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The Lexus-Acura Japanese rivalry is as strong now as ever, with each Japanese luxury SUVs manufacturer offering a bevy of compelling new models. But while the luxury SUV industry pushes forward, a lone Lexus keeps its old bones: the 2023 GX. Its rival, the 2023 Acura MDX, has stayed at the edge of the curve. The MDX has some significant advantages over the GX as a result. 

Three-row luxury SUVs with vastly different personalities 

A silver 2023 Acura MDX Type S drives down a road.
2023 Acura MDX Type S | Acura

The Acura MDX and Lexus GX are two sides of the same coin. They’re both three-row luxury SUVs from Japanese manufacturers, but their identities are significantly different underneath the sheet metal. While the Lexus GX is a rock-solid, traditional SUV that hasn’t changed in a decade, the Acura MDX is a modernized crossover focusing on refinement. That means the Acura has a few notable advantages. 

1. MDX has a chassis designed for road comfort 

While the Lexus GX may have the outer appearance of a luxury SUV, its bones are more like a rugged truck. Its body-on-frame design with a solid rear axle is great for off-roading. Still, it can lead to sloppy handling and bouncy ride quality on the pavement. It’s the same underpinnings that you’ll find in off-roaders like the Toyota 4Runner and Land Cruiser Prado. Sure – it’s a rugged and dependable design. But luxury shoppers may find it a bit crude compared to rivals. 

In contrast, the Acura MDX uses a car-based chassis to ensure quality on-road driving characteristics and ride quality. A unibody design helps structural rigidity while reducing weight – a perfect combination for pavement performance. Add in four-corner independent suspension, and the MDX is set up for far smoother handling and overall road comfort than the GX. 

2. Turbocharged engines and superior fuel economy 

The Acura MDX has much more modern powertrain options than the Lexus GX. 

The GX is the last Toyota product using a V8 engine. Toyota ended its V8 run in 2022 – but its luxury arm still clings to its large-displacement powertrain. While some drivers are sure to relish the V8’s plentiful horsepower and torque, it has inherent drawbacks. Kelley Blue Book says the Lexus GX only manages a 16 mpg average rating. 

The MDX fares much better with its turbocharged engines managing highway mpg ratings in the mid-20s. Its available turbocharged V6 outpaces the GX’s V8 with 355 horsepower. 

3. Far less cargo space in Lexus GX than in Acura MDX 

Both of these Japanese luxury SUVs have three rows and room for seven passengers. But the Acura has much more cargo space. While the GX stops at 64.7 cubic feet of cargo space with all its rear seats down, the MDX has a limit of 95 cubic feet. According to Kelley Blue Book, it can swallow more than 30 cubic feet more cargo than its Lexus rival. 

4. Acura MDX offers a lower starting price than Lexus GX 

Even with all its advantages, buyers can get the Acura MDX for cheaper than the Lexus GX. Kelley Blue Book reports a starting price of less than $50,000 for the base model. Meanwhile, the Lexus GX starts at $58,525. 

MDX or GX decision depends on whether you want refinement or capability 

Rear view of black 2023 Lexus GX with mountains in the background.
2023 Lexus GX | Lexus

The Acura MDX’s strengths do not mean it is inherently superior to the Lexus GX. Instead, it means that the MDX is likely a better choice for drivers pursuing comfort or sporty handling. The Lexus GX’s reliability and capability will serve some drivers better than the MDX. Picking between the two Japanese luxury SUVs hinges on which strengths a driver prefers. 


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