We drove a $64,000 Cadillac XT5 and a $47,800 Acura RDX to see which luxury SUV was better — and the winner was obvious

When I reviewed the RDX last year, I swooned. “I’d buy one,” I wrote.

“Seriously, I enjoyed the RDX immensely in the week that I drove it around the Jersey ‘burbs and the mean streets of New York City. But I tend to respond quite favorably to Acuras. For whatever reason, I think they combine a high level of luxury and value with legendary reliability and fun motoring that isn’t too demanding.”

A key differentiator for me between the XT5 and the RDX was the engine. The underpowered V6 on the XT5 that we tested was trumped by the overpowered turbo four on the RDX. The RDX’s power was snappier, and the fuel economy is superior.

The driving dynamics, however, were neck-and-neck. If I had to, I’d give the RDX a slight edge, but around corners, both crossovers are fun to handle.

Acura’s updated infotainment system is a notable improvement over the old setup, but the XT5 has an industry-leading system, so the RDX has a ways to go before it even thinks about knocking off the Caddy on this score.

In terms of interior appointments, the Caddy edges out a victory. But a slight one.

Overall, the Acura RDX wins this comparison because it simply feels more like a well-engineered, premium crossover that makes good on its brand promise. The XT5 is a dandy SUV, and it’s sold quite well since its introduction, giving Caddy an all-important crossover to pit against BMW and Audi.

But the new RDX continues to more than hold its own. It’s also extremely well priced. My tester was more than $10,000 less than the pricier cheaper XT5 trim that we sampled. OK, yes — the XT5 could be classified as more of a midsize luxury crossover, and perhaps we should see how the RDX stacks up against the Caddy XT4 that recently impressed us. But the Acura MDX has three rows, while the XT5 doesn’t (the new XT6 does). The vehicles are also almost exactly the same size (the XT5 is three inches longer).

The bottom line is that the RDX is and has been one of the most appealing offerings in the luxury market, both as an extreme value and as a capable crossover that’s a joy to drive. It’s one of those vehicles that I can recommend almost without reservations.

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