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I wanted to see the comparisons on the MDX vs Highlander. I am having a hard time with thinking about buying a Toyota for about the same price as an MDX Tech. Our considerations are having 3 kids (2 toddlers and 1 newborn) trying to weigh luxury and fun to drive vs practicality as well as how easy it is to access the 3rd row with all the kids loaded. I would love to hear feedback.

Thanks.
 

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I'd say it's personal preference. I haven't tried the new Highlanders but Toyotas in general tend to be more biased towards a soft & floaty ride which I hate. For the previous-generation at least, the MDX was a LOT sportier and more fun to drive, while still being comfortable

Also the Highlander seems to be roomier (isn't the new one an 8-eater?).

Highlander = utilitarian & comfortable, MDX = sporty & stylish
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I'd say it's personal preference. I haven't tried the new Highlanders but Toyotas in general tend to be more biased towards a soft & floaty ride which I hate. For the previous-generation at least, the MDX was a LOT sportier and more fun to drive, while still being comfortable

Also the Highlander seems to be roomier (isn't the new one an 8-eater?).

Highlander = utilitarian & comfortable, MDX = sporty & stylish
I get that the Highlander might be more utilitarian, but comfortable?... The first time I sat in the MDX I felt like they were some of the most comfortable seats I have ever sat in, so I don't necessarily agree with you on comfort.
-yes the highlander can be an 8 seater but only in lower trims, the limited and platinum have captains chairs in the middle row and only seat 7 and the top 2 trims are the only ones that could possibly compete with the Acura.
-I would like the Acura to be worth the money over the Highlander, I am, however, finding it difficult to find more than enough evidence to support that decision.
-Another huge obstacle I am coming across is the reliability of the 2 vehicles. The Highlander has a great reliablilty rating as you can look at both Acura MDX and Toyota Highlander here Long-Term Quality Index
It's the Powertrain and Transmission percentages for Acura that makes me uneasy compared with the Toyota. If I am going to put $40k + into a vehicle I certainly don't want the vehicle to become a money pit trying to fix the problem. I get opinions have some weight, but it's really hard to have an opinion about numbers.
 

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I test drove both and found the Toyota ride to be a little soft and the car overall left me with a blah taste. If I recall, what you get standard on the MDX you have to add to the Highlander and the price becomes about the same, without the more innate-feeling (for lack of better word) luxury you get in the MDX. Big caveat here is that I did NOT drive the limited platinum or any of the higher trims of the highlander (I do remember thinking the captains chair setup in the second row is a big plus for access to the third row). The MDX definitely felt sportier, though.
 

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I get that the Highlander might be more utilitarian, but comfortable?... The first time I sat in the MDX I felt like they were some of the most comfortable seats I have ever sat in, so I don't necessarily agree with you on comfort.
I probably used the wrong word? I meant that Toyotas generally have soft, mushy suspension and a floaty ride that isolates you from any road feel. It's like driving an old Buick or Cadillac, no fun at all to be had.

The MDX suspension is a bit stiffer but has a more direct road feel, it's for people who enjoy driving IMO

I agree the MDX seats are better than Toyota's

Don't forget that top-level Highlanders are still based on a $30K platform. More gizmos and leather, but the underpinnings are still lower-grade. The MDX is designed as a $45K+ platform
 

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Have you driven both? The MDX is significantly more impressive from a performance, smooth/quiet engine, economy, and composure standpoint. It also has a significantly more advanced AWD system. That being said, the Highlander is a great vehicle as a family hauler and the real advantage is in the price which you seem to discount. Pun intended. The Highlander Platinum is equipped better than the Advanced MDX at a $13k savings. Even the Tech is $5k more and doesn't come close to the equipment on the Platinum. So yes the MDX is a nicer vehicle all around (less some unavailable features) but it's at a completely different price point in my book.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Have you driven both? The MDX is significantly more impressive from a performance, smooth/quiet engine, economy, and composure standpoint. It also has a significantly more advanced AWD system. That being said, the Highlander is a great vehicle as a family hauler and the real advantage is in the price which you seem to discount. Pun intended. The Highlander Platinum is equipped better than the Advanced MDX at a $13k savings. Even the Tech is $5k more and doesn't come close to the equipment on the Platinum. So yes the MDX is a nicer vehicle all around (less some unavailable features) but it's at a completely different price point in my book.
Yes i have driven them both and didn't notice an awful bit of difference, but then again I only drove them for about 15 min each and not on any curvy roads just a highway drive. I can understand that the MDX is more fun to drive. I am getting an uneasy feeling, however, since there are so many negative comments and frustrations on the true quality of the MDX (i.e. rattling, engine squealing, seat quality, etc...) I never really seen so many negative/unsatisfied comments on a forum before.
 

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Yes i have driven them both and didn't notice an awful bit of difference, but then again I only drove them for about 15 min each and not on any curvy roads just a highway drive. I can understand that the MDX is more fun to drive. I am getting an uneasy feeling, however, since there are so many negative comments and frustrations on the true quality of the MDX (i.e. rattling, engine squealing, seat quality, etc...) I never really seen so many negative/unsatisfied comments on a forum before.
I drove a 4Runner for several years and couldn't see driving anything else. It was reliable, drove well and handled everything I threw at it. Then my wife picked up an '05 MDX about 4 years ago with crazy low miles. I loved driving it so much that when the time came for me to trade in the 4Runner... I got my own MDX!

I've had it for close to three months now doing the typical daily commute + one long trip with the family back to Mass for Thanksgiving. I'll be honest, I still love driving it every single day. In my experience, the fit, finish and handling are just awesome...
 

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Add me to the list of confused would be buyers. On my shortlist is the Highlander Hybrid Limited and the MDX Navigation. I'm in Canada and both are priced just the same. The HiHy is much better equippped-Pre collision system, panoramic moon roof, heated rear seats, 3 zone climate control with vents in the third row, dynamic radar cruise control, full size spare tire and parking sensors. Acura has the LED lights and 8 seats, instead of the 7 in HiHy. I'm not sure there's anything else that the MDX has at the Navigation/Tech package trim level that's not available in the HiHy.

Then there's the regular cost of running- better fuel economy due to the hybrid system and the fact that it takes only regular gasoline.

The only big plus for Acura based on the vehicle pedigree is the handling. Supposedly the 2015 Highlander handles a lot better than its 2nd generation predecessors, but I'm not sure.
Logically thinking, the HiHy is a no brainer. But the emotional part of me is thinking about the vehicle handling and the advantage Acura has over there.
Can anyone with experience on the handling of the MDX vs Highlander Hybrid for the 2015 model years please comment?
 

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the previous-generation Highlander hybrid's drive system wasn't really "all wheel drive", the rear wheels are driven by an electric motor and from what I've heard the system won't tolerate ANY wheelspin - as soon as it detects spin the traction control kicks in and stops you. Oh and BTW the Hybrid's traction control can't be turned off. Useless for winter. When I was shopping for both, the sales ppl at Toyota pretty much confirmed this and said "on a hybrid you really need to have nearly-new SNOW tires or else you'll get stuck" ...

For example, read this: http://www.greenhybrid.com/forums/f31/highlander-hybrid-boat-anchor-snow-12464/

As far as I know the Highlander drivetrain hasn't really been updated for this generation so it's probably still the same way. Also, real-world fuel economy isn't as great as the EPA numbers suggest. Like most hybrids and turbo cars, they REALLY tune the system to perform well on EPA testing but in everyday driving you're only doing a few MPG better than the non-hybrid
 
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