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Consumer Reports: Acura MDX and Lexus RX350 Ranked Highly Among Luxury SUV's


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2007 Acura MDX

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Cadillac SRX finishes midpack; but still outpoints BMW X5 and Lincoln MKX

YONKERS, NY; The freshened Lexus RX350 and the redesigned Acura MDX outpointed competitors from Cadillac, BMW, and Lincoln in Consumer Reports; tests of five midsize luxury SUVs for the July issue.

The RX350 and MDX now rank in third and fourth places respectively among the 18 midsize SUVs recently tested by Consumer Reports.

Consumer Reports; top-rated vehicle in this category, and a Top Pick vehicle in the Annual April Auto Issue, is the Toyota Highlander Hybrid. Another hybrid, the Lexus RX400h, is ranked second overall. (The RX350 and the RX400h are both built on the same platform; the primary difference between the vehicles is the powertrain.)

CR tested a total of five luxury SUVs for the July issue;the RX350, the MDX, the Cadillac SRX, BMW X5, and Lincoln MKX. Loaded with features such as sunroofs, high-end sound systems, and more, prices for these SUVs ranged from $43,595 for the MKX to $56,745 for the X5.

Though the SRX achieved a; "Very Good" overall score, it still finished just midpack in this competitive segment. The X5 and MKX finished at the bottom of CR's rankings for this class, though still with "Very Good" overall scores.

The RX350 and MDX finished in a virtual tie, with 80 points each overall. But the vehicles have very different driving characters. The five-passenger RX is luxurious and comfortable and delivers the quickest acceleration and the best fuel economy in this group; at 19 mpg overall. The three-row, seven-passenger MDX has better handling and a powertrain that feels sportier than the Lexus, but a firmer ride.

The July issue also includes an Auto Test Extra report on a large SUV—the Lincoln Navigator, which posted a "Very Good" overall score.

Full tests and ratings of the midsize and large SUVs appear in the July issue of Consumer Reports, which goes on sale June 5. The reports are also available to subscribers of www.ConsumerReports.org.

Consumer Reports recommends only two of the five midsize SUVs in this issue;the RX350 and the MDX. CR cannot recommend the SRX because of its subpar reliability record; CR does not yet have reliability data on the X5 and MKX. Consumer Reports only recommends vehicles that have performed well in its tests, have at least average predicted reliability based on CR's Annual Car Reliability Survey of its own subscribers, and performed at least adequately if crash-tested or included in a government rollover test.

A new engine makes Lexus's five-passenger luxury SUV a lively performer. The RX is opulent and practical, with well-designed interior details. Handling is secure but not agile and no third-row seat is available. The RX350 ($45,706 Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price as tested) is equipped with a 270-hp, 3.5-liter V6 engine that gives it the quickest acceleration and the best fuel economy of the five in this group, returning 19 mpg overall in CR's fuel economy tests. The five-speed automatic transmission is smooth and responsive. Braking is very good overall.

The redesigned MDX is a well-rounded, seven-seat SUV that outscores vehicles costing thousands more. CR likes its refined powertrain, responsive handling, and controlled ride. But the third-row seat is tight for anyone but kids. The MDX ($46,365 MSRP as tested) is propelled by a 300-hp, 3.7-liter V6 that delivers quick acceleration. It's coupled to a smooth and responsive five-speed automatic transmission. Braking is very good.

The seven-passenger SRX is a competent vehicle with taut handling, a steady ride, and good performance. A freshening for 2007 includes nicer dashboard materials. The SRX V6 ($48,240 MSRP as tested) is powered by GM’s 255-hp, 3.6-liter engine that provides good performance and sounds smooth. The five-speed automatic transmission is excellent, with very smooth shifts. The SRX's brakes perform well.

The redesigned BMW X5 delivers responsive and controlled handling, a smooth engine, comfortable seats, and impeccable fit and finish in the interior. But the complicated controls and stiff suspension will frustrate most buyers. The X5 3.0si ($56,745 MSRP as tested) is equipped with a 260-hp, 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder engine that delivers very good acceleration but has to work hard. The six-speed automatic transmission is smooth and responsive. But the shifter is one of the most unintuitive encountered by CR's engineers. The firm brake pedal brings impressively short stops.

The five-passenger MKX, based on the Ford Edge, replaces the larger, truck-based Aviator. Overall, CR found that the MKX doesn't stand out enough from the Edge or offer enough additional features to justify the price premium. It doesn't offer a third-row seat, its engine and transmission lack the refinement of competitors, and its handling is not agile. The MKX ($43,595 MSRP as tested) is powered by a 265-hp, 3.5-liter V6 that delivers lively performance but sounds harsh when revved. The six-speed transmission works well but doesn't shift as smoothly or responsively as some competitors. Stopping distances are long.

Consumer Reports is one of the most trusted sources for information and advice on consumer products and services. It conducts the most comprehensive auto-test program of any U.S. publication or Web site; the magazine's auto experts have decades of experience in driving, testing, and reporting on cars. To subscribe to Consumer Reports, call 1-800-234-1645. Information and articles from the magazine can be accessed online at www.ConsumerReports.org.