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    Acura MDX vs Lexus RX 350: Which Luxury Midsize SUV is Better?

    Acura MDX vs Lexus RX 350: Which Luxury Midsize SUV is Better?

    When shopping for a luxury midsize SUV, two strong choices are the Acura MDX and the Lexus RX 350. As established players in the growing premium crossover segment, both offer compelling value for the money with reputations for refinement, comfort, and reliability. However, there are key differences to consider regarding performance, features, interior space, cargo capacity, safety, and more.

    This comprehensive comparison aims to examine the pros and cons of the MDX and RX 350, providing expert insights to help car shoppers determine which luxury SUV better aligns with their needs and preferences. As a trusted authority on the automotive market, we conduct in-depth research and analysis while focusing on a user-centric approach to articulate the points most relevant to consumers. Let's explore how these iconic models stack up across the various factors that matter most.

    Overview and Pricing

    The MDX and RX 350 compete in the competitive midsize luxury SUV segment, which features more versatility for hauling families or gear versus compact crossovers. Both offer a nice blend of style, acceleration, handling, comfort, premium appointments, and brand cachet.

    • The MDX serves as Acura's popular flagship SUV. Now in its 4th generation, the MDX has been fully redesigned for 2022 with bolder styling and more power under the hood. With standard 3-row seating for seven passengers and Intelligent Variable Transmission (IVT), front-wheel drive is standard while available Super Handling All-Wheel Drive delivers enhanced traction.

    • The RX 350 is Lexus' top-selling vehicle, having built an excellent reputation over 20+ years through four generations. Under the hood, the capable RX 350 features a responsive V6 engine, and 8-speed automatic transmission, with either front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive available across trim levels. Both models start around $48,000 MSRP.

    Acura positions the MDX to compete most directly against the BMW X5, Audi Q7, Lincoln Aviator, and Volvo XC90 in terms of size, performance, and price point. The Lexus RX 350 rivals key players like the Lincoln Nautilus, Volvo XC60, Audi Q5, and Mercedes-Benz GLE. Let’s see how they stack up!

    Powertrain and Performance

    The MDX strikes an appealing balance between power and efficiency thanks to a high-output 3.5L i-VTEC V6 engine boasting 290 horsepower. Combined with Acura's quick-shifting 10-speed automatic, the refined powertrain delivers robust acceleration and passing strength while being more fuel-friendly than a V8. Available Super Handling All-Wheel Drive utilizes torque vectoring for confident handling.

    By comparison, the Lexus RX 350 gets motivation from a capable yet less brawny 3.5L V6 producing 275 hp and paired with an 8-speed automatic gearbox. The engine must work harder to haul around the 4,300 to 4,700-pound RX body, impacting acceleration and efficiency somewhat. Still, the buttery smooth powertrain and seamless delivery of power make the RX 350 feel quicker than its specs suggest.

    • The MDX produces 290 hp, 267 lb-ft torque
    • The RX 350 generates 275 hp, 317 lb-ft torque
    • EPA estimates for MDX: 19/26 mpg city/highway
    • EPA rating for RX 350 stands at 22/29 mpg city/highway

    Exterior and Interior Design

    The MDX sports a bold design and jewel-eye LED headlights, looking athletic and sleek compared to its predecessor. Generous ground clearance allows moderate light trail driving while 20-inch alloys accentuate the stance. Inside, an ultra-wide panoramic moonroof amplifies the airy, premium ambiance with available open-pore wood trim and Milano leather seating.

    The perennially handsome Lexus RX wears an elegant design punctuated by the signature spindle grille. Sweeping LED headlamps and taillights further the upscale presence as does the availability of 20-inch wheels. Cabin materials feel high-end across the board with stakeholders noting ample room and a welcoming driver’s seat.

    • The MDX measures 198.4 inches long, 78.7 inches wide, and 67.1 inches tall with 8 inches of ground clearance
    • Lexus RX dimensions come in at 192.5 inches long, 74.6 inches wide, and 67.7 inches tall with a ride height of just under 8 inches

    In terms of passenger and cargo volume comparisons:

    Specs Acura MDX Lexus RX 350
    Seating Capacity 7 5
    Passenger Volume (cu ft) 153.9 103.0
    Cargo Volume Behind First Row (cu ft) 95.1 N/A
    Cargo Volume Behind Second Row (cu ft) 48.4 18.4
    Cargo Volume Behind Third Row (cu ft) 16.3 N/A

    So the MDX offers noticeably more interior space and maximum cargo room. The third-row seats allow flexible 7-passenger seating the RX can’t match.

    Technology and Safety

    Being contemporary luxury vehicles, both the Acura MDX and Lexus RX come well-equipped out of the gate while offering extensive options. The MDX boasts a 12.3-inch high-def touchscreen display with AcuraLink connected services, Wi-Fi hotspot, wireless charging, and wireless CarPlay/Android Auto. An elite audio system, head-up display, and digital rearview camera are among other upgrades.

    The RX 350 impresses with a vivid 12.3-inch infotainment screen, dynamic navigation, mobile integrations, a leather-trimmed steering wheel with audio controls, a power liftgate, and a premium audio system.

    In terms of safety and driver aids:

    • The MDX has an AcuraWatch featuring blind spot information, forward collision warning with auto emergency braking and pedestrian detection, lane keeping assist, road departure mitigation, and traffic sign recognition. Upgraded features like Traffic Jam Assist are available.

    • Lexus Safety System+ 2.5 comes standard on the RX with a pre-collision system with pedestrian and bicyclist detection, dynamic cruise control, lane tracing assist, lane departure alert, and steering assist. Optional extras include a surround-view camera system and parking support brake.

    Based on crash test results from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, both SUVs earn top safety scores and a spot on the Top Safety Pick or Top Safety Pick+ honor roll, affirming their security and crashworthiness.

    Cost Comparisons Over 5 Years

    Taking a closer look at long-term ownership, the MDX is estimated to have slightly lower maintenance costs averaging $5,471 over 5 years versus $6,617 for the Lexus RX, according to RepairPal. Kelley Blue Book 5-Year Cost to Own insights take into account aspects like depreciation and insurance rates, tallying expenses of:

    • $84,397 for the Acura MDX over 5 years
    • $89,682 for 5 years with the Lexus RX 350

    So the Acura MDX enjoys a lower projected cost of ownership over that timespan. Consider resale values as well, which play a major role in retaining value. With its prestigious badge, excellent build quality, and flagship SUV status conveying exclusivity, the Lexus RX typically earns higher resale values.

    Verdict: MDX vs RX 350

    In this head-to-head matchup evaluating the contemporary 2022+ Acura MDX compared to the 2023 Lexus RX 350:

    Acura MDX Pros

    • More horsepower and torque
    • Quicker acceleration
    • Available SH-AWD® torque vectoring
    • Extra seating for 7 passengers
    • Way more cargo room
    • Lower maintenance costs
    • AcuraWatchTM safety suite

    Lexus RX 350 Pros

    • Smoother, more refined drivetrain
    • Superior fuel efficiency
    • Plusher ride quality
    • Slightly easier entry and exit
    • Lexus’ esteemed brand prestige
    • Higher resale values

    The Acura MDX takes the win as the top luxury midsize SUV of the two. For families needing added interior room and cargo versatility, the MDX offers clear space advantages. Performance and handling excel as well courtesy of the high-output V6 engine with available SH-AWD enhancing grip. An intuitive tech interface, extensive safety gear, competitive pricing, and Acura's rising brand cachet as Honda’s luxury division seal the deal on a compelling 5-seat crossover.

    That said, the renowned Lexus RX 350 warrants consideration too. Buyers drawn more to a cushy, quiet cruiser will appreciate the RX's smooth and quiet demeanor. Plus Lexus ownership perks like valet service and roadside assistance provide additional peace of mind. For hauling smaller families with less cargo, the RX rides supreme.

    In closing, assessing your passenger, gear requirements plus performance and utility priorities will clarify which luxury nameplate checks more boxes. Both the Acura MDX and Lexus RX excel as premier midsize SUVs blending athleticism with luxury appointments for a rewarding daily driving experience.

    Summary Comparison: Acura MDX vs Lexus RX 350

    • The MDX has more horsepower and torque from its 290 hp V6; the RX 350 produces 275 hp and 317 lb-ft torque
    • Fuel economy goes to the Lexus RX at 22 mpg city/29 highway over 19 city/26 highway for the Acura
    • Extra seating for 7 and way more maximum cargo room favor the MDX
    • Technology offerings are quite similar, while the MDX edges ahead for smartphone integration ease
    • Comprehensive safety suites protect occupants in both, though blind spot monitoring is standard for MDX
    • 5-year cost projections give the advantage to the Acura MDX at around $84k over roughly $89k for the Lexus
    • Resale values and brand prestige lean toward the esteemed Lexus RX nameplate

    So shoppers needing true 7-seat flexibility, sharper handling, and lower ownership costs might prefer the new Acura MDX. Yet for smoother cruising performance and Lexus’ upmarket aura as Toyota’s luxury brand, the venerable RX 350 also shines. Evaluating your must-have features alongside test drives should make the best option apparent. With two excellent midsize luxury SUVs to consider that prioritize comfort, safety, and everyday family practicality, you can’t go wrong.