There are mass-market auto brands and luxury auto brands, and then there are others that fall in between. The 2018 Lincoln MKX and the Acura MDX are two midsize crossovers from luxury brands that some people still closely associate with their non-luxury parent brands, so let's see which is a truer luxury SUV crossover.
As we've just said, both Acura and Lincoln still try to be seen by consumers as brands that are on a par with German luxury brands. Because they are probably so similarly to the buying public, it's almost impossible to say which is more desirable, so we'll have to call this opening skirmish a dead heat.
Although the Acura is a crossover SUV, its exterior styling is more like a sports wagon than an SUV. The MDX is actually taller than the Lincoln but doesn't really look it because the Acura is also more than six inches longer than the MKX. The Acura is a decent-looking vehicle but the wagon-esque styling goes against the overtly SUV look that most buyers seem to want these days. The Lincoln is much more SUV-like than the Acura and it also boasts distinctive front and rear fascias that instantly set it apart from the crowd. It would be hard to confuse the MKX with anything from another brand, and for that reason it takes the honors here.
Both the Lincoln and the Acura use V-6 powertrains, but the Lincoln offers a choice even while it's take-it or leave-it with the Acura as far as gas engines are concerned. The Lincoln MKX has a standard 3.7-liter unit producing 303 horsepower that comes mated to a six-speed automatic transmission, but it also has an optional 2.7-liter twin-turbo V-6 with 335 horsepower on tap. Most versions of the Acura use a 3.5-liter V-6, but at 290 horsepower it falls well short of the effortless and refined power the Lincoln has to offer. There is an MDX Sport Hybrid available, but most buyers will stick with the conventional powertrain so the Lincoln scores another victory here.
If you still hold any doubts about the luxury credentials of the Acura MDX, you will probably set them aside once you've stepped inside. Not only is it every bit as comfortable and opulent as any of its German rivals, it also comes better equipped than most and isn't as austere as some of the European competition. It doesn't have as much front and second-row legroom as the Lincoln, but the Acura has a third row the MKX doesn't. The interior of the Lincoln is also truly luxurious, especially with the top of the range Black Label models. The Lincoln is very nice inside, but the Acura just has the edge.
The Acura MDX has more seats and a slightly more opulent cabin than the 2018 Lincoln MKX, but buyers will have to pay over $4k dollars more for the Acura than the Lincoln at the entry level. A third row might make it worth that price. If you don't need the extra seats it would be hard to make a case for the more expensive Acura, but we think it would be better to pocket the extra money and choose the more powerful and distinctive Lincoln MKX.