• There’s some big powertrain changes for two upscale models of crossover vehicles. The BMW X3 is switching from a V6 to a four-cylinder engine. The Acura RDX is going in the opposite direction, from a four to a six-cylinder engine.

    Both changes have resulted in big improvements, according to the latest ratings from Consumer Reports for compact SUVs. In its latest findings, the magazine had glowing things to say about both overhauls.

    “The RDX had been a weak spot in the otherwise competent Acura lineup,” said David Champion, senior director of the consumer organization’s consumer test center. “The engine upgrade, along with a roomier, user-friendly cabin and an improved ride, helps it score near the top of its category.”

    Here’s a look at the sporty CUVs that Consumer Reports endorsed, the ones that got a thumbs-down and others that got more middling reviews:

  • BMW X3

    BMW X3

    MSRP: $38,500 - $43,600
    Invoice: $35,600 - $40,290
    Fuel economy: 21 city/28 highway

    Powered by a six-cylinder engine since its inception eight years ago, the inline six is replaced with a new 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that should get 23 miles per gallon combined, one mile better than the original.

    According to Consumer Reports, which ranks the X3 at the top of its category, “precision handling and a taut ride make the X3 drive like the best sporty sedans.” Although it grades out as the highest of the ratings, it is too new for the consumer organization to assess its reliability.

    Research the BMW X3
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  • Audi Q5

    Audi Q5

    MSRP: $35,600 - $43,000
    Invoice: $33,108 - $39,990
    Fuel economy: 20 city/27 highway

    The Q5 is powered by either a 211-hp 2.0T four-cylinder or a 3.2-liter FSI V6 engine, the 2.0T gets an eight-speed Tiptronic automatic, while the 3.2 is bolted to a six-speed Tiptronic automatic. Audi's quattro all-wheel drive system provides sure-footedness in all conditions

    Consumer Reports calls the Q5 “another good choice,” and lauds it for its “enjoyable handling and well-trimmed interior.” It also earns recommended status.

    Research the Audi Q5
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  • Ford Edge SEL

    Ford Edge SEL

    MSRP: $27,525 - $39,060
    Invoice: $25,942 - $36,424
    Fuel economy: 19 city/27 highway

    Consumer Reports examined the SEL trims of the Ford Edge and really likes the optional EcoBoost 2.0-liter turbocharged V6, lauding it for is power and lower engine noise. “The four-cylinder turbo actually sounds more than the V6,” the report notes.

    You can’t get all-wheel drive with the EcoBoost engine, but fuel economy is improved. On the downside, CR notes “the six-speed transmission lacks refinement and handling comes up short on agility.”

    Research the Ford Edge
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