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Acura MDX vs BMW X5

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  • I currently own a 2000 Toyota Landcruiser that I love, but can no longer take the bulky 3rd row (that I need for carpooling the kids). So I'm in the market for a smaller SUV with a 3rd row and have narrowed down the options to the X5 and the MDX. I also considered the Mercedes GL450 and Audi Q7, but they are both 8 inches longer than my Landcruiser.

    On the MDX, everything but the new exterior look was great (smooth drive, awesome features, decent price range). Then we went to see the X5. The 3rd row and back seat feel tighter than the MDX, but kids are young, so not a deal breaker. Handling was excellent and features were comparable to the MDX. Pricing net net was about $10k more for the BMW, but 4 years of maintenance was included, making the difference closer to $7.5k.

    What surprised me was what the BMW sales guy told me about the 3rd row. According to him, the MDX 3rd row is in the crumple zone (along with most Japanese cars including my current Landcruiser). The BMW chassis actually includes the 3rd row and is apparently safer. Has anyone heard this?

    In the end, safety for all passengers is our top priority. Handling, features, price next.

    Does anyone have any further info on this? Suggestions?
  • cericceric Posts: 1,093
    If you do maintanence according to BMW's computer, your first oil change should arrives at ... 10K-14K miles.

    No way I am going to maintain my baby that way. Just make sure you know what BMW mean when they say "full-maintanence included.". Yes, I own a BMW '98 540iA since it was new. BMW make safe but unreliable vehicles. If you must own a BMW, please lease it (yes, for 4 yrs same as the warranty), don't buy it. Especially for people like you coming from Toyota, you would be better off with Acura.

    I have had more than 20 problems (averaging 2-3 problems per year). The worst being the radiator rapture at 55K miles on highway. I don't think ANYONE desire to experience that! The whole cooling system (in addition to the radiator) was subsequently replaced within 20K miles (water pump, reservoir tank, thermo-stat, hoses). Trust me, that costed a lot of $$$ (especially with BMW's parts and hour rate).
  • drtraveldrtravel Posts: 395
    Pricing net net was about $10k more for the BMW, but 4 years of maintenance was included, making the difference closer to $7.5k.

    When I did my price comparison, the net difference was closer to $13K especially considering equipment levels. I doubt that 4 years of MDX maintenance will cost you $2,500 plus the included BMW maintenance is really not that much. You'll probbly want to do more service than is included, expecially after dropping $55K on the SUV.
  • varmintvarmint Posts: 6,326
    While this reviewer makes a pretty obvious case for the MDX in his review of the X5, it's also clear that he thinks the Acura isn't quite in the same class as the Bimmer. Props for both.

    http://www.businessweek.com/autos/content/feb2007/bw20070206_635813.htm?campaign- _id=yhoo
  • Researched the BMW X5 a lot while car shopping recently. I ended up narrowing down my search to the BMW X5, Acura MDX and Volvo XC90. I have to admit I was kind of rooting for the BMW. But after sifting through the smoke and mirrors of the good looks and the "just for show" maintenance plan I couldn't get myself to buy the Bimmer. There are numerous reasons, For example: third row is a joke and as an added insult has to be added on as an option which results in BMW removing the spare tire! I couldn't believe they wanted me to pay extra money for a useless third row and then they have the nerve to tell me that they are going to remove the spare tire (because there isn't enough room). I take my family on long road trips and not having a spare (even with overpriced run flats) makes me very nervous. After realizing how much extra I would have had to pay and knowing the low reliabilty of bimmers, I just couldn't justify the purchase of the X5. My wife and I finally came to the conclusion that the '07 X5 is more about the looks and name and less about the performance and technology we wanted. Proud to say that we have a 2007 MDX parked in my garage as we speak. It has been a lot of fun so far!! No regrets!
  • cabluecablue Posts: 48
    I'd narrowed down my choices to the xc90, mdx and x5, all 2007's. I liked the xc90 front seat area, back seat (2nd row) was just too cramped. I really don't need a third row as we have a Suburban for that. Some feel the interior is too plain. I feel it's serene, not too fussy. But it's been eliminated. Then we checked out the mdx. Sharp looking inside, roomy interior. Did not like the exterior, just okay looking, looks like too many others. Driving it was good but not great to me. Although, now I drive a bmw 530 sport with manual. Big change to an suv. I tried to like the mdx, but it just felt like a Toyota. Also, both times I took it for a test drive, my back hurt. Then I went to look at the 2007 530 to see if they've increased interior space - not noticeable if they did. Decided to look at the new x5. Once I got in that and took it for a drive, I was sold. To me, it's just in a different league than the mdx and xc90. You're right, the 3rd row is laughable, which is what I did when I saw it. Again, I don't need the 3rd row. Loved the interior! It reeks of quality. Very comfortable, roomy, love the panoramic sunroof. Maybe I'm just used to the feel of bmw, but I felt there just wasn't any comparison. Again, it's pricier, but I believe worth it. Btw, my 2001 530 has been a great car. I keep hearing about reliability with bmw's, but mine has been wonderful, except for the cupholders! I have 77,000 miles on mine now and would not hesitate to get another bmw. :shades:
  • anon3anon3 Posts: 147
    I trust my personal experience over the anecdotal complaints of this or that person who had a bad experience with an 8 year old BMW. The fact is that newer BMWs are extremely reliable. My family has had 11 BMWs in 10 years, including 5 X5's. With the exception of my 2002 745i, they have all been extremely reliable. None of my X5's has ever gone back to the dealer for warranty repair. The MOST unreliable car I've ever owned was an Acura; not a month passed without a warranty repair visit to the dealer. Further example: the Acura RL has a miserable repair record.

    The problem here is that Japanese car buyers are used to buying whatever mass-produced-truck-dressed-up-as-a-luxury-SUV happens to be on the lot with options chosen by someone else. It's just a car, so why put any thought into it? Just buy one of the hundreds of cars just like it on the lot.

    The X5's rear seat is an option because not everyone wants one, so they give you a choice. I ordered an X5 without a 3rd row seat. You could have done the same. (This isn't a mini-van. I agree that the 3rd-row seat is pointless in a vehicle like this.)

    Every BMW is made to order either to a customer's or dealer's option spec. You can have a custom-optioned X5 delivered in as little as 6 weeks if you can't find one on the lot that fits your needs. When your X5 moves along the assembly line in Spartanburg, SC, it has your name and your option choices attached to it from beginning to end. At any time, your sales person can tell you which stage of production your car is in, when it's on the truck, and which day it will arrive for delivery. (Try custom ordering an Acura or Lexus and see how long you wait and whether they can do the same.)

    You must be the only person on the planet who thinks the X5 is NOT about performance. The choice of an Acura over a BMW is never about BMW performance shortcomings. It's usually about price. And it's about buying a dressed up Honda (Acura) off the lot cheap and quick because it's good enough. Anyone who is happy with cars that are just "good enough" would be smart not to pay the premium for a BMW.
  • tidestertidester Posts: 10,109
    You must be the only person on the planet ...

    Marginalizing the opposition isn't a particularly persuasive argument. Certainly you can come up with something more convincing. Or maybe not. :)

    tidester, host
    SUVs and Smart Shopper
  • justg0justg0 Posts: 70
    The fact is that newer BMWs are extremely reliable

    I will let the results speak for themselves:

    http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/cars/which-companies-make-the-best-cars/autom- aker-report-cards/0407rep.htm

    BMW: BMWs are sporty, ride well, and have good crash-test results. Reliability is inconsistent.

    Acura/Honda: Hondas and Acuras have the best reliability overall in our survey and consistently high test scores.

    I have nothing against BMWs - I really like the way they drive. In fact the next car I lease (not buy) will probably be a BMW. But I have to say I am very happy with my 07 MDX. When I compared it to 07 X5, the ride/handling in 07 MDX was better (my opinion). Yeah, the 4.8 X5 is quicker due to its V8, but that's about it. The sh-awd system in MDX makes all the difference. I can take corners as if I am riding a sports car. Just amazing.

    And BTW, what's wrong with Honda - I would have still bought it if it was called Honda MDX 07 - in fact one of the reasons I did buy it was because its a Honda! Just because Honda makes economy cars, does not mean they cannot also build luxury/performance oriented vehicles.
  • varmintvarmint Posts: 6,326
    "You must be the only person on the planet who thinks the X5 is NOT about performance."

    Everyone has different criteria when determining performance needs. For example, I know many enthusiasts who would say that anyone serious about performance would never buy an SUV, no matter which company builds it. They'd be towing an S2000 behind a beater K5 Blazer, or something. Even if they had the "one vehicle with cargo space" dilemma, they'd go with a sport wagon instead of an SUV.

    I haven't seen the new MDX go head to head with the new X5, so there is plenty left to be seen. However, I've read several reports, from different events, where the only SUV posting laps faster than the MDX is the Cayenne. If that level of performance is merely "good enough", we're going to need much, much better roads in the US.
  • anon3anon3 Posts: 147
    As I said in my original statement, I will trust my personal experience about BMW reliability. Since I've owned 5 X5's since 2001, I'd say my personal experience is pretty significant. Can you or the original poster can say the same?

    (Have you been to the factories where your cars are built? Have you taken them out on a track and run them at the limit? I have. And everyone who buys a new BMW has an opportunity to do the same, in many cases with free hotel, meals, and driving instructor at the BMW performance center.)

    I've also read Consumer Reports ratings over the years. My personal experience directly contradicts their statements. And, their analysis methodology is flawed. In one new car edition, they pronounced the 2002 X5 a used vehicle to avoid and "not reliable". Yet, their detailed chart on another page stated that they had "insufficient data" to assess the 2002 X5. That is not fact-based analysis. So as I originally stated, I will trust my own experience with BMW over the media and Joe Schmoe's posting.

    Honda/Acura, Toyota/Lexus SUVs are great vehicles, but they mass produce their upscale vehicles on the same platforms as their economy vehicles. For example, a Lexus SUV is NOT purpose-built from the ground up to be a Lexus. It's a truck (or car in a couple cases) dressed up with wood and leather. Although the X5 shares corporate engines, transmissions, etc, its platform is built to be an X5 and not shared with other vehicles (like the 5 series, contrary to popular misconception). BMW doesn't have an economy division that supplies the platforms, steering components, suspensions, etc for its upscale vehicles. That makes a big difference to me.

    It's all a matter of personal requirements and preferences. If you don't care about the subtleties of chassis dynamics or performance at the limits, or if BMW's brand of driving dynamics is not worth the premium price, then an Acura or Lexus is a fine choice.
  • anon3anon3 Posts: 147
    Well, Tidester, it seems to me that citing my personal experience with 5 X5s since 2001 (plus an M3, an M5, a 645ci, a 745i, a 325xi, and an X3 3.0i) should qualify as "something convincing". How many readers/posters can claim the same level of personal experience with BMW reliability?

    I stand by my statement that "newer" BMWs are reliable in my experience and that BMW is a performance brand by definition.

    I also don't consider the original poster to be "the opposition".
  • tidestertidester Posts: 10,109
    ...citing my personal experience ... should qualify as "something convincing".

    I wasn't suggesting otherwise. I was commenting specifically on your "You must be the only person on the planet ..." comment.

    tidester, host
    SUVs and Smart Shopper
  • anon3anon3 Posts: 147
    The emissions ratings are confusing. EPA links show the new X5 to be worse than average for pollution and greenhouse gases in cars with non-California emissions.

    Yet the V8 engine in the new X5 is ULEV-II compliant (second generation ultra-low emissions vehicle) and European level 4 emissions, which is the cleanest rating until levels 5/6 go into effect in 2009.

    (Ultra-Low Emissions Vehicle is a vehicle that has been verified by the California Air Resources Board to emit 50% less polluting emissions than the average for new cars released in that model year.)

    So, either the EPA ratings are wrong. Or, X5s sold outside California are not ULEV-II compliant. Anyone know which is true?
  • justg0justg0 Posts: 70
    Ok, you had a great experience with BMW, that's great. But I would rather take Consumer Reports opinion over your's or anyone's else, just because that's going to be more statistically sound. You may choose to disregard Consumer Reports and that's your choice.

    As far as diving is concerned, I really do not understand or care if Acura does platform sharing or BMW does not make economy cars - at the end of the day it comes down to how I feel when I am behind the wheel. I don't care about names or labels or prestige, ...

    I do not at all doubt BMW makes great handling cars - love the 3 series and M3/5. And yes, I do care about "subtleties of chassis dynamics or performance at the limits", but then people who care about those don't drive a SUV. Just because X5 is a BMW (drum roll - the ultimate driving machine) does not overcome the fact that is still a big heavy vehicle. At that size, it's really hard to talk about things like "driving dynamics".

    I would have very gladly paid about 15K more for an equivalent X5, but I think MDX with the sh-awd handles much better. Take note, I am not talking about Lexus SUV or any other Acura/Honda vehicle - all I am saying is that 07 MDX with handles much better than 07 X5. That's my opinion - you have yours.
  • anon3anon3 Posts: 147
    So here's a question for you, justg0. You say that "that 07 MDX with handles much better than 07 X5." That's a very dramatic statement.

    How do you know? How many miles have you logged behind the wheel of an X5? Which packages did it have (sport package, active steering, etc)?

    You have your opinion, but what's it based on? Personal experience or an article that you read in a magazine? Every statement that I've made in defense of the X5 is made from personal experience or personal knowledge of the vehicle.

    And, by the way, chassis dynamics apply to every car, even if it is an SUV.
  • teamyonexteamyonex Posts: 42
    Someone probably paid California Air Resources Board for the certification. CARB is subject to so much industry and political pressure they aren't objective.
  • justg0justg0 Posts: 70
    So here's a question for you, justg0. You say that "that 07 MDX with handles much better than 07 X5." That's a very dramatic statement.

    Got your attention, didn't I :D

    I have read most of the articles/reviews that are out there on both MDX and X5, but I always take them with a grain of salt. I have worked quite closely with marketing groups and I know how the so called impartial reviews can be guided one way or the other.

    My opinion is based on my personal experience I have had driving X5 and MDX. Obviously I have driven MDX more, since I ended up buying it, so I am definitely biased, but who isn't? You are also biased since you own a X5.
  • dt63944dt63944 Posts: 66
    A loaded MDX will cost about 20-24K less than a loaded X5. That's a significant issue for many who might be considering both vehicles. I agree with you that the latest variation of third-row seating is ridiculous and I believe they should be a no-cost option. I disagree with you that a typical "Japanese car buyer" will just pick a car off the lot with options that "someone else" picked; every car dealer has product on the lot that they ordered for stock with their selection of options. I happen to have a Subaru and a BMW; I could get 3 Subaru's for the price of the one BMW, but I don't have to worry about where I park the Subaru as often, it does all the "dirty work" of hauling things for me, gets me where I want to go and it's fun to drive but the road noise is annoying at times - that's how they help keep the cost down. I haven't had the BMW long enough to judge reliability, but in many ways it is superior to the Subaru and yet I tell people all the time, that if they want many of the same qualities of a BMW in a more affordable package, to make sure they thoroughly check out every model of Subaru. I'm sure that Acura is trying their best to be considered the best choice for the customers they are wooing. It creates a volatile, competitive environment; little wonder there is so much disagreement across the many discussions here. My next vehicle almost certainly will be either an Acura, BMW or Subaru, whichever one has more benefits than drawbacks - for me. Cars are too expensive to not take seriously; I'm always looking at alternatives no matter whether I'm in the market for a new one or not. Good luck finding the perfect one for you!

    ------------------------------------------------------------

    "I trust my personal experience over the anecdotal complaints of this or that person who had a bad experience with an 8 year old BMW. The fact is that newer BMWs are extremely reliable. My family has had 11 BMWs in 10 years, including 5 X5's. With the exception of my 2002 745i, they have all been extremely reliable. None of my X5's has ever gone back to the dealer for warranty repair. The MOST unreliable car I've ever owned was an Acura; not a month passed without a warranty repair visit to the dealer. Further example: the Acura RL has a miserable repair record.

    The problem here is that Japanese car buyers are used to buying whatever mass-produced-truck-dressed-up-as-a-luxury-SUV happens to be on the lot with options chosen by someone else. It's just a car, so why put any thought into it? Just buy one of the hundreds of cars just like it on the lot.

    The X5's rear seat is an option because not everyone wants one, so they give you a choice. I ordered an X5 without a 3rd row seat. You could have done the same. (This isn't a mini-van. I agree that the 3rd-row seat is pointless in a vehicle like this.)

    Every BMW is made to order either to a customer's or dealer's option spec. You can have a custom-optioned X5 delivered in as little as 6 weeks if you can't find one on the lot that fits your needs. When your X5 moves along the assembly line in Spartanburg, SC, it has your name and your option choices attached to it from beginning to end. At any time, your sales person can tell you which stage of production your car is in, when it's on the truck, and which day it will arrive for delivery. (Try custom ordering an Acura or Lexus and see how long you wait and whether they can do the same.)

    You must be the only person on the planet who thinks the X5 is NOT about performance. The choice of an Acura over a BMW is never about BMW performance shortcomings. It's usually about price. And it's about buying a dressed up Honda (Acura) off the lot cheap and quick because it's good enough. Anyone who is happy with cars that are just "good enough" would be smart not to pay the premium for a BMW.
    "
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 29,091
    I was checking out the SUVs at Mercedes and stopped into the Acura dealer close by. The first thing I noticed when I sat in the MDX is how hard and uncomfortable the drivers seat is. That was enough for me to write them off. I hear the same complaints on the 2007 Escalade. Is this a trend?
  • anon3anon3 Posts: 147
    It is a trend. Manufacturers are migrating more and more towards performance, which requires sport seating. Sport seats tend to be very firm with more dramatic side bolsters to hold you in place during higher speed curves and cornering. A hard seat and a firm suspension can yield a punishing ride with harsh vibration. The trick is to design a seat that holds you in place, transmits some road feel (data transmitted to the driver's butt in the form of vibration and slippage tells you what's happening at the rear wheels), protects you in an accident, but is still comfortable on long trips.

    Personally, I consider the seats to be just as important as the engine, suspension, etc. I recommend asking each dealer about seating options/upgrades. After having rented, driven, or owned many Acura, Porsche Cayenne, BMW, Audi, Cadillac, and Lexus vehicles, I personally prefer BMW's upgraded contour/comfort seating over anything else that I've experienced. I would vote for them as the the best front seat in any vehicle in that price range.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 29,091
    Sadly I could not find a salesman at BMW of San Diego to let me sit in an X5. I wandered through the showroom and lot. I may find a year old 4.4 with low miles. Save that initial hit out the door. They seem to be nice vehicles. I need to drive one for myself to be sure I like the seats. I am disappointed in some of the trends in vehicles.
  • choiskichoiski Posts: 1
    Wow. I wish I could afford 11 BMW's. It sounds like you don't necessarily keep a car long enough to experience the long term problems, or go out of warranty. Or again, you might be lucky... see below.

    To contrast with anon3, I've had 1 Mercedes ML320 in almost 10 years, and frankly, it's been very reliable. Now, if you check Consumer Reports, Edmunds, and every forum, you'll easily find out that the Mercedes is the junkiest piece of c**p out there. Is there something wrong there? No, it's just my dumb luck. But I'm not about to push it again. I'm expecting to keep my next car 10 years. And that's why I'm buying the MDX.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 29,091
    I would go sit in and drive the new MDX. If you are used to the ML320 seats you will probably hate the seats in the new MDX. Felt like 1/2 inch of foam on a piece of plywood.

    PS
    Welcome to the Forum.
  • kaia1kaia1 Posts: 2
    In the process of trading our car in. And we're confused. Looking at Acura MDX, Volvo XC90, and Audi Q7. Safety is my primary concern. We're a family of 4 and planning on adding another child in the next year - so we'll need three carseats.

    I'm concerned about what was in the above thread about the MDX 3rd row being in the crumple zone.

    Any thoughts on the 3 vehicles are considering? X5 is out b/c of price. Audi is obviously more expensive than the volvo or MDX. Price is a concern but safety and handling come first.

    Thanks, Kai
  • varmintvarmint Posts: 6,326
    That's a tall order. There are many ways to compare safety. Let's start off by asking if you've covered the basics and gone to the NHTSA and IIHS pages? Did you compare the raw data or just the "stars" and rankings?

    "I'm concerned about what was in the above thread about the MDX 3rd row being in the crumple zone."

    Consider the source. That's something a BMW sales person told a potential buyer. I have no idea if that information is correct or not, but I have treat it with a very healthy does of skepticism.
  • justg0justg0 Posts: 70
    I saw this on wikipedia regarding Acura MDX rear safety:

    Safety
    The MDX is ahead of the competition with regards to its construction in rear collisions: It will withstand a rear collision up to 50 miles an hour, well above the the basic 35 mph standard currently required by the NHTSA.[citation needed]


    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acura_MDX

    Again, I don't have any data from a credible source to back this statement up, so take it for what it is.

    BTW, do check out the next issue of Car and Driver (I think May) - they have a SUV comparison and rate 07 MDX #1.
  • varmintvarmint Posts: 6,326
    Who cares if the vehicle can withstand a 50mph collision, what about the occupants!?!? ;) Questions like that make it very difficult to put all the information into proper perspective.

    Looking at the raw data, it looks like the MDX ranks above the XC90 and Q7 when it comes to rollover tests. However, the XC90 does have a very nice anti-roll system built into the stability control programming. Then again, the MDX is the only one where the stability control ECU can route power via SH-AWD as well as use the brakes to stabilize the vehicle. Who can say which method is more effective?

    In a rear crash, the IIHS ranks the XC90 higher than the MDX, and the Q7 is untested. But that test looks only at whiplash, not motion of the whole body or resistance to intrusion.

    With the NHTSA and IIHS front and side impacts all of these rigs do well. Looking at the raw data you'll probably find only the difference between an A grade and an A+. At that point, we're starting to split hairs.

    While safety is king, I'd probably let other factors dictate my choice between these three. They're all safe. Or, as safe as we can tell with the limited data available.
  • teamyonexteamyonex Posts: 42
    Three kids in car seats and you're thinking of putting them in some marketing geniuses idea of a third row seat? If you are truly concerned with safety, handling, AND practicality, I have one word: MINIVAN. If that's not the answer, try a Suburban, Escalade ESV or the like. The nifty little European jobbies your citing don't make any sense.
  • anon3anon3 Posts: 147
    The May edition of Car and Driver contains a comparison test of 8 luxury SUVs. The MDX took first place and the X5 3.0si took 3rd behind the Cadillac SRX V-8 and the MDX. The X5 was dinged for being heavy (they're right, it is too heavy), under powered (they're right, 260hp is not enough by today's standards when the competition is pushing 300hp), and they whine unnecessarily about the electronic shifter (move over i-Drive, now the automotive press has another BMW gizmo to complain about). They also had an X5 with the 3rd row seat and without the sport package, so it was heavier and didn't have the improved suspension.

    It looks like Acura has done a nice job with the MDX, although I still wouldn't buy one for the following reasons: 1) there's no V-8 option, 2) the exterior is plain and unattractive, and 3) the MDX is the mini-van of my area: there's a sea of MDXs at every soccer game, grocery store, and private school pick up area. I'm not into mini-vans.
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