Greene Ford Compares 2013 Ford Explorer VS 2013 Acura MDX Near Flowery Branch, GA

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2013 Ford Explorer

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2013 Acura MDX

Safety Comparison

The middle row seatbelts optional on the Explorer XLT/Limited inflate when a collision is detected, helping to spread crash forces over a much larger area of the body and limiting head and neck movement. This can help prevent spinal and internal injuries. The MDX doesn’t offer inflatable seatbelts.

When descending a steep, off-road slope, the Explorer 4WD’s standard Hill Descent Control allows you to creep down safely. The MDX doesn’t offer Hill Descent Control.

The Explorer Limited’s optional lane departure warning system alerts a temporarily inattentive driver when the vehicle begins to leave its lane and gently nudges the vehicle back towards its lane. The MDX doesn’t offer a lane departure warning system.

To help make backing safer, the Explorer XLT/Limited/Sport’s optional cross-path warning system uses wide-angle radar in the rear bumper to alert the driver to vehicles approaching from the side, helping the driver avoid collisions. The MDX doesn’t offer a cross-path warning system.

The Explorer’s optional driver alert monitor detects an inattentive driver then sounds a warning and suggests a break. According to the NHTSA, drivers who fall asleep cause about 100,000 crashes and 1500 deaths a year. The MDX doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

The Explorer (except Base) offers optional SYNC, which uses a global positioning satellite (GPS) receiver and a cellular system to get turn-by-turn driving directions or send emergency personnel to the scene if any airbags deploy. The MDX doesn’t offer a GPS response system, only a navigation computer with no live response for emergencies, so if you’re involved in an accident and you’re incapacitated help may not come as quickly.

Both the Explorer 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 and available all-wheel drive.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does 35 MPH front crash tests on new vehicles. In this test, results indicate that the Ford Explorer is safer than the Acura MDX:





4 Stars

4 Stars




Chest Compression

.5 inches

.5 inches

Neck Stress

192 lbs.

196 lbs.

Leg Forces (l/r)

765/864 lbs.

812/838 lbs.

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

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 Ford Explorer is safer than the Acura MDX:



Front Seat


5 Stars

5 Stars

Chest Movement

.8 inches

.9 inches

Abdominal Force

135 G’s

146 G’s

Rear Seat


5 Stars

5 Stars




Spine Acceleration

32 G’s

36 G’s

Hip Force

524 lbs.

703 lbs.

Into Pole


5 Stars

5 Stars

Hip Force

676 lbs.

863 lbs.

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

Warranty Comparison

There are over 14 times as many Ford dealers as there are Acura dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Explorer’s warranty.

Reliability Comparison

To reliably power the ignition and other systems and to recharge the battery, the Explorer has a standard 175-amp alternator (200-amp - Explorer XLT/Limited/Sport). The MDX’s 130-amp alternator isn’t as powerful.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2012 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Ford vehicles are more reliable than Acura vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Ford 8th in reliability, above the industry average. With 5 more problems per 100 vehicles, Acura is ranked 11th.

Engine Comparison

The Explorer Sport’s standard 3.5 turbo V6 produces 50 more horsepower (350 vs. 300) and 80 lbs.-ft. more torque (350 vs. 270) than the MDX’s 3.7 SOHC V6.

For more instantaneous acceleration and better engine flexibility in any gear, the Explorer’s engines produce their peak torque at lower RPM’s than the MDX:


Explorer 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

1750 RPM

Explorer 3.5 DOHC V6

4000 RPM

Explorer Sport 3.5 turbo V6

1500 RPM


4500 RPM

Fuel Economy and Range Comparison

On the EPA test cycle the Explorer gets better fuel mileage than the MDX:




2.0 turbo 4 cyl./Auto

20 city/28 hwy


3.5 V6/Auto

17 city/24 hwy



3.5 V6/Auto

17 city/23 hwy

16 city/21 hwy

3.5 turbo V6/Auto

16 city/22 hwy


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

The Explorer has a standard cap-less fueling system. The fuel filler is automatically opened when the fuel nozzle is inserted and automatically closed when it’s removed. This eliminates the need to unscrew and replace the cap and it reduces fuel evaporation, which causes pollution. The MDX doesn’t offer a cap-less fueling system.

Brakes and Stopping Comparison

The Explorer’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 Explorer stops much shorter than the MDX:



70 to 0 MPH

174 feet

177 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

119 feet

132 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels Comparison

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Explorer offers optional 20-inch wheels. The MDX’s largest wheels are only 19-inches.

Suspension and Handling Comparison

The Explorer has standard front and rear gas-charged shocks for better control over choppy roads. The MDX’s suspension doesn’t offer gas-charged shocks.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Explorer’s wheelbase is 4.3 inches longer than on the MDX (112.6 inches vs. 108.3 inches).

Chassis Comparison

As tested by Car and Driver, the interior of the Explorer Limited 4WD is quieter than the MDX:



At idle

35 dB

45 dB


75 dB

77 dB

70 MPH Cruising

68 dB

69 dB

Passenger Space Comparison

The Explorer has 9.9 cubic feet more passenger volume than the MDX (151.7 vs. 141.8).

The Explorer has 2.2 inches more front headroom, 1.9 inches more rear headroom, 1.1 inches more rear legroom, 2 inches more third row headroom and 4.5 inches more third row legroom than the MDX.

The Explorer offers an optional rear tailgate seat that can be flipped rearward and used for tailgate picnics. (Do not use seat reversed while vehicle in motion.) The MDX doesn’t offer a rear tailgate seat.

Cargo Capacity Comparison

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



Behind Third Seat

21 cubic feet

15 cubic feet

The Explorer’s cargo area is larger than the MDX’s in almost every dimension:



Length to seat (3rd/2nd/1st)






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

Ergonomics Comparison

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

In case you lock your keys in your vehicle, or don’t have them with you, you can let yourself in using the Explorer XLT/Limited/Sport’s exterior keypad. The MDX doesn’t offer an exterior keypad entry system.

Intelligent Access optional on the Explorer (except Base/XLT) allows the driver to unlock the doors, cargo door and start the engine all without removing a key from pocket or purse. This eliminates searching for keys before loading groceries, getting in the car in bad weather or making a hurried start to your trip. The Acura MDX doesn’t offer an advanced key system.

The Explorer Limited’s optional wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically according to the amount of rainfall on the windshield. The MDX’s intermittent wipers change speed with vehicle speed, but can’t turn on and off or change speed based on changing rainfall.

To improve rear visibility by keeping the rear window clear, the Explorer has a standard rear variable intermittent wiper with a full on position. The rear wiper standard on the MDX only has an intermittent setting, so in a hard rain visibility isn’t as good.

While driving with high beams on, sensitive light sensors available for the Explorer Limited detect other vehicles, which could be blinded and automatically switch to low beams. The MDX doesn’t offer automatic dimming high beams.

The Explorer’s power mirror controls are mounted on the armrest for easy access. The MDX’s power mirror controls are on the dash, hidden behind the steering wheel, where they are awkward to manipulate.

Optional SYNC for the Explorer (not available Base) allows the driver and passengers access to select programs on their smartphones, including playing internet radio stations and other online activities without taking their eyes off the road or their hands from the wheel. The MDX doesn’t offer factory integrated smartphone program access.

The Explorer Limited’s optional Active 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.

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