2019 Acura MDX vs. 2019 Volvo XC90

2018 Acura MDX vs. 2018 Volvo XC90

The 2019 Acura MDX and the 2019 Volvo XC90 are two of the most popular luxury SUVs on the market today. They’re also two of the most appealing, though for fairly different reasons, as they go about the job of a 3-row family crossover in very different ways. Let’s take a look at the XC90 and MDX to see which might be better for you.

The MDX received a nice redesign and refresh for 2017. The most obvious change upon first glance is its new face and shield-like grille. But even more important to options lovers is that the MDX is now available with a ton of new features like 20-inch wheels, power-folding mirrors, a surround-view parking camera, a heated steering wheel and second-row captain’s chairs.

The XC90 was redesigned in 2016, when it was redesigned for the first time in more than a decade. This included a complete redesign and upgraded interior to help it better compete. Looking back, it’s hard to believe that Volvo allowed their models to go so long without substantial updates.

Performance and Fuel Economy

The 2019 Acura MDX comes standard with a 3.5-liter V6 engine that produces 290 horsepower and 267 lb-ft of torque. A 9-speed automatic transmission is standard, and you can get either front-wheel drive or Acura’s “Super Handling” all-wheel-drive system (SH-AWD). Fuel economy is 18 miles per gallon in the city, 26 mpg on the highway and 21 mpg in combined driving with SH-AWD*.

The Sport Hybrid model adds three electric motors to a smaller 3.0-liter V6 engine for a total output of 321 hp and 289 lb-ft. It returns 26 mpg city/27 mpg hwy/27 mpg combined*. It’ll save you an estimated $450 per year on fuel compared to the MDX with SH-AWD.

The base 2019 Volvo XC90 T5 model has a turbocharged 4-cylinder engine (250 hp, 258 lb-ft) that returns 22 mpg city/25 mpg hwy/23 mpg combined with optional all-wheel drive. The XC90 T6 model adds a supercharger to that same engine to produce 316 hp and 295 lb-ft while returning 20 mpg city/25 mpg hwy/22 mpg combined, according to the EPA.

The XC90 T8 is plug-in hybrid with a much larger battery capacity that allows it to travel 14 miles on electricity alone and ultimately return a 54 mpg-equivalent rating. When that all-electric plug-in capacity has been depleted, the T8 returns 25 mpg combined as a regular hybrid.

Given this comparison, both the MDX and XC90 are fairly evenly matched in terms of performance and fuel economy. Looking at the hybrid models, the XC90’s ability to travel on battery power alone is nice; however, its extremely short range and high price tag compared to the MDX Sport Hybrid negate any possible savings on fuel over time.

Safety and Technology

Both of these luxury SUVs are two of the safest vehicles on the road. They come with a number of tech safety features that many buyers will appreciate, including lane-keeping assist and forward-collision warning with pedestrian detection and automatic emergency braking.

The NHTSA gave both the Acura MDX and Volvo XC90 5-star ratings for overall, frontal- and side-crash protection. The nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave both its highest possible marks for crash protection and prevention. The only differentiating rating was the MDX’s Acceptable-rated headlights bettered the Volvo’s Marginal-rated ones.

The XC90’s vertically oriented touchscreen interface, which controls most secondary functions, took a hit from owners for glitches and usability issues. Software updates may correct the former, while we can report that changes to its menu layout have indeed improved the latter. Four tiles on the homepage constantly display navigation, audio, climate and smartphone information, making it easier to control the system. We especially like that you can control and view the standard Apple CarPlay controls at the same time as the Volvo system controls. In virtually every other car you have to go back and forth between them — that’s annoying.

The 2019 MDX received an upgrade featuring Apple CarPlay or Android Auto functionality. Some may be drawn to the XC90’s screen-focused controls, while others may enjoy the way Acura’s two-screen setup allows for easy access to controls through the analog knob and other control buttons.

Which is Right for You?

The MDX starts at $45,295** for a front-wheel-drive model. The XC90 T5 starts at $47,895 with front-wheel drive. The two are actually similarly equipped, though the more powerful MDX differs with standard leather, heated front seats, tri-zone climate control and a third-row seat, while the larger XC90 counters with standard navigation and a panoramic sunroof. It’s pretty obvious, then, that the MDX provides more stuff and better performance for the money. Plus, if you want a third-row seat in the XC90, you have to step up to the pricier T6 AWD model (typically a $6,000-$7,000 hike, not to mention a larger fuel bill).

When you put every available feature on the MDX SH-AWD, it hits the register well below the XC90. A comparably equipped XC90 T6 AWD would cost about $63,600. The biggest reason for the price difference is that Volvo is really going after buyers looking for features that reach beyond many other vehicles in this segment. This is why the top-of-the-line XC90 trim has an MSRP of $104,900, according to Volvo.

At the end of the day, many buyers of luxury SUVs will be more drawn to the MDX. The value and simple options packages give it a huge leg up on the XC90 when comparing similar models.
And thanks to Acura’s award-winning reliability and resale value, it’s not hard to see why the MDX is one of the best-selling luxury SUVs available.



*Based on model year EPA mileage ratings. Use for comparison purposes only. Your actual mileage will vary, depending on how you drive and maintain your vehicle, driving conditions, battery pack age/condition (hybrid models only) and other factors.

*Prices shown include a destination & handling charge but do not include taxes or license. Destination charges for ILX, TLX and RLX is $995.00, NSX is $1800.00 and MDX and RDX is $995.00. Actual vehicles/accessory costs, labor and installation vary. Prices do not reflect dealer-installed accessories. Please consult your selected dealer.

Government 5-Star Vehicle Scores are part of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA’s) New Car Assessment Program. For additional information on the 5-Star Safety Ratings program, please visit www.safercar.gov.