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Acura MDX Tops Consumer Reports' Tests of Luxury Three-Row SUVs

 Consumer Reports (select to view enlarged photo)
Consumer Reports

SEE ALSO: Acura Buyers Guide
SEE ALSO: Audi Buyers Guide
SEE ALSO:Lincoln Buyers Guide
SEE ALSO:Land Rover Buyers Guide

MDX bests Audi Q7, Land Rover LR4, and Lincoln MKT

YONKERS, N.Y., May 4, 2010; The freshened Acura MDX posted an "Excellent" overall score topping Consumer Reports tests' of four luxury SUVs for the June 2010 issue.

The Acura MDX earned an overall road-test scores of 85, outperforming the Land Rover LR4 which earned a "Very Good" 73, the new Lincoln MKT, which earned a "Very Good" 72, and the Audi Q7 which earned a "Very Good" 68.

With an improved powertrain that yields better acceleration and fuel economy, the MDX is now CR's top-rated three-row luxury SUV.

"The MDX is a well-rounded vehicle that outscores competitors that cost much more," said David Champion, senior director of Consumer Reports' Auto Test Center in East Haddam, Connecticut.

Only the MDX is Recommended among the four SUVs in this test group. CR only Recommends vehicles that have performed well in its tests, have at least average predicted reliability based on CR's Annual Auto Survey of its more than seven million print and Web subscribers, and performed at least adequately if crash-tested or included in a government rollover test. CR doesn't have sufficient reliability data on the MKT and LR4 and the Audi Q7 has had below-average reliability.

Prices ranged from $46,715 for the MDX to $56,555 for the Lincoln.

Consumer Reports also tested the Lexus GX 460 as part of this group. However, on Tuesday, April 13, CR announced that it was judging the Lexus a "Don't Buy: Safety Risk" because of a problem that its engineers experienced during standard emergency-handling track tests. When pushed to its limits on CR's track handling course, the rear of the GX slid out until the vehicle was almost sideways before the electronic stability control was able to regain control. Lexus' parent company, Toyota Motor Sales, subsequently announced that it would conduct a voluntary safety recall of the vehicle to update the stability control software on approximately 9,400 of those vehicles worldwide.

Full tests and ratings for all five cars appear in the June issue of Consumer Reports, which goes on sale May 4. The reports are also available to subscribers of Updated daily, is the go-to site for the latest auto reviews, product news, blogs on breaking news and car buying information.

The MDX rides firmly yet absorbs bumps with good grace. Handling is the MDX's strong suit, and the body stays level in corners. The Acura MDX ($46,715 Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price as tested), is powered by a 300-hp, 3.7-liter V6 engine that delivers strong performance and gets 18 mpg overall in CR's own fuel economy tests. The six-speed automatic transmission shifts quickly and smoothly. Braking is excellent. Fit and finish are impressive. With the center-and third-row seatbacks folded out of the way, it has ample cargo space.

Changes made to the LR3 during its recent freshening and renaming to LR4 have dramatically improved the 2010 version. The larger and more powerful V8 engine provides effortless acceleration and better fuel economy. The ride is firm, but the suspension soaks up most bumps easily. The Land Rover LR4 ($54,010 MSRP as tested), is powered by a 375-hp, 5.0-liter V8 engine that delivers smooth and effortless acceleration but only gets 15 mpg overall on premium fuel. The six-speed automatic transmission shifts seamlessly. Braking is very good. The interior is nicely finished. The third row folds into the floor to make luggage space, and folding the second row as well creates a huge cargo space.

The MKT is Lincoln's version of the Ford Flex. Handling is not nearly as good as the Flex's and the driving position is less than ideal with rear visibility restricted. The highway ride is quiet and serene but in routine driving the MKT leans considerably and is ungainly in tight corners. The Lincoln MKT AWD EcoBoost ($56,555 MSRP as tested), is powered by a 355-hp turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 engine that delivers V8-like performance and gets 18 mpg overall. The six-speed automatic transmission shifts smoothly and responsively. Braking is very good. The interior is plush and has plenty of wood, chrome, and soft, luxurious leather. With the third row folded away, cargo space is generous.

The Audi Q7 is a roomy, seven-passenger SUV that's pleasant for long drives. Handling is responsive in everyday driving but doesn't shine at the limits. It has an underlying firmness at low speeds, making the ride seem worse than it is, but it absorbs bumps with sufficient isolation. The Audi Q7 Premium Plus ($54,225 MSRP as tested), is powered by a 280-hp, 3.6-liter, direct-injection V6 that provides adequate performance and gets 17 mpg overall on premium fuel. The six-speed automatic transmission shifts quickly and very smoothly. Braking is very good. The interior is beautifully finished with high quality materials. To maximize cargo space you can fold down the third-row seats into the floor and fold down the 60/40-split second row. That liberates a generous volume of cargo space.

With more than 7 million print and online subscribers, 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 and owns and operates a 327-acre Auto Test Center in Connecticut. The organization's auto experts have decades of experience in driving, testing, and reporting on cars.