2020 Cadillac Escalade vs. 2019 Acura MDX

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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For enhanced safety, the front shoulder belts of the Cadillac Escalade are height-adjustable, and the middle and rear seat shoulder belts have child comfort guides to move the belt to properly fit children. A better fit can prevent injuries and the increased comfort also encourages children to buckle up. The Acura MDX doesn’t offer comfort guides on its middle or rear seat belts.

Both the Escalade and MDX have child safety locks to prevent children from opening the rear doors. The Escalade has power child safety locks, allowing the driver to activate and deactivate them from the driver's seat and to know when they're engaged. The MDX’s child locks have to be individually engaged at each rear door with a manual switch. The driver can’t know the status of the locks without opening the doors and checking them.

In the past twenty years hundreds of infants and young children have died after being left in vehicles, usually by accident. When turning the vehicle off, drivers of the Escalade are reminded to check the back seat if they opened the rear door before starting out. The MDX doesn’t offer a back seat reminder.

The Escalade has a standard front seat center airbag, which deploys between the driver and front passenger, protecting them from injuries caused by striking each other in serious side impacts. The MDX doesn’t offer front seat center airbags.

Over 200 people are killed each year when backed over by motor vehicles. The Escalade Premium Luxury/Platinum has standard Reverse Automatic Braking that uses rear sensors to monitor and automatically apply the brakes to prevent a rear collision. The MDX doesn’t offer backup collision prevention brakes.

Both the Escalade 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, plastic fuel tanks, 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 blind spot warning systems.

The Cadillac Escalade weighs 1092 to 1824 pounds more than the Acura MDX. The NHTSA advises that heavier vehicles are much safer in collisions than their significantly lighter counterparts.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does side impact tests on new vehicles. In this test, which crashes the vehicle into a flat barrier at 38.5 MPH and into a post at 20 MPH, results indicate that the Cadillac Escalade is safer than the Acura MDX:



Front Seat


5 Stars

5 Stars




Abdominal Force

107 G’s

113 G’s

Hip Force

214 lbs.

244 lbs.

Rear Seat


5 Stars

5 Stars




Spine Acceleration

26 G’s

52 G’s

Hip Force

208 lbs.

757 lbs.

Into Pole


5 Stars

5 Stars




New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.


The Escalade’s corrosion warranty is 1 year longer than the MDX’s (6 vs. 5 years).

There are over 3 times as many Cadillac dealers as there are Acura dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Escalade’s warranty.


A hardened steel chain, with no maintenance needs, drives the camshaft in the Escalade’s engine. A rubber cam drive belt that needs periodic replacement drives the MDX’s camshafts. If the MDX’s belt breaks, the engine could be severely damaged when the pistons hit the opened valves.

To reliably power the ignition and other systems and to recharge the battery, the Escalade has a standard 170-amp alternator. The MDX’s 150-amp alternator isn’t as powerful.

J.D. Power and Associates rated the Escalade first among large premium suvs in their 2019 Initial Quality Study. The MDX isn’t in the top three in its category.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Cadillac vehicles are better in initial quality than Acura vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Cadillac 17th in initial quality. With 10 more problems per 100 vehicles, Acura is ranked 24th.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Cadillac vehicles are more reliable than Acura vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Cadillac 23rd in reliability. With 5 more problems per 100 vehicles, Acura is ranked 26th.


The Escalade’s 6.2 V8 produces 130 more horsepower (420 vs. 290) and 193 lbs.-ft. more torque (460 vs. 267) than the MDX’s standard 3.5 SOHC V6. The Escalade’s 6.2 V8 produces 99 more horsepower (420 vs. 321) and 171 lbs.-ft. more torque (460 vs. 289) than the MDX Sport Hybrid’s standard 3.0 SOHC V6 hybrid.

As tested in Motor Trend the Cadillac Escalade is faster than the Acura MDX V6:



Zero to 60 MPH

5.9 sec

6.2 sec

Quarter Mile

14.4 sec

14.7 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

96.8 MPH

94.6 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

To lower fuel costs and make buying fuel easier, the Cadillac Escalade uses regular unleaded gasoline (premium recommended for maximum performance). The MDX requires premium, which can cost 20 to 55 cents more per gallon.

The Escalade has 6.6 gallons more fuel capacity than the MDX Sport Hybrid’s standard fuel tank (26 vs. 19.4 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups. The Escalade has 6.5 gallons more fuel capacity than the MDX’s standard fuel tank (26 vs. 19.5 gallons).


A 10-speed automatic is standard on the Cadillac Escalade, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only a nine-speed automatic is available for the MDX.

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the Escalade’s brake rotors are larger than those on the MDX:



Front Rotors

13 inches

12.6 inches

Rear Rotors

13.6 inches

13 inches

The Escalade’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.

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the Escalade has larger standard tires than the MDX (275/55R20 vs. 245/60R18). The Escalade’s optional tires are larger than the largest tires available on the MDX (285/45R22 vs. 265/45R20).

The Escalade’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 Escalade has standard 20-inch wheels. Smaller 18-inch wheels are standard on the MDX. The Escalade’s optional 22-inch wheels are larger than the 20-inch wheels optional on the MDX.

The Cadillac Escalade’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 Escalade has a standard full size spare tire so a flat doesn’t interrupt your trip. A full size spare isn’t available on the MDX, it requires you to depend on a temporary spare, which has mileage and speed limitations, or roadside assistance and a tow-truck.

Suspension and Handling

The Escalade has a standard automatic rear load leveling suspension to keep ride height level with a heavy load or when towing. The MDX doesn’t offer a load leveling suspension.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Escalade’s wheelbase is 5 inches longer than on the MDX (116 inches vs. 111 inches).

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the Escalade is 2.4 inches wider in the front and 2.4 inches wider in the rear than on the MDX.

The Escalade’s front to rear weight distribution is more even (51% to 49%) than the MDX’s (57% to 43%). This gives the Escalade more stable handling and braking.

For greater off-road capability the Escalade has a greater minimum ground clearance than the MDX (8 vs. 7.3 inches), allowing the Escalade to travel over rougher terrain without being stopped or damaged.


The front grille of the Escalade 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.

As tested by Car and Driver while under full throttle, the interior of the Escalade 4WD is quieter than the MDX SH-AWD (75 vs. 76 dB).

Passenger Space

The Escalade offers optional seating for 8 passengers; the MDX can only carry 7.

The Escalade has 4.7 inches more front headroom, 3.9 inches more front legroom, 3.4 inches more front hip room, 3.8 inches more front shoulder room, .4 inches more rear headroom, 2.4 inches more rear legroom, 2.4 inches more rear hip room, 5.3 inches more rear shoulder room, 2.5 inches more third row headroom, 8.7 inches more third row hip room and 7.9 inches more third row shoulder room than the MDX.

Cargo Capacity

The Escalade’s cargo area provides more volume than the MDX.



Third Seat Folded

51.6 cubic feet

43.4 cubic feet

Second Seat Folded

94.2 cubic feet

90.9 cubic feet

Pressing a switch automatically lowers the Escalade’s optional second and third row seats, to make changing between passengers and cargo easier. The MDX doesn’t offer automatic folding seats.

The Escalade’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 Escalade’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.

Payload and Towing

The Escalade’s minimum standard towing capacity is much higher than the MDX’s (8100 vs. 3500 pounds).

While the MDX SH-AWD Sport Hybrid is not recommended to tow, any Escalade can tow a minimum of 8100 pounds.

The Escalade has a much higher standard payload capacity than the MDX (1420 vs. 1173 lbs.).

The Escalade has a much higher maximum payload capacity than the MDX (1460 vs. 1173 lbs.).

Servicing Ease

The engine in the Escalade 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 Cadillac service is better than Acura. J.D. Power ranks Cadillac third in service department satisfaction. With a 14% lower rating, Acura is ranked 6th.


The Escalade’s instruments include an oil pressure gauge and a temperature gauge - which could save your engine! Often ‘idiot lights’ don’t warn you until damage has been done. The MDX does not have an oil pressure gauge.

The power windows standard on both the Escalade and the MDX have locks to prevent small children from operating them. When the lock on the Escalade 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.

The Escalade’s power window, power lock, power mirror and cruise control switches are lit from behind, making them plainly visible and easier to operate at night. The MDX’s power mirror switches are unlit, making them difficult to find at night and operate safely.

The Escalade’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 avoid possible obstacles, the Escalade Premium Luxury/Platinum has standard cornering lights to illuminate around corners when the turn signals are activated. 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 Escalade has standard extendable sun visors. The MDX doesn’t offer extendable visors.

The Escalade has a standard heated steering wheel to take the chill out of steering on extremely cold winter days before the vehicle heater warms up. A heated steering wheel costs extra on the MDX.

To quickly and conveniently keep personal devices charged without cables tangling and wearing out, the Cadillac Escalade has a standard wireless phone charging system (Qi) in the center console. The MDX doesn’t offer wireless personal charging.

The Escalade’s Automatic 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.

Economic Advantages

Insurance will cost less for the Escalade owner. The Car Book by Jack Gillis rates the Escalade with a number “5” insurance rate while the MDX is rated higher at a number “10” rate.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Escalade is less expensive to operate than the MDX because typical repairs cost much less on the Escalade than the MDX, including $108 less for a water pump, $94 less for front brake pads, $262 less for a starter, $1006 less for fuel injection and $94 less for a fuel pump.


J.D. Power and Associates rated the Escalade third among large premium suvs in owner reported satisfaction. This includes how well the vehicle performs and satisfies its owner’s expectations. The MDX isn’t in the top three in its category.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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