2021 Cadillac Escalade vs. 2020 Acura MDX

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

© 1999 - 2020 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2020/08/09

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 offers optional 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.

An active infrared night vision system optional on the Escalade Premium/Platinum/Sport helps the driver to more easily detect people, animals or other objects in front of the vehicle at night. Using an infrared camera and near-infrared lights to detect heat, the system then displays the image on a monitor in the dashboard. The MDX doesn’t offer a night vision system.

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, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, crash mitigating brakes, rearview cameras, available all-wheel drive, lane departure warning systems, blind spot warning systems and rear cross-path warning.

The Cadillac Escalade weighs 1149 to 1791 pounds more than the Acura MDX. The NHTSA advises that heavier vehicles are much safer in collisions than their significantly lighter counterparts.

Warranty

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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.

Reliability

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A hardened steel chain, with no maintenance needs, drives the camshafts 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.

The Escalade 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.

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.

Engine

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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.

The Escalade’s 3.0 turbo diesel produces 193 lbs.-ft. more torque (460 vs. 267) than the MDX’s standard 3.5 SOHC V6. The Escalade’s 3.0 turbo diesel produces 171 lbs.-ft. more torque (460 vs. 289) than the MDX Sport Hybrid’s standard 3.0 SOHC V6 hybrid.

Fuel Economy and Range

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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 4.6 gallons more fuel capacity than the MDX Sport Hybrid’s standard fuel tank (24 vs. 19.4 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups. The Escalade has 4.5 gallons more fuel capacity than the MDX’s standard fuel tank (24 vs. 19.5 gallons).

Transmission

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A ten-speed automatic is available 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

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

Escalade

MDX

MDX Sport Hybrid

Front Rotors

13.5 inches

12.6 inches

13 inches

Rear Rotors

13.6 inches

13 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

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For better traction, the Escalade has larger tires than the MDX (275/50R22 vs. 245/60R18). The Escalade’s tires are larger than the largest tires available on the MDX (275/50R22 vs. 265/45R20).

The Escalade’s tires provide better handling because they have a lower 50 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 22-inch wheels. Smaller 18-inch wheels are standard on the MDX. The MDX’s largest wheels are only 20-inches.

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

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The Escalade has a standard automatic 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 9.9 inches longer than on the MDX (120.9 inches vs. 111 inches).

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the Escalade is 2.1 inches wider in the front and 1.8 inches wider in the rear than on the MDX.

Chassis

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The front grille of the Escalade (except Diesel) 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.

Passenger Space

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

The Escalade has 35.7 cubic feet more passenger volume than the MDX (168.4 vs. 132.7).

The Escalade has 4.2 inches more front headroom, 3.1 inches more front legroom, 4.2 inches more front hip room, 4.4 inches more front shoulder room, .6 inches more rear headroom, 5.1 inches more rear legroom, 3.4 inches more rear hip room, 5.5 inches more rear shoulder room, 2.6 inches more third row headroom, 6.8 inches more third row legroom, 8.8 inches more third row hip room and 8 inches more third row shoulder room than the MDX.

Cargo Capacity

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

Escalade

MDX

Behind Third Seat

25.5 cubic feet

15.8 cubic feet

Third Seat Folded

72.9 cubic feet

43.4 cubic feet

Second Seat Folded

121 cubic feet

90.9 cubic feet

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

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

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The Escalade’s minimum standard towing capacity is much higher than the MDX’s (8000 vs. 3500 pounds).

The Escalade 4WD with optional equipment can be flat towed on all four wheels (dinghy towed), allowing recreational vehicle owners to bring it with them on the road. When they reach their destination, the Escalade can be unhitched and driven around locally. The MDX can’t be towed flat on the ground.

The Escalade has a much higher standard payload capacity than the MDX (1636 vs. 1173 lbs.).

The Escalade has a much higher maximum payload capacity than the MDX (1647 vs. 1173 lbs.).

Servicing Ease

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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.

Ergonomics

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Unlike the driver-only memory system in the MDX, the Escalade has standard driver and passenger memory, so that when drivers switch, the memory setting adjusts the driver’s seat, steering wheel position and outside mirror angle and the front passenger seat also adjusts to the new passenger’s preset preferences.

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 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.

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.

The Escalade Platinum has standard massaging front seats in order to maximize comfort and eliminate fatigue on long trips. Massaging seats aren’t available in 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 Premium/Platinum/Sport’s Adaptive Park Assist can parallel park by itself, starting, stopping and changing direction automatically. The MDX doesn’t offer an automated parking system.

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