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



  • I read all these great posts and no one mentions towing. We have a Suburban approaching 100K which has been wonderful on the open road, but a beast to drive around town. I went to the Lexus "Taste of Luxury" drive-a-thon when they came to LA giving me a chance to "test drive" all the Lexus and competitive vehicles. I was impressed with the Acura MDX, but it seems to tow only 3500 lbs or 4500 lbs -- depending on what you read. Why is this so poorly rated? The X5 was nice to drive, but a bit more costly. The ML seemed a little long in the tooth. I'd really like to replace the Sub' but they all seem to fall a tiny bit short in one area or another. Any helpful thoughts?

    BTW - It seems like there is precious little difference in the mileage of SUV's until you get to the "light" crossovers.
  • maxhonda99maxhonda99 Posts: 1,289

    How can you compare a Suburban to a MDX, X5, ML, or RX in terms of towing? First take a look at the size of your suburban's engine vs. those in the MDX, X5, ML, or RX. Second, take a look at the size variance between the Suburban and the others. Third, take a look at how they are constructed. The Suburban comes from Pick-Up genetics while the others come from Sedan genetics except for the Benz ML.

    You have to realize the above crossover SUVs were not designed by their manufacturer's to tow heavy objects, they were designed to be used the way the majority of SUVs are used, which is basically to make HOme Depot trips, pick up kids from soccer practice, to hold lots of shopping bags and to make it through snow.

    If over 5,000lbs. towing capacity is a necessity you have to look at SUVs with bigger displacement engines(Big V8s) and body on frame architecture. There is ultimately no way a 6-cylinder engine is going to pull more than a few thousand pounds.
  • avery1avery1 Posts: 373
    If they have fixed all their initial problems I would check out the Touareg.
  • eaton53eaton53 Posts: 356
    "If they have fixed all their initial problems I would check out the Touareg."

    Or the Lincoln Aviator. Lincoln performed very well (top 5) in the long-term Power survey.... I've driven the Av a couple of times and came away quite impressed.
  • Maxhonda99,

    It was interesting to look at the towing numbers for the X5 and the ML. I agree the X5 doesn't have truck genetics, but BMW shows a 6000 lb capacity. Not sure on the GVWR. The ML with it's body on frame is 5000 lbs and the Sub (from memory) is 6800 lbs. The RX has no chance, but it's pretty small - however the GX and LX are body on frame - RWD, and V-8's -- not sure on their tow numbers.

    I was hoping for a pleasant driving experience, a long lived vehicle, towing capability and a decent amount of space -- doesn't need to be cavernous -- just decent. The MDX is the right size, just can't tow for beans with the FWD, unibody, etc. etc. It's more a highly capable minivan with AWD -- IMHO. The GX and LX seemed a bit overpriced and a somewhat unremarkable driving experience.

    I was scared off the ML with all their low grade parts and teething pains, and the X5 seemed quite small inside.

     I was tempted by a Denali, but I don't want to trade car payments into parts payments as we get close to 100K. Besides - the truck genetics pretty much guarantees an unimpressive driving experience...
  • Have you driven a Denali? Have a friend on his second Denali XL (new one is three months old). I've been a passenger and driven it. I found it as comfortable as my MDX and it seemed a bit quieter too (I have an 02 and the 04s are probably a bit less noisy). Regular handing isn't bad considering how big it is.

    If you have a big towing need you might want to consider a 4 door diesel powered pickup or the VW Touareg (sp) diesel.
  • maxhonda99maxhonda99 Posts: 1,289
    If you need towing capacity past the 5K to 6K lbs. mark, the American SUVs are still the way to go, since they offer large V8s and most still have body on frame architecture.
  • msu79gt82msu79gt82 Posts: 541
    We traded our old '01 earlier this year for an '04 and still love the car. In my opinion the MDX is still the best in its class. We are currently looking to buy an RX330 and do not consider the two to be exactly comparable.

    And that is the problem with comparisons like this; the MDX had 3 rows and seats 7, the RX330 and X5 are 2-row 5 seaters. Each vehicle has its own advantages and weaknesses. Any car purchase decision eventually comes down to a compromise between ones needs/wants/desires and their budget.
  • drippsdripps Posts: 3
    After driving both the Acura MDX and the Cadillac SRX there was no comparison...the SRX has a MUCH better ride. It also gives us the 3rd row seat (although not for adults!) that my previous car, the 2001 BMW X5, didn't have. I have the new SRX for a week now (almost 700 miles) and just can't get over how much I LOVE this car! I was looking at the Chrysler Pacifica first because my kids loved the bucket seats in the 2nd row but just wasn't able to compromise the lack of power....and just didn't have the luxury/quality feel of my BMW. My son suggested the Cadillac which I wasn't aware of....we were sold!
  • I'm trying to decide between MDX and RX. did you buy the RX? If so, how does it compare to MDX outside of the 7/5 passenger thing?
  • No I did NOT buy the RX330 - I chose to get an Infiniti FX35. Because space was not the deciding issue here, the FX35 beat out the RX330 for our second vehicle (MDX is still the primary family car).

    I must confess that part of the decision was that the RX is just "so ordinary." It has virtually no pizzaz and besides that everyone else has one.
  • dhamiltondhamilton Posts: 875
     I am looking for the same information myself. If I come across any I'll let you know. I have driven both. Respond if you want thoughts. good luck. dan
  • adp3adp3 Posts: 446
    good choice on the FX rather than the RX to go with your MDX. I wonder if there is a household on earth that is driving an MDX and an RX. That'd be pretty funny. Then, again there were houses that had a boring Buick and a boring Olds in them, so....

    you gotta have ONE vehicle that has a little fun in it in the garage. And no matter much you like your MDX, it doesn't exactly say "fun" (don't get me wrong, I like the MDX, for what it is)
  • You said: ... no matter much you like your MDX, it doesn't exactly say "fun" (don't get me wrong, I like the MDX, for what it is).

    Don't have to hedge. My MDX is like my Avalon, a real yawner to drive. Like you, I like it a lot anyway.

    No, one doesn't have to have a fun car in the garage, but I do admit our PT Cruiser GT is a lot more fun to drive than the Jaguar S Type V8 it replaced.
  • Does anyone know the release and possible specs on the AMG ML's set to come out either late next year or early 2006.
  • steverstever Posts: 52,572
    "Every year the editors at vote on the "most wanted" vehicles. Now it's your turn. Forget about what you think ought to win based on stats and specs; choose the vehicle you'd want parked in your driveway. Vote today: this survey will only be available for a limited time."

    Consumers' Most Wanted Vehicles for 2005

    Steve, Host
  • delia4delia4 Posts: 2
    Trying to decide between 2001 MDX and 2001 RX300. Both have 37000 miles. 2001 MDX transmission went out on test drive, getting new transmission. Wouldn't buy MDX without extended warranty on transmission to 100,000. Like MDX because more functional, but don't necessarily need extra seating. Am driving Lexus RX300 now, very nice.
  • irishwheatirishwheat Posts: 30
    Let me tell you briefly, about my 2005 MDX horror story. Let's see navigation did not work, Acura would not reimburse me for the trouble. Finally fixed after 8 months. Heater went out, 3 recalls, would not start after a week away. On Star went out. What a mess! Dont but this car. Im now trying to sell to move toowards something else, and I will take a huge loss. Even the lemon law is looking into my car. I use to love Honda/ Acura...sorry never again.
  • louiein99louiein99 Posts: 33
    My wife and I have it narrowed down to the MDX and the RX330. We currently have no kids, but we have a "plan." I will drive the car for the next 2 years while she gets the most fun out of her Eclipse GTS (she won't part with it since it was her college graduation present to herself.) I told her that once she gets pregnant (according to the plan in 18-24 months) she will not be allowed to ride in that little pill box anymore.

    So, we are buying now. I will drive the vehicle for the next couple of years, and then when she gets pregnant, she will get the roomier and safer crossover vehicle. With that said, we plan to keep the vehicle 5-7 years.

    So, do we go with the RX or the MDX to suit both of our needs as we think to the future? Gladly listen to any comments.
  • crystal2crystal2 Posts: 52
    Louiein99, I will try to respond to a part of your question since I do not know the MDX. One thing you may not be aware of is an insurance cost issue. I just purchased the RX330 and I was shocked by the quote for the new 2005 AWD RX330. It came out to be less than our 2002 Audi Quattro A6 and the same price as our 1997 Subaru Outback. Even the insurance agent was surprised by how low the insurance fee was for a brand new RX330. I have to think that it is related to safety and reliability issues (it has 9 or 11 airbags?). The only car that seems to beat the safety record of the RX330 is the Volvo. This should be a consideration, especially for a pregnant woman and a small child on the way. Just a thought (by the way, the Thundercloud I bought does not have the RSES and the receiver hitch, just towing prep package). Good luck with your decision-making.
  • 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.
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