By on July 17, 2018

Image: Acura

Having first appeared back in 2000 as a 2001 model, the Acura MDX is the Ed Asner of premium midsize import crossovers and a crucial breadwinner in the brand’s utility-light portfolio. While the model’s smaller sibling, the RDX, just underwent massive changes, the MDX soldiers on into 2019 muttering, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Thus, most changes fall into the minor but meaningful category.

One thing the 2019 MDX does seek to fix is its mildly conservative persona, but only for buyers willing to take that leap.

For 2019, Acura debuts the A-Spec sport appearance package, which outfits the MDX with wider rubber and tell-tale interior and exterior furnishings. It’s only available with Acura’s Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive system (SH-AWD).

Image: Acura

What does A-Spec bring to the table? Half-inch wider 20-inch Shark Grey alloy wheels wrapped in 265/45-series tires, a slightly meaner front fascia, body-color side sills, and glass-black or dark chrome trim replacing the bright stuff from stem to stern. There’s also larger exhaust finishers to hint at extra power that doesn’t exist.

Inside, it’s contrast stitching galore, a meatier steering wheel, sport pedals, unique gauges, and sport seats (and doors) featuring black Alcantara inserts. The vehicle will inform you of its A-Spec identity at every turn.

Elsewhere in the lineup, the changes are modest. Buyers can now option their MDX with the brand’s Active Damper System, formerly available only on the Sport Hybrid model. For 2019, the nine-speed automatic transmission sees additional refinements, with the gearbox now encouraged to launch in second gear for smoother acceleration. Choose sport mode (or just add weight to your right foot), and first gear gets priority.

Image: Acura

Aside from the finessed nine-speed, the non-hybrid MDX’s powertrain remains the same — the 3.5-liter V6 still generates 290 horsepower and 267 lb-ft of torque, regardless of trim. Haters of stop/start systems will be pleased to know that Acura heard your complaints. The upgraded system now refires the engine in a speedier manner (Acura claims a “more natural, seamless feel”).

Available in front- or all-wheel drive, the MDX offers the AcuraWatch suite of driver assist features as standard kit. Four new colors show up for 2019: Majestic Black Pearl, Performance Red Pearl, Canyon Bronze Metallic, and Apex Blue Pearl, the latter of which is only offered on the A-Spec.

As expected, pricing doesn’t change all that much. Entry price for a base, front-drive MDX rises a hair (about $100) to $45,295 after destination. Adding AWD bumps the price of any trim by $2,000, and adding the Technology, Entertainment, or Advance packages (or a combination thereof) bumps it even higher, with the trim pyramid topping out at $61,045. Those first two packages now offer revised second-row seating to make accessing the third row easier. The Advance package applies matching wood to the center console.

Buyers interested in showing they haven’t lost the desire for modest individuality can pick up an A-Spec for $55,795 after destination. As for changes to the Sport Hybrid, a model boasting a vastly different powertrain, Acura’s keeping those details under its hat for the moment.

[Images: Acura]

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