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The Navigator (except Base)’s optional driver alert monitor detects an inattentive driver then sounds a warning and suggests a break. According to the NHTSA, drivers who fall asleep cause about 100,000 crashes and 1500 deaths a year. The MDX doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.
Both the Navigator and the MDX have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, height adjustable front shoulder belts, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available all wheel drive, crash mitigating brakes, lane departure warning systems and around view monitors.
The Lincoln Navigator weighs 1199 to 1823 pounds more than the Acura MDX. The NHTSA advises that heavier vehicles are much safer in collisions than their significantly lighter counterparts.
There are over 3 times as many Lincoln dealers as there are Acura dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Navigator’s warranty.
The camshafts in the Navigator’s engine are driven by a hardened steel chain, with no maintenance needs. The MDX’s camshafts are driven by a rubber belt that needs periodic replacement. If the MDX’s cam drive belt breaks the engine could be severely damaged when the pistons hit the opened valves.
The Navigator has a standard “limp home system” to keep drivers from being stranded if most or all of the engine’s coolant is lost. The engine will reduce its power and light a warning lamp on the dashboard so the driver can get to a service station for repairs. The MDX doesn’t offer a lost coolant limp home mode, so a coolant leak could strand you or seriously damage the truck’s engine.
J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Lincoln vehicles are better in initial quality than Acura vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Lincoln 7th in initial quality, above the industry average. With 16 more problems per 100 vehicles, Acura is ranked 20th, below the industry average.
J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Lincoln vehicles are more reliable than Acura vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Lincoln 10th in reliability, above the industry average. With 26 more problems per 100 vehicles, Acura is ranked 20th.
The Navigator’s 3.5 turbo V6 produces 160 more horsepower (450 vs. 290) and 243 lbs.-ft. more torque (510 vs. 267) than the MDX’s standard 3.5 SOHC V6. The Navigator’s 3.5 turbo V6 produces 129 more horsepower (450 vs. 321) and 221 lbs.-ft. more torque (510 vs. 289) than the MDX Sport Hybrid’s standard 3.0 SOHC V6 hybrid.
To lower fuel costs and make buying fuel easier, the Lincoln Navigator uses regular unleaded gasoline (premium recommended for maximum performance). The MDX requires premium, which can cost 20 to 55 cents more per gallon.
The Navigator has 3.8 gallons more fuel capacity than the MDX Sport Hybrid’s standard fuel tank (23.2 vs. 19.4 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups. The Navigator has 3.7 gallons more fuel capacity than the MDX’s standard fuel tank (23.2 vs. 19.5 gallons).
A 10-speed automatic is standard on the Lincoln Navigator, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only a nine-speed automatic is available for the MDX.
For better stopping power the Navigator’s brake rotors are larger than those on the MDX:
MDX Sport Hybrid
The Navigator’s standard front and rear disc brakes are vented to help dissipate heat for shorter stops with less fading. The rear discs on the MDX are solid, not vented.
For better traction, the Navigator has larger standard tires than the MDX (275/55R20 vs. 245/60R18). The Navigator Select/Reserve/Black Label’s tires are larger than the largest tires available on the MDX (285/45R22 vs. 265/45R20).
The Navigator Base’s standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 55 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the MDX’s standard 60 series tires.
For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Navigator Base has standard 20-inch wheels. Smaller 18-inch wheels are standard on the MDX. The Navigator Select/Reserve/Black Label’s 22-inch wheels are larger than the 20-inch wheels optional on the MDX.
The Lincoln Navigator’s wheels have 6 lugs for longer wheel bearing life, less chance of rotor warping and greater strength. The Acura MDX only has 5 wheel lugs per wheel.
The Navigator’s drift compensation steering can automatically compensate for road conditions which would cause the vehicle to drift from side to side, helping the driver to keep the vehicle straight more easily. The MDX doesn’t offer drift compensation steering.
For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Navigator’s wheelbase is 11.5 inches longer than on the MDX (122.5 inches vs. 111 inches).
For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the Navigator is 1.3 inches wider in the front and .9 inches wider in the rear than on the MDX.
For greater off-road capability the Navigator has a 2.3 inches greater minimum ground clearance than the MDX (9.6 vs. 7.3 inches), allowing the Navigator to travel over rougher terrain without being stopped or damaged.
The front grille of the Navigator uses electronically controlled shutters to close off airflow and reduce drag when less engine cooling is needed. This helps improve highway fuel economy. The MDX doesn’t offer active grille shutters.
The Navigator offers optional seating for 8 passengers; the MDX can only carry 7.
The Navigator has 39.3 cubic feet more passenger volume than the MDX (172 vs. 132.7).
The Navigator has 3.7 inches more front headroom, 2.5 inches more front legroom, 4.4 inches more front hip room, 4.1 inches more front shoulder room, 1.7 inches more rear headroom, 4.5 inches more rear legroom, 3.8 inches more rear hip room, 6 inches more rear shoulder room, 1.7 inches more third row headroom, 8 inches more third row legroom, 10.8 inches more third row hip room and 9.5 inches more third row shoulder room than the MDX.
For enhanced passenger comfort on long trips the Navigator’s middle and third row seats recline. The MDX’s third row seats don’t recline.
The Navigator’s cargo area provides more volume than the MDX.
Behind Third Seat
19.3 cubic feet
15.8 cubic feet
Third Seat Folded
57.5 cubic feet
43.4 cubic feet
Second Seat Folded
103.3 cubic feet
90.9 cubic feet
The Navigator has a standard third row seat which folds flat into the floor. This completely clears a very large cargo area quickly. The MDX doesn’t offer seats that fold into the floor.
Pressing a switch automatically lowers the Navigator’s second and third row seats, to make changing between passengers and cargo easier. The MDX doesn’t offer automatic folding seats.
The Navigator’s rear cargo window opens separately from the rest of the liftgate door to allow quicker loading of small packages. The MDX’s rear cargo window doesn’t open.
To make loading groceries and cargo easier when your hands are full, the Navigator’s liftgate can be opened and closed just by kicking your foot under the back bumper, leaving your hands completely free. The MDX doesn’t offer a hands-free gesture to open its liftgate, forcing you to put cargo down if your hands are full.
The Navigator’s standard towing capacity is much higher than the MDX’s (6200 vs. 3500 pounds). Maximum trailer towing in the Acura MDX SH-AWD is only 5000 pounds. The Navigator offers up to a 8300 lbs. towing capacity.
While the MDX SH-AWD Sport Hybrid is not recommended to tow, any Navigator can tow a minimum of 6200 pounds.
The engine in the Navigator is mounted longitudinally (North-South), instead of sideways, as in the MDX. This makes it easier to service and maintain, because there are no rear spark plugs and the accessory belts are in front.
J.D. Power and Associates surveys of service recipients show that Lincoln service is better than Acura. J.D. Power ranks Lincoln 7th in service department satisfaction (above the industry average). With a 15% lower rating, Acura is ranked 12th.
Unlike the driver-only memory system in the MDX, the Navigator offers an optional passenger memory, so that when drivers switch, the memory setting adjusts the driver’s seat, steering wheel position, foot pedal distance, outside mirror angle, climate settings and radio stations and the front passenger seat also adjusts to the new passenger’s preset preferences.
The power windows standard on both the Navigator and the MDX have locks to prevent small children from operating them. When the lock on the Navigator is engaged the driver can still operate all of the windows, for instance to close one opened by a child. The MDX prevents the driver from operating the other windows just as it does the other passengers.
In case you lock your keys in your vehicle, or don’t have them with you, you can let yourself in using the Navigator’s exterior PIN entry system. The MDX doesn’t offer an exterior PIN entry system, and its extra cost AcuraLink can’t unlock the doors if the vehicle doesn’t have cell phone reception or the driver can’t contact the service.
The Navigator’s rain-sensitive wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically based on the amount of rainfall on the windshield. This allows the driver to concentrate on driving without constantly adjusting the wipers. The MDX’s standard intermittent wipers change speed with vehicle speed, but can’t turn on and off or change speed based on changing rainfall.
To help drivers see further while navigating curves, the Navigator has standard adaptive headlights to illuminate around corners automatically by reading vehicle speed and steering wheel angle. The MDX doesn’t offer cornering lights.
To shield the driver and front passenger’s vision over a larger portion of the windshield and side windows, the Navigator has standard extendable sun visors. The MDX doesn’t offer extendable visors.
The Navigator (except Base)’s optional Enhanced Park Assist can parallel park or back into a parking spot by itself, with the driver only controlling speed with the brake pedal. The MDX doesn’t offer an automated parking system.
According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Navigator is less expensive to operate than the MDX because typical repairs cost much less on the Navigator than the MDX, including $225 less for a water pump, $231 less for a muffler, $142 less for front brake pads, $362 less for a starter, $1094 less for fuel injection and $292 less for a fuel pump.
A group of representative automotive journalists from North America selected the Navigator as the 2018 North American Truck of the Year. The MDX was Truck of the Year in 2001.
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