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Acura Rdx vs. Kia Sorento

1. Introduction

This report compares two sport utility vehicles (SUV), the 2015 Acura RDX and the 2015 Kia Sorento. With recent changes in the economy as well as American culture, there has been an increased demand for SUVs in place of minivans, as they offer more cargo space and a sportier look. The Nissan Murano, a car that was previously programmed as an actual SUV, was redesigned last year as a CUV, and is now more similar to a luxury sedan. This factor, in addition to the general decline in SUV marketing in order to make room for a larger selection of crossovers, caused us to target a specific year in comparing SUVs. The Acura RDX was reintroduced in 2013 after being redesigned from a larger, more rugged SUV to a smaller, sleek crossover. The Kia Sorento, however, remained one of the few steadfast SUVs left, and was actually redesigned from the 2014 model year to appear more like a crossover, as Kia began to apply a new marketing strategy to repaint their picture. We believed that the two vehicles in question, while still belonging to the SUV category, now have more qualities in common than what would meet the eye. In doing this comparison, we hope to help a more specific group of car buyers reach a consensus on whether or not they want an SUV or a CUV by providing the perfect example of each. Please visit our Comprehensive Guide to Kia Model Comparisons to learn more about Acura RDX vs Kia Sorento.

2. Performance and Engine Specifications

One of the most important elements of a car is its performance. Both the Kia Sorento and the Acura RDX were built to perform at a high level, but their engines and handling seem to appeal to two different crowds. The Acura RDX offers much more agility and sportiness with its 2.3-liter I-4 turbocharged engine, putting out 240 horsepower at 6000 RPM and 260 lbs feet of torque at 4500 RPM. The Acura RDX also offers Acura's Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) system. This system makes the RDX handle like a sports car, automatically redistributing power to the rear in hard cornering to make a more stable and efficient turn. The driver can also manually orient the power distribution to 90% to the front wheels and 100% to the rear, making this vehicle handle like a rear-wheel vehicle. In various conditions, the SH-AWD technology can add 50% more available torque to the rear axle. This is very useful to help the RDX out of very hard, tight, or slippery turns. The RDX is offered with a 5-speed automatic transmission and a paddle shifter for manually shifting gears. With the combined grunt of the engine and the high-tech AWD system, the RDX offers a sporty SUV that can handle at a high level.

3. Interior and Features

The Kia Sorento, interior-wise, does not have the same luxurious feel as the Acura RDX, but that is to be expected given the usually large difference in the price of the two vehicles. The standard SX Sorento model comes with leather trim seating and a push-button start, at a price almost $10,000 cheaper than the Acura. It also has a tri-zone climate control system, a full zone more than the RDX, and yes, they do still make use of a dash-mounted cigarette lighter and ashtray. The Kia Sorento, however, does not have a media interface and navigation, so drivers will not be able to interact with the Sorento's audio and info system without taking eyes off the driving. The data input dial and surrounding buttons on the RDX, however, control every aspect of the system, including audio. This is just another use of technology to help reduce driver distraction.

The interior of the Acura RDX 2012 uses premium materials to give an air of luxury. Realized in leather trim and brushed metal finishes, the interior is aesthetically fine and functional, utilizing clean lines. The front seats are heated and power-adjustable, providing ample comfort and support on long drives. Opting for the Technology Package gives the buyer the added bonus of perforated leather and suede seats, adding an extra touch of class to the interior. The center console and dashboard are uncluttered and easy to use, housing the dual-zone climate control features and multi-use display screen that helps to minimize the potential for driver distraction. New on the 2012 model is the two-position memory driver's seat. This function, easier to have than a passenger's seat memory option, allows the user to store different configurations of the seat in memory, allowing for easy toggling between driving and seating for additional passengers.

4. Safety and Technology

On the technology end, the RDX pulls drastically ahead of the Sorento. While both have standard Bluetooth and MP3 capabilities, the RDX comes with standard real-time traffic updates, a trial for satellite radio, and speed-sensitive volume control. All of these features are available as an upgrade on the Sorento. The RDX also comes standard with "Jewel Eye" LED headlights. LED headlights are available as an upgrade for the Sorento models. LED headlights are a stronger and more energy-efficient lighting source than the halogen bulbs that come standard on a Sorento. The area in which the Sorento does take the lead in technology is crash prevention. With IIHS testing, the Sorento's optional forward collision warning system, which is available on different Sorento models, successfully avoided both the 12mph and 25mph collision scenarios. The RDX, however, has not undergone testing for crash avoidance. Although both vehicles were able to avoid collisions, the Sorento may come with new and safer testing technologies. High crash avoidance ratings will influence the cost of vehicle insurance plans. (Cicchino, 2022)(Wang et al.2023)(Picone et al., 2023)(Abro et al.2023)(Beghi et al., 2023)(Islam & Ahsan…, 2023)(Valerio et al., 2021)(Cliff, 2022)(MARCHETTA & DIGRAZIANO)

Both of these models face issues with their respective safety features. As it has become somewhat of an expectation, neither model comes with standard parking assists, but rather as an upgrade feature. The Kia Sorento model received an "Acceptable" score in the small front overlap test, while the Acura proved "Good" in all testing procedures shown by the IIHS. The Sorento and the RDX both took similar stylistic risks in the design of their vehicles, making neither more robust than the other in terms of safety. As is the case with selecting a vehicle for automotive travels, the potential repair costs are higher with luxury vehicles. However, luxury vehicles typically come with stronger and more reliable safety systems.

5. Conclusion

Overall, the Kia Sorento is also a great vehicle depending on what a person is looking for. With the starting MSRP being about $24,000 for a base model, $27,000 for an EX, $32,000 for an SX, and $34,000 for a limited, it is $10,000-$15,000 cheaper than an RDX. A Sorento provides a lot for its cost, but it's no $34,000 SUV. While the RDX was elegant and nimble, the Sorento is rugged and versatile and is a great choice if you are looking for 3rd-row seating, a midsize crossover. The Sorento has received very high safety ratings and is a great choice if you are looking to haul rather than drive. With heights of 7.2 and 7.4 inches, it would be a better choice for the snow, and it also handles a 5000lb towing capacity. The Sorento has a choice of a 4-cylinder or a V6, but what would really sell the deal is the warranty. A 5-year/60,000-mile basic warranty and a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty. The Sorento may also be a great choice for someone who is looking for an AWD drive vehicle and maybe looking to move down from a large SUV to something a bit smaller. (Trimble et al., 2020)

After an overall analysis, the Acura RDX is one of the best vehicles you can purchase on the market if you are looking for a small, built, luxury SUV. The RDX offers ample room, a great choice of luxury features, plenty of horsepower, excellent fuel economy, and dependability. It also provides a smooth ride, perfect for city driving, but can handle itself well on a winding mountain road. However, a significant problem with the RDX is the price when compared with what is offered compared to other vehicles. The MSRP begins at over $34,000 for a base model and tops out near $50,000 with the advanced package. Although it does offer a lot, it is expensive and becomes less of a bargain. The RDX would make up for its cost if you owned it for a very long time due to its dependability, but depending on the person, spending that much for a small SUV may not appeal to some. Also, although the RDX handled very well in the snow, it is only offered with all-wheel drive which may not appeal to everyone. The RDX will still handle well on wet surfaces, but for some, extra traction is not necessary and it is just added weight and costs more in fuel in the long run.


Cicchino, J. B. (2022). Effects of automatic emergency braking systems on pedestrian crash risk. Accident Analysis & Prevention. safehomealabama.gov

Wang, X., Xia, G., Zhao, J., Wang, J., Yang, Z., Loughney, S., ... & Liu, Z. (2023). A novel method for the risk assessment of human evacuation from cruise ships in maritime transportation. Reliability Engineering & System Safety, 230, 108887. sciencedirect.com

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Valerio, F., Basile, M., & Balestrieri, R. (2021). The identification of wildlife-vehicle collision hotspots: Citizen science reveals spatial and temporal patterns. Ecological Processes. springer.com

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Trimble, T. E., Baker, S. A., Russell, S. M., & Tidwell, S. (2020). Consumer driving automation system education: A learning and retention assessment. vt.edu​​​​​​​​​​​​​​