Certified Benz & Beemer Compares 2016 Acura MDX VS 2016 Toyota Highlander Near Scottsdale, AZ

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2016 Acura MDX

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VS

2016 Toyota Highlander

Safety Comparison

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The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety tests front crash prevention systems. With a score of 6 points, IIHS rates the Collision Mitigating Braking System optional in the MDX as “Superior.” The Highlander scores only 3 points and is rated only “Advanced.”

The MDX offers optional Parking Sensors to help warn the driver about vehicles, pedestrians or other obstacles behind or, optionally, in front of the vehicle. The Highlander doesn’t offer a front parking aid.

Both the MDX and the Highlander have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, front wheel drive, height adjustable front shoulder belts, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available all wheel drive, lane departure warning systems, blind spot warning systems and rear cross-path warning.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does 35 MPH front crash tests on new vehicles. In this test, results indicate that the Acura MDX is safer than the Toyota Highlander:

MDX

Highlander

OVERALL STARS

5 Stars

4 Stars

Driver

STARS

5 Stars

4 Stars

Neck Injury Risk

22%

47%

Neck Stress

244 lbs.

509 lbs.

Neck Compression

34 lbs.

73 lbs.

Leg Forces (l/r)

134/382 lbs.

409/517 lbs.

Passenger

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

283

291

Chest Compression

.4 inches

.4 inches

Neck Injury Risk

29%

32%

Neck Stress

177 lbs.

219 lbs.

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does side impact tests on new vehicles. In this test, which crashes the vehicle into a flat barrier at 38.5 MPH and into a post at 20 MPH, results indicate that the Acura MDX is safer than the Toyota Highlander:

MDX

Highlander

Front Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Chest Movement

.6 inches

.6 inches

Hip Force

244 lbs.

348 lbs.

Into Pole

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Max Damage Depth

13 inches

16 inches

Spine Acceleration

37 G’s

43 G’s

Hip Force

481 lbs.

829 lbs.

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.

Warranty Comparison

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The MDX comes with a full 4 year/50,000 mile basic warranty, which covers the entire truck and includes 24 hour roadside assistance. The Highlander’s 3 year/36,000 mile basic warranty expires 1 year and 14,000 miles sooner.

Acura’s powertrain warranty covers the MDX 1 year and 10,000 miles longer than Toyota covers the Highlander. Any repair needed on the engine, transmission, axles, joints or driveshafts is fully covered for 6 years or 70,000 miles. Coverage on the Highlander ends after only 5 years or 60,000 miles.

Reliability Comparison

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The engine in the MDX has a single overhead cam for simplicity. The engines in the Highlander have dual overhead cams, which add to the number of moving parts and the complexity of the cylinder heads.

Engine Comparison

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The MDX’s 3.5 SOHC V6 produces 105 more horsepower (290 vs. 185) and 83 lbs.-ft. more torque (267 vs. 184) than the Highlander LE’s standard 2.7 DOHC 4 cyl. The MDX’s 3.5 SOHC V6 produces 20 more horsepower (290 vs. 270) and 19 lbs.-ft. more torque (267 vs. 248) than the Highlander’s optional 3.5 DOHC V6.

Fuel Economy and Range Comparison

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On the EPA test cycle the MDX gets better fuel mileage than the Highlander:

MDX

Highlander

2WD

n/a

20 city/25 hwy

4 cyl./Auto

V6 w/Start/Stop/Auto

20 city/27 hwy

n/a

V6/Auto

19 city/27 hwy

19 city/25 hwy

V6/Auto

4WD

V6 w/Start/Stop/Auto

19 city/26 hwy

n/a

V6/Auto

18 city/26 hwy

18 city/24 hwy

V6/Auto

An engine control system that can shut down half of the engine’s cylinders helps improve the MDX’s fuel efficiency. The Highlander doesn’t offer a system that can shut down part of the engine.

In heavy traffic or at stoplights the MDX offers an optional system to automatically turn off the engine when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. The engine is automatically restarted when the driver gets ready to move again. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) The Highlander doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.

Tires and Wheels Comparison

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The MDX has a standard easy tire fill system. When inflating the tires, the vehicle’s integrated tire pressure sensors keep track of the pressure as the tires fill and tell the driver when the tires are inflated to the proper pressure. The Highlander doesn’t offer vehicle monitored tire inflation.

Suspension and Handling Comparison

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The MDX has standard front and rear gas-charged shocks for better control over choppy roads. The Highlander’s suspension doesn’t offer gas-charged shocks.

The MDX has vehicle speed sensitive variable-assist power steering, for low-effort parking, better control at highway speeds and during hard cornering, and a better feel of the road. The Highlander doesn’t offer variable-assist power steering.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the MDX’s wheelbase is 1.2 inches longer than on the Highlander (111 inches vs. 109.8 inches).

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the MDX is 1.9 inches wider in the front and 2.1 inches wider in the rear than on the Highlander.

Chassis Comparison

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The MDX uses computer-generated active noise cancellation to help remove annoying noise and vibration from the passenger compartment, especially at low frequencies. The Highlander doesn’t offer active noise cancellation.

Passenger Space Comparison

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The MDX has 1.8 inches more front hip room, 1.8 inches more front shoulder room and .7 inches more rear hip room than the Highlander.

Cargo Capacity Comparison

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The MDX’s cargo area provides more volume than the Highlander.

MDX

Highlander

Behind Third Seat

15.8 cubic feet

13.8 cubic feet

Third Seat Folded

43.4 cubic feet

42.3 cubic feet

Second Seat Folded

90.9 cubic feet

83.7 cubic feet

Ergonomics Comparison

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The MDX offers a remote vehicle starting system, so the vehicle can be started from inside the driver's house. This allows the driver to comfortably warm up the engine before going out to the vehicle. The climate system will also automatically heat or cool the interior. The Highlander doesn’t offer a remote starting system.

The MDX’s standard easy entry system raises the steering wheel and glides the driver’s seat back, making it easier for the driver to get in and out. The Highlander doesn’t offer an easy entry system.

The MDX’s front and rear power windows all open or close fully with one touch of the switches, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths, or when talking with someone outside the car. The Highlander’s standard rear power window switches have to be held the entire time to open or close them fully.

If the windows are left down on the MDX the driver can raise them all using the key in the outside lock cylinder. On a hot day the driver can lower the windows from outside the vehicle using the key in the outside lock cylinder or the keyless remote. The driver of the Highlander can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

The MDX’s standard speed-sensitive wipers speed up when the vehicle does, so that the driver doesn’t have to continually adjust the speed of the wipers. The Highlander’s standard manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted. The MDX’s optional wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically according to the amount of rainfall on the windshield.

When the MDX is put in reverse, both rearview mirrors tilt from their original position. This gives the driver a better view of the curb during parallel parking maneuvers. Shifting out of reverse puts the mirrors into their original positions. The Highlander’s mirrors don’t automatically adjust for backing.

The MDX offers optional automatic dimming rear and side view mirrors which automatically darken quickly when headlights shine on them, keeping following vehicles from blinding or distracting the driver. The Highlander offers an automatic rear view mirror, but its side mirrors don’t dim.

The MDX has a standard dual zone air conditioning allows the driver and front passenger to choose two completely different temperatures so people with different temperature preferences won’t have to compromise. This makes both the driver and front passenger as comfortable as possible. Dual zone air conditioning costs extra on the Highlander.

Recommendations Comparison

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Consumer Reports® recommends both the Acura MDX and the Toyota Highlander, based on reliability, safety and performance.

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