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.
|Vehicle||2015 Acura RDX||Advantage||2015 Lincoln MKC|
|Engine||3.5-liter V6||-||2.3-liter Turbo-4|
|Transmission||Six-speed Automatic||-||Six-Speed Automatic|
|Fuel Economy||19 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.|
|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.
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.
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