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2018 Acura MDX vs. 2018 Audi Q7: Which Is Better?

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author photo by Eric Brandt September 2018
  • The 2018 Acura MDX and the 2018 Audi Q7 are luxury crossover SUVs with convenient third-row seats for added versatility.

  • The MDX is more value-priced, but the Q7 is, in some ways, more luxurious.

  • The Q7 is available with an exciting supercharged V6, and an available hybrid powertrain brings both performance and efficiency to the MDX.

There are a lot of luxury crossovers that blend in with the crowd. They offer comfortable family transportation, but many of them don't really stand out or offer any real excitement. Two exceptions to that are the Acura MDX and the Audi Q7.

The MDX and the Q7 are for drivers who need a roomy family hauler, but who also want their daily driver to be enjoyable from behind the wheel without sacrificing comfort for both the driver and the passengers. Let's take a look at what's different, what's similar and which is better between the 2018 Audi Q7 and 2018 Acura MDX.

Exterior

The Acura MDX has benefited from a facelift since the 2017 model year that replaces the reviled "beak" in the front grille with an attractive "diamond pentagon" grille that we think is a big improvement. The grille is flanked by LED headlights that give way to a nicely sculpted body that strikes a nice blend of traditional SUV styling with some modern flair.

The Audi Q7 has a dignified appearance like most Audis, which can be considered both good and bad. On one hand, it has a decidedly premium look, but on the other it kind of blends in with other Audis. There isn't much that visually sets the Q7 apart from other Audi crossovers other than size.

The Q7 is a little bigger than the MDX in length and height. The MDX has about an inch less of ground clearance, giving it a sportier stance. The lower ride height can also make it easier to get in and out of for shorter drivers and passengers, and it just makes it feel a little sportier from behind the wheel by bringing you closer to the road.

The Audi and the Acura are both handsome crossovers that take different approaches to luxury in their styling. If you want a bold, head-turning look, you might prefer the Acura, but if you want something with quiet, yet attractive styling, you might appreciate the tasteful subtlety of the Audi.

Interior

The larger dimensions of the Audi Q7 make for a slightly bigger interior than the one in the Acura. Passengers in the second and third rows will find themselves with a little more room in the Q7 than in the MDX, but both are pretty cramped for adults in the third-row seats.

As for quality, the MDX's lower price point starts to make sense when comparing craftsmanship and materials in these two crossovers. The Q7 looks and feels a little nicer throughout the interior with a clean and premium design throughout the cabin. The MDX certainly isn't ugly or uncomfortable on the inside; the Q7 is just a little nicer.

Cargo volume is very similar between the Q7 and the MDX with the Q7 having a little more room, but only when all of the back seats are folded down. Both the Audi and the Acura have 10 cup holders, which help with family friendliness.

Overall, the Q7 has a nicer interior than the MDX, and the price reflects that.

Mechanicals

Both the Audi Q7 and the Acura MDX are available with two different engines. The base engine in the Q7 is a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four engine. You might think a 4-cylinder is a little small of an SUV this big, but it provides more-than-adequate motivation for this crossover with 252 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque. Not only is it a strong performer, it can also tow up to 4,400 pounds. To top it off, it also returns respectable fuel economy of 19 miles per gallon in city driving and 25 mpg on the highway.

For hotter performance, you can upgrade to a supercharged 3.0-liter V6 that makes 333 hp and 325 lb-ft of torque with an impressive towing rating of 7,700 pounds. According to the EPA, its fuel economy rating is identical to the 4-cylinder at 19 mpg city/25 mpg hwy. This is a great engine for both fun performance and strong towing.

The base engine in the Acura MDX is a naturally aspirated 3.5-liter V6 that produces 290 hp and 267 lb-ft of torque with a towing capacity of up to 5,000 pounds. Not only is it more powerful than the 4-cylinder in the Q7, it's also a little more efficient returning 19 mpg city/27 mpg hwy.

To combine efficiency with excitement, you can get the MDX Sport Hybrid, which has a hybrid powertrain derived from the Acura NSX supercar. It won't give you the performance of an NSX, but it's impressive nonetheless with 321 hp and 289 lb-ft of torque. That isn't quite as strong as the supercharged V6 in the Audi, but it's more efficient, returning 26 mpg city/27 mpg hwy. One downside of the hybrid is that Acura doesn't recommend towing at all with the MDX Sport Hybrid. That's not a big deal if you're not planning on doing any towing anyway, but it does make it less versatile.

All four of these drivetrains are pretty good and easy to recommend. If you want great fuel economy and great performance, you'll love the MDX Sport Hybrid, as long as you're not planning on doing any towing. For raw performance and plenty of towing capacity, we recommend a V6-equipped Q7.

Infotainment

Acura has had the distinction of using two vertically stacked screens for their infotainment systems for a while, and that continues in the 2018 Acura MDX. It's kind of nice to have a screen dedicated to navigation with another screen for everything else, but it can also be a bit distracting. The AcuraLink system's interface is starting to look and feel a little dated compared to more modern systems like the Audi Connect system. One really nice connectivity feature of the MDX is standard Android Auto and Apple CarPlay on every trim.

The Audi Connect infotainment system in the Q7 is among the best in its class. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are standard on the Premium Plus and Prestige trims, but not on the base Premium trim. Optional on Premium Plus and standard on Prestige models is the beautiful 12.3-in virtual cockpit that turns your gauge cluster into an advanced navigation screen accompanied by your gauges all presented in a very clean way that's easy to read.

The Audi's system looks prettier and is more advanced, but standard Android Auto and Apple CarPlay is a huge plus for the Acura.

Pricing

One of the biggest differences between the Acura MDX and the Audi Q7 is in the pricing. The MDX starts at $44,200, and the starting MSRP of the Q7 is $49,900. It's worth noting, however, that every Q7 comes standard with quattro all-wheel drive, while Acura's SH-AWD costs extra unless you opt for a Sport Hybrid on which AWD is standard. That said, an AWD-equipped MDX is available for as little as $46,200, which still undercuts the price of a base Q7 by a decent amount.

Upgrading to the better engine is still much more affordable in the Acura than it is in the Audi. The MDX Sport Hybrid starts at $52,100, while the most affordable supercharged Q7 will set you back $56,400.

The Q7 is more generously equipped than the MDX at the entry level, but the Acura's lower price point makes it a more accessible luxury crossover for more drivers.

Conclusion

The Audi and the Acura take different approaches to luxury, and one might be more appealing to you than the other. The value proposition that the Acura presents, however, makes it the better buy in our opinion. The Q7 might be a better SUV, especially on the high end, but the MDX is a better value thanks to standard connectivity features, a good base engine and a stylish design.

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Used 2018 Acura MDX SH-AWD w/ Technology Package
Used 2018 Acura MDX
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Certified 2018 Acura MDX
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Used 2018 Acura MDX SH-AWD w/ Technology Package
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Used 2018 Acura MDX
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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.
2018 Acura MDX vs. 2018 Audi Q7: Which Is Better? - Autotrader