2020 Acura MDX

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2020 Acura MDX Review: Luxury SUV Can't Hide All Its Flaws

by Gabe Beita Kiser

The Acura MDX continues to be one of the brand's best-selling models. The three-row luxury SUV offers plenty of features and a strong engine, yet is one of the more affordable options in its segment. Available either in front-wheel-drive configuration or with Acura's super handling all-wheel-drive setup, the familiar 3.5-liter V6 engine with 290 horsepower offers spirited performance and good refinement. Inside, the MDX's spacious cabin makes a positive first impression, but it isn't quite as posh as the best of the competition. More of an issue is a dated and complex dual-screen infotainment system that is now well behind the best offerings. The transmission also makes it hard to extract the best out of the engine. Perhaps the MDX's biggest issue is the cheaper Honda Pilot - sharing much with the MDX, the Acura may have the more premium badge, but the difference between the two isn't all that great. But the MDX's sales figures don't lie: it remains one of the USA's favorite SUVs.

Read in this review:

  • Exterior Design 8 /10
  • Performance 7 /10
  • Fuel Economy 7 /10
  • Interior & Cargo 7 /10
  • Infotainment & Features 6 /10
  • Reliability 7 /10
  • Safety 9 /10
  • Value For Money 7 /10
7.2
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2020 Acura MDX Changes: 🚙What’s the difference vs 2019 MDX?

Last year, the MDX range received a host of updates including a retuned automatic transmission, new colors, and the addition of the A-Spec package. Perhaps because of these recent updates, not much is new for the Acura MDX going into 2020.

Pros and Cons

  • Refined and potent V6 engine
  • Lots of driver safety aids fitted as standard
  • Good use of space in the feature-rich cabin
  • Reasonable price for a luxury SUV
  • Available SH-AWD system enhances handling
  • Infotainment system is the cabin's biggest weakness
  • Below-average quality of interior materials
  • Automatic transmission is a weak point
  • Button-activated shifter isn't the easiest to use

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2020 Acura MDX Trims

See trim levels and configurations:

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
3.5L
3.5L V6 Gas
9-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$44,500
3.5L with Technology Package
3.5L V6 Gas
9-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$49,500
Technology Package
3.0L V6 Hybrid
7-Speed Automatic
All-Wheel Drive
$53,000
3.5L with Technology & Entertainment Package
3.5L V6 Gas
9-Speed Automatic
All-Wheel Drive
$53,500
3.5L with A-Spec Package
3.5L V6 Gas
9-Speed Automatic
All-Wheel Drive
$55,000
See All 2020 Acura MDX Trims and Specs

Handling and Driving Impressions

Acura's SH-AWD system isn't just fanciful marketing speak (even if "super handling" is a bit of a stretch for a midsize SUV) because the MDX genuinely handles well, with torque vectoring able to send extra power to the outside wheel when cornering. In its sportier driving modes, the steering has a welcome added weightiness to it - combined with the crossover's ability to resist body roll and the V6's responsiveness, the MDX is more enjoyable to drive than most others in this segment.

Ride comfort is generally absorbent and the MDX feels suitably buttoned-down. Not all bumps are kept at bay, however, as the slightly firm MDX has traded some smoothness in favor of its admirable handling qualities. It's far from uncomfortable, of course, and excellent sound-deadening helps to make this quite a serene cruiser. Around town and in normal driving mode, the steering is also light enough to make parking an effortless affair while top speeds see a bit more weight attributed to the steering. Although it's no NSX, overall the MDX's dynamics strike a good balance between handling, ride quality, and refinement.

Verdict: 🏁Is the New Acura MDX a good car?

There are a few clear reasons that the Acura MDX remains a strong seller for the brand. With its solid V6 engine and surprisingly entertaining dynamics (especially when equipped with AWD), this is a three-row SUV that's far from a bore behind the wheel. It's also well-priced and offers loads of convenience and safety features. It's also brilliantly versatile, with good space for seven passengers and a roomy cargo area, even with all seven seats in place. If only some more attention was paid to its build quality and the implementation of technology (the dual-screen infotainment system can't be replaced soon enough), this would be a class-leading SUV. At the top-end of the range, these flaws are hard to overlook as the MDX's price begins to overlap with the superb Mercedes-Benz GLE and BMW X5, both of which offer greater refinement and peerless quality, easily outclass the Acura. At a base level, the MDX has to contend closer to home with the cheaper and equally competent Honda Pilot. That leaves Acura's midsize SUV in a bit of a predicament - it's a good SUV surrounded by competitors with a more consistent spread of abilities.

Check out other Acura MDX Styles

2020 Acura MDX Comparisons

Acura RDX CarBuzz
Honda Pilot Honda

2020 Acura MDX vs Acura RDX

With a base price of almost $7,000 less than the MDX, the RDX is likely to be an appealing alternative to anyone considering an entry-level MDX. You do lose the benefit of seven seats, however, as the RDX only offers seating for five. In comparison, there's also a drop in overall cargo capacity, although the RDX's 29.5 cubic feet behind the rear seats is still generous. Disregarding the lack of a third row, it's the RDX that has a superior cabin. It feels more upscale than the MDX and the touchpad infotainment system, while not perfect, is much better than what's in the MDX. Both SUVs are available with Acura's Super-Handling AWD system, but the MDX's naturally-aspirated V6 engine is a bit stronger than the RDX's turbo-four. Even considering that, we'd pick the RDX between these two. The MDX's additional seating capacity and cargo space are its only real advantages.

See Acura RDX Review

2020 Acura MDX vs Honda Pilot

With pricing that's well over $10,000 cheaper than the base MDX, the Honda Pilot offers the same seating capacity, similar V6 power, comparable fuel efficiency, and many of the same safety features. One would think that going for the MDX would get you a significant bump up in quality, but the well-built Pilot hardly feels like a step down, particularly if you go for one of the higher trims. For instance, the $42,620 Honda Pilot Touring still costs less than the cheapest MDX, yet offers a premium ten-speaker sound system, a Blu-ray rear entertainment system, and navigation, all of which you won't get on the base MDX. The Pilot is quite simply the better buy here, and if you choose the MDX instead, you'll be paying for little more than the badge.

See Honda Pilot Review

2020 Acura MDX Popular Comparisons

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