Infiniti, Acura 3-row crossovers square off
CHARLESTON, S.C. -- A battle is shaping up between two Japanese rivals over the growing segment of three-row luxury crossovers.
Just as Infiniti dealers were receiving their first three-row JX models last month, Acura was stepping up its marketing for the MDX.
Clearly prepared to hold its ground, Acura went public at about the same time with national advertising offering the MDX in a 36-month lease with zero down.
Acura has long dominated the three-row luxury crossover segment among imports, with the Audi Q7 also vying for share.
Infiniti hopes to spoil the party this year with the JX, which has been priced to sell just under both competitors. Infiniti officials said here last month that a popularly equipped JX will retail for $46,350, while a similarly equipped MDX retails for $47,490. Both prices include shipping.
"This is the big segment in luxury crossovers, and we haven't been a player in it until now," says Sean McNamara, Infiniti's senior manager of product planning.
Infiniti already is pushing the JX in TV commercials, featuring it during the March Madness national college basketball tournament.
In the first two months of this year, Acura sold 6,444 MDXs, down 8 percent from the same period a year ago.
Infiniti executives have repeatedly said they expect the JX to sell in large volume, becoming the brand's second-biggest seller behind the G-series sedan. The G has been selling 4,000 to 6,000 units a month.
Among Japanese luxury crossovers, the Lexus RX remains the king, far outselling the MDX. McNamara acknowledges that the new Infiniti will be competing for some RX customers, but the Lexus does not come with a third row of seats. McNamara says the third row is critical for a large demographic of luxury buyers who specifically want a crossover.
Infiniti intends to emphasize the JX's design in advertising, showing the relative ease of getting in and out of the third row and the seating comfort of both the second and third rows.
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