2020 Chevrolet Tahoe vs. 2019 Acura MDX

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

For enhanced safety, the front shoulder belts of the Chevrolet Tahoe 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 Tahoe and MDX have child safety locks to prevent children from opening the rear doors. The Tahoe 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 Tahoe 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 Tahoe 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.

Both the Tahoe 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, blind spot warning systems, front parking sensors and rear cross-path warning.

The Chevrolet Tahoe weighs 869 to 1570 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 Chevrolet Tahoe is safer than the Acura MDX:

Tahoe

MDX

Front Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

23

72

Abdominal Force

107 G’s

113 G’s

Hip Force

214 lbs.

244 lbs.

Rear Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

107

133

Spine Acceleration

26 G’s

52 G’s

Hip Force

208 lbs.

757 lbs.

Into Pole

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

355

396

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

Warranty

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

There are over 11 times as many Chevrolet dealers as there are Acura dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Tahoe’s warranty.

Reliability

A hardened steel chain, with no maintenance needs, drives the camshaft in the Tahoe’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.

The Tahoe 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 run on only half of its cylinders at a time, 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.

A reliable vehicle saves its owner time, money and trouble. Nobody wants to be stranded or have to be without a vehicle while it’s being repaired. Consumer Reports rates the Tahoe’s reliability 22 points higher than the MDX.

J.D. Power and Associates rated the Tahoe first among large 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 Chevrolet vehicles are better in initial quality than Acura vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Chevrolet 6th in initial quality, above the industry average. With 25 more problems per 100 vehicles, Acura is ranked 24th, below the industry average.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Chevrolet vehicles are more reliable than Acura vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Chevrolet fourth in reliability, above the industry average. With 56 more problems per 100 vehicles, Acura is ranked 26th.

Engine

The Tahoe’s standard 5.3 V8 produces 65 more horsepower (355 vs. 290) and 116 lbs.-ft. more torque (383 vs. 267) than the MDX’s standard 3.5 SOHC V6. The Tahoe’s 5.3 V8 produces 34 more horsepower (355 vs. 321) and 94 lbs.-ft. more torque (383 vs. 289) than the MDX Sport Hybrid’s standard 3.0 SOHC V6 hybrid. The Tahoe’s optional 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.

Fuel Economy and Range

To lower fuel costs and make buying fuel easier, the Chevrolet Tahoe uses regular unleaded gasoline (premium recommended with the 6.2 V8 engine for maximum performance). The MDX requires premium, which can cost 20 to 55 cents more per gallon.

The Tahoe 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 Tahoe has 6.5 gallons more fuel capacity than the MDX’s standard fuel tank (26 vs. 19.5 gallons).

Transmission

A 10-speed automatic is standard on the Chevrolet Tahoe EcoTec3 6.2 V8, 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 Tahoe’s brake rotors are larger than those on the MDX:

Tahoe

MDX

Front Rotors

13 inches

12.6 inches

Rear Rotors

13.6 inches

13 inches

The Tahoe’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.

The Tahoe stops shorter than the MDX:

Tahoe

MDX

70 to 0 MPH

176 feet

185 feet

Car and Driver

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the Tahoe has larger standard tires than the MDX (265/65R18 vs. 245/60R18). The Tahoe’s optional tires are larger than the largest tires available on the MDX (285/45R22 vs. 265/45R20).

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Tahoe offers optional 22-inch wheels. The MDX’s largest wheels are only 20-inches.

The Chevrolet Tahoe’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 Tahoe 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 Tahoe offers an optional automatic front and rear load leveling suspension to keep ride height level with a heavy load or when towing. The Tahoe’s height leveling suspension allows the driver to raise ride height for better off-road clearance and then lower it again for easier entering and exiting and better on-road handling. The MDX doesn’t offer a load leveling suspension.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Tahoe’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 Tahoe is 2.4 inches wider in the front and 2.4 inches wider in the rear than on the MDX.

The Tahoe’s front to rear weight distribution is more even (51.6% to 48.4%) than the MDX’s (57% to 43%). This gives the Tahoe more stable handling and braking.

For greater off-road capability the Tahoe has a greater minimum ground clearance than the MDX (7.9 vs. 7.3 inches), allowing the Tahoe to travel over rougher terrain without being stopped or damaged.

Chassis

The front grille of the Tahoe 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, the interior of the Tahoe Premier 4x4 is quieter than the MDX SH-AWD:

Tahoe

MDX

Full-Throttle

71 dB

76 dB

70 MPH Cruising

66 dB

68 dB

Passenger Space

The Tahoe offers optional seating for 9 passengers; the MDX can only carry 7.

The Tahoe has 4.7 inches more front headroom, 3.9 inches more front legroom, 3.3 inches more front hip room, 3.7 inches more front shoulder room, .4 inches more rear headroom, 2.4 inches more rear legroom, 2.5 inches more rear hip room, 6 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 Tahoe’s cargo area provides more volume than the MDX.

Tahoe

MDX

Third Seat Folded

51.7 cubic feet

43.4 cubic feet

Second Seat Folded

94.7 cubic feet

90.9 cubic feet

Pressing a switch automatically lowers the Tahoe’s optional second and third row seats (not available on LS), to make changing between passengers and cargo easier. The MDX doesn’t offer automatic folding seats.

The Tahoe’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 Tahoe’s available 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 Tahoe’s minimum standard towing capacity is much higher than the MDX’s (6400 vs. 3500 pounds). Maximum trailer towing in the Acura MDX SH-AWD is only 5000 pounds. The Tahoe offers up to a 8600 lbs. towing capacity.

While the MDX SH-AWD Sport Hybrid is not recommended to tow, any Tahoe can tow a minimum of 6400 pounds.

The Tahoe has a much higher standard payload capacity than the MDX (1670 vs. 1173 lbs.).

The Tahoe has a much higher maximum payload capacity than the MDX (1720 vs. 1173 lbs.).

Servicing Ease

The engine in the Tahoe 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.

Ergonomics

The Tahoe’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 Tahoe and the MDX have locks to prevent small children from operating them. When the lock on the Tahoe 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 Tahoe’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 Tahoe’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.

Consumer Reports rated the Tahoe’s headlight performance “Very Good,” a higher rating than the MDX’s headlights, which were rated “Good.”

To shield the driver and front passenger’s vision over a larger portion of the windshield and side windows, the Tahoe has standard extendable sun visors. The MDX doesn’t offer extendable visors.

To quickly and conveniently keep personal devices charged without cables tangling and wearing out, the Chevrolet Tahoe Premier has a standard wireless phone charging system (Qi) for the front seat. The MDX doesn’t offer wireless personal charging.

Economic Advantages

The Tahoe will cost the buyer less in the long run because of its superior resale value. The IntelliChoice estimates that the Tahoe will retain 50.08% to 50.55% of its original price after five years, while the MDX only retains 40.03% to 44.9%.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Tahoe is less expensive to operate than the MDX because typical repairs cost much less on the Tahoe than the MDX, including $109 less for front brake pads, $253 less for a starter, $1000 less for fuel injection, $41 less for a fuel pump, $79 less for front struts and $602 less for a power steering pump.

Recommendations

The Chevrolet Tahoe outsold the Acura MDX by over two to one during 2018.

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

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