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The MDX’s optional pre-crash front seatbelts will tighten automatically in the event the vehicle detects an impending crash, improving protection against injury significantly. The Highlander Hybrid doesn’t offer pre-crash pretensioners.
Both the MDX and the Highlander Hybrid have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, front wheel drive, height adjustable front shoulder belts, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, crash mitigating brakes, lane departure warning systems, rearview cameras, available all wheel drive, blind spot warning systems, around view monitors and rear cross-path warning.
The MDX comes with a full 4-year/50,000-mile basic warranty, which covers the entire truck and includes 24-hour roadside assistance. The Highlander Hybrid’s 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty expires 1 year and 14,000 miles sooner.
Acura’s powertrain warranty covers the MDX 1 year and 10,000 miles longer than Toyota covers the Highlander Hybrid. Any repair needed on the engine, transmission, axles, joints or driveshafts is fully covered for 6 years or 70,000 miles. Coverage on the Highlander Hybrid ends after only 5 years or 60,000 miles.
The engines in the MDX have a single overhead cam for simplicity. The engine in the Highlander Hybrid has dual overhead cams, which add to the number of moving parts and the complexity of the cylinder heads.
The MDX’s standard 3.5 SOHC V6 produces 47 more horsepower (290 vs. 243) than the Highlander Hybrid’s 2.5 DOHC 4-cylinder hybrid. The MDX Sport Hybrid’s standard 3.0 SOHC V6 hybrid produces 78 more horsepower (321 vs. 243) than the Highlander Hybrid’s 2.5 DOHC 4-cylinder hybrid.
An engine control system that can shut down some of the engine’s cylinders helps improve the MDX’s fuel efficiency. The Highlander Hybrid doesn’t offer a system that can shut down part of the engine.
The MDX Sport Hybrid’s standard fuel tank has 2.3 gallons more fuel capacity than the Highlander Hybrid (19.4 vs. 17.1 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups. The MDX’s standard fuel tank has 2.4 gallons more fuel capacity than the Highlander Hybrid (19.5 vs. 17.1 gallons).
The MDX has a standard cap-less fueling system. The fuel filler is automatically opened when the fuel nozzle is inserted and automatically closed when it’s removed. This eliminates the need to unscrew and replace the cap and it reduces fuel evaporation, which causes pollution. The Highlander Hybrid doesn’t offer a cap-less fueling system.
For better traction, the MDX has larger standard tires than the Highlander Hybrid (245/60R18 vs. 235/65R18). The MDX A-Spec’s tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Highlander Hybrid (265/45R20 vs. 235/65R18).
The MDX’s standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 60 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Highlander Hybrid LE/XLE’s standard 65 series tires. The MDX A-Spec’s tires have a lower 45 series profile than the Highlander Hybrid Limited/Platinum’s 55 series tires.
The MDX has a standard easy tire fill system. When inflating the tires, the vehicle’s integrated tire pressure sensors keep track of the pressure as the tires fill and tell the driver when the tires are inflated to the proper pressure. The Highlander Hybrid doesn’t offer vehicle monitored tire inflation.
The MDX offers an available driver-adjustable suspension system. It allows the driver to choose between an extra-supple ride, reducing fatigue on long trips, or a sport setting, which allows maximum control for tricky roads or off-road. The Highlander Hybrid’s suspension doesn’t offer adjustable shock absorbers.
The MDX has vehicle speed sensitive variable-assist power steering, for low-effort parking, better control at highway speeds and during hard cornering, and a better feel of the road. The Highlander Hybrid doesn’t offer variable-assist power steering.
The Acura MDX may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 100 to 300 pounds less than the Toyota Highlander Hybrid.
The MDX uses computer-generated active noise cancellation to help remove annoying noise and vibration from the passenger compartment, especially at low frequencies. The Highlander Hybrid doesn’t offer active noise cancellation.
The MDX has .3 inches more front hip room, 2.1 inches more front shoulder room, .8 inches more rear hip room, .4 inches more rear shoulder room and .4 inches more third row legroom than the Highlander Hybrid.
The MDX’s cargo area provides more volume than the Highlander Hybrid.
Second Seat Folded
90.9 cubic feet
84.3 cubic feet
Maximum trailer towing in the Toyota Highlander Hybrid is limited to 3500 pounds. The MDX SH-AWD offers up to a 5000 lbs. towing capacity.
The MDX uses gas struts to support the hood for easier service access. The Highlander Hybrid uses a prop rod to support its heavy hood. It takes two hands to open the hood and set the prop rod, the prop rod gets in the way during maintenance and service, and the prop rod could be knocked out, causing the heavy hood to fall on the person maintaining or servicing the car.
J.D. Power and Associates surveys of service recipients show that Acura service is better than Toyota. J.D. Power ranks Acura 6th in service department satisfaction (above the industry average). With a 26% lower rating, Toyota is ranked 14th.
The MDX offers a remote vehicle starting system, so the vehicle can be started from inside the driver's house. This allows the driver to comfortably warm up the engine before going out to the vehicle. The climate system will also automatically heat or cool the interior. The Highlander Hybrid doesn’t offer a remote starting system.
The MDX’s standard easy entry system raises the steering wheel and glides the driver’s seat back, making it easier for the driver to get in and out. The Highlander Hybrid doesn’t offer an easy entry system.
The MDX offers an optional heads-up display that projects speed readouts in front of the driver’s line of sight, allowing drivers to view information without diverting their eyes from the road. The Highlander Hybrid doesn’t offer a heads-up display.
The MDX’s standard speed-sensitive wipers speed up when the vehicle does, so that the driver doesn’t have to continually adjust the speed of the wipers. The Highlander Hybrid’s standard manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.
The MDX’s standard rear view mirror and optional side view mirrors have an automatic dimming feature. These mirrors can be set to automatically darken quickly when headlights shine on them, keeping following vehicles from blinding or distracting the driver. The Highlander Hybrid offers an automatic rear view mirror, but its side mirrors don’t dim.
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