The engines are both 3.5-liter V6s powering all four wheels and rear trunk space is an identical 15.8 cubic feet. Both can carry seven passengers with rear seat occupants enjoying a full entertainment set-up. As-tested pricing is separated by a mere $450 and they can each tow 5,000 lbs. (although the MDX needs a few dealer installed components to pull it off).
By now you might be wondering what in tarnation a QX60 is? That’s simple. It’s the one-year-old JX35 renamed to fit Infiniti’s new nomenclature. Not much has changed for this vehicle since 2013 except for the new name and tacky “3.5” badges on the front fenders.
The MDX, on the other hand, is an old favorite in the segment. For years, it has been one of the best all-around luxury crossovers to offer a combination of minivan space and luxury sedan handling. For 2014, it enters a third generation and undergoes significant weight loss, stripping over 300 lbs. from the previous generation. This leaves the new vehicle at 4,332 lbs., which is also 130 lbs. lighter than the QX60.
Besides the weight savings, Acura has downsized the engine as well. Replacing the 3.7-liter V6 is a new direct injection 3.5-liter V6 making 290 hp and 267 lb-ft of torque. These figures are slightly lower than what the old 3.7-liter put out, but with the MDX losing weight and adding another gear thanks to a new six-speed automatic, its power-to-weight ratio actually improves.
Infiniti counters with a 3.5 L V6, but it makes significantly less power. At only 265 hp and 248 lb-ft, the heavier QX60 feels noticeably slower, especially at lower speeds where the continuously variable transmission (CVT) causes noticeable acceleration lag. At higher speeds, the gap shrank and neither vehicle felt particularly fast or slow.
As can be expected, both of these vehicles are rated closely when it comes to fuel consumption. The QX60 stickers slightly higher in the city at 19 mpg compared to the MDX’s 18 mpg rating, but things swap on the highway where the Acura’s rating of 27 mpg trumps the Infiniti’s 25 mpg. In the real world, the MDX walked away with much better fuel economy. It beat the QX60 handily, posting an as-tested average of 24.5 mpg compared to the QX60 at a thirstier 20.3 mpg average.
The MDX comes equipped with 19-inch wheels wearing slightly wider tires than the 20-inch dishes on the QX60. But of greater importance is the fact the all-season tires on the Acura are of the high performance variety allowing for the MDX to tackle corners at higher speeds and with more composure. Better steering feel and better sightlines further enhance confidence behind the wheel of the MDX, but the sportier chassis setup comes at a price. The MDX has a rougher ride during normal driving than the QX60. The Infiniti floats down the road, but feels jittery over rough surfaces.
Part of the reason we feel more confident behind the wheel of the MDX has to with size; or at least perceived size. Although it is only three-inches longer, the QX60 feels bigger inside and out. The AutoGuide staff is split on which vehicle is better looking, as some appreciate the QX60’s flowing lines and sophisticated looks over the MDX’s more angular futuristic styling, which is especially augmented by Acura’s “Jewel Eye” headlights.
When it comes to interior design, the MDX again came out on top. The material quality and fit and finish are top notch and the wood inserts are an especially attractive touch. The comfortable front seats and steering wheel are finished in soft leather and feel expensive. In contrast, the QX60 features a few dash components that felt too cheap for a $50,000 vehicle and the leather, especially on the steering wheel where some of the stitching was already fraying, did not feel as rich.
But the QX60 deserves praise for its HVAC and infotainment units. With most of the hard buttons located on the center console including a tuning knob, both systems are easy to use. Both vehicles can come loaded with modern technology like adaptive cruise control, rear entertainment systems, lane departure warnings, navigation with real-time traffic updates and power lift gates.
The QX60 offers 41.7 inches of second row legroom, which is a noticeable advantage. The third row is much better with 30.8 inches compared to the MDX, which only has 36.6-inches in the second row and a tight 28.1-inches for the third. The extra legroom is evident when sitting in the QX60’s third row, but there still isn’t enough headroom for adult passengers to sit comfortably because of the panoramic sunroof and more importantly the rollback sunshade. Consider them “kid zones” in either vehicle’s case.[vs-comparsion-table]
Access to the third row is a wash between the two vehicles. The MDX features a brilliant one-touch button to enter and exit the third row, which is easier to operate than Infiniti’s one pull handle. However, the QX60 has a much larger pass-through to the third row seat to make ingress and egress much easier.
Both second row seating areas are comfortable, but the MDX wins points for its more premium-feeling leather surfaces. We like how all the controls for the HVAC and entertainment unit are hard buttoned on the roof of the MDX for second-row passengers because it avoids relying on a remote control or the front seat passengers to change settings. The MDX also features an HDMI input and built-in side window sunshades, both of which are missing on the QX60. In contrast, the Infiniti features a bigger, more appealing sunroof.
The MDX SH-AWD starts at $45,185 but with the advance technology and entertainment packages, our test vehicle comes in at $57,400 after destination charges. The QX60 3.5 AWD starts at a lower base price of $43,945, but with options like the deluxe touring package, premium package plus and technology package added, it ended up being right up there with the MDX at $56,945 after destination charges.
With such similar missions and designs, it’s surprising that the two vehicles have such different personalities. The MDX is more of a crossover with an added third row seat while the QX60 is more of a luxury minivan with all-wheel drive. Both are attractive choices in this market segment, but the Acura edges out the Infiniti in enough areas to take the comparison win.