by: Mike Ginsca, MGReviews.com
Luxury crossover SUVs are the hottest things right now, more so than the latest Yeezys or the newest Avengers movie. There was a time when these two wouldn’t even be mentioned under the same breath as the German rivals. But for the 2019 model year, they both received new updates that make you think twice about how to spend your money.
Both of these SUVs use 2.0L turbocharged engine with the Acura’s producing 272hp and 280 lb-ft of torque and the Infiniti’s producing 268hp and 280 lb-ft of torque. Both engines have low end grunt thanks to the high torque figure being produced at low engine rpms. But that’s where the similarities end because the engine in the Infiniti has a clever new feature that is designed to provide both power and fuel efficiency.
The Infiniti QX50 has something called Variable Compression. Without getting into too much boring details, it basically has an actuating arm inside the engine that’s connected to the crankshaft which in turn changes how high up the combustion chamber the pistons travel. During light throttle applications, the engine is in the high compression mode to improve fuel efficiency. Vice versa when you stomp on the throttle and the turbo produces more boost, the compression ratio decreases to allow for a larger volume of air/fuel mixture for more power. From behind the steering wheel, you don’t notice any of this happening. The only indication is a graphic on the instrument cluster. The end result however is that the QX50 is more efficient than the RDX by about 1.0 L/100km. In my week with both vehicles, I managed a combined fuel efficiency rating of 11.5 L/100km with the Acura and 10.5 L/100km in the Infiniti over similar driving scenarios.
When it comes to how these SUVs make you feel when driving, it’s a night and day difference. The Acura’s steering feel is on par with some mid-size sports sedans. It is accurate and offers good feedback for being an SUV. The Infiniti on the other hand is focused more towards comfort. It uses a drive-by-wire steering system which has no physical connection between the steering wheel and the front wheels. The benefit of this is very light and effortless steering. However the downfall is that it has a fake feeling steering response. If you’ve ever played those racing video games with the $150 accessory steering wheel, that’s how the steering feel is like in the QX50.
The 2019 Acura RDX being a more sporty oriented luxury brand, the suspension is more stiffly sprung than the Infiniti QX50. It’s not bad for an SUV but for daily commuting, I always found myself choosing to drive the QX50. On city streets, the softer suspension of the QX50 absorbs bumps with ease and provides a comfortable drive.
The stark contrast between the two SUVs continues when you step inside of each. The interior of the 2019 Acura RDX is not bad looking per se, but it’s not as pretty as the design of the QX50’s. The 2019 Infiniti QX50 has numerous different materials across the dash and doors but somehow they all work well together. Everything that you can touch has a quality feel. The dual screen setup in the Infiniti is the one let down about the design but at least it is easy to use.
The Acura on the other hand has a cold and alien feel compared to the QX50. Maybe that’s because the center dash and steering wheel have buttons that look like they belong on a spaceship but the interior of the Acura just doesn’t feel as inviting as that of the Infiniti. Also I don’t understand why the drive mode selector is such a predominant feature on the center of the dashboard in the Acura. I can’t see very many drivers switching between the different drive modes on a continuous basis. At first I thought it was the volume knob.
Odds and Ends
The big change for the 2019 model year for the Acura RDX is the new infotainment system. The 10.2” screen is split up in ⅔ with the main left portion being the predominant section where everything is controlled and the right ⅓ portion displaying either the navigation screen or media. The display however is not a touchscreen and is instead controlled by a touchpad just below the drive selector. As touchpads go, this one is one of the best because wherever you touch it, it correlates to the same position on the screen. So if you touch the top left section of the pad, the top left item of the screen gets highlighted. There is no need to continuously scroll like on a laptop touchpad, however, there is a steep learning curve with this new system and while driving it’s very difficult to use seamlessly. A touch screen would be faster.
Both of these SUVs compete in the premium luxury crossover class but they are on opposite sides of the scales. One is not a better all-rounder than the other. They both have their pros and cons. It all depends on what you’re looking for in an SUV and how you plan to use it. Because I prefer a more sporty driving vehicle, I’d personally choose the 2019 Acura RDX A-Spec over the 2019 Infiniti QX50 Sensory even though I cannot stand the new touchpad and I’m not a huge fan of the interior or exterior styling of the RDX. But for most consumers who don’t need to hit the apex of every corner they drive around, the Infiniti QX50 is a better daily commuter and family vehicle.
Thank you to Infiniti Canada for providing the QX50. www.Infiniti.ca
Thank you to Acura Canada for providing the RDX. www.Acura.ca