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
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)