- Capable handling
- High safety scores
- Loads of optional high-tech toys
- Powerful engine with decent fuel economy
- Relatively large third-row seat for a midsize luxury SUV
- Dashboard cluttered with buttons
- Non-premium crossovers offer more passenger and cargo space
If you're looking for a well-rounded luxury crossover SUV, you're going to like the 2010 Acura MDX. The latest MDX covers the expected bases in terms of utility and luxury, yet it also boasts crisp handling and a boatload of technological features. This well-rounded approach does mean that other competing models might better the MDX in one particular area or another, but overall Acura's midsize crossover is pretty appealing.
For 2010, Acura has also made a fair number of changes. The most obvious is the adoption of Acura's new corporate grille. To be honest, most of us don't think very highly of Acura's newest grille (we've previously noted its visual similarity to a bagel slicer), but no doubt Acura wants to have some commonality for its stable of vehicles.
You certainly won't find any objections about what's under the hood: a new six-speed automatic transmission that replaces last year's five-speed that gives a minor boost to fuel economy and acceleration. The MDX's 3.7-liter V6 engine has also been updated. It's essentially the same in terms of size and power, but Acura says it has beefier internal components.
Inside, the MDX gains a revamped cabin with new gauges and a new steering wheel with paddle shifters. There are also new high-tech features such as a hard-drive-based navigation system (with music storage, traffic rerouting and weather reporting) and a multi-angle back-up camera. As before, though, the MDX dash has a lot of buttons that take time to get used to.
This quibble aside, though, the 2010 Acura MDX is one of our top picks for a luxury crossover. It is true that if you have performance as a top priority, the BMW X5, Infiniti FX35 and Porsche Cayenne are worth looking at. And on the other side of the spectrum, family-friendly choices like the Buick Enclave, Ford Flex Limited, and Mazda CX-9 Grand Touring are all roomier. The similarly priced Lexus RX 350 is also worth checking out, although it is smaller. But even in this upstanding company, the 2010 MDX represents a solid choice if you're looking for the ideal middle ground.
WHAT'S NEW FOR 2010
Updates for the 2010 Acura MDX crossover bring a new corporate grille, revised front and rear fascias, an updated V6 engine paired with a new six-speed transmission, a freshened cabin and a gaggle of new high-tech goodies. The latter include a hard-drive-based navigation system (with music storage, traffic rerouting and weather reporting) and a multi-angle back-up camera.
TRIMS & EQUIPMENT
The 2010 Acura MDX is a midsize seven-passenger crossover SUV available (via packages) in five trim levels. Standard on the well-equipped base MDX are 18-inch wheels, xenon HID headlights, a power liftgate, a sunroof, an auto-dimming rearview mirror with integrated rearview camera, tri-zone automatic climate control, a power tilt-and-telescoping steering column, heated eight-way power front seats, a 50/50-split-folding third-row seat, leather upholstery, a trip computer and Bluetooth. An eight-speaker stereo with an in-dash six-CD changer, satellite radio and an auxiliary audio jack is also standard.
There are then four packages to choose from: Technology package, Technology with Entertainment package, Advance package, Advance with Entertainment package.
The Technology package adds upgraded leather trim, an automatic phonebook-downloading feature for the Bluetooth system, a multi-angle rearview camera, a hard-drive-based navigation system (with voice activation, Zagat restaurant ratings, weather reporting and traffic reporting with rerouting), a GPS-linked/solar-sensing climate control system and a superb 10-speaker Panasonic/ELS surround-sound system with digital music storage.
The Advance package includes all the Technology package items, plus 19-inch wheels, an active sport suspension, perforated leather upholstery with contrasting stitching, ventilated front seats, a sport steering wheel, adaptive cruise control, a blind-spot detection system and Acura's Collision Mitigating Braking System. The Entertainment package requires either of the former packages and includes heated second-row seating, a 115-volt house-style power outlet and a rear-seat entertainment system.
INTERIOR & SAFETY
The MDX's cabin is a technology lover's dream. Even the base model has its fair share of electronic toys, and the Technology and Advance packages add even more goodies. The Panasonic/ELS surround-sound system is quite simply one of the best in the business, as is the navigation system. With all these items to control, however, the MDX's dash is cluttered with buttons. It can be overwhelming at first, but once you know where everything is, it becomes intuitive.
The MDX is one of the more spacious three-row midsize luxury crossover SUVs on the market. An adult could fit in the third row for a short journey, although the rearmost seats are better suited for kids. A total of 83.5 cubic feet of cargo space is available with the second and third rows folded, which is also above average for a midsize luxury crossover.
Standard safety equipment for the 2010 Acura MDX includes antilock disc brakes with brake assist, front-seat side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags, active front head restraints and stability control with a stabilizing feature for trailer towing. The Collision Mitigating Braking System, by monitoring following distance and rate of closure will alert the driver if a collision seems probable via visual and auditory warnings. If a collision is imminent, the system can automatically apply hard braking and cinch up the front seatbelts.
In government crash tests, the Acura MDX earned a top five-star rating in all of the frontal-impact and side-impact tests. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave a top score of "Good" to the same vehicle for occupant protection in frontal offset and side-impact crashes.
PERFORMANCE & HANDLING
The 2010 MDX is powered by a 3.7-liter V6 that produces 300 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission with manual shift control (via paddle shifters) is standard. The MDX features the same "Super Handling" all-wheel drive (SH-AWD) system found in Acura's RL and TL sport sedans, which is capable of transferring different levels of power to individual wheels to maximize traction and grip through turns and in inclement weather.
Although we haven't yet tested the 2010 MDX with the new six-speed, we'd estimate its 0-60-mph acceleration at less than 8 seconds given that last year's model with the five-speed transmission posted an 8.1-second time at the track. Fuel economy goes up 1 mpg across the board this year, yielding estimates of 16 mpg city/21 mpg highway and 18 mpg combined. When properly equipped, the MDX's maximum towing capacity is 5,000 pounds.
For a three-row SUV, the 2010 Acura MDX does a fine job of acting as if it's not one. On curvy roads, the MDX is an eager partner thanks to the SH-AWD. There's a sensation of the torque shifting from wheel to wheel as needed during hard cornering, cluing the driver into the magic behind the electronic curtain, but it all happens so effectively that it's encouraging rather than distracting. Equipped with the Advance package, the MDX's active dampers soak up the bumps when necessary and firm up when the pace quickens.
Acceleration from the 3.7-liter V6 is a shade soft until the tach needle climbs into the midrange, at which point the engine pulls with enthusiasm. The MDX's six-speed automatic transmission readily provides transparent and smooth upshifts and quickly downshifts when the throttle is prodded.
The updated 2010 Acura MDX is a solid choice for a midsize luxury crossover SUV thanks to its sporty performance, technology features and all-around utility.