Editor’s note: You may want to read more of Autotrader’s model vs. model comparison car reviews as well as the 2013 Lincoln MKX used car review, 2014 Lincoln MKX used car review and the 2014 Lexus RX review.
If you’re looking for a midsize luxury SUV with affordable pricing, a powerful engine and lots of equipment, your shopping list will likely include the 2007-2014 Lincoln MKX and the 2010-2014 Lexus RX. Both models offer all the above, and both tout reasonable pricing for drivers who aren’t looking to break the bank with a brand-new car. But which one do you choose? We’ve created a thorough comparison of both models to help you reach a conclusion — but first, let’s cover the basics of the MKX and the RX.
2007-2014 Lincoln MKX: The Basics
The MKX debuted for the 2007 model year. Based on the midsize Ford Edge crossover, the MKX offered front- or all-wheel drive initially paired to a 265-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 — an engine that grew in size (to 3.7 liters) and power (to 305 horses) with a major update for the 2011 model year. Unlike the RX, the MKX didn’t offer a hybrid variant — but it boasted a long list of standard features, like side-curtain airbags, an anti-skid system and leather upholstery in an upscale, luxurious cabin. Like the RX, the MKX could seat five; its maximum cargo capacity was just under 69 cu ft.
2010-2014 Lexus RX: The Basics
The 2010-2014 Lexus RX was the model’s third generation. Based on Toyota’s midsize Highlander crossover, the RX was offered in front- or all-wheel drive and boasted two engine options: a 275-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 (installed in the RX 350), or a 295-horsepower hybrid V6 (installed in the RX 450h) designed for better gas mileage. Like the MKX, the RX boasted a long list of standard (and optional) equipment, touting a luxurious interior with a bolder, more aggressive design than the Lincoln — and most other rivals. The RX offered seating for five and a maximum cargo capacity of just over 80 cu ft.
Although it’s hard to get reliability data for older models, J.D. Power has provided data for more recent versions of the 2007-2014 MKX and the 2010-2014 RX from their latest model years. According to J.D. Power, the RX earned a five out of five for predicted reliability — the firm’s top score — while the MKX earned a three out of five, indicating roughly average dependability.
Interestingly, the MKX earned a higher score from J.D. Power in overall quality: It earned a five out of five to the RX’s four out of five. That suggests most drivers likely think the MKX’s ergonomics are simpler than those of its Lexus rival, and its controls laid out more logically. Nonetheless, the RX’s higher score for reliability gives it a victory in this category.
The 2007-2014 MKX used two engines throughout its life. From 2007 to 2010, the MKX offered a 265-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 that returned 15 miles per gallon in the city and 22 mpg on the highway. In 2011, the MKX’s power plant improved: It received a 305-hp 3.7-liter V6, which then returned 17 mpg city/23 mpg hwy.
The RX also offered two engines, though they were available at the same time. The base-level RX 350 used a 270-hp 3.5-liter V6, which returned up to 18 mpg city/25 mpg hwy. For drivers interested in better gas mileage, the RX 450h used a 295-hp 3.5-liter hybrid V6, which touted 30 mpg city/28 mpg hwy. With these numbers, it’s clear the RX had a fuel economy advantage over its Lincoln rival — even if you didn’t opt for the especially efficient hybrid-powered RX 450h.
In crash testing carried out by the federal government’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, both the MKX and the RX earned the same score: four out of five stars overall for front-wheel-drive models and five out of five stars for all-wheel-drive models.
In terms of safety features, the MKX started out at a disadvantage — but a major update in 2011 brought it slightly ahead of the RX’s safety offerings. Both models came standard with side-curtain airbags, stability control and anti-lock brakes — though the 2011-2014 MKX added parking sensors and Ford’s novel MyKey feature to that list. As for safety options, both models were roughly the same, touting a blind spot monitoring system, adaptive cruise control, forward-collision warning and a backup camera.
In terms of safety, neither the MKX nor the RX holds a huge advantage over the other — but if safety is a priority, we’d steer clear of the 2007-2010 MKX, as it simply didn’t offer the level of equipment you’ll find in the RX and in later MKX models. With that said, the 2011-2014 MKX has slightly more standard safety features than its Lexus rival.
As in the safety section, the 2007-2010 MKX was at a disadvantage compared to later models (and compared to the 2010-2014 RX).
With that said, shoppers choosing a well-equipped RX or a 2011-2014 MKX will likely be satisfied with the level of technology — even compared to newer models. For instance,: the RX offered Lexus’s "Remote Touch Interface," a center infotainment system with a mouse-like controller. The RX also boasted a navigation system, Bluetooth audio capabilities and (in later models) even the Siri Eyes Free feature for iPod users. The MKX didn’t quite offer the same level of equipment, boasting the MyLincoln Touch system — an infotainment system that lags a bit at times — along with typical features like ventilated seats, a power sunroof and heated rear seats. Indeed, the MKX had a lot of equipment, but the RX offered slightly more advanced technology.
Right now there are roughly 3,000 different 2010-2014 Lexus RX models listed on Autotrader, with an average asking price of around $25,800. By comparison, there are roughly 2,300 different 2007-2014 MKX models, with an average asking price of just $20,500.
Of course, that comparison isn’t really fair, since the MKX was offered for a few years before the third-generation RX. But even if you change the search to 2010-2014 MKX models, the average asking price is still just $23,200 — about 10 percent cheaper than the RX. Part of the reason for this is the RX 450h, which commands a premium on the used market, and for which there’s no Lincoln rival.
With that said, "value" is a question of perception: While the MKX is cheaper, the RX offers better gas mileage, better reliability and slightly more technology, along with a newer overall design (and a stronger brand name). Shoppers trying to decide which SUV is a better value will have to decide exactly how much they prioritize those items.
Simply put, the 2010-2014 Lexus RX is a better vehicle than the 2007-2014 Lincoln MKX. That’s still true even if you only consider the updated 2011-2014 Lincoln MKX, which added more technology, an improved interior and a stronger engine. The RX offers better gas mileage than the MKX, more cargo space, better technology, improved reliability and a stronger brand name. Yes, it’s more expensive — but we happen to think it’s worth it for all these reasons. With that said, the MKX is still an excellent car — and if you get a good enough deal on one, it could make more sense than a similarly equipped RX.