Luxury crossovers look like they are going to be the next big seller in the automotive market. As such, it only makes sense to compare some of the best sellers to see where the strengths and flaws lie. After all, who wants to spend tens of thousands of dollars and not get the best choice available? Two of these new luxury crossover leaders are the and the . After taking a look at reviews from industry leaders Motor Trend, Edmunds, Car and Driver, and Consumer Reports, we’ve broken them down into categories so that you can choose the best model based on your preferences.
Powertrain: The MDX is powered by a 3.7L V6 pushing 300 hp and 270 lb-ft. of torque. That’s slightly stronger than the 3.5L V6 powering the RX 350 with 275 hp and 257 lb-ft. of torque. The MDX also gets the nod in towing capacity, beating out the Lexus – 5,000 lbs to 3,500 lbs when both are properly equipped. The one area where Lexus does win out is in fuel efficiency, estimated at 18/25 mpg (city/highway) compared to 16/21 mpg for the Acura. AWD is standard, but does raise the starting price, on the MDX, and is available as an option on the Lexus. Both come standard with a six-speed automatic transmission.
Braking/Safety/Handling: Safety scores are dead even as both vehicles aced the crash tests, scoring five stars across the board. Both have antilock brakes with brake assist, stability and traction control, and no less than ten airbags. They also both employ a Collision Mitigating Braking System which monitors the following distance and rate of speed of the vehicle. If a collision seems probable, it triggers auditory warnings and can even apply hard braking if needed. Handling for the MDX is tight and it actually feels as though it shifts torque to the proper wheels on hard turns. The Lexus is no slouch on the road, but you’ll need the Sport package if you want the firm feel that comes standard on the MDX.
Winner: Acura MDX, by handling alone
Cargo/Hauling: Both vehicles can provide ample hauling capacity with the second-row seats down. The Acura’s total cargo space improves to 83.5 cubic feet, while the Lexus grows to 80 cubes. The Acura’s third-row seat is rather cramped for adults but should suit most children just fine. The RX 350 does not offer a third-row option, which can be burdensome for those with large families, but it does leave more cargo area in the rear with all seats up.
Comfort/Interior: The MDX is packed with enough technology to stimulate even the most rabid of techies. The Lexus, however, has a rich ambiance and comfortable feel throughout. Both come with leather seats and either one could put passengers fast to sleep on long journeys. The MDX’s dash is a little cluttered with buttons and it takes some getting used to learning where everything is.
Winner: Lexus RX 350
Amenities/Options: If you’re looking for trim choices, you’ll want the MDX as it offers five total. The Lexus comes in only two options and that’s only because one of the options is the AWD model. Still, it does not lack for interior features and gadgetry. Either model will bring luxury to the table in the way of Bluetooth technology, rear-seat entertainment systems, navigation packages, auto-dimming rearview mirrors, and surround-sound stereo systems. In the world of luxury, these two are running neck and neck.
Value for the $: Even though there are less choices with the RX 350, it starts off significantly lower than the MDX, coming in with an MSRP of $37,625, compared to $42,230 for the Acura. The AWD option, the only other choice available on the RX, takes the MSRP to $39,025, while the MDX can climb all the way to $53,755, but AWD is standard on all trim levels.
Winner: The RX 350 is a very economical option to the MDX, despite its lack of trim choices. Granted, the MDX is still considered one of the best luxury crossovers around, but is paying an extra $14,000 for many of the same features considered to be a value?