2015 Acura RDX vs 2015 Lincoln MKC

Premium compact crossovers face off

2015 Acura RDX vs 2015 Lincoln MKC

Compact luxury crossovers are growing in popularity and the Acura RDX is one of the hottest vehicles in the segment, selling over 40,000 units in the US last year. That’s better than the Audi Q5, Mercedes GLK or BMW X3.

How does Acura manage it? The RDX is an easy vehicle to live with. But it’s getting a little old and that makes it a vulnerable target.

But Lincoln already knows that. The new MKC offers everything that the RDX doesn’t. It features a turbocharged engine, a suspension with variable stiffness, high-tech safety features and even more. Where the RDX keeps things simple, the MKC throws in a little bit of everything.


It all starts with the features. Inside our fully loaded Lincoln MKC you’ll find yourself at ease with plenty of driver assists and convenience features. There’s adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, blind-spot warning and even an active parking system that can parallel park for you.

These features seem even more worthwhile when you realize that none of them are even available in the RDX. Sure there’s a stuff you expect like a moonroof, heated seats, navigation and premium audio upgrade but the Lincoln sports those features with a heated steering wheel and cooled seats to boot.

But there’s a big advantage with the Acura’s lack of available features: price. Fully loaded (though that term means nothing compared to the MKC) the RDX comes in at $41,115. The MKC on the other hand, costs $47,775 fully loaded. Looking at base models, the tables are turned, the MKC starts at $33,995 while the RDX costs $36,015.

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Grown-up or Variable?

The differing philosophies of these two cars are exposed again when you compare their driving dynamics. The Acura RDX has that grown-up feeling on the road. That means it’s smooth and effortless to drive, although we found it a bit boring. The 3.5-liter V6 engine under the hood is refined and efficient, making 270 hp and earning 22 mpg combined.

A low curb weight is a key contributor to the solid fuel efficiency. Unlike some other Acura products and the last generation RDX, this model doesn’t use super-handling all-wheel drive. Instead it ditches that heavier system for a simpler slip-and-grip setup. That means that 100 percent of the power is sent to the front wheels until slippage is detected. When that happens, the RDX will send up to 25 percent of the power to the rear wheels.

The MKC instead offers lots of performance to the driver. The turbocharged 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine is puts out 285 hp with 305 lb-ft of torque. It feels great compared to the Acura’s motor. Furthermore, Lincoln’s dynamic ride control system offers three distinctly different driving modes that do more than just adjust the throttle and transmission settings. It also manages the suspension to offer a softer or stiffer ride. In action we noticed that the MKC is fun to push in “sport” mode and equally effortless to drive as the RDX in the comfort setting.

Compare Specs

2015 Acura RDX
2015 Lincoln MKC
Vehicle 2015 Acura RDX Advantage 2015 Lincoln MKC
Engine 3.5-liter V6 - 2.3-liter Turbo-4
Horsepower 273 MKC 285
Torque251 MKC 305
Transmission Six-speed Automatic - Six-Speed Automatic
Fuel Economy19 MPG City, 27 MPG Highway RDX 18 MPG City, 26 MPG Highway
Cargo Space 26.1 cu. ft. to 61.3 RDX 25.2 cu. ft. to 53.1 cu. ft.
Front Head Room 38.7 inches MKC 39.6 inches
Front Leg Room 42.0 inches MKC 39.6 inches
Rear Head Room 38.1 inches MKC 38.7 inches
Rear Leg Room 38.3 inches RDX 36.8 inches
Weight 3,852 lbs. RDX 3,989 lbs.
Starting Price$36,015 MKC $33,995
As Tested Price$41,115​ RDX $47,380

Styling and Design

The interior of the MKC is also nicely spiced up, as you’d expect in a luxury car. There’s a nice blend of textures and the design is also a bit out of the ordinary, with ambient lighting and a large infotainment display. MyLincoln Touch is still a bit of a downer but the digital readouts in the gauge cluster are bright, configurable and easy to read.

In terms of exterior design, the MKC isn’t exactly stunning but a few elements help highlight its “I’m-not-a-Ford-Escape” look. For example it gets chrome exhaust tips, the LED lighting and optional 19- or 20-inch wheels. These all help to make the car stand out as something out of the ordinary.

The RDX is far more conservative. There are no LED lights or sexy 20-inch wheels, just the standard 18-inch size. While we appreciate some of Acura’s designs, a little flare would go a long way here.

Same goes for the interior; it’s boring. It’s just not as interesting, with only limited textures and materials. Fortunately, it is very comfortable to sit in. Every surface is soft to the touch and the rear seats are also more accommodating with more legroom than the MKC.

Additionally, the total cargo carrying capacity of the RDX is superior to the MKC by just under eight cubic feet, which makes it more family friendly.

The Verdict:

Family friendliness, practicality and affordability are the only aspects where the RDX succeeds against its new rival. The MKC trumps it in just about every other way. The Lincoln is engaging, feature-filled and more luxurious in the end. It offers that high-tech focus and driver-first feeling that luxury car buyers expect in this class. It’s more affordable up front and worth more when fully loaded. While it’s not the ideal car for growing families, it still manages to leave the RDX behind.

2015 Acura RDX

2015 Lincoln MKC

  • Rocket

    I for one am glad they don’t evaluate reliability. JD Powers and plenty of other sources have the reliability angle covered just fine. Besides, I’m not so sure you’d want them to. Acura hasn’t exactly been tearing it up lately on the reliability front. Plus there’s more to car ownership than reliability. Driving pleasure, dealership experience, etc all factor in. On the dealership front, I find it particularly interesting that only Volvo and Range Rover rank beneath Acura in Luxury brand dealership satisfaction. Although Lincoln dealerships far outperform those from Acura, there is no JDP data on the MKC’s reliability yet, but Lincoln’s tend to score above their Ford platform-mates, and the Escape really isn’t bad. So yeah, the Acura might be mechanically more reliable, but based on JD Powers data, MKC owners will likely be more satisfied.




  • Frank

    I have owned an Escape, an RDX and a RAV4. The driving experience in the RDX far surpasses that of the other two – it’s not even close. As for reliability, the Escape always had small things (at first) that was wrong and as we approached 80k miles, it had bigger issues. The RAV4 and RDX had zero issues. Zero. I personally do not care what JDPowers, or anyone else says – this is personal experience.

    Personally, I would recommend both the RAV4 and RDX. I would not recommend the Escape for driving (over 80k miles).

    Speaking of reliability, and this is way off topic – my wife and I have also owned a Mini Cooper – that POS was the most expensive car we have ever owned and quite frankly wasn’t worth driving home (ordered directly from the factory). Stay far away…

    Take this post for what it’s worth – I’m just commenting on my past experiences. If I was ever called a fan-boy of any brand, it would be for my previous 2 Audi’s – I do miss an auto that handles the road in an awesome manner and has 3 pedals…

  • ZX-10R

    What this tells me is you just buy cheap CUVs expecting refinement beyond their class level.

    I would never buy a RAV or an RDX…Those seem more geared toward small time soccer moms. Also, have you seen the looks? None of those cars come close the the classier look this Lincoln has. Now based on your story above, the Escape was more of the outdoor CUV. The others were for pushing kids to kindergarten.

    Frank you are the fanboy that keeps on fanning.

  • Rocket

    My first car was a Honda, and I’ve several additional Honda/Acura and Toyota products over the years, including an RSX that my son still drives today. They have been mostly reliable, but only the RSX has been exceptional in that regard. Our Rav4 was the least reliable vehicle we’ve ever owned, with lots of niggling issues and a blown transmission just 5,000 miles out of warranty.

    I drive a lot of miles for business, and as a result I switch vehicles more often than most. I’ve sampled brands from the US, Europe and Asia over the years, and . My wife and I currently drive German brands, and the experience has been stellar. Not only have we not had reliability issues, but they are vastly superior from a driving standpoint than the other cars we considered, and the dealership customer service is head and shoulders above anything Honda or Toyota has ever provided.

    As a rule, most brands are pretty reliable today. You can get a lemon or a peach from any manufacturer. The important thing is to buy what suits your needs and enjoy it. To pass up a vehicle because you might visit the service department a few extra times over its lifetime makes no sense to me. If you think the RDX is the better vehicle, then by all means buy it. But buying it just because it’s an Acura, or worse because it’s not a domestic brand, seems at the minimum shortsighted.

  • bd

    Cheaper FWD-based models tend to sell more than RWD models.

    Don’t think BMW is worried that the RDX outsells the X3 (the RDX is finally getting real competition in other compact FWD CUVs with the MKC, NX, etc.)

  • Jay Last

    Yes :o)

  • Tex

    You offer delusional Jap bashing and nothing more. Enjoy your Grand Cherokee while it has a warranty…

  • ZX-10R

    Tex? Wrong name…Enjoy your civic buddy. My Grand Cherokee is top notch unless your dime a dozen commuter.

  • hy

    OK. I own a Honda Civic. I bought this car because of it’s on the top of resale value list in 2012. Now it has 28k miles. I encountered three major problems.(Major problem means I have to fix it ASAP or it will cause more problem or it makes me feel really sad. ) The first one is rear wheel bearing problem on about 15k miles. It makes huge noise in cabin. The second one comes out around 20k miles. Every time when I sit into driver’s seat or move a little bit in the seat, the seat back makes squeezing noise. They have air bag in the seat back, I think I have to fix it before it becomes a safety problem. The third one is cabin fan motor is worn out on 28k. When I turn on the fan, noise comes out from front passenger side of panel. Well, it is a good driving car, but it fails to prove its legendary reliability brand name which established from long time ago. I am very disappointed with Honda. I tend not buying any Honda for my next car. I will turn to Hyundai. Hyundai makes a lot of effort to make better cars and they have 5 years warranty.

  • Ram

    What are you smoking? The MKC is downright ugly and like every other Ford still has serious paint problems after 2 years. Every 2 year old Focus has paint peeling and
    corrosion around the fender openings and Ford will not fix the problem. They say it is caused by road conditions. I own a 2 and 1/2 year old RDX that looks like the day I bought it. Living in Northern Ontario, we drive in sand an road salt for 6 or more months a year. It is by far the best vehicle that I have ever owned. It is bulletproof.

  • Ram

    The Lincoln looks like a Pimpmobile. A lot of them driven by pimps and drug dealers in Toronto.

  • smartacus

    the guy who attacked you is a known troll
    and now he is back.
    We need to flag him down again. i already clicked mine

  • BobLeg

    Engine stats are mostly worthless when they are this close. You can get a 300hp SRX or Lexus and they would get killed in a drag race with the RDX. I drove a dozen SUV’s the RDX did 0-60 in 6 seconds flat with no problem. The MKC’s turbo 4 can’t compete. Not to mention the turbo 4’s in the MKC start to dog at passing speeds 55mph to 80 mph. I do admit the RDX is more soggy on the turns than the MKC, but for me personally the acceleration is what sold me on it. For some reason reviewers like to drive the RDX car like a granny, but it’s far more capable than you would imagine.