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2015 Lincoln MKC vs. 2015 Acura RDX: Which Is Better?

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author photo by Doug DeMuro January 2015

If you're looking for a compact crossover with a luxury flair, the 2015 Acura RDX and the 2015 Lincoln MKC should be near the top of your shopping list. Both SUVs offer modern styling, high-tech gadgets, powerful engines and reasonable pricing, while also prioritizing fuel economy and comfort over performance and handling. Which one is better? To find out, we created a close comparison between the MKC and the RDX. First, let's see what's new with the two SUVs for the 2015 model year.

2015 Lincoln MKC

The Lincoln MKC is all new for the 2015 model year. Mechanically based on the Ford Escape (just as the RDX shares many components with the Honda CR-V), the MKC offers two 4-cylinder engine options, a wide range of high-tech features and fuel economy that reaches as high as 29 miles per gallon on the highway.

2015 Acura RDX

The RDX is unchanged for 2015, pending an upcoming facelift for the 2016 model year.

Reliability

The Acura RDX earned four circles in J.D. Power's Power Circle Ratings, indicating better-than-average reliability. Unfortunately, the MKC is too new for a rating, but we hope the new crossover earns the same high marks as other Lincoln models.

The RDX and the MKC offer the same warranty length: 4 years or 50,000 miles of comprehensive coverage and 6 years or 70,000 miles of powertrain protection. The Lincoln offers an additional 2 years or 24,000 miles of free maintenance, which isn't available with the RDX. This category is too close to call until we learn the MKC's reliability score from J.D. Power.

Fuel Economy

The MKC offers two engines: a 240-horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder and a more powerful 285-hp 2.3-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder. Fuel economy with the 2.0-liter reaches as high as 20 mpg city/29 mpg hwy with front-wheel drive or 19 mpg city/26 mpg hwy with all-wheel drive, while the all-wheel-drive-only 2.3-liter drops to 18 mpg city/26 mpg hwy.

Meanwhile, the RDX offers only one engine: a 273-hp 3.5-liter V6. Its fuel economy rating is 20 mpg city/28 mpg hwy with front-wheel drive or 19 mpg city/27 mpg hwy with all-wheel drive.

Given the exceptionally small differences between the RDX and the MKC in gas mileage ratings, we think that the fuel economy category is a tossup.

Safety

Both the MKC and the RDX come standard with a wide range of safety features, including side-curtain airbags, anti-lock brakes, traction control and a backup camera. In terms of options, however, the MKC boasts a huge advantage: Safety technology includes forward-collision warning, lane-departure warning, a blind spot monitoring system, rear cross-traffic alert and adaptive cruise control. In terms of features, this is everything you'd expect from a modern SUV. The RDX, on the other hand, doesn't include any of these features. We do, however, expect to see them available after the crossover's facelift later this year.

When it comes to crash-test ratings, the RDX boasts a stellar record. The federal government's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration awarded the car a perfect 5-star overall rating. Since it just went on sale, the MKC has not yet been tested.

Given the vast difference in equipment between the MKC and the RDX, we're prepared to award this category to the Lincoln. We would change our tune in an instant if the MKC's crash-test ratings weren't up to snuff. Given Lincoln's excellent safety record, however, we don't see that happening.

Technology

Although we think the latest Acura RDX is an excellent crossover, it's easy to see that its technology and equipment levels simply don't match up to those of the brand-new MKC. We covered the MKC's major advantage in safety gadgets above, but it doesn't stop there. The MKC also boasts other unique high-tech items not offered in the RDX, such as adaptive suspension dampers for an improved ride and an automated parallel-parking system. We also prefer the MKC's infotainment system to the RDX's setup, which uses a controller rather than the MKC's easy-to-operate touchscreen.

Though we expect that Acura will correct many of the disparities in technology between the RDX and the MKC when the RDX is redesigned later this year, the MKC currently has an easy lead over the Acura when it comes to gadgets and equipment.

Value

We think the MKC is an excellent crossover that offers more features than the RDX, better safety equipment and a slightly better driving experience. The icing on the cake is that the MKC starts at just $34,000 with shipping, compared to the RDX's base price of around $36,000 with destination. Base-level MKC models also offer more standard equipment, including extra stereo speakers, rear parking sensors and xenon headlights. To us, value is a no-brainer: The MKC gives you more for less.

AutoTrader's Advice

We strongly believe that the Acura RDX is one of the best small luxury crossovers on sale, thanks to its excellent gas mileage, its reasonable pricing, its long list of standard equipment and its strong powertrain. The 2015 Lincoln MKC is simply better. In addition to a smoother ride and more standard equipment, the MKC boasts a more modern interior, more high-tech gadgets and a longer list of available safety equipment. Top-level MKC models also offer more power without sacrificing gas mileage. Although the Acura RDX is an excellent crossover, we think the Lincoln MKC is better.

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2015 Lincoln MKC vs. 2015 Acura RDX: Which Is Better? - Autotrader