2018 Ford Explorer vs Acura MDX

August 30th, 2018 by

2018 ford explorer

Let us compare two of the top family cars of 2018 for the Overland Park, Kansas City, and Leavenworth, KS areas: the Ford Explorer and the Acura MDX. These midsize SUVs have the power and performance for your family’s needs – whether that be getting to soccer practice or road tripping from Leavenworth to Yellowstone.

Both SUVs have new, sleek exterior designs. They sit six to seven people (the Acura MDX has an option for two captains’ chairs in the second row instead of the three-seated row). Each have advanced safety features with top marks from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Typically, the two SUVs are not compared side by side because the Acura MDX is considered a luxury midsize SUV. But the 2018 Ford Explorer is a competitive with this luxury vehicle based on its handling, Advanced Safety features, and its higher performing trims.

In 2018, J.D. Power gave the 2018 Ford Explorer a Predicted Reliability rating of 4.5 out of 5, which is well above average and one of the best in its class. It gave the Acura MDX a Predicted Reliability rating of 2.5 out of 5.

Read more about how the 2018 Ford Explorer compares to Acura’s luxury midsize SUV and why you get a lot for your dollar with this year’s Explorer.

Performance and Handling

The MDX is luxury – it is fun to drive. This luxury SUV will give the driver a smooth ride with adept handling. The car’s 9-speed transmission makes the engine run more efficiently and help the engine find its sweet spot. Great technology, but this transmission feels “clunky” in the MDX according to U.S. Car News Report. It occasionally shifts at odd times, which delivers power unevenly.

The Ford Explorer drives stable and smooth, without the extra technology. It handles just the way you can expect a midsize SUV to. The Explorer is bigger than the MDX, but it is not massive and is still considered midsized. Parking is not a problem with its advanced parking features. Active park assist lets the steering wheel do all the work while the driver works the acceleration and the brake pedals to get into tough parallel spots.

All wheel drive is available in all the Ford Explorer trims and available for $2,000 extra in the Acura MDX.

The Explorer is available in three different engines. The standard 3.5-liter V6 is plenty of power for most drivers. It packs passing power and an acceptable fuel economy (17/24 MPGs). The turbocharged EcoBoost 2.3-liter 4-cylinder engine is fun. It has more torque (310 lb-ft of torque at 3,000 rpm) and is more fuel efficient (19/27 MPGs). The most powerful (and fun) twin-turbocharged V6 comes standard on the Sport and Platinum trims. It’s just plain fast.

The MDX packs a 290-horsepower V6 engine. There is a hybrid option for the MDX, which is more fuel efficient and has 321-horsepower.

Trips to the Gas Station

The Ford Explorer will bring you to the gas station more often than the Acura MDX, but the price gap of more stops slims because the Acura MDX takes Premium Unleaded fuel for its engine. The Explorer takes Regular Unleaded, typically $0.10 less per gallon. See chart below for comparison on fuel efficiency and fuel tank capacity.


Both these midsize SUVs have third row seating. The Ford Explorer has more room for all passengers – with more headspace and legroom. Two adults or older teenagers can fit comfortably in the back two seats of the Explorer. Small children will find the MDX’s back row the most comfortable, and adults may find it cramped.

The Explorer has 21 cubic feet of cargo space behind the third row seats while the MDX only has 15.8 cubic feet. Although, the MDX has more room all together with all the seats folded down.

Both have advanced Infotainment systems, the new-and-improved SYNC 3 Infotainment center in the Explorer and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto in the MDX.
The standard seats are cloth in the Explorer, but leather is an option. Leather is standard in the MDX.

Advanced Safety Features

The National Highway and Traffic Safety Association gave both of these vehicles a 5-star safety rating. More safety features come standard to the MDX, but the different trims of the Explorer allow car buyers to decide which safety features are best for their driving style and lifestyle.

Standard Safety Features in both Base models:

  • Driver, passenger, front and rear head, front side airbags
  • 4-wheel ABS and disc brakes
  • Brake assist
  • Electronic stability control
  • Daytime running lights
  • Child safety locks
  • Traction control

Additional available safety features for the Ford Explorer include:

  • Rear parking sensors
  • 180-degree front parking camera
  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Forward collision warning with automatic braking
  • Lane departure warning
  • Active park assist
  • Blind spot monitoring
  • Rear cross traffic alert
  • Rain-sensing windshield wipers
  • Inflatable seat belts for second row
  • Ford MyKey system to set limits for other (younger) drivers in the car

The MDX comes standard with AcuraWatch, an advanced safety feature that does not cost extra for the buyer. This feature includes adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, and lane-keeping assist with road-departure mitigation.

Check out these features compared below.

2018 Ford Explorer

  • MSR Price Range
    • $33,135 – $54,935
    • Zeck Ford: $31,490-$49,500
  • Engine Type(s)
    • Standard: 3.5-liter V6
    • Better gas mileage: Turbocharged EcoBoost 4-cylinder V6
    • Most Powerful: Twin-turbo 3.5-liter V6
  • Fuel Type: Regular Unleaded
  • Transmission: 6-speed automatic
  • MPG (City, Highway): 17,24
  • Fuel Tank Capacity: 18.6 gallons
  • Passenger Capacity: 7 seats
  • Drivetrain: FWD
  • Towing Capacity: 2,000-5,000 lbs
  • Cargo Volume:
    • With 3 rows up: 21 cu. Ft.
    • With 3 rows down: 80.7 cu. Ft.
  • Kelley Blue Book Expert Rating: 7.5/10
  • Kelley Blue Book Consumer Rating: 8.1/10

2018 Acura MDX

  • MSR Price Range: $45,195 – $59,645
  • Engine Type(s)
    • Standard: 3.5-liter V6
    • Hybrid: 3.0-liter V6 with 3 electric motors powered by lithium-ion batteries
  • Fuel Type: Premium Unleaded
  • Transmission: 9-speed automatic
  • MPG (City, Highway): 19,27
  • Fuel Tank Capacity: 19.5 gallons
  • Passenger Capacity: 6 or 7 seats
  • Drivetrain: AWD
  • Towing Capacity: 3,500 lbs
  • Cargo Volume
    • With 3 rows up: 15.8 cu. Ft.
    • With 3 rows down: 90.9 cu. Ft.
  • Kelley Blue Book Expert Rating: 9.4/10
  • Kelley Blue Book Consumer Rating: 7.7/10

Get your hands on the 2018 Ford Explorer at a dealership near you. You can browse Zeck Ford’s selection online or come down to the dealership in Leavenworth, KS today!

Posted in New Vehicles