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Mercedes-Benz M-class vs Ford Explorer/Mercury Mountaineer vs Buick Rendezvous vs Acura MDX



  • Yes the 03 MDX is the same, third row seats are vinyl and wood trims are not real. There are very few cars out there that are offering real wood trims for one reason or another. May be due to price or maintenance reason.
  • Recently I saw a MDX and a Rendezvous parked near each other, and noticed how similar their tailgates were. So I went on to superimpose the Rendezvous and MDX drawings(obtained from their respective websites). The profiles seem to be nearly identical. MDX has a 6 inch shorter wheelbase, but all other angles and proportions are very close.

    Below is an image of the two profiles combined. You decide whether the shapes are similar indeed, or it's just my subjective perception.



    p.s. hopeitsfirday, thank you for your info.


  • The image doesn't seem to load. Try to open it from

    MDX is shown on designer drawing with 20-inch wheels.

  • jk27jk27 Posts: 244
    That is very cool, tmakogon! And How did you superimpose those 2 images? That's suspiciously similar, imho! No wonder my two favorite crossovers are the Rendezvous and the MDX. I ended up purchasing the 2002 Rendezvous CXL -- loving it so far!
  • cfocfocfocfo Posts: 147
    What color is that RDV in the image ? I like it !
  • The process of superimposing was:

    1) copy images

    2) rotate and make the MDX image transparent with Microsoft® Photo Editor (part of MS® Office 2000)

    3) paste both images into MS® Word to scale by length and superimpose the two.

    I don't know the color of the Rendezvous - this is on



  • diploiddiploid Posts: 2,286
    The Mercedes offers real wood, as well as the Lexus RX300 and BMW X5.

    But they can get pricier than the models listed for this topic.
  • I test drove the Rendezous last weekend and would like to share my experience with some of you. Frist impression of the Rendezous' exterior was so so. Nice fit and finish on body panels and I thought it look too much like a mini van from the back and also the body panel looks too much like Saturn's, the front end was pretty nice looking in my option. Once inside the Rendezous, my option totally change. The leather seat was cheaply made. The dash board looks like something out of a Saturn sub compact. The interior was awful, the dash board needs a total redesign. Next, I look under the hood. Not too impressive, typical GM engine. Did not have the neat appearance I would like from a engine. Everything kind of just thrown in. Finally, I went for a test drive. The Rendezous handle better than I thought. But what ever good feeling I had from the Rendezous' handling, it was overcome by the its lack of power. The engine had to work really hard to keep up with traffic. I can imagine what it would be like with the Rendezous fully loaded. The salesman gave me a deal of $800 over invoice without me really trying. Thereafter, I went home and did some more research on the Rendezous as well as the MDX. The Rendezous' purchasing price is over $10,000 cheaper than the MDX. So I look into the true cost to own category in Edmunds. The MDX base came in at $48441 and the Rendezous cost $44,462 thru out the life of the car. A $4,000 dollar difference. The savings was not as much as I originally thought.
  • cmnottcmnott Posts: 200
    Just to chime in here, I went with a 2002 Explorer Eddie Bauer and test drove all those vehicles and while the MDX and M-Class are fine vehicles, the MDX looks positively wimpy with the wheels it had ( I understand they improved them for 2003) and the interior was a sombre place indeed. The M-Class was real nice only when very well equipped.

    Looks-wise interior/exterior I preferred the Explorer. Looks muscular and inside is very well appointed and well built. The V8 and 5 spd are excellent as well.

    For price and safety as well as overall driveability, I think the Explorer is best.

    In June 2002, Brent Romans (one of the editors) compared it back to back with an ML500 and found the Explorer (in XLT trim) to be superior in just about EVERY category. Stating: "It's not very often that one can drive a Ford and a Mercedes and come away thinking that the Ford is a better choice."

    High praise indeed.
  • If the only reason you dont like the MDX is because of its wheels, then why dont you just change them. It will only cost you about $600. Also, the interior on the Ford explorer is not any better than the MDX if not worst. As far as the ML goes, the interior is pretty similar no matter what interior option you get. Dont get me wrong, I am not knocking the explorer, but fully loaded. It is a expensive car and in my option, just not as refined as some of its competitions.
  • will4271will4271 Posts: 187
    If the MDX wasn't there, I may have really considered the Tahoe or Sequoia. I like the big truck look also.

    But again, my gas mileage is better with the MDX.
  • fedlawmanfedlawman Posts: 3,118
    The MDX is a nice car, but it's really just a Honda Odyssey with some fake wood on the dashboard.

    How does one justify spending $40,000 for the Acura when you can get an Odyssey for $29,000?

  • I justify it by the fact that just the four wheel drive system alone in most cars are about 4 to 5 thousand extra. The MDX base cost $35,700 and the Odyssey cost $29,000, for that extra $1,700 dollars. The MDX gets the VSA system, leather seats and a bunch and bunch of other standard options, too many to mention. Beside, us car guys wouldn't be caught dead in a mini van.
  • cfocfocfocfo Posts: 147
    And hopeitsfriday, the car manufacturors love you guys inflating their profit margins by that 4 to 5 thousand dollars extra they charge for SUVs.

    That 4 wheel system costs them a grand and they get the additional $ 4K ON TOP of what they already were making on a car. So enjoy all that "4 wheeling" you do, LOL.

    The oil companies thank you too.
  • Any system you buy on a car has a profit margin of 200% to 400%. A basic 4 cylinder engine cost them about $1500 and they charge you $4000 to $5000 for a replacement. So do you buy a car without a engine? And there is also labor cost involve. Any nice car is a glorified version of a cheap car, If everyone thinks like you, sub-compacts would rule the road.
    I am assuming you drive a sub-compact that has drum brakes, Am radio only and no power windows. Maybe when you finally get that big raise, you can afford a rear window defroster.
  • cfocfocfocfo Posts: 147
    There's nothing between the high 30s and a "sub-compact that has drum brakes, Am radio only and no power windows." ?

    If you didn't piss your money away at happy hour each week, you could go out and buy 2 overpriced SUVs .... I don't care. Even better, trade them in each year !
  • Not a little erratic at all, just realistic. A car is like anything you buy, its better to spend a little more and buy something you want instead of spending less and end up with something you dont like. Remember, a car is truly ones extension of his or her personality. I assume you are pretty tight with your money. Luxury SUV, sports car and luxury saden. are not for people who are really watching their pennies. That is why they make economical cars for people like you. Hence, it reflects your personality. But thats okay, to each his own, I guess.
  • cfocfocfocfo Posts: 147
    Well then I must assume you are a kid that spends 30% of his $42,000 salary on his car, a depreciating asset and will wonder why he doesn't have a pot to piss in down the road.

    I agree, to each their own, you can go out and lease whatever you want Mr Gotrocks, and thus back to my orginal point, the car manufacturers and dealers thank you !

    BTW, as provocative as you are, I'm sure the others would rather read posts about "Mercedes-Benz M-class vs Ford Explorer/Mercury Mountaineer vs Buick Rendezvous vs Acura MDX".
  • topcuttopcut Posts: 54
    How can you even compare a MDX with a RDV or a Ford Explorer......the latter 2 are not even in the same league as an MDX.....laughable
  • Well cfocfo, once again you are wrong about my age and annual salary. I just want to point out that the average MDX owner makes around $100,000 a year. If you have to worry about asset depreciation, then you really cant afford a car in this class.
    I too would like to stay with the topic of this room. Since this is a SUV room and you seem to have something against SUV. May I suggest you find a nice economy car room where you can talk to people who has the same interest as you.
    Have a good day.
  • tidestertidester Posts: 10,059
    The value of this room depreciates as vitriol increases. Let's get back on topic as we do value our Town Hall boards. I insist! :-)

    tidester, host
  • fedlawmanfedlawman Posts: 3,118
    And why would anyone pay $40,000 for an MDX when they could have a Rendezvous for $26,000?

    Is fake wood trim and 0-60 under 9 seconds worth $14,000?

  • Having not given the Buick the time of day, I can't opin on it's virtues, or value for $26,000. But if that's truly what they cost, you can't go too wrong for the money if you don't need to do off-roading stuff. My last Buick was a 91 Park Avenue. Actually, it was a pretty good car. But the MDX is a mystery to me. Its desirability has to be connected to the Japanese feel and brand equity Acura carries, because the looks and size don't justify it, IMO.
  • While I'm here, I may as well offend the Benz crowd, not my intent, but I'm sure it will. My nephew just acquired an M-class. Of course, he just loves it, coming out of a Cadillac Seville. But I have to wonder how it is everybody thinks MB is all luxury, when this beast has cloth seats, and not nice ones either, manual climate control, and a stereo that badly needs an amp to be heard. These boards say the M-Class has ruined MB's overall quality and reliability ratings. Other than the nice big star on the grille, I don't get it.
  • montreidmontreid Posts: 127
    Glad you were able to test drive the Rendezvous. There are more similarities to it and the MDX than you give credit...thus this thread.


    1. I like the two-tone styling interiorly and exteriorly. IMHO the leather was more supple and seating more comfortable in the Buick than the Acura (search many posts about MDX uncomfortable seats).

    2. The MPG on the Rendezvous simply wouldn't be better than the MDX if one was constantly throttling it to keep up with the traffic. Yes, the engine isn't the MDX (I wish it were!), but its more than capable to do its job plus tow it's capacity without added coolers like the MDX.

    3. Pricing: Again confirming the philosophy of American vs. Import pricing. American dealers tend to work near Invoice pricing. Imports (unless major excess inventory), work MSRP. eg: the only American car with significant Residual Value is: Saturn. Why? Because it sells at MSRP, thus no discounting already built into the artificial pricing.
    Your research on Cost again didn't compare apples:apples. MDX base does not equal CXL. Sorry, look at the features lists to the two for accuracy. MDX Touring is needs to be factored, not base. Furthermore, the Cost to Own doesn't factor in financing (which is 0% right now). This added another $6,000 in difference. Totalling about the $14,000 mark that fedlawman had just mentioned, not $4000.

    4. Interior: this is where I believe the Rendezvous excelled more than the MDX. Honda/Acura has long been known to be pretty vanilla in design. The MDX is no exception. She won't disappoint, but won't go extra either.
    e.g: center console. I LOVE the Rendezvous' center console. The cellular with hidden cig lighter keeps things tidy without cords dangling all over the place. The lower storage hides the wife's purse from smash-and-grabbers view. The center storage can fit a full sized laptop in it plus 6 jewelcase CDs and 4 tapes.
    e.g.: 3rd row: more spacious than the MDX. I'm only 5'6", and the MDX was quite tight. No more than 30 min max probably. Plus, the MDX would have to remove and put on the headrests when levelling the 3rd row (nuisance!)
    e.g.: single side enterance to 3rd row in MDX. I don't know why they did that one.

    The MDX is no doubt a good machine. Everyone uses it as a measuring stick. The problem is that even with a $100,000 income (that's top 10% of the population mind you), as fedlawman pointed out, a $40,000 car needs a lot of justification to spend on it.

    Can one say that at $29,000, the Rendezvous ISN'T worth it's cost...even to us $100K+ income families? I liked the MDX better than the Rendezvous. I just couldn't justify a $10K+ difference on it. Thought that I'd go get that 51" plasma with the 10K instead ;)
  • fedlawmanfedlawman Posts: 3,118
    Actually, even an annual salary of $150K is nothing to brag about these certainly isn't enough to afford a $40,000 car.

    When one adds up the annual cost of a mortgage, 401K, IRA's, college funds, car insurance, and living expenses, one can find that $100K (after taxes) is barely enough to make ends meet.

    I think we all choose to allocate our assets where we see fit, and what we spend on a car is more a reflection of our life priorities rather than our wealth (real or imagined).

    Enjoy your MDX, it's a nice car.

  • montreidmontreid Posts: 127
    navigator3740, I agree. Honda/Acura has had this advantage since the Civic in the '80s when American industry was in shambles. To their credit, they've been riding it along this far with great success.
    The MDX is exactly what Edmunds and C+D say about Honda/Acura. Vanilla ice cream. But then again, Vanilla is always the best seller! Flashy is the Murano (a bit over the top, not to mention). The MDX was built for the American elite and delivers on it...for a hefty price.

    I didn't give Buick a thought initially, until I searched under my criteria for a seven seater. Then looked at it closely and these boards and others, and finally a true test drive. After driving all the other 7 seaters, price comparison, and true costs factored in, the RDV beat #2: MDX...because of the value for the product....oh yeah, NEVER take these two truly off-roading, you'll be sorry!

    topcut, laughable it isn't. Both the Rendezvous and Explorer (though a truck, but 7 seater albeit), are capable competitors and better valued than the lofty MDX.
  • I agree that the Rendezvous is a better value than the MDX, that is because the Rendezvous is not in the same class as the MDX. The MDX is classify as a luxury SUV and the Rendezvous is more like a economy SUV. In fact, I think that the Ford explorer is closer than the Rendezvous when comparing to the MDX. If you read any auto magazines such as road and track or motor trend. They compare the Rendezvous to SUV such as the trailblazer, pilot or the Bravada. While the MDX is compare to luxury SUV like the BMW X5, Lincoln Aviator or the Volvo XC90. So it is true when they say that, most of the time, you get what you paid for.
  • montreidmontreid Posts: 127
    I would agree that comparisons of the Pilot are probably more appropriate than the MDX simply because of the cost factors. If this is the case, then the Rendezvous (minus engine) excels way above the Pilot.

    Acura is near-luxury like the Volvo, not Luxury where Lexus, MB and BMW, Lincoln exist traditionally. Though the MDX is a fine machine, the safety features and refinement isn't on par with the Luxury brands. eg: see recent comparison by Edmunds: Near Luxury Crossover: MDX.

    Buick, economy brand? Now you're just being biased against American cars again.

    The point for this thread: what's the most desirable 7 seater for the buck? Clearly it emcompasses a wide range: Truck based Ford all the way to MB (though most would agree that MB kind of cheaped itself on the ML).

    So the debate continues, which is the best vehicle for the job and for the price???
  • When people compare to the Honda pilot or the Acura MDX. It is always well this as good and this is almost as good, but always ends with except for the engine. Lets face it, an engine is half of the car. Its is also a major factor why I prefer the MDX.
    When comparing to other luxury brand you mentioned. The Lexus RX300 did not handle as well as the MDX and did not accelerate as well, luxury wise, just a bit better, not much. The Volvo XC90, nice seats, but has reliability issue and the 2.5T was under power and T6 was too expensive. The BMW X5, handles nice but too small and too expensive. Finally the ML, about the same price as the MDX but has major design and reliability issues Mercedes have not yet worked out. The MDX also has a better safety rating than all the above mention luxury brand, except for Volvo. The MDX's engine is also more refined than all the SUV above, except for the BMW.
    Buick is a economy brand of GM, remember Cadillac is GM's luxury brand. I am not bias against American cars at all. Just traded in my 97 Jeep grand cherokee limited. Not a bad car if you can put up with all the little things that goes wrong with it. when I was shopping for a new car, I also consider seriously about the GMC envoy and the 03 jeep cherokee. Both nice cars, but after about a year of research on each of its performance, reliability, quality and resale value. The MDX came out on top.
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