It’s starting to feel a bit old in places, but there’s still plenty about the Acura MDX to find appealing.
It’s starting to feel a bit old in places, but there’s still plenty about the Acura MDX to find appealing.
Despite not having the cache of some of its rivals, the Acura MDX is a vehicle we feel should be considered by those who are interested in buying a new premium three-row SUV. Whilst it does lose ground to its rivals in areas like interior plushness and transmission responsiveness, the Acura MDX does claw back ground in some key areas. It’s well-priced by premium SUV standards (especially when you consider how much equipment and safety gear comes with), the interior’s spacious and the Acura MDX is a very well-rounded car to drive. Overall, whilst it is getting on a bit and doesn’t quite have the ability to be best-in-class, the Acura MDX is nevertheless a pleasant premium SUV that does enough well to be worthy of your attention.
The driver and front passenger in particular are treated to a good amount of head and leg room.
As expected from a large three-row SUV, the Acura MDX does offer quite a good amount of interior space. The driver and front passenger in particular are treated to a good amount of head and leg room, with a similar story for the three-seater (or two-seater, if you opt for the optional ‘Advance’ package) middle row. Sadly, the three seats in the rear row aren’t particularly capacious, so we’d only recommend children use the rear-most seats – though the wide-opening side doors and simple-to-operate sliding middle seat mechanism does make access to the back fairly straightforward. Interior storage is also pretty respectable in the Acura RDX, with the large glovebox and cubbies in the front center armrests and door bins being well proportioned and large enough to swallow up items like water bottles. Another aspect that’s worth highlighting are the very supportive and comfortable seats, which complement the Acura MDX’s more cossetting characteristics.
Regardless of how many seats are in place or folded, the trunk is of a boxy shape.
The trunk space is also fairly good by segment standards. Whilst the capacity of 15.3 cubic feet with all the rear seats in place isn’t amazing, it is on par with three-row SUV rivals like the Volvo XC90. That trend continues when you fold away the third row (43.4 cubic feet) and second row (90.9 cubic feet) completely flat. Regardless of how many seats are in place or folded, the trunk is of a boxy shape, and the combination of a wide opening and the lack of any load lip means sliding larger items in and out is straightforward. Where the Acura MDX starts to lose some ground, though, in in the intuitiveness of the controls. Though the multi-function steering wheel is easy enough to operate, the dual-screen multimedia interface is rather complicated in comparison with the more streamlined setups in rival cars, with the combination of a fussy button layout and an unresponsive touchscreen making the matter even worse. Overall cabin material quality is also an area where the Acura MDX lags behind its rivals – albeit not to the same extent. Though the Acura MDX is far from being cheap-feeling on the inside, the grades of leathers and plastics that are used aren’t quite up to the standards set by vehicles like the Lexus RX. Still, at least the cabin is assembled to a good standard, with the interior feeling very solidly put together.
Noise insulation levels are also very good for a vehicle of this size.
One area where the Acura MDX noticeably defies its relative age is in the way it drives. Despite a vast majority of its competitors being more recent additions to the new car market, the Acura MDX can still hold its own in the ride/handling balance stakes. For instance, whilst it isn’t quite the most comfortable vehicle in this segment, the Acura MDX still manages to remain very calm and composed over rougher road surfaces, with the suspension doing a very good job at isolating the occupants from bumps and jolts. Likewise, noise insulation levels are also very good for a vehicle of this size, which – in combination with the aforementioned ride comfort – makes the Acura MDX a pleasant vehicle to spend longer journeys in.
As standard, the Acura MDX comes in a front-wheel drive configuration, which we feel most buyers will be perfectly fine sticking with.
The Acura MDX impresses when it comes to handling responses too. Again, it’s not class-leading in this regard, but the direct steering, good grip levels and admirably-controlled body lean when cornering all ensure the Acura MDX is quite manoeuvrable for such a big vehicle. Perhaps the biggest downside to driving the Acura MDX, though, is having to contend with some sizeable blind spots. Whilst the large windows do their best to offset the compromises brought about by chunky pillars, they aren’t quite enough to overcome the view-blocking posts – with the center pillars in particular obscuring the over-the-shoulder view. As standard, the Acura MDX comes in a front-wheel drive configuration, which we feel most buyers will be perfectly fine sticking with. However, buyers who’d prefer a bit more traction on tap (which is especially handy for buyers who live in the United States’ ‘snow belt’) will want to specify the optional all-wheel drive setup – though, at $2,000, it does noticeably increase the Acura MDX’s price. Adding all-wheel drive also doesn’t add safety features like hill descent control to the car’s spec list, which is a bit of a disappointment.
Under the hood is a tried-and-tested 3.5-liter six-cylinder gasoline engine.
Whereas most rival companies offer turbocharged four-cylinder engines in their three-row SUVs, Acura’s sticking to tradition with the MDX. Under the hood is a tried-and-tested 3.5-liter six-cylinder gasoline engine that produces a healthy 290-hp and 267 lb-ft of torque. Though those outputs are only accessible at higher revs, the 3.5-liter engine is quite a flexible engine – and especially when you consider the vehicle’s size and weight. Quite a lot of pulling power is available from the mid-range, so there’s no need to work the engine especially hard unless you have all seven seats occupied and are heading up a steady incline, and the six-cylinder is also quite a smooth and settled unit. Fuel economy is another area where the 3.5-liter engine impresses. Though the smaller, turbocharged engines in rivals are more efficient, the Acura MDX’s claimed economy figures of 19mpg city/27mpg highway and 18mpg city/26mpg highway for the front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive versions respectively are good by segment standards. As with the engine, the Acura MDX’s transmission is also quite a well-rounded unit. Granted, it isn’t objectively the best you’ll find in this class (it takes a while for the transmission to drop down a few gears when accelerating on the highway, for example), the nine-speed automatic transmission is still a very pleasant gearbox that changes gears smoothly and seamlessly. Better still, the transmission’s also rather refined, and the multitude of gears on offer means the engine’s never put through much stress under hard acceleration.
Buyers who want even more efficiency, though, will likely want to wait for the range-topping ‘Sport Hybrid’ model that’ll be introduced later in 2017.
Buyers who want even more efficiency, though, will likely want to wait for the range-topping ‘Sport Hybrid’ model that’ll be introduced later in 2017. As its name suggests, this model ditches the 3.5-liter engine in favour of a 3.0-liter six-cylinder gasoline setup, complete with a complement of electric motors. Being transmitted to all four wheels is the system’s combined power output of 325-hp (torque figures haven’t been disclosed by Acura yet), and it’s claimed this hybrid model will return 25mpg in the city and 26mpg on the highway. However, as pricing details have yet to be confirmed at time of writing, we’d implore you to hold off buying an Acura MDX Sport Hybrid until more concrete MSRP information is made available.
Making the Acura MDX an even better bang-for-your-buck option is its impressive standard equipment spec.
By premium three-row SUV standards, the Acura MDX stands out as quite a good value-for-money offering. With a base price of $44,050, the Acura MDX retails for noticeably less money than the Lexus RX, Volvo XC90, Mercedes-Benz GLE and Audi Q7. Making the Acura MDX an even better bang-for-your-buck option is its impressive standard equipment spec. All versions come with leather upholstery, heated front seats, three-zone climate control, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning and emergency autonomous braking as standard – which is very good, considering most of these items are only available on some rivals as pricey optional extras.
Built-in navigation, blind spot monitoring and even front and rear parking sensors aren’t available on the most basic Acura MDX.
Sadly, there are some standard equipment omissions. Built-in navigation, blind spot monitoring and even front and rear parking sensors aren’t available on the most basic Acura MDX – which is a shame, considering the vehicle’s price. Thankfully, the one package we feel most Acura MDX buyers should consider (the admittedly pricey $4,410 ‘Technology Package’) adds the aforementioned navigation and blind spot systems along with other convenience features. That said, it is still very cheeky of Acura to make the parking sensors exclusive to the $6,040 ‘Advance Package’. As stated earlier, the Acura MDX does come with a lot of safety equipment as standard. Therefore, the vehicle has quite a good safety record, having been awarded the full five stars in its most recent crash test. Warranties are also pretty good by segment standards, with the Acura MDX’s four-years/50,000-miles limited and six-years/70,000-miles powertrain warranties being quite competitive for the class. Likewise, the Acura MDX has a satisfactory reliability record, though the likes of the Lexus RX do have the Acura MDX trumped in terms of residual values.
With lots of newer rivals to fend off, the Acura MDX was never going to have an easy fight for class honours. However, though it isn’t quite able to emerge as the best three-row SUV in this segment, the Acura MDX is still a very well-rounded car. The cabin, whilst not as upmarket as a car in this price range could be, is still pretty spacious and versatile, and the comfy seats in combination with the compliant ride and good noise insulation makes the Acura MDX a pleasant car in which to spend longer journeys in. Also, whilst there are some odd standard equipment omissions, the Acura MDX comes with a good amount of gear in comparison with rivals, and the engine is also quite frugal considering its size. Overall, whilst we do reckon you should check out rival cars first before making a purchasing decision, the Acura MDX does more than enough to be worthy of your consideration. If you’re after a premium three-row SUV, the Acura MDX should definitely be on your ‘to have a closer look at’ list.