2017 Lexus RX 350 vs. Lincoln MKX
John Goreham's picture

2017 Lexus RX 350 AWD vs. Lincoln MKX AWD 2.7 Ecoboost Reserve – Which Crossover Is Best For You?

We compare the leading premium crossover, the Lexus RX 350, with the Lincoln MKX to see which might be right for you.

Lexus created the 5-passenger premium crossover with its RX line back in 1998. Since then, it has been the leading selling crossover among premium brands. Many brands have morphed their five-passenger vehicles this size into three-row, seven passenger crossovers, but Lexus has stayed the course and its sales have held up. Lincoln, like every premium automaker, has copied the formula and brought to this fight a higher price tag and optional turbocharged engine. Let’s compare and contrast these two excellent vehicles and see which might be your best choice.

Price, Options, and Content - Lexus RX 350 AWD vs. Lincoln MKX AWD 2.7 Ecoboost Reserve
We have recently tested both of these crossovers in their 2016 versions, and neither changes dramatically for the new model year of 2017. However, we priced the Lexus using the current new price info. Our RX 350 with the Luxury Package, Mark Levinson Audio Upgrade, Navigation, and Winter Package came out $ 56,723 including destination charges. Lincoln has not yet updated its pricing to reflect the 2017 model year. Our recent tester had an MSPR plus destination of $60,105. That included Revel by Harmen audio, the Luxury Package, and $2,000 for an upgraded turbocharged engine. We matched these two vehicles up as closely as possible regarding content.

DriveTrains & Fuel Economy - Lexus RX 350 AWD vs. Lincoln MKX AWD 2.7 Ecoboost
Lexus uses its tried and true 3.5-liter V6 engine and 8-speed automatic transmission in the 2017 RX 350. The 295 hp this engine generates is good for a 0-60 time of about 7.7 seconds, plenty fast for a midsize crossover. Shifts are smooth and silent, and the vehicle has ample torque instant throttle response in every situation. Using regular unleaded gasoline, the RX 350 AWD earns a 22 MPG estimated Combined rating from the EPA.

Lincoln offers a 303 hp 3.7-liter V6 as its base engine, but like all Ford products, is moving towards Ecoboost turbos. Our tester had the 2.7-liter turbo, which with premium fuel generates 335 hp. That is good for a 0-60 sprint of about 6.5 seconds. In normal driving, the Lincoln MKX doesn’t feel “faster” than the Lexus, but it is if you floor it and have the room to run.

Lincoln rates its HP with premium fuel, but plays games with the fuel economy, rating that using regular. The EPA rates the Lincoln MKX at 19 MPG combined, but remember, to get that advertised power you need to buy gas that costs about 20% more than regular fuel. Regarding cost per mile, the Lexus wins this comparison. If you drive aggressively, the more powerful Lincoln may be the better option.

Infotainment - Lexus RX 350 vs. Lincoln MKX Reserve
These two vehicles are most different in how they offer the driver and passengers information and entertainment. Lexus uses a remote touch interface on the console that controls a massive 12.3” screen. Though the screen is great, we are not fans of the mouse-like controller. It is a distraction. The Lexus audio is outstanding even in its base trims, and the Mark Levinson system in cluded in our pricing is among the best offered.

The Lincoln also has outstanding audio. Our tester had Sync with MyLincoln Touch. Though the screen is not oversized, it is fine, and the touch-screen is easy to operate.

We won’t tip the scales for either model, but we will say that the Lexus offers more, and easier customization of the vehicle. For example, setting the doors to all unlock with one fob push, or to unlock when the vehicle is in park, is much easier in the Lexus.

Interior Amenities
Both interiors have their merits in this matchup, and there is no loser or winner. Both offer heated and cooled seats, and both have premium leather. Space is similar, with the Lexus feeling a little larger, but that could be perception. Cargo capacity is similar as well, and under each cargo floor is a spare tire, something some other brands do not include. These two vehicles are outstanding inside, and rear seat room is generous since neither tries to jam a third row into the vehicle. This one is a clear tie and taste is the only difference.

The Drive

Lexus has tuned its RX to its buyers’ tastes. Is it a sports car, like the German brands pretend their crossovers are? No, it isn’t but neither is the Lincoln, and honestly, ride comfort is an advantage for both. Both have a smooth ride over bumps and both handle well in normal driving. Both have ample power in all situations, and both have zero bad habits.

Safety
Lexus now offers forward collision with auto braking standard in its 2017 RX 350. In the 2016 Lincoln MKX it is a $1,650 option (included in the MSPR above). Both are Top Safety Pick Plus-rated vehicles by IIHS, and both feel safe. The Lexus RX has a legacy of safety that is unmatched. In a study of real life accident data, IIHS gave the RX a zero driver death rating, one of only nine models to earn that safety designation.

Ownership Experience, Reliability
In the 2016 J.D. Power & Associates APPEAL study, Lexus and Lincon tied with a score of 843. This is a critical study which, according to J.D. Power, “…measures owners’ emotional attachment and level of excitement across 77 attributes, ranging from the power they feel when they step on the gas to the sense of comfort and luxury they feel when climbing into the driver’s seat.” Consumer Reports ranks the Lincoln MKX’ reliability as “Good.” The Lexus RX earns Consumer Reports highest reliability rating of “Excellent.”

Conclusion
The Lincoln MKX AWD 2.7 Ecoboost Reserve is as close to the Lexus RX 350 AWD as a vehicle can be regarding size, amenities, and other qualifications. In our matchup, the Lincoln was a bit quicker in extreme situations and has an infotainment system that is simpler to operate. The Lexus RX 350 AWD has better fuel economy, is higher rated in expected reliability and was a significant $3,400 less expensive. Our suggestion would be to try the base Lincoln engine to see if that meets your needs. It has similar power, the same fuel economy, and costs $2,000 less than the 2.7-liter turbo option making it a closer match to the Lexus regarding price.

Has Lincoln clearly upstaged the sales leader in this category? No, it has not. However, these two vehicles are both excellent, and each should be a consideration for any shopper in this segment.


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