By on December 16, 2016

2017 Acura MDX black, Image: © Timothy Cain/The Truth About Cars

2017 Acura MDX SH-AWD

3.5-liter V6, SOHC, direct injection (290 horsepower @ 6,200 rpm; 267 lb-ft @ 4,700 rpm)

Nine-speed automatic, all-wheel drive

19 city / 26 highway / 22 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)

12.2 city/9.0 highway/10.7 combined (NRCan Rating, L/100km)

15.7 mpg [15.0 L/100km] (Observed)

Base Price: $44,890 (U.S) / $55,835 (Canada)

Price: $59,340 (U.S.) / $67,935 (Canada)

Prices include $940 destination charge in the United States and $2,145 for PDI and A/C tax in Canada.

With remarkable consistency, the Acura MDX has remained exceptionally popular for more than 15 years, through three generations, and in the face of increasing competition.

Vital to the fortunes of American Honda’s upmarket brand, the MDX is consistently Acura’s top-selling model, earning more than one-third of all Acura U.S. sales in four of the last seven years. No premium-badged three-row utility vehicle now sells more often in America.

But why is it so popular? And does it deserve to be such an automatic choice for nearly 5,000 buyers per month, for more than 835,000 American SUV buyers since its launch in 2000?

Refreshed styling for the 2017 model year joins key mechanical upgrades from the 2016 model year to create this fully optioned $59,340 Acura MDX: all-wheel drive, entertainment package, technology package, advance package.

With distinctly wintry pre-winter conditions and six occupants aboard, we spent one week with a 2017 Acura MDX and came away with few heartfelt compliments and few serious complaints.

Is nine enough?

Most apparent among the updates for 2017 is the comprehensively altered front fascia. But the MDX’s biggest change over the last two model years relates to the way power from the 290-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 is sent to the wheels. The six-speed automatic is gone. The MDX’s V6 is now linked to a nine-speed automatic, and the odd electronic shift pad that comes with it.

There’s no denying the abundant power in the MDX, nor the transmission’s ability to snap off shifts when you’re driving with added aggression. When dawdling along at lower revs or slower speeds, however, part-throttle inputs are met with the strong sensation of a hefty 4,292-pound MDX that’s fitted with an unresponsive transmission. The MDX knows how to go fast and it knows how to go slow — finding middle ground is not the nine-speed’s strength.

2017 Acura MDX – Image: © Timothy Cain/The Truth About Cars

Expect a 0-60 time of under six seconds if you outright demand it. Expect an MDX that feels like its V6 generates 200 horsepower — not 290 — when partial demand permits the nine-speed to hang on to a gear too tall; when the V6 manifests a decidedly naturally aspirated nature.

As for the nine-speed’s accompanying shifter, there appears to be no purpose served besides initially looking cool. Push down for park, pull back for reverse, depress a bubbled button for neutral, squash a circular concave button for drive, avoiding the dynamic select button. Enjoy slow engagement and all-around inconvenience when parallel parking.

Increased exposure to this shifter — which I’ve now operated in a Pilot, TLX, and this MDX — does it no favors.

2017 Acura MDX rear Image: © Timothy Cain/The Truth About Cars

Quiet … all-wheel drive

Just as the MDX’s powertrain exhibits divergent characteristics, so too does its ride and handling. At first, the MDX allows just a bit too much impact harshness to enter your domain, particularly because of this heavily optioned model’s 20-inch wheels. Yet the level of overall firmness is appropriate given the MDX’s desire to reside at the sportier end of the family crossover spectrum.

Weighty steering, relatively flat cornering, and damping that limits more significant rear end rises and falls don’t make the 2017 MDX a hoot to drive; the near-4,300-pound MDX simply feels too much like a 5,000-pound brute to be fun. But it’s entirely competent.

Despite the wintry conditions we experienced for much of the week, we opted to drive our own long-term Odyssey (on winter tires) and not the all-season-clad MDX when the roads were covered by ice or snow. The MDX’s all-wheel drive, known as SH-AWD in Acura speak, is a $2,000 option that drops city and highway fuel economy by a single mile per gallon.

2017 Acura MDX interior Image: © Timothy Cain/The Truth About Cars

Space

Of course, the MDX must accelerate and turn, but a failure to succeed as a family vehicle would be its undoing. For a minivan owner such as myself, the MDX’s comparatively poor second and third-row space, awkward third-row access, and limited cargo room behind the third row are unforgivable shortcomings.

Relative to its rivals, however, the MDX does not fall short.

We spent much of our time with this Honda Canada-supplied tester by filling the MDX with people: four adults, including two lanky men, two adult women, one front-facing child seat in the third row, and another rear-facing seat in the middle row. Loading the three-year-old into the third row seemed best achieved from the opposite side to his seat; adult knelt on the floor behind the second row to buckle the child in. This isn’t bad.

(Note: there are lower LATCH anchors across the second row, not the third. Also, the MDX can be equipped as a six-seater.)

One can move the seats about with one-touch buttons, though there’s no power-folding from the rear of the vehicle. Headroom in the two rear rows is unimpressive but likely not a factor for families that only send kids back there. There’s room for a family’s load of groceries, if artfully packed, behind the third row.

Acura claims 15.8 cubic feet of cargo volume with all seats up and 132.7 cubic feet of total passenger volume. The means by which all automakers calculate these figures leaves much to be desired.

2017 Acura MDX Image: © Timothy Cain/The Truth About Cars

Age

Sufficiently quick and sufficiently spacious it may be, the MDX is not sufficiently user-friendly. Loaded with tech at its $59,340 as-tested price — expect a similarly equipped BMW X5 to cost around $75,000 — the MDX is by no means short on features. But many of these so-called “features” are intrusive safety items: a hyperactive blind-spot information system, a supremely paranoid rear cross traffic monitor, lane keeping assist that isn’t great at keeping lanes, rain-sensing wipers that can’t stop sensing, and a surround view camera lacking clear views.

Meanwhile, the Acura’s navigation system — and even its heated seats and fan speed and countless other functions — are controlled through a slow and arduous infotainment cluster. As the owner of a 2015 Odyssey, I’m perfectly accustomed to Honda’s unnecessarily convoluted two-screen layout (a layout you could live without in the MDX’s Honda partner, the less costly Pilot.). But in the MDX, so much more must be done through the touchscreen or the high-mounted screen that’s controlled by a knob below the lower screen.

It all points to age. Old age.

Vehicle development takes years. With the 2017 Acura MDX now nearly four years removed from the current generation’s launch, and even further removed from its core development stage, this crossover does not feel new.

Not only does the interface appear historic and not futuristic, there’s too much engine and road noise, the window sunshades rattle in their mounts, the driver’s lumbar support is only a two-way unit, and there’s no available panoramic sunroof.

2017 Acura MDX interior detail Image: © Timothy Cain/The Truth About Cars

Drinks

Given the two weeks we spent with a 2014 Acura MDX that travelled 24 miles per gallon, we’re inclined to forgive this week’s 16-mpg result.

Six passengers, temperatures consistently below the freezing mark, numerous remote starts, mostly city driving: it wasn’t a time for hypermiling. The Environmental Protection Agency rates the 2017 MDX AWD at 19 mpg in the city and 26 on the highway, one better in each case than the six-speed MDX was in 2014 and 2015.

Acura expects the upcoming 325-horsepower MDX Sport Hybrid to achieve 25/26 ratings on the EPA’s city and highway scales.

Unshielded

Regardless of the criticism levelled against the third-gen MDX in its fourth model year, there nearly always seems to be an effective counterpoint.

It’s not gobsmackingly fast, but it’s suitably quick when you call for quickness.

Though not particularly athletic, there’s a level of responsiveness here that’s missing in the Infiniti QX60, Lexus RX, and Volvo XC90.

The MDX offers no expansive living room, but seven can come aboard.

Not all of Acura’s tech is particularly well-integrated, but there is a ton of features.

Clearly the MDX’s limitations are of little consequence to Acura buyers. With production improvements, MDX supply is increasing and sales are once again on the rise. Since August, Acura has reported a 12-percent increase in MDX volume after 18 consecutive months of decline.

Removing the old shield grille probably hasn’t hurt.

[Images: © 2016 Timothy Cain/The Truth About Cars]

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures. Follow on Twitter @goodcarbadcar and on Facebook.

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

Recommended

109 Comments on “2017 Acura MDX Review – More Than 800,000 Served...”


  • avatar
    romanjetfighter

    With such an emphasis on technology, Acuras are disposable in a way. They are like the shield grill, a big deal is made at the introduction, but they don’t age well. But they last a long time. I hated the two screen layout on the Accord EX-L and got an LX instead.

    I hate the weird gear transmission thing, too. Gimmicky. PAWS or SHAWD is cool, though. So was the coupe version of the MDX, the ZDX. Too bad it was canceled. The GLE coupe looks like a dog arching its back to poop.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      Yeah, the ZDX did look cool. So does the X6. The reason for that is that those cars benefit from rooflines that, from back to front, come to a dramatic apex right at the top of the windshield, then falls dramatically. Meanwhile, the GLE-Class coupe, with its simpler roofline arch, looks good neither coming nor going.

      That’s why I don’t understand why people compare these four-door-coupe-SUVs to the Aztek. With the Aztek, the basic idea was sound, but was ruined by the wrong dimensions in the wrong places, and the fact that GM crammed the car on the bloated (and very square) U-body minivan platform. So it pretty much looked like a minivan with a chamfered edge at the rear, in order to implement the sloped roof.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      I’m glad I’m not the only one who dug the ZDX.

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      “But they last a long time. ”

      If you keep changing engines and transmissions – yes

  • avatar
    mittencuh

    “Reverse,” not “reserve.” Unless the shifter has a RR-style power reserve.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    This review seems a bit damning, to be honest. It sounds like the MDX tries to blend the virtues of soft three-row luxury crossovers like the Enclave and QX60, and athletic ones like the X5 and Q7…and succeeds at neither. And the 9-speed is as dimwitted here as it is in other vehicles. However, it’s decent-looking and good value for the money.

    Problem is, so is the XC90. And it has that modern-svelte styling and a better balance of the all-around luxury-crossover-ness that the MDX tries to strike. If reliability is not a concern, I see no reason why you wouldn’t get the XC90 instead.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      It seems like the only solution to the 9 speed is to either drive like an AARP lifetime member or like a sonofabitch. Either one gets stressful when done 100% of the time.

    • 0 avatar
      Car Ramrod

      Once my family is past the car seat era and looking to move on from our 2011 Odyssey in about 2 years, the MDX in whatever form it’s sold at the time will be at the top of our list.

      Resale is the reason. While I’d also put the XC90 and a higher trim Mazda CX9 on that list, I think the MDX will win on total cost of ownership.

      I also wonder if the 4Runner, with its drastically lower MPGs, would be a still better value once its low depreciation is factored in.

      • 0 avatar
        mattwc1

        I am admittedly Honda-centric in the majority of my previous car purchases (6 in the past 20 years between my wife and I). We recently purchased an off lease 2013 MDX and I stand by opinion that the best Acura is a slightly used one. I am still not sold on the exterior refresh and I do not want the maddening 9 speed auto that seems to plague this.

    • 0 avatar
      hubcap

      I think that many people who purchase Acuras are seeking long term reliability, low operating costs, and higher retained values.

      As you say, the XC90 is a nice vehicle but I don’t know if you’re traditional Acura shopper is ready to roll the dice on one. I wonder about the long term durability of the turbo-supercharged I4.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      The Enclave has sold 60,000+ annually since 2013, where the MDX has only eclipsed 60K once in the same time period. This making the Buick the best selling luxury 3-row crossover.

      I would like to hear more about HMC problematic 9-speed and why the car mags have had their longterm Pilot 9-speed’s replacement?

    • 0 avatar
      ToddAtlasF1

      Acuras are for people who buy cars instead of renting them.

    • 0 avatar
      pb35

      I cross shopped the XC90 and MDX in 2007. I went with the XC90 V8 Sport. Almost 10 years, 85k mi and $20k in repairs later, it’s still in my garage. I’m struggling to get rid of it, we brought our twins home from the hospital in it and it’s like a member of the family at this point. Besides, everything works having put so much money into it.

      Acura, meh. I’m just not a Honda guy.

      • 0 avatar
        Car Ramrod

        I’d be inclined to agree with you if the crossover was my car, but my wife drives these things. My M5 eats most of the repair budget, the other car just needs to start every day and handle 20,000 miles per year.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    That shifter sounds like a nightmare, especially if you have many vehicles in the fleet and rotate them often.

    After driving my old column shifted automatic F150 for a few days and hopping into my Highlander I inevitably grab for a shift lever that isn’t there.

    As the reviewer says, parallel parking must be a pain in the butt.

    • 0 avatar
      eggsalad

      When my mother got her first floor-shifted automatic, an ’80 Volvo 244, my father snapped off several turn signal stalks trying to find “Drive” :)

      I own two vehicles with 5-speed transmissions. Each has Reverse in a place entirely opposite from the other. I sometimes have to really think about it!

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        In college I moved from a Celebrity with a console mounted 3-speed auto to column shifted Cutlass Supreme. After driving the Cutlass for a year Dad and I had to go pick up the Celebrity (it was my sisters car at that point) from a repair shop.

        I hopped into the Celebrity and without looking grabbed the air and slammed my fist into my leg trying to shift into drive.

      • 0 avatar
        redmondjp

        I know what you mean about reverse, being the owner of both a 5-speed 1990s VW and a Civic!

        Of course, on the VW the adhesive has dried out on the shift pattern insert button on the top of the shifter handle (it’s in the ashtray), so anybody else who tries to drive that who isn’t familiar with VW’s reverse location (push straight down towards the floor and then over to the left and up) is really going to be stymied.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      That 9-speed has already been replaced in MotorTrend’ long term Pilot.

  • avatar
    Chocolatedeath

    SO what you are saying is that folks may be better served with a 2017 CX9…lol
    I have driven both and love the engine in the MDX but the driving, riding, inside and out of the CX9.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    Good review Tim, thanks.

    I’m not sure which I find less appealing, $60K for a fast Acura sea creature with a push button gear shifter and sluggish throttle response or a $15K 120K mile ex-police Ford Explorer with a bunch of drill holes in the dash.

    If you want a lux CUV this is a quality one and a smart buy, but unless my very life depended on having a vestigial 3rd row I would rather take my fictional $60K to a Volvo dealer for an S90 T6 AWD.

    • 0 avatar
      hubcap

      Why would the Volvo be a smart buy?

      Sure, it’s a good looking car but Acuras have a history of reliability that modern Volvos do not and I’m not real confident about the robustness of the turbo-supercharged I4.

      And the Acura will retain more of its value.

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        Oh, I didn’t write that it was a smart buy. I wrote that it is what I’d want instead for a $60K new luxury AWD family vehicle. If I could afford a vehicle in that price range I wouldn’t be prioritizing long-term reliability or depreciation.

        If I was prioritizing those, I’d find the nicest LS 460 with AWD that $60K could buy and just be done with it. 2-year old certified V8 luxury sedan after a healthy hit of depreciation for the price of a new semi-premium CUV.

  • avatar
    Chenevert

    We have a 2014 MDX base with SH-AWD. You know, the $40k version with the 6-spd. I cant really agree with any of the gripes in this article. Yes, putting 6 people in the MDX is tight, but it sure beats taking two cars. Still plenty of cargo room with one of the 3rd row seats folded flat as well. And moving to a minivan when the grandparents only visit a handful of times a year seems a bit extreme. We get 30mpg regularly even with the AWD.

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    *Competent* (dam-nation with faint praise), non-luxurious, with cheap looking-looking materials on dash, doors and elsewhere inside, totally derivative styling, nothing special about driving characteristics (predictably in a 2 1/2 ton vehicleS, with less interior space than kt should have…

    ….but hey, the front end looks okay, it *Everest climbing super-terrific-happy-your-SHAW/PAW AWD*, has stylish alloy 20″wheels, and comes with many, many features (that can also be had in a $18,999 MSRP Kia Forte)…

    …for $60,000.

    Yaaay.

  • avatar
    EX35

    $60K for a tarted up Pilot? Yikes. no thanks.

    • 0 avatar
      Chan

      $44k base price, when a Pilot Touring is $42k and not even the top trim level. For that you get a nicer interior and a slightly more exclusive dealership/service experience. Not so yikes in my book.

      The Pilot also gets a demerit in my book for being hideous.

      • 0 avatar
        Firestorm 500

        In addition, the MDX has had its own body platform since the 2014 third-generation debuted.

        It does not share with the Pilot/Odyssey/Accord any more.

        • 0 avatar
          Featherston

          @ Firestorm 500 – According to Wikipedia (grain of salt), the Pilot and MDX *do* share a platform. The product life cycles are not in sync, so for two model years the third-gen MDX had diverged from the second-gen Pilot. But as of ’16, they’re back together as third-gen models.

          That said, I agree with Chan and your points that (1) “as tested” prices tend to be almost meaningless and that (2) buying an Acura (or a Lexus) can be worthwhile in terms of vehicle upgrades and dealership experience. It’s not a slam dunk. Sometimes the extra money is worth it; sometimes it’s not. My parents bought a CPO NX 200t recently, and the price difference versus that for a RAV4 from their sleazebag local Toyota dealer definitely was worth it to them. Conversely, I’m sure there are buyers who’d be better off and happier with, e.g., an Avalon from a non-shark Toyota dealer–Do those exist?–rather than an ES 350 from a Lexus dealer across town.

          • 0 avatar
            Firestorm 500

            Thanks for the update. While we were looking for a vehicle for my wife, we did check out a slightly used 2013 Pilot. Even though I like Hondas in general, I did not like that vehicle. It had a lot of tech, but the whole vehicle felt tinny the second I shut the door. The salesman tried to get me to drive it. I told him I did not want a Pilot at any price. No sense in wasting our time.

            I can assure everyone that there is a big difference in Hondas and Acuras beyond equipment similarities.

          • 0 avatar
            Featherston

            I agree. In the case of NX 200t, the wheelbase is the same as the RAV4, but the extra money you spend gets you a unique powertrain, much better dealer service, a better interior, and about 500 lbs’ worth of chassis bracing and sound deadening. Platform sharing? Yes. Rebadging? No.

            It’s not an easy business model to maintain. GM did it successfully for three-plus decades but has struggled with it since the ’60s. There came a point where a Cadillac C-body just didn’t offer enough at its price to justify getting one over a well-optioned Chevy B-body. I knew two couples who drove Cadillacs on and off from the ’20s through the ’50s. In the ’60s, one of them upgraded to Mercedes and one of them downgraded to nicely optioned Impalas and Caprices.

            So far Acura and Lexus have largely avoided missteps. Only a handful come to mind, such as the decision equip the IS 250 with DI only rather than the dual injection the other RWD cars were getting or the tried-and-true port injection the FWD models were getting.

          • 0 avatar
            joeaverage

            I agree. We bought a used 2014 MDX-AWD-Tech for the same price as a new 2017 CRV AWD EX-L.

            Yes the MDX has 40K miles on it but big deal. We keep our cars forever. The MDX is a much nicer vehicle – quiet, roomie, and comfortable. I expect we’ll have it 15 years.

            Previously we were driving a CR-V bought new a very long time ago.

      • 0 avatar
        tlccar

        Couldn’t agree more Chan. To me the Pilot is cheap looking and hideous. It definitely is not an MDX!

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      $20,000 of tech and features?

  • avatar
    JimZ

    I’ll take a dial or even ZF’s monostable thing over that abomination of a gear selector.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Excellent news for upper middle class soccer moms everywhere.

    • 0 avatar
      Chocolatedeath

      Also the lower middle class dads on the used car market such as myself..

    • 0 avatar
      Chan

      Relevant question: What *should* these people be driving if an Acura MDX is not the right car?

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        $40,000 MSRP Jeep Grand Cherokee X that can be had for $33,000 (plus Tax + Plate/Tag) all day long in my area.

        If one is keeping it longer than 5 years, buy a 10 year/100,000 mile bumper-to-bumper warranty with $50 deductible for $1,900 with the $27,000 they saved.

        The JGC rides better, is as quiet, is as solid, is as powerful, and looks just as good. It s also better in the deep stuff while riding like a luxury vehicle on normal roads.

        • 0 avatar
          Firestorm 500

          The JGC also has a higher entry height. The dash is taller, making for less visibility.

          For those reasons, plus better resale, reliability, and dealership experience, my wife chose the MDX over the Grand.

          Oh yes, and the greater cargo area and lower lift-over height. She felt like the Acura was more car-like versus the Grand which was definitely a SUV.

        • 0 avatar
          Cole Trickle

          The 3rd row was the deal breaker for me. I use it at least once a week driving coworkers to lunch. To say the jeep rides better and is as quiet is pretty subjective.

        • 0 avatar
          MLS

          JGC looks much better, actually. Not merely “just as good.”

        • 0 avatar
          Chenevert

          A Durango over an MDX? Are you on drugs?

          Torque vectoring AWD prevents understeer at any speeds that you would drive with two carseat in back.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            If you’ve got two occupied car seats in the back, and “understeer” is on your list of immediate concerns, you’ve done something very, very wrong.

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          JGC is nice if you’re keeping it only for a lease period and like loud bling. Seriously, the amount of chrome on the higher-trim versions is really tacky.

          MDX is better if you’re going to keep it a long time. A warranty only makes you feel so good when your car’s still in the shop and you’re driving an Accent from Enterprise.

          The driving feel is also totally different. JGC feels heavy and trucky, not surprising given its underpinnings. MDX feels as light on its feet as anything in this heavy segment. I’d vastly rather drive the MDX unless I lived in Texas or Oklahoma or somewhere else where there are no turns to speak of.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        Even more relevant question: do affluent soccer moms even care?

        Answer: I don’t think so.

        • 0 avatar
          DeadWeight

          Jeep Grand Cherokees are respectable enough, even at most private school drop-off off/pick-up lanes.

          People who haven’t experienced the current gen JGC would be surprised to discover that they ride, handle and feel better than smaller/bigger SUVs such as Tahoes, Explorers, Highlanders, Pilots, etc.

          • 0 avatar
            genuineleather

            Eh, no one is cross-shopping MDX and JGC. The tight back seat alone is a disqualifier for mommymobile duty.

  • avatar
    carguy

    For $60K a new vehicle needs to be more than competent.

    The problem with Acura is that it’s not a global brand but just a North American marketing experiment.

    • 0 avatar
      Chan

      Yet affluent families buy “merely competent” cars like these and the Lexus RX, MB ML/GLE, etc. by the hundreds of thousands every year. The Lexus looks awful and drives like mashed potatoes. The Benz is lacking in standard features. IMO the MDX sits in a very good place between those other two.

  • avatar
    Chan

    Ugh. I get some of the hardware/software integration getting stale, but the MDX was a great looker when this generation debuted. Acura finally got the beak right–the shield had great shape and detailing, and it was perfectly sized. I wanted one because it had presence–rare for a Japanese brand car.

    And now they changed the grille into something larger, oddly shaped and with a huge logo–it doesn’t fit in with the car. The headlights, they need moar LEDs. In fact, double the number. Doesn’t fit? Enlarge the enclosure.

    Another case of the ‘Murican market, or at least the ‘Murican marketing research team, wanting quantity over quality.

    • 0 avatar
      Firestorm 500

      Actually, I like the shield. Gives it personality and presence. Doesn’t look like anything else on the road. That’s hard to do nowadays.

      I don’t think I would like the ’16-’17 because of the shifter and start-stop. I don’t think the new ’17 grille was an improvement.

      • 0 avatar
        MLS

        I agree that the ’17 grille isn’t an improvement. It reminds me of the generic vehicles one sees in car insurance commercials. At least the late-stage, toned-down shield was distinctive.

        • 0 avatar
          tonycd

          Sorry, disagree about the grille. Innocuous is a huge improvement. The long-overdue extermination of the justly reviled beak is a triumph for civilization.

          • 0 avatar
            joeaverage

            I like the shield and the new ’17 grille/logo.

            I don’t like the shifter and I don’t think I’d like the 9 speed.

            Six gears is enough unless the 9 speed is skip shifting – and carrying extra gears to match the throttle to every incline to maximize the MPG.

            I wouldn’t want to feel the transmission shifting through every gear as I go from stop light to stop light.

  • avatar
    George B

    The ZF 9HP transmission is inherently annoying due to the slow engagement/disengagement of the dog clutches. The Acura MDX would be more responsive to part-throttle inputs if it had a transmission from the Aisin AWF8xx family.

  • avatar
    Coolcar2

    Friends of ours have a 2015 MDX fully loaded. They traded in a Mercedes GL when the air suspension bit the dust ($10k fix!). They seem to like the ride quality better in the MDX but everything else falls flat on the technology front. The multi-screen interface issue truly is a mess even after two years of ownership. They turned off most of the functions like lane-keep, laser cruise-control, etc. because of how sensitive the systems are and how they often incorrectly react. These systems seem like a good idea in theory but I think they are half-baked in an effort to offer “premium” functions over their fully-loaded non-premium brands (Honda Pilot in this case). Overall I think they may go back to Mercedes when the lease is up.

  • avatar
    Corey Lewis

    You know, with the difference in fuel prices between regular and premium these days, the cost savings advantage with your V6 large crossover dwindles when you can put regular grade fuel in equally large V8 SUV.

  • avatar
    Corey Lewis

    Also, seeing it in black at that angle reminded me of this.

    http://www.classycars.org/Pontiac/Pontiac.2008.Torrent.06.jpg

  • avatar
    LTDwedge

    Has the stupid “electronic” engine motor mount been re-engineered to last more than 15,000 miles, from new, yet ?

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    ZF 9-spd = NFW

    The $60k price for this vehicle is crazy, but it’s an insult when it comes with such a drivetrain.

  • avatar
    ajla

    Personally, buying this over a GX460 or loaded up Flex would be difficult.

  • avatar

    O8 MDX in driveway. 3.0 liter, 6 speed transmission.

    The MDX, like much of Acura’s line, is aimed at the “bmw intender” We compared mostly to X5, but for more money, the X5 had less power, and for more power, the money got much bigger… Likewise, the TSX Wagon was aimed at the guy who’d otherwise go for a 3 Wagon…

    After 140k, here goes. The MDX is a Pilot that was taught to dance. You get the biggest brakes in Honda-land, a decently tuned engine, and nice seats. The infotainment is meh, while I won’t ding the ten year old nav, the stereo was passable, not great, even new. The base stereo, which I’ve had the misfortune to hear, is a boom box special and painful after an hour.

    The car EATS end links and sway bar bushings….they look like Civic parts put on a truck. Shocks last 80k and sadly there is no real Koni/Bilstein/etc alternatives…odd for a Honda.

    If you keep the suspension bits healthy, the car handles really well for a big water buffalo. The SH-AWD (also a porsche feature) does not really “show up” when driving, but makes the car a lot more stable as I discovered when it shut off due to a bad sensor. You get some extra push from the rear outside diff wheel, and it make the whole thing much more stable. It isn’t an off roader, at all, but is very competent on pavement. I was sad to see that the real SH AWD was decontented.out.

    Tires are big, you will need to buy first tier rubber and have it road forced.

    Three rows swallow the soccer team, or the family on the way to the airport. 4×8 plywood fits in the back.

    I think the beak looked good on the truck in the first generation, but stupid on the cars, and the later iterations aren’t as striking.

    The car isn’t built to BMW standards…the metal isn’t as good, my 03 BMW is easier to work on than my 08 MDX, both cars eating the same salt in winter. The BMW bolts are all good and turn without stripping, the crap metal used by Honda (car is made in Ontario, not Japan…transaxle only) is oxidized and a bitch to work with.

    We like the big phat truck, and there isn’t anything out there ‘better enough” to go pull a 60k expense. 80 mph on the highway smooth, pulls superjet up and down boat ramps, pulls huge u-haul trailers for moving days, etc.

    Since 08, the 17-19 mpg MDX has seen almost $5 gallon gas, and we like the current $2.5 gallon much better. When it dies, I won’t buy another, as my needs have changed (no soccer teams or car seats…snif, sniff). We spent $40k for it, but at $60 ? Nope.

    Really the only thing missing is better bluetooth (first gen, works, but no bells and whistles…no streaming). I’m not fond of the look of the third generation…If I was to “re truck”, Mama likes the Jaguar truck, or the Q7.

    • 0 avatar
      Corey Lewis

      That’s the 3.5 under the hood. No 3.0 in the MDX.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      Thanks for that honest assessment, Speedlaw.

      I keep trying to tell people that Acura is on the naughty list, is not what it once was in terms of reliability, durability, build quality or NVH.

      I’ll go further and state Acura is in terminal decline, and that Acura has added salt to its own wounds by pricing many of its vehicles (including this one) unrealistically.

      These are not robust, quiet, tank-like, thick steel, precision machines, assembled by diligent and perfectionist Japanese line workers (I’m not casting aspersions on Canadian line workers, but pointing to the cheapening of all aspects of Acura); they’re lesser than that, and have problems with suspension components (as you referenced), transmissions, fuel economy, and some bad road manners.

      • 0 avatar
        badhobz

        I think thats why the Lexus RX still sells. Even with the stupid gaping mouth and pretend sporting dynamics on the F sport models.

        Looking at the resale of the MDX and the RX, the RX always seems to come out ahead.

        • 0 avatar
          DeadWeight

          I just saw one of those ‘Christmas To Remember’ Lexus ads while watching an obscure 90s film, and they had the whole stable of Lexi lined up, with bows on top, all in refrigerator white, and my god, anyone involved in the designed and approval of the giant, mutant, predator maw mouth should be summarily executed.

          It’s arguably the worst design element on any vehicle that I recall seeing in the last 30 years,

          Just straight-up, no gilding the Lilly, HIDEOUSNESS.

          • 0 avatar
            OldManPants

            I love those ads. I think it’s so sweet that the woman is buying her skinny-jeaned noodle-hubby a nice car for Holiday Season.

  • avatar

    also, my generation had torque converter issues, with a large recall…my TC died just before warranty ended so Acura fixed it….so the second gen had teething problems too. WTF Honda ? You do everything else well.

    I’m now afraid to buy anything new. In a relentless push for new-ness, at a price, you end up with lots of stuff that will break and won’t be fixable other than at a dealer. While I know that is an old rant, dating from OBD-1, there is no open source in the automotive world.

  • avatar
    SC5door

    Adding the brown color (Black Copper Pearl) adds $4,410 automatically…..seriously Acura?

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      Shame on you for wanting an actual color. This is 2016 (almost 2017) don’t you know better?

    • 0 avatar

      Acura stayed to the black white and shades of grey. Each year there was one good color. They had a green one year, a blue another. You’d never see one, though, Dealer Managers all ordered grey.

      Some paints are worth more money, as they cost more.

      The Caddy has a factory color shift paint (green-blue grey-black depending on angles) and the BMW has a lovely blue with colored metal flakes. Both were upcharges, but the paint itself is a work of art.

    • 0 avatar
      Manic

      Because it stupidly changes wheel size to 20-inch and adds tech. package. Not sure why Acura thinks browncar owners need or want those things. Kinda feels like a bait-and-switch scheme.

      • 0 avatar

        For the same reason VW makes you get a sunroof with an upgraded stereo, or makes you buy the sunroof/stereo before giving you the HID…or, build a BMW. Add seat heaters to the base interior….and you discover they can’t wire seat heaters in non leather interiors, at least in the US market. There are plenty of examples of things that shouldn’t be tied together…being tied together. It isn’t just cable TV

        • 0 avatar
          joeaverage

          Cable TV isn’t just cable TV. You want the gearhead channel? Well you gotta take the sports channel and the home channel too – at a much higher cost.

  • avatar
    Ben T Spanner

    I have a 2016 MDX and a 2016 RDX. I like the RDX more for several reasons. The front doors are longer and it’s easier to get in; I’m old and tall. RDX has a normal shifter. I don’t dislike the MDX 9 speed as it has been smooth in all situations but the 6 speed in the RDX is fine. I do not like the MDX rotary shifter.

    I believe the interior materials in the RDX are better; especially the door panels. The climate controls on the RDX are actual buttons; no touch screen involved. I don’t care about the rear seat room, but the MDX has more. Some would find the RDX too small inside.

    Both are FWD with tech options. The price difference is about $10,000.

  • avatar
    genuineleather

    Pretty harsh review for what’s probably the most competent all-round vehicles in its class. It’s not really fair to compare it to an X5 that, like-for-like, costs $20k more. Against more likely competition (QX60, loaded Explorers, Acadia Denali), the MDX would be my pick. The Tech trim (nav, blind spot, etc.) runs $50k. Beyond that, three year residuals in the high 60%’s make leases competitive with high-trim Pilots, Highlanders, et al.

    But, as mentioned by the previous poster, if you don’t need the third row or a roomy second row, the RDX is the better value for the same engine and similar cargo space.

  • avatar
    aaroncooke

    I’d like to see the breakdown of trim packages. I think this nearly 60K sticker is a little bit misleading as I believe the majority of these are the Tech package which comes with AWD around 50 or the base AWD which stickers just under 46. That is a pretty appealing when the germans are in or beyond that range in their ‘size down’ offerings. These drive pretty well and make an appealing case against a loaded Pilot, Highlander, GM Lambda, Explorer, etc. with their longer warranty and likely better dealership experience. I almost think more people cross shop these against the upper end of more mainstream offerings rather than GL, X5, Q7.

    I consider myself a car enthusiast who, when I was younger would have wanted only interesting euro cars. The adult version of myself with a long commute has bought a couple of Acura sedans (TSX now TLX) because they are comfortable, reliable, strong resale, and nice enough without being flashy or drawing negative attention. I think a lot of people don’t want the perception associated with a german badge because, right or wrong, those cars can send an unwanted impression of perceived wealth sometimes. Acuras are rather stealthy. And I realize I just made them out to sound like the ultimate real estate agent car (which everybody knows is an Avalon haha).

    • 0 avatar
      joeaverage

      YEP! That was seriously a conversation my wife and I had when we bought our MDX. Don’t want to seem pretentious or uppity b/c we are regular down to earth people who just wanted a nicer car (SUV) than we bought last time. We’ll keep it a long time like we usually do.

  • avatar
    akatsuki

    The MDX (and Acura) literally survives because Lexus has, for some inexplicable reason, never bothered with a three row.

  • avatar
    pb35

    Wait, please tell me that the $60k list price is in Canadian dollars.

    Edit: just checked the stats, never mind! Damn.

  • avatar
    badhobz

    This thing is ugly as hell. Looks like one of those pigs from angrybirds.

    I saw it in the showroom and that acura badge is enormous. Looked like a 16″ pizza hanging off the front. I hate to say it, but bring back that fugly shield grill. it looks better than this.

  • avatar

    The First Gen MDX was a “Mercury” version of the Pilot. The Second Gen was first pointed at X5, but later in the second gen Honda saw it competing with RX or SRX. They made a big deal of the target market being “driver dad” with “stylish mom”….and then it went Lexus-ish, the black interior being a multihued beige, and the outside trim from plain and clean to busy. The third gen takes the worst bits of the second and puts it out front.

  • avatar
    chiefmonkey

    Hallelujah, that power plenum rubbish is gone, but now it looks dated lol

  • avatar
    olivehead

    This is neither here nor there I suppose, but the MDX seems to be the go-to soccor mom vehicle in my neck of the woods. At any given event, in a parking lot full of various cars and trucks spanning the spectrum, you can find 3 or 4 of these parked all right next to each other in patches all throughout. The only other vehicle that I can think of with similar prominence is the Honda Odyssey (which is what my wife drives).

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    I like the interior but it looks very cheap for a $60,000 vehicle.

    *in pensive thought*

    60,000 Monopoly dollars for this thing as shown? Jayzeus

  • avatar
    ZCD2.7T

    Very harsh review of a vehicle that does pretty much everything extremely well. There’s a reason it’s been a best-seller for all those years – it drives better than most anything else in its class, and it offers good value for the class.

    Sure, the XC-90 looks better, particularly inside, but I’d sooner chance the MDX’s long-term reliability than the Volvo’s…

  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    We bought a 1st Gen MDX CPO in 2004, a 2002 model, which already had the trans valve body retrofit, as this v6 /5 sp auto tended to chew trans. It was flawless for 6 yrs. This apparently was the best gen.,my bro in Denver still has a Pilot of same platform with close to 200k iirc.
    A business partner had Gen 2 and I was appalled at how cheap interior materials were, and how wide the vehicle was for interior space available.
    Then the Acura styling came into play and the brand has never entered into my mind.


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Contributors

  • Matthew Guy, Canada
  • Seth Parks, United States
  • Ronnie Schreiber, United States
  • Bozi Tatarevic, United States
  • Chris Tonn, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States
  • Moderators

  • Adam Tonge, United States
  • Kyree Williams, United States