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  • William Maley
    William Maley

    Quick Drive: 2017 Acura MDX

      Revisiting one of Acura's most popular models

    When I last reviewed the Acura MDX back in 2014, I mentioned that it and the RDX crossover made up a majority of the brand’s sales. That’s still true in 2017 as both models currently make up 63.8 percent of Acura’s sales through the end of March. In closing my review, I said Acura focused on fixing the issues that hurt the MDX before and left other things well alone, creating a balanced luxury crossover. But does that still hold up in a field that has become very competitive in the past couple of years? It seemed a revisit was in order.

    • Acura did a significant refresh for the 2017 MDX with the biggest change being the design. Up front, Acura has swapped the shield grille for a larger pentagonal grille from the 2016 Precision Concept. While the shield was considered by many to a bit polarizing and a turn-off, I find the new grille to be a bit cartoonish. It doesn’t really work with the rest of the MDX’s design. At least certain traits such as the ‘Jewel Eye’ headlights and sloping roofline are still here and still work.
    • The interior hasn’t changed much since our last test and that’s both a good and bad thing. The good is the MDX’s material quality is towards the top of the class with a fair amount of leather and wood trim used throughout. Although considering the price tag of just over $59,000, it would have been nice if Acura added some more luxury touches. Those sitting up front or in the second-row will find plenty of room and a set of supportive seats. The MDX is one of the few models in the class that offers a third-row as standard, but it is best reserved for small kids or being folded into the floor to increase cargo space.
    • The bad mostly deals with the AcuraLink infotainment system. This dual screen setup brings more headaches than any other system I have used. A perfect example is when you want to switch from music to a podcast on your USB device. You need to use the top screen and a control knob to go through the various menus to find the show you want to listen to. Not only is this pain, but it also creates a distraction when driving as your eyes are taken off from the road. I wish Acura would scrap this system and start back from square one.
    • Power still comes from a 3.5L V6 offering 290 horsepower and 267 pound-feet of torque. A nine-speed automatic routes power to either the front-wheels or all four-wheels via Acura’s super-handling all-wheel drive (SH-AWD). Advanced models like ours come standard with a stop-start system. 
    • The V6 in the MDX is such an impressive motor. Power delivery is quite strong throughout the rev band and the engine doesn’t make much noise during acceleration. However, the stop-start is a bit of a mess. It takes a few seconds for the system to realize that you took your foot off the brake before it restarts the engine. The system can be turned off which we recommend doing.
    • The nine-speed automatic needs a bit work as well as we found shifts to be somewhat clunky at low speeds. Also, the transmission is slow to downshift when you need to make a pass. At least paddle shifters mounted on the steering wheel solves this issue somewhat as you can do it yourself.
    • EPA fuel economy figures stand at 19 City/26 Highway/22 Combined when the MDX is equipped with SH-AWD. I got none too shabby 23 MPG average for the week.
    • One area we’re glad to see Acura not messing with the MDX refresh is the suspension tuning. The MDX has stuck the right balance of comfort and handling. Some of this is credited to the Integrated Dynamics System (IDS) that alters various settings for the suspension, steering, and a few other items. This means the MDX can be tailored to deliver a sporty ride when driving down a curvy road and ironing out road imperfections when commuting.
    • There is one big issue for the MDX, price. Our MDX Advance & Entertainment tester came with an as-tested price of $59,475 with destination. Considering what you get for the price and compare against other models, the MDX is a bit of a poor value. Stick with one of the lower trims.
    • The Acura MDX stands in a bit of an odd middle ground, where it is above the mainstream, but below luxury competitors. It remains a very competent crossover that seems to do most things right. But we can’t help but wonder if Acura was given a bit more time to mess with the stop-start system and automatic transmission, along with making it slightly more luxurious, it could take it a bit further from the middle ground the MDX currently sits in.

    Disclaimer: Acura Provided the MDX, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas

    Year: 2017
    Make: Acura
    Model: MDX
    Trim: Advanced Entertainment SH-AWD
    Engine: 3.5L 24-Valve SOHC i-VTEC V6
    Driveline: Nine-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive
    Horsepower @ RPM: 290 @ 6,200
    Torque @ RPM: 267 @ 4,700
    Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 19/26/22
    Curb Weight: 4,292 lbs
    Location of Manufacture: Lincoln, AL
    Base Price: $58,500
    As Tested Price: $59,475 (Includes $975.00 Destination Charge)

    Options: N/A

    Edited by William Maley


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    Yawn, I will pass, they are not taking enough risk or pushing the limits of what is needed and can be done in an AWD CUV.  hard core Acura fans afraid of change will for the most part love it.

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    14 minutes ago, dfelt said:

    Yawn, I will pass, they are not taking enough risk or pushing the limits of what is needed and can be done in an AWD CUV.  hard core Acura fans afraid of change will for the most part love it.

    I have seen what Acura does when it takes risks and pushes limits and there is a link to C and G.  Obviously they are smoking the same stuff our posters in the politics thread are enjoying so heavily...

    • Upvote 1

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    20 minutes ago, A Horse With No Name said:

    I have seen what Acura does when it takes risks and pushes limits and there is a link to C and G.  Obviously they are smoking the same stuff our posters in the politics thread are enjoying so heavily...

    :roflmao: +1

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    I think it is great mommy mobile, my wife loves previous generation and would love this one.  But as was said in the review I think MDX with Technology package is where the sweet spot is for the best value, not the top of the line. I think out of all the AWD CUV's up to $50k MDX is probably has the best driving dynamics.

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    Just now, ykX said:

    I think it is great mommy mobile, my wife loves previous generation and would love this one.  But as was said in the review I think MDX with Technology package is where the sweet spot is for the best value, not the top of the line. I think out of all the AWD CUV's up to $50k MDX is probably has the best driving dynamics.

    All joking aside it is a really decent vehicle.

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    2 hours ago, A Horse With No Name said:

    All joking aside it is a really decent vehicle.

    True as long as your under 6' tall. My coworker has one, loves it but I only rode in it once. With the front seat all the way back, it was still tight and only kids could sit behind me. Acura has missed building something for big americans.

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    $59k for a Honda Pilot?  No thanks.  And 290 up and 267 lb-ft is all they can muster?  What hurts Acura is having the exact same engine as Honda.  At least Lincoln has a more powerful ecoboost V6 than the Ford.  Infiniti, Lexus and Cadillac have the same problem with their crossovers, it is a corporate V6 you get on a car costing 50% less.  And Infiniti and Cadillac both have a turbo V6 but yet it isn't put in the crossovers.  Meanwhile the Europeans will put 500 hp in a compact crossover, they don't care.

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    1 hour ago, Cubical-aka-Moltar said:

    My 77yr old uncle and his wife have a '14 MDX, rode in it last year in Ohio.   It's a pleasant, comfortable midsize SUV, but I wouldn't take it over my Grand Cherokee...

    The Grand Cherokee is a really under rated vehicle.

    2 hours ago, Drew Dowdell said:

    reliable and boring appliance... nothing more..... and perfectly acceptable if you're into that sort of thing

    ...And what would you like to see people in that market buy?

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    I think other vehicles offer more value for the money, Jeep being one, the Mazda CX-9 is another.  But what the MDX is best at is square foot for the luxury dollar.... For some customers that might matter.

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    Jeep GC does not have third row so it can not be compared to MDX.  

    Personally, I would go for CX-9 over MDX.

    Edited by ykX

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    2 minutes ago, ykX said:

    Jeep GC does not have third row so it can not be compared to MDX.  

    Personally, I would go for CX-9 over MDX.

    Quite true about the Jeep... But I don't think it can't be compared... Lots of people who don't need a 3rd row still buy the MDX.

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    19 minutes ago, Drew Dowdell said:

    Quite true about the Jeep... But I don't think it can't be compared... Lots of people who don't need a 3rd row still buy the MDX.

    Sadly a lot of people won't even cross shop...

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    Forgot about the third row in the MDX, I'm never sure which have them and which don't since I wouldn't use one.      The Ford Edge and Explorer seem so close, it's the 3rd row that differentiates the Explorer, for example. 

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    1 minute ago, Cubical-aka-Moltar said:

    Forgot about the third row in the MDX, I'm never sure which have them and which don't since I wouldn't use one.      The Ford Edge and Explorer seem so close, it's the 3rd row that differentiates the Explorer, for example. 

    Agreed....although I would take the MDX over the explorer...not really down with the Ford, but that is just personal preference.

    Edited by A Horse With No Name

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    Just now, A Horse With No Name said:

    Agreed....although I would take the MDX over the explorer...not really down with the Ford, but that is just personal preference.

    It is funny, about cross shopping, etc.  Though I've had a history w/ Fords and plenty of them in my family, I just can't get into their current crop of CUVs and SUVs.    My past experience w/ the GC and fondness for the model steered me towards another GC without much consideration of other models.   Though I briefly considered going new and getting an Equinox (because of my sister's experience w/ the Trax and the particular dealer), I found them too drab and dour inside.  (didn't want a gloomy black or gray cave for NE Ohio).   Also considered a used Tahoe, but the ones in Phoenix tend to be high mileage and 2WD. 

    I know people that have had good experiences w/ Acuras, but just not for me. 

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    23 minutes ago, Cubical-aka-Moltar said:

    Forgot about the third row in the MDX, I'm never sure which have them and which don't since I wouldn't use one.      The Ford Edge and Explorer seem so close, it's the 3rd row that differentiates the Explorer, for example. 

    Explorer has more cargo space in the back too though, its definitely a bigger vehicle if you're going to be traveling in it a lot. 

    22 minutes ago, A Horse With No Name said:

    Agreed....although I would take the MDX over the explorer...not really down with the Ford, but that is just personal preference.

    I'd go the other way... the MDX felt really cheap to me for what was supposed to be a luxury vehicle. The Ford Explorer in Platinum trim has a lot more power and a lot more kit for less money.... plus, they drive really well for an SUV. 

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    17 minutes ago, Drew Dowdell said:

    Explorer has more cargo space in the back too though, its definitely a bigger vehicle if you're going to be traveling in it a lot. 

    I'd go the other way... the MDX felt really cheap to me for what was supposed to be a luxury vehicle. The Ford Explorer in Platinum trim has a lot more power and a lot more kit for less money.... plus, they drive really well for an SUV. 

    Jeep Grand Cherokee for me all the way in this segment though...

    34 minutes ago, Cubical-aka-Moltar said:

    It is funny, about cross shopping, etc.  Though I've had a history w/ Fords and plenty of them in my family, I just can't get into their current crop of CUVs and SUVs.    My past experience w/ the GC and fondness for the model steered me towards another GC without much consideration of other models.   Though I briefly considered going new and getting an Equinox (because of my sister's experience w/ the Trax and the particular dealer), I found them too drab and dour inside.  (didn't want a gloomy black or gray cave for NE Ohio).   Also considered a used Tahoe, but the ones in Phoenix tend to be high mileage and 2WD. 

    I know people that have had good experiences w/ Acuras, but just not for me. 

    This would echo my thinking...and yes, nothing wrong at all with the current Ford SUV lineup, just not my cup of tea.

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    I have not driven Explorer so can't say how it drives but every comparison  many car magazines ran rated it quite poorly,  

    Explorer Platinum starts at $50k, MDX with technology package is $48k and I am not sure that Explorer will have more equipment from a quick look on the website.

    I do like how Explorer looks, and personally I like it more then MDX but I don't think I would buy it over MDX.

    I also would like to say that showing my wife a bunch of three row CUV's and asking her to rate them just based on their appearances I learned that women look at exterior very differently then men, and since most of these CUV's are driven by women our opinion is irrelevant. :)

    If my wife says she likes MDX better I will get MDX even though it might not be my choice ;)

     

    Edited by ykX

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    The Explorer, GC, Durango, and Tahoe are my current top three choices in no particular order.  I'm interested to see what the new Traverse will be like.... I do like it's looks, but I wasn't a big fan of how the new Acadia drives, so that leaves me wondering about where that will leave me with the Traverse. 

     

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    1 hour ago, ykX said:

    Jeep GC does not have third row so it can not be compared to MDX.  

    Personally, I would go for CX-9 over MDX.

    I would have to disagree as the two would be cross shopped and based on my own personal experience, I could never recommend the CX-9. If you want to understand why, read my review on it.

    Jeep Grand Cherokee is far better than either the MDX or CX-9.

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