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2016 Lexus RX vs. 2016 Lincoln MKX: Which Is Better?

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author photo by Doug DeMuro February 2016

If you're looking for a luxury SUV, the 2016 Lexus RX and the 2016 Lincoln MKX should be on your shopping list. Both models are totally new for the latest model year, and both models tout a lot of benefits such as modern styling, an enormous amount of comfort and convenience features and all the latest safety gadgets. So which SUV is better, and which one should you get? We've created a comparison to help you find out, but first let's see what's new with both models for the 2016 model year.

2016 Lexus RX

The Lexus RX is a midsize luxury SUV with futuristic styling and 2-row seating. In 2016, the RX is redesigned with new features, new styling inside and out and a few important powertrain updates.

2016 Lincoln MKX

The Lincoln MKX is a midsize luxury SUV that focuses on luxury over performance. It's also redesigned for 2016, touting a handsome, modern design and a long list of new features and equipment.

Reliability

Because the newly redesigned RX and MKX are so new, they have not yet received reliability ratings from the experts at J.D. Power, but outgoing versions of both models did earn ratings: The RX received a better-than-average score, while the MKX earned a below-average rating. It's worth noting, however, that these scores may have no bearing on the reliability of the newly redesigned versions.

As for warranty coverage, the two models are identical. Both offer 4 years or 50,000 miles of bumper-to-bumper coverage, along with 6 years or 70,000 miles of powertrain protection. As a result, this category is a toss-up -- at least until we see J.D. Power ratings for the latest versions of the RX and MKX.

Fuel Economy

The RX offers two powertrains. Most models (dubbed RX 350) use a gas-powered 3.5-liter V6, which makes 295 horsepower and returns up to 20 miles per gallon in the city and 28 mpg on the highway. Drivers looking for better fuel economy can go with the RX 450h, which uses a hybrid gas-and-electric 3.5-liter V6 to deliver 308 hp, along with 31 mpg city/30 mpg hwy.

Meanwhile, the MKX also offers two engines. Base models use a 303-hp 3.7-liter V6, which boasts up to 17 mpg city/26 mpg hwy. Drivers looking for more power can upgrade to a 335-hp 2.7-liter turbocharged V6, which retains the same fuel economy rating. Unfortunately, the MKX doesn't offer a hybrid engine for shoppers who are especially interested in fuel economy.

If fuel economy is a priority, it's obvious that you should go with the RX. Not only does it offer better gas mileage with its standard engine, but it touts an available hybrid engine with even stronger fuel economy numbers.

Safety

Although the RX has not yet been crash-tested by the federal government's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the MKX earned a perfect 5-star overall score. Meanwhile, the MKX has not yet been crash-tested by the nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, while the RX earned the firm's coveted Top Safety Pick+ overall rating.

As for safety equipment, both the RX and the MKX are at the top of the curve. Not only does each model include everything you'll need as standard equipment (side-curtain airbags, a backup camera, anti-lock brakes and traction control), but both SUVs offer a wide range of other features such as forward-collision warning with automatic braking, a blind spot monitoring system, rear cross-traffic alert, lane-departure warning and lane-keep assist. Although neither the MKX nor the RX offers any major features that the other doesn't have, both models are at the top of the luxury-SUV game when it comes to safety equipment.

Technology

When it comes to technology and gadgets, both the RX and the MKX are at the top of their segment -- a function of the fact that both models were recently redesigned. In addition to the safety equipment we've already described, both the RX and MKX tout a long list of today's latest comfort and convenience features, including rear-seat DVD players, panoramic sunroofs, adaptive cruise control, multiangle parking cameras, premium sound systems, LED headlights and a lot more.

In our minds, the only major difference between the RX and the MKX relates to their infotainment system. While both offer infotainment technology with a lot of the latest features and gadgets, we prefer the MKX's touchscreen user interface to the RX's, which uses a Remote Touch controller that can be highly frustrating until you get used to it. The one thing that gives the RX the edge when it comes to technology is the Mark Levinson audio system. It's easily one of the best in-car audio systems at any price. The Clari-Fi system that analyzes and rebuilds compressed audio really works and makes even satellite radio pleasant.

Value

When you compare pricing between the MKX and the RX, you'll notice that the Lincoln has a slight leg up over its Lexus rival. The main reason is that the Lincoln starts at $39,000 with shipping, while the Lexus starts at $42,900. This difference is carried through the trim levels, despite the fact that they have roughly the same level of equipment. The hybrid-powered RX 450h -- which has an appealing 31 mpg city fuel economy rating -- is an even pricier $53,100 with shipping before any options or extras.

The reason for this is that Lincoln is doing its best to enter the luxury-SUV segment, while Lexus is already a major player. And Lexus' stronger brand name means that they're free to charge more. But shoppers who are especially focused on value and bottom-line pricing will probably prefer the MKX to the more expensive RX.

Autotrader's Advice

The 2016 Lincoln MKX and the 2016 Lexus RX are two of today's best luxury SUVs. Both models offer smooth, comfortable driving experiences, a lot of high-tech equipment, today's latest safety gadgets and excellent powertrains. Choosing between the two is hard, but if you compare the basic RX 350 to the lowest-priced MKX, the Lincoln is better. No, it can't beat the RX for fuel economy -- and probably not for reliability either. But it offers more power, virtually identical equipment, an improved infotainment interface and more attractive pricing than its popular Lexus rival.

Taken as a whole, however, it's the Lexus RX we'd recommend for two simple reasons: variety and an amazing sound system. The 2016 Lexus RX comes as a gasoline-powered SUV or as a hybrid. There's also an F Sport version that offers a sportier look and feel, plus you can get the F Sport treatment even if you opt for the hybrid version. That, plus the excellent Mark Levinson audio system with Clari-Fi, makes the Lexus RX better overall.

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Used 2016 Lexus RX Models AWD F Sport
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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2016 Lexus RX vs. 2016 Lincoln MKX: Which Is Better? - Autotrader