Either would be a good choice because both are Cars.com Best Bets for 2012 among luxury crossover SUVs. To achieve that honor, vehicles have to provide good overall performance and accommodations, have above average reliability and be named Top Safety Picks by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The 2013 Lexus RX is redesigned and features a restyled front end, more spacious center console on the inside and a new F Sport performance model.
The MDX is the larger of the two, with standard seating for seven, and it comes with standard all-wheel drive. All-wheel drive may be on your wish list, but if it isn’t, you will pay on ongoing penalty in gas mileage even if you never use it. The MDX has EPA ratings of 16/21 mpg city/highway and requires premium gas.
The 2013 RX 350 offers a choice of front- or all-wheel drive, gets better mileage (18/25 mpg with front drive) and runs on regular gas. It also comes as a hybrid, and in sporty F Sport guise it uses an eight-speed automatic transmission for 1 mpg better in highway and combined ratings than the front-wheel-drive RX 350. The RX 350 seats only five, but it has almost as much cargo room as the MDX when the MDX’s third row is folded, 40 cubic feet behind the RX’s rear seat compared with 42.9 for the MDX. The 2013 RX 350 spans a lower price range, roughly $39,000 to $47,000, compared to $43,000 to $53,000 for the MDX.
If you can live without a third row of seats, the RX would probably be the better bet overall. The RX 350 was best in class in the 2012 J.D. Power and Associates’ Initial Quality Study, which measured problems in the first 90 days of ownership. It also had the fewest problems in the 2012 and 2011 Power Vehicle Dependability Studies, which measured problems during the third year of ownership.
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