" marks except for its headlights, which had too much glare. The vehicle was, however, listed as a 2020 Top Safety Pick+. NHTSA gave the vehicle a 5-star overall rating too, but the Front Driver and Passenger Side crash tests only got 4 out of 5 stars each. A 16.50% rollover risk was noted. Some drivers are complaining that the brakes make squealing noises when they are engaged at slower speeds, which could be cause for concern later on down the road.
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Which Has the Best Value?
Now it is time to talk about value. You want to get the most bang for your buck, right? The RDX has a starting MSRP of about $37,800, while the Q5's is at $43,300. This is a pretty significant difference, but you have to consider what you get. The Q5 provides a better overall ride quality and has a few more standard features that drivers are going to want. Also, its features are much easier to access thanks to the minimalist console design. That means that the Q5 just edges out the RDX in terms of value.
Which is Better?
The 2020 Acura RDX and 2020 Audi Q5 are both good choices if you want a high-quality but affordable small SUV. They both evoke a sense of luxury, but the Q5 does just a bit better due to its thoughtful and user-friendly design. The MMI infotainment system is a true highlight, and the availability of the PHEV will likely be attractive to those interested in converting to a hybrid vehicle this model year.