Acura claims a sales honor with MDX

Mark Vaughn is a senior editor at Autoweek, a sister publication of Automotive News.

Carmakers are always defining segments and claiming sales crowns for their own purposes, and here's the latest instance.

Acura is touting the MDX as “America's All-Time Best-Selling 3-Row Luxury SUV.”

It's certainly a nice SUV, we won't argue that. Acura released a statement late last week stating that the MDX is not only outselling all other luxury SUVs with three rows of seating so far in 2014 -- sales of 30,664 sales in the first six months, up 68 percent over last year -- but that it has cemented its position as the all-time leader.

Sounds impressive, doesn't it? And it is. Bravo, Acura! But we can quibble, can't we? Hey, we're paid to quibble.

For instance, how do you define luxury? Acura listed the three-row luxury SUV segment as follows: Lincoln Navigator, Cadillac Escalade, BMW X5, Land Rover LR3/Discovery, Volvo XC90, Mercedes-Benz M-Class and GL, and the Lexus GX and LX.

If you examine the first six months of 2014 U.S. sales, you'll see that MDX did, in fact, handily outsell those models.

But for 15 years? Three of those models weren't even on the market 15 years ago.

And again, what's luxury, anyway? If you combine the three-row nine-seaters GMC Yukon and Yukon XL together, they outsell the MDX, and if you asked their owners if those rigs were in the luxury class, we bet they'd say yes.

Chevrolet moved 50 percent more Tahoes out the door in the first six months of 2014 than Acura moved MDXs. The Ford Explorer looks a lot like a luxury Land Rover Range Rover, doesn't it? It sold three times as much as the MDX.

Likewise, the Durango outpaced the MDX, too. And if you really want to expand your definition of luxury, the Honda Pilot, Hyundai Santa Fe and Nissan Pathfinder all have three rows of seats and all outsold the MDX.

So what's the point here? Who knows? As Shakespeare said, “The devil can cite scripture for his purpose and so, too, can a carmaker define its segment.”

We think that was in "The Merchant of Venice." Maybe we added the carmaker part.

Mark Vaughn is a senior editor at Autoweek, a sister publication of Automotive News.

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