I'm not really too impressed with the design. It looks too generic
compared to all the other SUV's out today.
Smooth powertrain highlights Acuras MDX
ROAD TEST EDITOR JONATHAN WONG[/b:4e9bea1b88]: As Acura is busy
rebuilding its sedan portfolio with the new TLX and updated ILX, its
SUV/crossover lineup continues to hum away smoothly with brisk sales
of the smaller RDX and the three-row MDX. The RDX didnt really catch
on until Acura debuted the second-generation model a couple of years
ago replacing the first version that wasnt ideally suited for the
mass market with a peaky turbocharged four-cylinder engine and a
chassis that was sprung much too stiffly. But Acura seemingly got
things right with the MDX from the beginning.
It never been perfect (because nothing ever is), but the MDX
consistently been at the top or near the top of the luxury three-row
crossover segment in my opinion overall. With this third-generation
model that launched for the 2014 model year, Acura right-sized it,
tried to remedy some interior complaints, and began offering a
front-wheel drive model as a more affordable alternative for customers
who didnt necessarily need the SH-AWD system.
The body is a little a narrower than the previous model to make
maneuvering around tight parking lots and structures easier. You can
tell that the cabin doesnt feel quite as expansive as before, but
honestly the old car did feel freaking wide. Like I said, it feels
right sized now.
There were roughly 40 buttons on the old center console, which some
people found overwhelming. To drastically reduce the hard button
count, theres a touchscreen now that controls all infotainment and
climate functions. I do have to take the touchscreen to task because I
think Acura went a little too far with it and implemented too many
things into it. Do you want to adjust fan speed? You need to do it
through the touchscreen, sometimes having to sift through two menus.
Want to adjust your heated seats? Thats in the touchscreen, too. Some
things are better left to be controlled by a regular button or knob,
in my opinion. Thankfully, audio volume is controlled by a knob.
The silky smooth 3.5-liter V6 remains and is connected to a slick
six-speed automatic transmission. I challenge anyone to find me a
smoother V6 than the Honda/Acura 3.5-liter unit. Power is definitely
serviceable for all daily challenges like merging onto freeways, and
it briskly gets going from a dead stop.
Suspension tuning is about right, providing a smooth enough ride
quality, while also being firm enough to keep the MDX from feeling
sloppy in corners. For something so big, its a confident handler.
Ive said this before, but I still do miss the magnetic dampers that
were available on the old model, but I also do understand the fact
that it was a pricier system. Steering weight could be adjusted, but
most of the time I kept it in normal mode that offered just the right
amount of heft.
Getting back to the interior, the materials throughout are nice and my
backseat passengers had no complaints about room. It was easy to find
a comfortable seating position behind the wheel and the front bucket
seats are really comfortable and offered a good amount of support.
If youre looking for a luxury three-row SUV, it remains very tough to
beat the Acura MDX. You could look at the Infiniti QX60 (formerly the
JX35), but then you would have to live with a continuously variable
transmission. They're getting better, but I still would rather not
have one. The new Volvo XC90 looks promising, but I havent driven
that yet. So the Acura is still my pick at this moment in this class.
EDITOR WES RAYNAL[/b:4e9bea1b88]: The previous generation MDX had so
many buttons on the center console, I remember once sitting in the
garage and counting them. I cant remember how many there were, but it
was a ton. This new MDX has far fewer and thus the center stack looks
cleaner, but somehow Honda has made it harder to perform simple tasks
like switching from AM to FM or turning on the seat heaters. With most
functions controlled by the touchscreen, theres now (at least) an
extra step involved, adding distraction. Example: Want to turn up the
fan speed? Its not a matter of hitting just the fan speed. First you
have to get to the screen wherein the fan speed buttons lie, then do
the adjustment, then x out of that screen to go on to whatever next
function you want. Frustrating.
OK. Rant over, on to the driving: Hondas V6 remains one of the
smoothest powerplants in the business and returns damned fine fuel
economy -- the in-dash trip computer was showing as much as 27 mpg,
admirable for an AWD three-row crossover spending its weekend sloshing
through snowy/icy roads.
The all-wheel drive keeps the thing fairly planted no matter the road
conditions and the driving was solid and quiet all weekend.
With the latest sales numbers sitting on my desk as I type this I see
Acura moved almost 4,200 MDXs last month, a slight increase over last
year, and more than all Acura passenger cars combined. Its also more
than Mercedes-Benz ML-class and BMW X5, but fewer than Lexus RX.
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