Three near-luxury CUVs with tempting deals

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On the last three Fridays of every month, Graeme Fletcher combines manufacturers’ incentives from Unhaggle.com with resale value, dependability and overall ratings to find you the best deal for your money in new cars. This week, we look at near-luxury all-wheel-drive crossovers. The hot deals are on the 2018 Acura RDX Tech, Lexus NX 300 and Lincoln MKC Reserve.

2018 Acura RDX

2017 Acura RDX

Manufacturer Suggested Retail Price: $45,390
Acura Canada Incentive*:
 $4,425
Unhaggle Savings: $1,500
Total Savings:
 $5,925
Mandatory Fees (Freight, Govt. Fees):
 $2,185
Total Before Tax:
 $41,650 – click here for exclusive local pricing

Acura’s popular compact crossover, the RDX, was extensively reworked a couple of years ago — it continues unchanged into 2018. The look is crisp from all angles and it it benefits from the “Jewel Eye” LED projector headlamps and LED taillights. Both facets bring more sophistication to the look.

Inside, the materials are rich and the layout functional, albeit festooned with buttons on the steering wheel and centre console. The featured RDX includes the Technology package, brings a wealth of equipment including a navigation system, eight-way power-adjustable heated front seats, rain-sensing wipers, a 410-watt audio system and multi-view back-up camera. It also includes forward collision warning with automatic braking, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert and lane-departure warning with keep assist. Space-wise, the five-seat RDX offers decent back seat space and 739 litres with the 60/40 split folding rear seats upright and 2,178 litres folded flat.

The RDX features a 3.5-litre V6 engine with variable cylinder management. It produces 279 horsepower and 252 pound-feet over a broad range. The cylinder deactivation system can shut down two of the six cylinders to conserve fuel under light loads. The end result is a run from zero to 100 km/h in 6.9 seconds and an average fuel economy of 10.7 L/100 kilometres.

Paired with a six-speed automatic, the V6 drives all four wheels. The all-wheel-drive system powers the front wheels under normal driving, but under moderate acceleration or when slip is detected, it automatically sends up to 40 per cent of the power rearward. If the need arises, it can split the power 50/50 front/rear. Other dynamic pluses include a solid steering setup with good feedback and a suspension that features amplitude reactive dampers — they sharpen the handling when needed, without sacrificing ride comfort.

The RDX arrives with a combined Unhaggle discount of $5,925, leaving a sticker price of $41,650.

2018 Lexus NX 300

2018 Lexus NX 300

2018 Lexus NX 300

Manufacturer Suggested Retail Price: $44,050
Lexus Canada Incentive*:
 $2,655
Unhaggle Savings: $1,000
Total Savings:
 $3,655
Mandatory Fees (Freight, Govt. Fees):
 $2,185
Total Before Tax:
 $42,580 – click here for exclusive local pricing

NX 300 is the new name for Lexus‘ NX 200t. It’s bold in its design and sporty in the manner in which it drives, a shift away from the brand’s previously conservative ways. The NX also nicely equipped with everything from heated, eight-way power front seats to a multimedia display with back-up camera. The disappointment is the “NuLuxe” upholstery — it’s simply vinyl and not really in keeping with the rest of the cabin. Move rearward and the NX 300 has an adult-friendly back seat and enough space to accommodate 500 litres of cargo with the seats up and 1,545 litres with them stowed.

The Lexus Safety System+ package is standard and includes a pre-collision warning system with pedestrian alert and active steering assist, lane-departure warning, automatic high-beams and adaptive cruise control. Sadly, getting blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert mandates moving up to the Luxury trim, which bumps the sticker from $44,050 to $53,500. Granted there’s a lot of extra equipment, but it is an expensive proposition for a safety aid that should be standard at this price point.

The NX 300 is powered by a 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder that produces 235 horsepower and 258 lb.-ft. of torque at just 1,650 rpm. This brings a strong launch off the line and a run from rest to 100 km/h of 7.1 seconds along, with an average fuel economy of 9.7 L/100 kilometres.

The six-speed automatic drives all four wheels. Under normal conditions, it powers the front wheels, but it can send up to 50 per cent of the kick rearward should the need arise. It’s a proficient system that moves the power around seamlessly. The NX 300 favours handling, with its taut feel and sharp steering. As such, it attacks a corner in fine a fashion and with minimal understeer. The plus is it manages this without feeling too harsh on broken pavement.

With a healthy $3,655 combined Unhaggle discount, the Lexus NX 300 has a sticker of $42,580.

2018 Lincoln MKC

2019 Lincoln MKC

2019 Lincoln MKC

Manufacturer Suggested Retail Price: $48,700
Lincoln Canada Incentive*:
 $2,250
Unhaggle Savings: $500
Total Savings:
 $2,750
Mandatory Fees (Freight, Govt. Fees):
 $2,140
Total Before Tax:
 $48,090 – click here for exclusive local pricing

The Lincoln MKC keys on ride comfort and luxury, putting a sporty driving demeanour behind these two attributes. Likewise, the Reserve trim’s cabin is contemporary and loaded with all the usual power features, including 12-way heated and cooled front seats, heated rear seats and the automaker’s Sync 3 infotainment system — with an eight-inch touchscreen, plus GPS navigation with voice recognition. The rear environment is comfortable, with enough space for two adults and a roomy cargo bay – 712 litres seats up and 1,505 folded flat. It’s accessed through a foot-activated power liftgate.

Unlike the NX, the MKC Reserve has blind-spot monitoring and automatic high beams as standard equipment, but requires the $2,250 Technology package to get adaptive cruise control with automatic braking, a forward sensing system and lane-keep assist along with active park assist.

The featured MKC arrives with a 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder engine that produces 245 horsepower and 275 lb.-ft. of torque. The power reaches the road through a six-speed automatic and Lincoln’s Intelligent AWD system. Like the others featured here, it’s primarily a front-drive system, but can send up to 50 per cent of the power rearward as needed. For example, under hard acceleration, it sends power to the rear wheels to prevent front wheelspin. As such, the system works seamlessly. The combination delivers a run from zero to 100 km/h in nine seconds and an average fuel economy of 10.9L/100 kilometres.

The MKC is very comfortable and enjoys a degree of agility at the same time. The secret lies in Lincoln Drive Control and its adaptive dampers. It offers Comfort, Normal and Sport modes; the latter does limit body roll, but at the expense of overall ride comfort. As such, Normal is the best for most eventualities. The MKC’s true forte, however, is found on the highway, where it is whisper quiet.

The MKC is priced at $48,090 after a combined Unhaggle discount of $2,750.

Compare the Acura RDX, Lexus NX300 and Lincoln MKC side-by-side right here

Transport Canada does not list any recalls for these three near-luxury crossovers.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) awards the RDX its Top Safety Pick for its Good ratings in all crash tests, a Superior rating for forward collision prevention and an Acceptable for headlight performance. The NX is another Top Safety Pick, with Good crash ratings, a Superior mark for forward collision prevention and a Good for headlight performance. The MKC gets Good ratings for the moderate front offset and side impact crash tests and a Basic for forward collision prevention — it isn’t rated for other crash tests, namely the small front-overlap test, nor is it rated for headlight performance.

The projected resale value of these all-wheel-drive wagons in 2023, after being driven an average of 20,000 kilometres per year, is $17,730 for the RDX, $17,270 for the NX and $18,330 for the MKC.

The hot deal this week proved to be a horserace between the RDX and the NX 300. Both enjoy solid reliability records, both have lots of luxury and both have sporty overtones to the way they drive. However, the cost of incorporating blind-spot monitoring into the NX 300 ruled it out, leaving the RDX as the hot pick.