- Generous array of features and active driver aids for the money
- Optional SH-AWD system enhances handling and all-season surefootedness
- Smooth and confident acceleration from the V6 engine
- Quiet, comfortable and spacious cabin
- Touchscreen isn't user-friendly and graphics are subpar
- Cabin looks and feels less luxurious than some rivals
- Clunky auto stop-start function
- Adaptive cruise control can be slow to respond and abrupt when it does
The Acura MDX has long been a popular choice for midsize SUV shoppers due to its reputation for reliability and favorable resale value, but it's more than just a practical alternative. Thanks to an advanced torque-vectoring all-wheel-drive system (SH-AWD), the MDX is one of the sportier three-row SUVs on the market for drivers so inclined. Its buttery-smooth V6 engine is another strong point, offering acceleration comparable to some European rivals yet returning respectable fuel economy, too. There were some drivability issues with the nine-speed automatic transmission upon its introduction last year, but a software update this year aims to provide a solution.
The 2017 MDX receives a significant face-lift, including a new hood, fresh front and rear fascias, restyled front fenders and different headlights. This year's MDX is also the first Acura to sport the brand's diamond pentagon grille, which will come as particularly welcome news if you weren't a fan of the previous shield-like grille. Another notable addition is the Sport Hybrid model, a midyear addition with a gas-electric powertrain similar to the one in Acura's flagship sedan, the RLX Sport Hybrid.
Overall, the 2017 Acura MDX still can't quite match the upscale feel of European rivals such as the Audi Q7 or Volvo XC90, but the gap is smaller than ever. Throw in the MDX's practical advantages, and you've got a top contender in this class.
WHAT'S NEW FOR 2017
The 2017 Acura MDX receives a comprehensive face-lift, including a new front end with fresh headlight and grille designs. A Sport Hybrid model debuts about halfway through the model year with more power and better fuel economy than the regular MDX. New standard features for 2017 include capless fueling, an electronic parking brake, auto high beams, additional USB ports and the AcuraWatch suite of active safety aids (previously optional on some MDX versions). Newly available features include 20-inch wheels, LED foglights, automatic locking when you walk away from the vehicle, power-folding mirrors, a surround-view camera system, a heated steering wheel, upgraded wood trim and second-row captain's chairs.
TRIMS & EQUIPMENT
The 2017 Acura MDX is a three-row luxury crossover SUV that seats up to seven. It’s offered in three trim levels — Standard, Technology and Advance — that are positioned as packages. There's also an Entertainment package that's offered on both Technology and Advanced models. The Standard MDX comes pretty nicely equipped, but the Advance can't be ignored with its many attractive features. All of the above models employ a 3.5-liter V6 engine (290 horsepower, 267 pound-feet) paired to a nine-speed automatic transmission and can be had with front or all-wheel drive. The Sport Hybrid joins the lineup in spring 2017.
Note that the AcuraWatch safety suite, which used to be a package, is now included in all models, so all MDX drivers will reap the benefits of features such as forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, lane and road departure warning and mitigation, and adaptive cruise control.
Highlights of the well-equipped Standard package include 18-inch wheels, automatic LED headlights with auto high beams, heated side mirrors, an electronic parking brake, a power liftgate, a sunroof and keyless entry and ignition. Inside, you'll find heated, eight-way power-adjustable front seats (with power lumbar adjustment for the driver), driver-seat memory settings, a power-adjustable steering wheel, leather upholstery, tri-zone automatic climate control and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. Technology highlights include dual dashboard displays (a lower 7-inch touchscreen and an upper 8-inch regular screen), Bluetooth, five USB ports, Siri Eyes Free, and an eight-speaker sound system with a CD player, Pandora and Aha compatibility and satellite radio.
The Technology package adds niceties such as 20-inch wheels, automatic wipers, remote engine start, power-folding side mirrors, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, a navigation system, a color driver information display and a 10-speaker premium audio system with HD radio.
The Advance package turns on the charm with front and rear parking sensors, LED foglights, automatic engine stop-start, a surround-view camera system, a heated steering wheel, sport seats with premium leather and trim, power lumbar adjustment for the front passenger, front-seat ventilation, natural wood trim, heated second-row captain's chairs, second-row sunshades and two additional USB ports for the third row.
The Entertainment package can be specified with either the Technology or Advance package and adds a DVD-based rear entertainment system. If you add it to the Technology package, it comes with a 9-inch screen and 11 audio speakers; if you add it to the Advance package, it comes with a 16.2-inch screen (with an HDMI input) and 12 audio speakers, plus it replaces the captain's chairs with seven-passenger seating.
Lastly, the all-wheel-drive MDX Sport Hybrid boasts a 35-horsepower advantage over the non-hybrid MDX, with a total of 325 hp delivered via a unique powertrain consisting of a smaller 3.0-liter V6 engine, three electric motors and a seven-speed, dual-clutch automatic transmission.
The MDX is spacious and versatile for the midsize luxury segment, and though its third row is tight, it's more usable than most. Still, mainstream models such as the mechanically related Honda Pilot are even more practical.
Acura has projected an image of advanced technology in recent years but hasn't always followed through. The MDX remains a mixed bag. Its smart device integration and host of advanced safety aids are impressive, but its clunky dual-screen interface and so-so graphics leave something to be desired.
Convenience and efficiency play a big part in vehicle utility, and here the MDX capitalizes. Total cargo volume isn't the biggest, but easy fold-flat seats make loading long items a breeze. Storage space in nooks and crannies is another win.
PERFORMANCE & HANDLING
Acceleration is smooth and assertive. Although low-end torque is not this V6's strong suit, the nine-speed transmission does a great job of keeping the revs high at full sail. The MDX hits 60 mph in 6.5 seconds, which is more than respectable but a half-beat slower than the supercharged Audi Q7.
The nine-speed transmission is smoother-shifting for 2017 thanks to a software update, but the automatic engine stop-start function still takes too long to react off the line after coming to a stop. The MDX Sport Hybrid's three electric motors promise to enhance the base MDX's modest low-end oomph.
The 290-horsepower, 3.5-liter V6 and optional Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive are key factors in making the MDX one of the most confident midsize SUVs in this price range. It’s not as thrilling as some competitors, but it is effortlessly capable.
Sharp, higher frequency bumps are felt through the 20-inch wheels (especially at lower speeds), but body motions are well-controlled and bigger undulations are nicely damped.