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Volvo XC90 vs MB M Class vs Acura MDX vs Lexus RX 350 vs BMW X5 vs Cadillac SRX



  • louiein99louiein99 Posts: 33
    Crystal2, That was very insightful. I will have to get quotes for both to find out. I was hoping to hear that insurance would be low due to safety. The wife gets a little ticked, and tickled, cause I worry about her in that little safety was a big factor (on top of all the economics that guys usually dwell on).

    Thanks for clarification on your purchase. I kept crunching the #s, and it seemed like you bought yours under invoice price. Not having the RES explains it. How do you like the Black wood trim in the Thundercloud edition? I am very iffy on it.

    Thanks again.
  • crystal2crystal2 Posts: 52
    Louiein99, my preference was for the golden maple wood trim in the RX330; I think it looks more like wood than the black maple. Also, dust shows up more with the black wood. However, in 3/05 - 4/05, I thought I was getting a good deal on the Thundercloud. Some members of a Lexus forum love the horizontal grill in the front of the Thundercloud. I like the medium silver color and it had everything else I really cared about (nav/ rear camera; upgraded sound system; the latter was esp hard to get in the northeast). Also, I was told there are only 500 Limited Ed. Thunderclouds manufactured for the U.S. Moreover, all Thunderclouds were manufactured in Japan and I preferred that because of unknown differences in manufacturing quality between the Japan and the "new" Canada plants. I realize this is still an ongoing debate, but the Japanese origin was my preference after previous traumatic experiences with unreliability of American cars owned. (The Vehicle ID beginning with "J" means the RX was manufactured in Japan)
    Regarding your comparison: You may want to go to the dealerships and ask for brochures of the RX and the MDX. In the RX brochure there are two pages with extensive info on safety features: safety bags, reinforced body structure with front and rear crumple zones, rear outboard child-seat tether and lower anchors, etc.
    Your wife should be happy and tickled you are concerned about her and the baby's welfare.
  • wmquanwmquan Posts: 1,817
    We bought our 2001 MDX with the birth of our first child, and now have two children to carry in it.

    In your situation, a major factor is how many kids do you expect to have in the next 5-7 years, and do you take long trips in the vehicle. The RX will be fine for carrying around two children in car seats and a reasonable amount of luggage. The MDX has more usable cargo space behind the second row, and is wide enough that it is sometimes possible to put three children in car seats in the second row. And have a lot of cargo room for trips. Plus the MDX has a small but occasionally useful third row if you need to ever carry grandparents or other friends with your kids.

    For us, there have definitely been a number of occasions where the MDX's greater usable cargo space behind the second row has come in handy. Even when the kids aren't in the MDX, taking out car seats to fold down the second row isn't convenient (even when you have LATCH). With kids, we've made big trips to Costco and stuffed the cargo hold full with boxes of diapers, wipes, cases of formula, etc.

    That said, the RX330 has enough cargo space for most needs. If your emphasis is on luxury, it beats the MDX hands-down in this department. I also suspect that your wife will prefer driving the RX over the MDX. It's more "female friendly," with options like a power liftgate, and a convenient place to put the purse between the two front seats. It's also significantly narrower than the MDX, and coming from the Eclipse, the Acura may feel like a bus to your wife. So she might like driving the RX more.

    Finally, it's like the MDX will be redesigned next year with a totally new model out.

    Good luck!
  • m4d_cowm4d_cow Posts: 1,491
    id suggest the rx over the mdx, its comfier inside, better looking outside, and like the others said, insurance cost less. the only area where mdx wins over the rx is value imo.
  • louiein99louiein99 Posts: 33
    All, thanks for the insight. With our children plans, the RX should suffice. As it stands now, we are leaning heavily to the RX just for the luxury of it. Obviously, if we were going solely on functionality, the MDX would win.

    The redesign of the MDX is intriguing. We do not have to buy in a hurry, and it may be well worth our while to hang on until July/August when we will get a chance to see a preview of what the 06s for both models look like.

    Crystal2 (and any others), how does your Mark Levinson stereo sound? I listened to one at the dealership the other day, and the FM stations did not sound very good. I have read in other reviews, that it does not reproduce FM music very well, but that it sounds out of the world with CDs. It also lacks a subwoofer. Without this, how is the bass response? A big hold out for me is getting ML in the vehicle. The dealer was pushing others, and I wouldn't even consider them without it, but I am beginning to wonder if it is worth the fuss. I actually thought the MDX Bose system had much more punch to it.

    Any thoughts?
  • crystal2crystal2 Posts: 52
    Louiein99, I was just testing out the sound system. I had been alerted to the "sub-par" quality of the ML, but I figured it could not be too bad, being an upgrade and Harmon Kardon manufactured?

    Well, I have to honestly say I was disappointed with the FM sound (as you have identified). I thought it was because I had not turned on the rear speakers, so I proceeded to read the manual and turned on the rear speakers. I honestly could not tell the difference even with all the speakers on (I had to ask my son if he could hear the sound coming from the back and he said yes (son was sitting in the rear seat). I decided to try the new classical music CD given by Lexus to new owners and the sound was definitely improved. However, again, not the greatest. My nakamichi system at home and the Bose system in my husband's Audi sound much better and more rich (must be related to the subwoofer issue).

    So I am not sure it is worth the extra $800? I read that others have been satisfied with the standard sound system that comes with the 2005 RX. So if I were you, I would consider passing on this option esp. if you are interested in saving "a few" bucks. (By the way, my husband likes the black wood trim in the Thundercloud now that he has seen the car in person; he loves the Bose sound system in the Audi, "his favorite feature in the car.")
  • wmquanwmquan Posts: 1,817
    The redesign of the MDX may not occur until the 2007 model year, thus it wouldn't come until sometime next year.

    If you are prioritizing luxury, the RX is hard to beat. It definitely isn't the MDX's forte.
  • m4d_cowm4d_cow Posts: 1,491
    regarding the ML system: i also felt the lack of punch, like some of you, when i think about it again, the system is meant for older people ( a lexus sales guy said most ppl who buy rx are 40+) who rarely listen to music w/ a lot of bass

    bose overall is decent, but lacks high and low details in my previous audi

    HK logic 7 is pretty good, but other models are less capable than ML or bose imo

    my suggestion: skip the useless ML package, buy atlas (instead of expensive nav system), forget the tv camera (useful only for those who cant drive), and save yourself a couple hundred bucks and buy aftermarket sound system instead.
  • lexusguy311lexusguy311 Posts: 10
    Being an owner of an RX330 with the Mark Levinson system I can say that the sound system is well worth the 800 dollars I paid for it. When I first heard the system at the dealership I wasn’t to impressed with it. I opted for it anyways, since I had to get it with RES and navigation. When I returned home I played a variety of CD’s and DVD’s to get an idea of the sound quality on the system. I was really impressed at the quality of sound from these sources. My brother has an alpine surround sound system installed in his IS300 and we both agreed that the ML matched and even outshined his alpine system in many aspects. Although the ML doesn’t have a sub, the eleven-speaker system puts out enough sound to make my ears ring when I have it turned all the way up. The sound that it is put out is very clean, rich, and pure even when it is turned up to its MAX, where the sound stays steady and doesn’t distort like other systems I have had in the past. If I had the 800 extra to invest I would, you will not be disappointed. BTW I am a 25-year-old male who enjoys a stereo that booms, and the ML system fills that need and then some.
  • louiein99louiein99 Posts: 33
    Lexusguy311, Thanks for the input, but you did not mention how regular radio stations fared in your analysis. I have not heard a CD in the system, but from other reviews, I am fairly certain the the ML is outstanding in this arena. The question is how is the DSP amp transfering the FM signal to digital. Although I have an abundance of CDs, I rarely listen to them, so the FM sound quality is extremely important.

    I only had a chance to listen to the stereo for a few minutes...the wife wanted to check other stuff out instead...but the bass sounded flat, and overall the sound was muffled a little. This may be due to me not having a chance to mess with the treble, mid, bass settings (they were all set to 5 while I was listening). Have you had a chance to determine which worked best. I noticed the Edmunds review of the base RX radio had the mids at -2 or -3. Please tell me your settings, so that I can try them on my next visit to the dealership.

    Quick question that I forgot to ask the dealer. When using the RES, can the sound be played through the stereo speakers or only through the IR headphones? I noticed the headrest models the dealership will install only plays through the headphone. Thanks again.
  • m4d_cowm4d_cow Posts: 1,491
    on the plus side the ML system offers great sound quality, but on my test unit the voice gets distorted at high volumes, the mids lack details somehow, and theres still that lack of bass punch. as for the Bose, mid is really smooth, but also lacks decent high-low details or also known as "flat"

    im currently still searching around for a decent sound system, HK Logic7 being my current favorite (considering an x5 right now), but im sure a better aftermarket system is out there somewhere.
  • habitat1habitat1 Posts: 4,282
    For another perspective, we picked the MDX over the GX470 in January. We have two kids and were coming out of a 5 seat Isuzu Trooper, but wanted the flexibility to carry our kids friends, as well. The GX lost out due primarily to it's dysfunctional third row set-up. It did have an off road capability advantage over the MDX, but the MDX won out in on road handling. The other serious contender for us was the XC90 V8 that has exceptional safety features and excellent performance. Unfortuanately, it's third row seat, while better than the GX, was still behind the MDX.

    As far as the RX goes, it was never in contention for us, but we have a couple of friends with them. First thing I have noticed with all Lexus' is that they favor a soft, almost wallowy ride over tight handling and steering. That's not my preference. Second, try as I might not to let my male ego come out, 95% of the RX's I see in our area (Washington DC) are driven by women. Not quite as bad as a VW Beetle, but pretty close. It's not a vehicle I would want to drive for 2 years, before turning it over to my wife. I have no problem handing my wife the keys to my Acura TL 6-speed and taking over the MDX on occassion, but I think I'd be anxious to get the TL back with the RX for both of the reasons listed above.

    Have you tried the XC90 V8? Very impressive and useful for a "younger" family.
  • louiein99louiein99 Posts: 33
    I did check out the XC90, albeit, the V8 version never really came up (have not test driven either). My wife is somewhat environment conscious and this model gets worse gas mileage than my Nissan Pathder, plus I think its emissions are higher than the RX (more on par with the X5). Next, we really have no need for a 3rd row seat. The styling isn't really manly either, but it would be doable.

    I am upgrading from a Pathfinder, mainly because the gas mileage is lousy and I never tow anything nor do I do any serious...or semi-serious offroading. Although luxurious, the XC90 V8 doesn't up the gas mileage and it is more torque than I require. Granted, you are about as safe as the gold in Ft. Knox in the XC90 though. I will relook at the smaller engine models.

    For the RX, I did see a black one roll by, and IMO it looks fairly manly. The black tied in the black rear spoiler, and SEEMS to give the vehicle a more slick and lower profile.
  • habitat1habitat1 Posts: 4,282
    I have to ask, if (1) your wife is "environment conscious" and (2) you are looking for decent gas mileage and (3) you don't do any serious or semi-serious off roading, and (4) you don't ever anticipate having a need for a third row seat and (5) you don't even have kids yet then ....

    ...why are you getting an SUV? My Acura TL 6-speed has taken my family of four on 750 mile round long weekend trips trips when we weren't loading up on luggage. The TL gets nearly 30 mpg on the highway, is fun to drive and is equiped with all of the latest safety features. And fully loaded it's $5,000 less than either the RX or the MDX.

    I'm not trying to throw a guilt trip at you, but although the RX is a reasonably efficient SUV, it's still a hog compared to any sedan. You may have other reasons, but I think 5 seat car based SUV's are often candidates for a sedan repalcement. Certainly the X5 with less space than a 5 series is.
  • hpowdershpowders Posts: 4,269
    My family consists of my wife and me. I am seriously considering the X5 4.4.
    Being 6'2", I don't have enough legroom in most cars. The X5 front seat really has a lot of travel giving me all the room I need.
    Also, it's if you can't beat 'em join 'em syndrome. I'm tired of parking in parking lots surrounded by these giants on all sides. I can't see a damn thing when I try and back out with my tiny 325i.
    And when a ute comes in front of me on the interstate, my view of the road is blocked.
    So, I need one for the room and defensive purposes.
    Also, I feel BMW's best interior is found in the X5.
  • louiein99louiein99 Posts: 33
    I definately see your point, but just like the post above, I just prefer the looks and the extra cargo space. I have really enjoyed my previous SUV, and I just want to step up. I am in the military, and I have already moved twice in the past year. I will move at least 2 more times in the next 3 years. No, this is not the norm-even for the military, but it is my situation for now. It helps to have the extra cargo space to haul my gear, and the necessities to a new well as boxes of my old stuff that my wife makes me give to Goodwill. :)

    We are actually considering a TL as our sedan of the future, but we will not look at purchasing that for at least 18-24 months. My wife has a little car that the two of us can take on trips if we want, so I do not see a need to have two "cars." It also allows us to stagger car payments a little since my wife's car will be paid off in two months.

    Back to "why an SUV" when all of your points are pretty accurate. The number one reason is because I like the way they look and the way the road looks from the higher seating. But, without me needing V8 power, the ability to tackle the Rubicon or the ability to tow over 3500 pounds, the RX and MDX kind of fits the bill.

    I want the feel of a sedan with the cargo space of an SUV, bottomline. I am willing to venture that 90% of RX owners feel the same way.
  • m4d_cowm4d_cow Posts: 1,491
    "For the RX, I did see a black one roll by, and IMO it looks fairly manly. The black tied in the black rear spoiler, and SEEMS to give the vehicle a more slick and lower profile"

    Funny, i feel the same, the RX looks pretty (if not very) feminine, but somehow it turned quite manly in black+spoiler+18" wheels, not bad at all...

    hpowers: i also think x5 got the best interior design, particularly the light poplar wood trim in it, i actually want pastel green interior, but its not available for US market, well i guess ill have to order one
  • habitat1habitat1 Posts: 4,282
    "Being 6'2", I don't have enough legroom in most cars.....I can't see a damn thing when I try and back out with my tiny 325i."

    I hope you are not judging "most cars" by your admittedly tiny 325i. Good friend of mine who is 6'4" bought a 545i a couple of months ago and when he is in the driver's seat, there is still ample room for a 6 footer in the seat behind him. It is amazing to me how many sedans have grown in interior space. I consider my TL "cozy" but was surprised how much bigger it is inside than another friend's early Mercedes E class (1989 E300).

    I certainly respect everyone's right to choose whatever fits their needs and preferences. I'm considering trading my TL for a 2006 550i 6-speed and I certainly can't justify that move on any practical or financially prudent front.

    P.S. louiein99: On the cargo carrying capacity of the RX, however, I would suggest a close inspection and "test fit". When we traded our boxy 5-seat Trooper for the sleeker 7-seat MDX, I thought we were getting a lot more cargo space too (in 5-seat configuration). As it turns out, the more sloped rear designs of the MDX, RX, and especially Cayenne and X5 wreck havoc on "real" cargo capacity, forget what Edmunds lists as the cubic feet. For all of the dimensional increases in our MDX, cargo capicity is nominally more in than the Trooper. The RX would be much, much less, unless you pack your goods in trapezoidal boxes.
  • m4d_cowm4d_cow Posts: 1,491
    true, cargo isnt just about the numbers, its also about the shape of the cargo area as well, imo the sloping roof on the RX will make loading a bit difficult

    and like you said, X5s cargo carrying ability is a nightmare for those looking for utility, and cayenne is no different.
  • wmquanwmquan Posts: 1,817
    While it's true that cargo is also about the shape of the area, it also comes down to how one needs to use the cargo area. Obviously if one is putting in tall items, the sloping lid will inhibit what you carry.

    For us, we don't carry a bunch of garbage cans and the like in the back of the MDX, so the sloping hatch doesn't hurt us. The Pilot gets more room by not having a sloping hatch. Where both vehicles excel at is how much cargo room they have below the windowline. It's four feet between the wheel wells and the space is deep, significantly larger than the RX. You can put the contents of a Costco cart and a half in there and still get the cargo cover over it. Certainly more than what you can get into a sedan's trunk, though some larger wagons can get very close.

    That all said, you don't need an SUV to put 1.0 Costco carts' worth of junk away. My 9-3 has a large trunk and I've found that with Tetris-like packing I can usually get a non-overflowing cart totally into the trunk. Though sometimes the pack of toilet paper has to go into the passenger area.

    Of course, the "why get an SUV" question can then go into "why not get a minivan?" Which will hold more cargo and also provide the high seating position that many people buy an SUV for. But it comes down to preferences.
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