It's tough having to fight things out in the competitive premium mid-size SUV market, but Acura renewed its assault when it launched its fourth-generation MDX in the USA two years ago. The new car impressed with its ride/handling balance, generous equipment, and eye-catching styling. At a sub-$50k base price, the new Acura MDX also looks like good value compared to more expensive three-row rivals such as the Volvo XC90, Genesis GV80, and Lincoln Aviator. Unfortunately, the latest MDX stumbled out of the gate with a cumbersome touchpad-based infotainment system, a cramped third row, somewhat less premium finishes than the best in the class offer, and no hybridized powertrains. There's no proper performance model either, despite the aspirations of the sporty 355-horsepower Type S. The base V6 engine develops 290 hp and lacks the instant shove and bottom-end torque of turbocharged rivals, too. Being forgotten in the noise in such a crowded segment is the lot that befell other pretenders, such as the similarly priced Infiniti QX60. Is the MDX destined to the same fate?
A new generation launched two years ago, and the 2023 model received additional connected services and two-year complimentary maintenance, so Acura is leaving the 2024 MDX alone. There are no changes except for a small price increase of a few hundred dollars across the range.
The starting price of the 2024 Acura MDX is $49,850 for the base naturally aspirated 3.5L trim with FWD. Adding the Technology package ups the MSRP to $54,550. The price also increases if you add AWD, pushing the base MDX to $52,050 and the 3.5L Technology to $56,750. With standard AWD, the 3.5L can be equipped with the A-Spec package for $60,250 or the Advance at $63,800.
With the more powerful 3.0L engine, the MDX in Type S guise starts at $68,150, while the Type S Advance goes for $73,500. All these prices are MSRP and don't include Acura's $1,195 destination fee.
The base powertrain doesn't have the same performance or low-rev torque as the Type S, but it's where the value lies. In fact, to make the most of the MDX's pricing advantage in this class, we'd go for the 3.5L with the Technology package in FWD format. It adds desirable features such as 20-inch alloys, leather upholstery, navigation, a premium 12-speaker audio system, parking sensors, and rain-sensing wipers. It's a great buy at less money than even the base GV80 or XC90.
The stylish interior is of premium quality but not quite as luxurious as some of the class leaders. Equipment is generous, and the base trim with the Technology package represents the best value.
Inside the MDX, it's a mixed bag. The design is smart and modern, with an eye-catching, stepped center stack and a big infotainment screen atop the dashboard. This is not a touchscreen but operated by a console-mounted touchpad, so it requires lots of familiarization to use. Materials are generally of very good quality, but the ambiance is one of premiumness but not luxury, and it still trails behind the XC90 and GV80. Interior space is ample in the first two rows, but comfort is not a given; the seats in the second and third rows are rather firmly padded and not all that comfortable, in contrast to the extremely comfortable front seats. Access to the third row is easy, thanks to a second row that releases at the touch of a button. A fairly large glass area means that visibility is generally good, but you'd want at least the Technology package's parking sensors to aid with maneuvering the MDX. A surround-view camera is only fitted to the higher trims.
Space and comfort are very dependent on where you're seated in the MDX. The front seats are supremely comfortable and extensively power-adjustable, with lots of space and quick seat heating, although the ventilation function on the trims equipped with it seems a bit feeble. The second row is very roomy, too, and can slide and recline, but the bench is rather hard and flat. The third row inherits this indifferent seating comfort but adds to it a lack of space; it's only suitable for children or smaller adults over shorter distances - and several inches short of rivals such as the XC90. The center seat of the second row can be removed to turn the car into a six-seater with second-row captain's chairs, but this is cumbersome to achieve, and the resultant exposed seat mountings in the floor are very evident and make it clear something is missing.
With all three rows in use, trunk space comes in at 16.3 cubic feet. With the 50/50-split third row folded flat, the space behind the second row measures 39.1 cu-ft. With the 40/20/40-split second row also folded, maximum cargo space comes in at 71.4. These figures are competitive in the class, although rivals offer more total space with the back rows folded down. Additional storage is provided under the rear load floor, and this does not come at the expense of a spare wheel, as it does in some other SUVs.
Cabin storage is well catered for. There's a sizable glovebox and four roomy door pockets. The lidded center-console storage bin is also nice and big. Ahead of it are two cupholders and ahead of those, a slot for smaller items. Underneath the infotainment system's palm rest, there is a dedicated space for your phone, which is also the wireless charging pad. Folding down the center second-row seat reveals two cupholders and an uncovered storage tray in its backrest. The third row also gets cupholders in the side moldings.
|Acura MDX||Volvo XC90||Genesis GV80|
|6/7 Seater||6/7 Seater||5/7 Seater|
|38.5 in. front|
38.1 in. 2nd row
36.2 in. 3rd row
|38.9 in. front|
38.5 in. 2nd row
36.6 in. 3rd row
|40.2 in. front |
38.4 in. 2nd row
34.3 in. 3rd row
|41.6 in. front|
38.5 in. 2nd row
29.1 in. 3rd row
|40.9 in. front|
37 in. 2nd row
31.9 in. 3rd row
|41.6 in. front |
38.7 in. 2nd row
30.3 in. 3rd row
|16.3-71.4 ft³||12.6-85.7 ft³||11.6-84 ft³|
The base 3.5L without any packages comes with leatherette upholstery and a choice of two interior colors - Ebony (black) or Parchment (beige), but each is paired to specific exterior paint colors. The 3.5L with either the Technology or the Advance package gets perforated Milano premium leather upholstery with contrast stitching and gains access to an additional two cabin colors called Graystone (gray) and Espresso (brown). The cabin trim is rendered in silver brushed aluminum in the case of the base 3.5L and the model with Technology package added, and open-pore wood trim in the case of the Advance trims.
Selecting the A-Spec or Type S means seats upholstered in a combination of perforated Milano premium leather and Ultrasuede faux suede. Available colors are either Ebony or red with red contrast stitching and piping with the Advance package, or, additionally, Orchid (light gray) in the Type S, with trim in geometric-patterned brushed aluminum. The A-Spec gets the Sport Appearance interior package, while the two Type S trims get the Type S Interior Appearance package; both come with an ebony headliner and stainless-steel sports pedals. The steering wheel is trimmed in leather on all trims.
Standard features are of a high order. Even the base car is very well equipped, notably boasting keyless entry with push-button start, tri-zone climate control, a panoramic sunroof, heated 12-way power front seats with memory for the driver's seat, ambient LED interior lighting, a leather-trimmed and power-adjustable tilting/telescoping steering wheel, and a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster. As you add packages, features like ventilated front seats, heated second-row seats, woodgrain trim, and other features are added. Very few options are available, so you have to choose one of the existing package configurations for the features you want.
The same basic infotainment system does duty in all configurations and comes with a 12.3-inch display screen. This isn't a touchscreen but is operated by a centrally mounted touchpad as part of Acura's insistence on using its True Touchpad Interface system. The system is compromised and requires a steep learning curve to master the touchpad controls and many customization options available. It's never as satisfying or versatile to use as a touchscreen, and while you'll get used to it, it will be a deal-breaker for some people. All the expected tech is present, including wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, AcuraLink Connected Services, Wi-Fi, a wireless charging pad, Amazon Alexa, Bluetooth audio streaming, SiriusXM, HD Radio, a host of USB ports, and a nine-speaker audio system. The 3.5L with the Technology package upgrades to a 12-speaker ELS Studio audio system, while the next three trims get a 16-speaker variation of the ELS setup. Only the Type S Advance is equipped with a 25-speaker ELS Studio audio system, and only the two Advance trims get a head-up display.
|3.5L Base||3.5L with Technology Package||Type S with Advance Package|
|Dual 12-inch displays|
|ELS premium audio system and navigation|
|Massaging front and heated 2nd-row seats|
|Power panoramic sunroof|
Performance is adequate with the standard powertrain, but the transmission sometimes gets in the way. The Type S is quick and punches strongly from low revs.
The 290-hp/267-lb-ft naturally aspirated V6 engine in the Acura MDX's base configurations is the familiar 3.5-liter SOHC unit from other Hondas, and without any forced induction, it has its work cut out moving the heavy SUV. It's aided by a ten-speed automatic transmission that mostly hooks the right gear but favors the higher ratios in the interest of gas mileage, so the car can feel a little flat at times. Front-wheel drive is the default, but all-wheel drive is optional on the base trim. Above this, the AWD drivetrain is standard issue. The base engine gives the Acura MDX a 0-60 sprint of 6.4 seconds, which drops to a swift 5.5 seconds in the Type S, which gets a turbocharged 3.0-liter DOHC V6 and AWD with a healthier 355 hp and 354 lb-ft. Forget about high-speed antics, even on a test track, because the MDX is limited to a 112-mph top speed.
The naturally aspirated V6 needs to be revved to deliver its best, with the ten-speed auto mostly adept at its job, but the paddles aren't worth much, as many of your commands seem to go ignored. The Type S ups the fun factor with adaptive air suspension that usefully tightens up body control and makes that rear diff work even better with the extra power on tap, but it never feels like a proper performance SUV like something from BMW's M division, and isn't as quick or immediately responsive as we'd hoped.
On the road, the MDX presents a curious combination of traits. Acura markets it as a sporty SUV, and its responsive steering has been set up with a pleasing directness. The ride feels firm and planted, and while it isn't as absorbent as that of an XC90, it never jars the occupants, even on the 20-inch wheels, so it seems that Acura got it just right. Add to that a certain pointiness added by the optional torque-vectoring AWD's rear diff, and the MDX can feel RWD as it accelerates out of corners with a subtle tightening of the cornering line. So it's unfortunate that the whole ensemble feels rather artificial as if piloted by microprocessors. Accurate the steering may be, but it's also numb, and the anchors feel spongy and inconsistent.
Lacking dual-range gearing and with a ground clearance of only 7.3 inches, you won't be doing any serious off-road work in the MDX, but the air-suspended Type S can be jacked up to a maximum of 9.4 inches, so it would be able to venture farther off the beaten track if you're willing to risk wrecking the 21-inch footwear. Trailering is provided for, but towing capacity is no more than average - the MDX can tow 3,500 lbs with FWD and 5,000 lbs in AWD guise.
Gas mileage isn't a strong suit compared to hybridized rivals, so the Acura MDX's mpg estimates provided by the EPA work out to an unremarkable 19/26/22 mpg for the 3.5L FWD setup. With AWD, the MDX loses another 1 mpg on the highway and combined cycles with estimates of 19/25/21 mpg. The turbocharged AWD Type S returns 17/21/19 mpg.
With an 18.5-gallon fuel capacity across the board, expect a best range of about 407 miles from the base MDX and a worst of 352 miles from the Type S.
|3.5L V6 Gas|
|3.5L V6 Gas|
|3.0L Turbo V6 Gas |
|290 hp||290 hp||355 hp|
|112 mph||112 mph||112 mph|
|19/26/22 mpg||19/25/21 mpg||17/21/19 mpg|
|6.4 sec.||6.4 sec.||5.5 sec.|
Safety levels are excellent, with top crash-test scores and a raft of standard safety features and driver assists, including adaptive cruise control and lane-keep/blind-spot systems.
The NHTSA's safety review of the 2024 Acura MDX produced a five-star overall rating. The IIHS hasn't tested the 2024 model yet, but the identical 2023 MDX received the top honor from the agency - a Top Safety Pick+ award with a clean sweep of Good scores for all the major criteria.
It goes without saying that the standard safety features required by law are included, and these are ABS, stability control, tire-pressure monitoring, and a backup camera. The MDX also comes with eight airbags. The standard driver aids are comprehensive, even at the base level, and include automatic LED headlights with auto high beams, front-collision alert with pedestrian detection and automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, road-departure mitigation, lane-keep assist, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, traffic-jam assist, hill-start assist, side mirrors with automatic reverse tilt-down, an auto-dimming interior rearview mirror, and road-sign recognition. The Technology package adds rain-sensing wipers, parking sensors front and rear, and low-speed braking control. The Advance package additionally includes a head-up display and a surround-view camera system.
|3.5L||3.5L with Technology Package||Type S with Advance Package|
|Front-collision mitigation with pedestrian detection|
|Adaptive cruise control with braking|
|Blind-spot and lane-keep assist|
NHTSA safety ratings are not available at this time.
The Acura MDX's reliability doesn't stand out in its class, and it received a middling score of 79 out of 100 for JD Power's Quality & Reliability assessment, a little behind the GV80's 81 but well ahead of the XC90's score of 70. One feather in its cap is that the new-generation MDX has never been recalled for any safety concerns.
The 2024 Acura MDX's warranty is also generous. The limited warranty is valid for four years/50,000, and the powertrain warranty for six years/70,000 miles. Since last year, complimentary servicing for two years/24,000 has also been part of the deal.
What Acura did was to take the Acura Precision Concept and adapt it for a production car, and the result is a premium-looking mid-size SUV with many individualistic styling cues to make it stand out from the crowd. The intricate grille's mesh pattern radiates out from the huge Acura logo, and sharply styled LED headlights with Chicane DRLs and taillights feature on all trims. The profile is a little nondescript, and the wheelbase shorter than most in this class, but it still looks well-proportioned on 19-inch alloy wheels; the top trims run on 20s or 21s. A standard power liftgate and a panoramic sunroof round off the premium exterior specification level. The A-Spec gets the Sport Appearance exterior package, and both it and the Advance package gain LED foglights. The Type S gets the unique Type S Exterior Appearance package that includes quad chromed exhausts.
The MDX falls short of greatness, and that's a shame because there's so much to recommend it. Its styling is eye-catching and modern, its ride well resolved, its handling sharper than most, and the cabin comes with a distinctive design and lots of equipment. Front-seat comfort is superb as well, and there's plenty of space in the first two rows. But value is everything in this overpopulated market segment, so the things that grate do stand out: the rear two rows are simply not comfortable enough, and the third row is positively cramped compared to rivals. The touchpad-based infotainment system will be a deal-breaker for some as well. And, since there's no economical hybrid option to choose from either, many will gravitate to the base models. If these things are important to you, you'd have to look beyond the MDX to one of its more overall well-rounded competitors.
The most popular competitors of 2024 Acura MDX: