In this growing SUV market, a premium model with enough charm to stand out is a really high commodity. Safety and infotainment evolve every day, and there are strong competitors like Volvo and Mercedes-Benz that tend to hog all the market. However, our friends from Acura have come up with something so special that, even with a few irksome details, has attracted our attention. The new MDX fits the standard of discrete luxury, and it will be perfect for the Mexican family.
In the Driving Seat
While a bit more side support on the front seats would not go astray, the high driving position and decent sound system bring a certain “king of the road” feel to the whole experience – one which can be pushed a little further with the extremely comfortable heated seats. Nevertheless, you might have to reconsider those smooth cotton pants if you do not want to fly off the seat on a tight curve.
Comfort rather than power is the watchword here. The three rows of seats incline to an angle ideal for mid-trip naps, and they invite you to take long road-trips without having to stretch your legs. Furthermore, the seats are completely automatic and quite easy to adjust, while interior noise is practically non existant, so there is nothing between you and that optimum state of relaxation. The only downside is that while the Acura’s overall vibe is discrete comfort, the dashboard has a rather Honda feel, compromising the plush feel of the rest of the interior.
Ride and Performance
That smooth, cruise-control vibe the MDX gives depends a lot on where you drive it. The car is extremely nimble, but it is compromised by acceleration which feels somewhat abrupt. This model features a V6 engine instead of the usual V8. Therefore, even though you can feel the power coming from the engine, you need to apply all that strength to show a decent acceleration. On the bright side, this new configuration is significantly more fuel efficient, and the engine control is adjusted to operate within the most efficient power and torque areas. Luckily, this does not mean that you cannot drive fast with this beast. Even though acceleration might not be the MDX’s cup of tea, cruising at high speeds feels quite natural and it seems a little too soon when you reach its electronic limit of 190Km/h. Bottom line, I think a V8 configuration would be better, in order to achieve that airplane feeling one would seek from a vehicle this size.
In terms of handling, you might expect that a car this big would have trouble handling small city streets. However, they were surprisingly easy to tackle, and even though the car has a limited turning cycle, it is sufficient for this giant SUV. Having said that, I think the best road to test the MDX is obviously a highway. The car is amazingly stable, and its All-Wheel Drive offers that little something extra to get a really exciting driving experience. The suspension is equally successful, stable and balanced, contributing to that “king of the road” experience. Furthermore, the MDX features three different driving settings – Normal, Comfort, and Sport – to suit any particular driving style. The brakes are really responsive as well, although it might be better if they were a bit stronger, given that bringing this 2-tonne dinosaur to a standstill is quite difficult.
Features and Safety
The car’s slightly sharpened front-end, jewel headlights, and beak-like finish make for a streamlined appearance, but the departure from previous models is not significant enough to break with the understated – even cautious – models of times past. Big-framed and with a curvy sheet-metal, it is definitely towards the elegant end of the family minivan market. The contoured exterior is matched by a smooth, cushy interior, making the MDX the perfect choice for a cross-country road trip. The cabin is a safe, quiet bubble, and its strong sound system with perfect acoustics only underlines that impression. Additionally, the MDX features a back screen to distract kids in the most tedious parts of the journey, so you can focus on the excitement of the road ahead.
Unfortunately, there had to be some downsides with this moving Spa. On one hand, just like with the TLX, the GPS does not take traffic into account, it feels a bit outdated, and it cannot be controlled while the vehicle is moving. Let’s not go there again. On the other hand, we do not feel so sure about the new Shift by Touch system brought by Acura. It is certainly an attractive design and it is really innovative, but it is quite distracting while driving and it gets time to get used to something that different.
However, whatever design mistakes there might be, Acura makes up for them in terms of safety. Just as with other models, the new MDX includes the ACURAWATCH safety package with Lane Departure Warning, Lane Keeping Assistance, Collision Mitigation System, and even a Road Departure Mitigation System to avoid leaving the road. Additionally, this model includes Adaptive Cruise Control features and Blind Spot Information. Therefore, you can be certain that there will not be anything out of this thing’s radar.
The MDX makes for a quiet, comfortable ride, but it would definitely benefit from a bigger engine for the car’s uphill work to come up a grade. The cargo space could use some improvement as well, considering that is fairly limited compared to other vehicles in this segment. However, for the economy and price-range, this is a pretty strong bid for the family market. It has tonnes of technological features, enough to keep children distracted and the driver happy.
Acura’s new MDX is a lot more fun than it looks. At first glance, the car is simply a solid, good-value SUV, with perhaps a certain style edge over its rivals in the minivan alternative market. Even though it has a few niggles in terms of hardware and punch, it is comfortable enough for you to forget about all those extra inconveniences. Think of it as a quiet, comfortable bubble on wheels, a spacious pod of comfort which – on its best days – you will not want to get out of.
At a Glance
- Make: Acura
- Model: MDX V6
- Engine: V6 i-VTEC 3.5 liters
- Power: 290 HP at 6,200 rpms
- Top Speed: 190 Km/h
- MPG: 19 to 26 MPG
- 0-100 Km/h in 6.1 seconds
- Shift by Touch
- Driving Settings: Normal, Comfort, Sport
- Automatic Transmission, 9 speeds
- All-Wheel Drive
- Lane Departure Warning
- Lane Keeping Assist
- Collision Mitigation System
- Road Departure Mitigation System
- Blind Spot Information
- Bluetooth + AUX
- Rear Traffic Monitor
- Paddle Shifters