By on February 4, 2019

2019 Acura MDX A-Spec Front Quarter

2019 Acura MDX AWD A-Spec

3.5-liter V6, DOHC (290 hp @ 6,200 rpm, 267 lb-ft @ 4,700 rpm)

Nine-speed automatic transmission, all-wheel drive

19 city / 25 highway / 21 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)

12.2 city / 9.5 highway / 11.0 combined (NRCan Rating, L/100km)

22.4 (observed mileage, MPG)

Base Price: $55,795 US / $62,696 CAD

As Tested: $56,195 / $63,196 CAD

Prices include $995 destination charge in the United States and $2,206 for freight, PDI, and A/C tax in Canada and, because of cross-border equipment differences, can’t be directly compared.

Imagine a world in which The Fast And The Furious movie never had a sequel, let alone eight. Dom Toretto and the team didn’t keep being criminals or fighting crime — they just settled down in Southern California and had families.

In this imaginary offshoot of an imaginary world, there is one question that needs to be answered: What would Brian O’Conner drive? He and Mia certainly have a pack of towheaded children that require shuttling to daycare and soccer.

I think your answer is right here: a three-row crossover with some tuner highlights, including a pair of massive exhaust tips and big, blacked-out alloy wheels. The 2019 Acura MDX A-Spec is perfect for cruising the strip on Friday night, followed by a Saturday of dance recitals and antiquing.

2019 Acura MDX A-Spec profile

Note I said nothing about performance. The A-Spec package is all about style, not substance. But many of the Fast and/or Furious cars were all show, no go — or no stop, in the case of Jesse’s Jetta sans brake calipers. It’s about looking good and having fun with friends, which is similarly the game plan with the seven-seat MDX A-Spec.

2019 Acura MDX A-Spec interior

The Apex Blue Pearl finish on this big crossover is a welcome change from the usual luxury car palette of white, black, grey, gray, greige, beige, and greyish gray. The color is exclusive to the A-Spec trim, and looks brilliant against the dark grey 20-inch alloy wheels.

2019 Acura MDX A-Spec front 2019 Acura MDX A-Spec rear

The new lower grille looks aggressive without being over the top. Paired with the big corporate Acura pentagonal grille — kinda resembling a superhero shield, perhaps — the MDX A-Spec is both striking and refreshing. The lighting projectors (five rectangular “eyes” in each headlamp, paired with a trip of lower fog rectangles in the bottom corners) are a bit jarring at first, but they fade into the background compared to that strong “face” of the grille.

2019 Acura MDX A-Spec steering wheel control

This vehicle has the best-ever steering wheel audio control — all major functions can be controlled with one button/wheel at the tip of the driver’s left thumb. Spin to control volume, toggle left or right to change tracks or radio presets, and press to mute. It’s simple and intuitive; audio controls done right.

2019 Acura MDX A-Spec dashboard

That’s good, because the dash audio controls aren’t the best. I’m not in love with the dual screen setup, though a legitimate volume knob is an improvement from other Honda/Acura systems I’ve used. The click/spin/tilt wheel dead center below the lower screen is sometimes slow to respond to inputs.

2019 Acura MDX A-Spec front seats 2019 Acura MDX A-Spec second row 2019 Acura MDX A-Spec third row

The seats in this MDX A-Spec are magnificent. Besides adjusting easily to fit me, I appreciate that the majority of the seating surface is Alcantara, rather than slippery leather. This Alcantara material feels more like a low-nap velour than a typical suede substitute, which I appreciate. Too few premium cars have anything but leather (or leather-like) seating surfaces — I appreciate a good premium cloth option.

2019 Acura MDX A-Spec cargo area

Both the second and third rows are spacious and comfortable. While I’d be unhappy in the third row, I’m a six-foot-four-inch, 260 pound control freak. I’m unhappy anywhere without a steering wheel. The kids had no complaints in the wayback, and there was plenty of cargo space even behind that third row. This is a rare three-row crossover that can handle luggage and passengers at the same time. I haven’t done the Beer Tetris, but my rough math says 33 cases of Corona can fit behind the third row. Probably room for limes, too.

[Get new and used Acura MDX pricing here!]

It’s the car for the Fast and Furious character who settled down, had three kids, but still needs to represent in the old neighborhood. While I’d certainly appreciate more of a performance edge in this Acura MDX A-Spec, it drives well enough even in base trim to be an enjoyable family hauler.

2019 Acura MDX A-Spec rear quarter

[Images: © 2019 Chris Tonn/TTAC]

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36 Comments on “2019 Acura MDX A-Spec Review – For the Team...”

  • avatar

    “What would Brian O’Conner drive?”


  • avatar

    Looks like the face on that passenger-side dash is about to hurl!

  • avatar
    Kosher Polack

    Decades later, I still have a lot of questions about that kid’s Jetta in that movie.

    It just didn’t seem like the right kind of car to do anything with, compared to several others in the movie.

    Oh look, an Acura SUV

  • avatar

    Very pretty; like a 3rd gen CR-V grew up.

  • avatar

    So……what’s it like to drive? Or does it matter now that everything has infotainment.

    • 0 avatar

      Well, he reported on the seat quality and the photos show it’s a larger CUV. That’s plenty for me.

      We can just assume it drives like everything surrounding you in traffic.

    • 0 avatar

      Tonn has majored in the lightweight vehicle review for TTAC. Not a word on engine, transmission, ride or handling.

      If there is a definitive cr*p TTAC “review”, Tonn has penned it.

      Utterly, one hundred percent completely useless, uninformative words. Unless you like ultrasuede seats.

      • 0 avatar

        Conundrum, my sciatica puts me in a mood like yours if I work at something that requires leaning over a long time.

        At its worst, it hurts to sit for a couple of days afterward.

  • avatar

    Do they have a contract with AutoZone for those pedal pads?

  • avatar

    If I was 19, I’d probably be interested in F&F.

  • avatar

    Someone needs to help Acura design interiors. That dash looks like a mess. Same thing with the RDX. One third of the dash is some Sci-Fi looking plastic just to control sport mode.

  • avatar

    I test drove one of these last year prior to purchasing our Touareg. The Acura felt to me rather plain to drive, not that sprightly and not as isolated/solid feeling like the Touareg either. My gf and I came to the conclusion that if we were going to go this route, we might as well just choose the Pilot.

    The two infotainment screens were also obnoxious, I much prefer the outdated grey scale system the Touareg has, especially driving at night in rural Alberta.

    In contrast, the check engine light is on the for the 2nd time in our 2017 VW, that’s one major strong point from Acura, the brand’s reputation of being reliable, that we rolled the dice by skipping out on.

    One final note, my 2015 Jetta I wrote about here is still going strong with over 145 k kms on it. Original timing belt (and plugs) but with a few suspension parts swapped out owing to the rough local roads.

  • avatar

    “I appreciate that the majority of the seating surface is Alcantara, rather than slippery leather.”

    My ‘Vette is like this too: leather on the outside and headrest of the seats, but suede on your rear and back. It is less slippery and softer then leather. Plus not effected by temperature either.

    Nice color combo with the blue vehicle and grey wheels.

  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    I test drove a 17 when we were shopping this segment.We owned a 2002 MDX way back when and had a really good ownership experience. It had a nice ride, well composed, didn’t seem to clomp over its oversize tires like our ML did.With its lower roofline it felt less top heavy, more wagon like in the twisties. I loved the NA powerplant, didn’t like that it prefers 91 octane. The interior was nice but definitely not vault-like.Just well put together. Not too many hard plastics.
    It was just too big for what we needed, although many deals can be had on these. I totally understand why I see many MDXs on the road.An RDX was really what we needed, and the 17RDX previous gen , was a huge step down in build quality. Such so, we didn’t test drive it.

  • avatar

    An Acura SUV should never been purchased or seen in that blue color. This is not a Civic Si! Get the brown one and tell the world how you really feel.

    • 0 avatar

      “Get the brown one and tell the world how you really feel.”

      The world is already full of brown excreting brown and becoming exponentially worse.

      Buy blues and greens to encourage their continued availability!

      • 0 avatar

        I don’t deny that, but also pick a car that deserves to be seen in a brilliant shade of blue while you’re at it…

      • 0 avatar

        “The world is already full of brown excreting brown and becoming exponentially worse.

        Buy blues and greens to encourage their continued availability!”

        Actually, brown seems to be a pretty rare color. There are certainly many more white, black, and gray cars out there. And blue that isn’t really blue, but more grayish.

        There are some brown paints that are worth seeing. I recommend that people buy them when they are available … and when they suit the car.

        But also buy blue and green! And red! And yellow!

        Variety is a good thing.

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      Brown cars are only for the most cultured among us.

  • avatar

    Pretty much the same car as my 08 MDX, same power (Hey Guys, a performance version needs more performance, even if it’s a joke 10 hp found in the exhaust system), more gears in the trans, not that I ever found the six speed lacking. The nice thing is that the 08 was aimed at the X5, but as time went on, it became aimed at the Toyota RX series….

    Yawn. 20 inch wheels in the Northeast are just a stipend to the wheel shops and will be the cause of many kitchen table arguments….”can’t you avoid potholes ? I didn’t hit it hard-$700 day. The 18s on the MDX are just fine up until wind and horsepower meet equilibrium. I can’t imagine why 20’s would help this truck.

    That interior just hurts to look at.

  • avatar

    Tisk, the van is far superior.

  • avatar

    Honda’s/Acura’s VCM kills this car for me. Had one. Hated the engine because of that.

    • 0 avatar

      Luckily my version pre dated that. I will say that the MDX has been decently reliable as it closes on 200k miles. It eats sway bar bushings and end links because they look like they were stolen from a Civic. The bluetooth module died, expensive AF at the dealer but you can DIY pretty reasonably (Lives in the back of the center console, snappy plastic bits). One alternator, one set of shocks and routine maint. One half quart of oil between changes. If it didn’t have defective cats which Acura didn’t replace or credit it would be perfect….but we replaced them anyway. My short description is that the MDX is a Pilot that can dance-high speed cruise and the SH-AWD system in corners. For 60k, though, Benz is calling……

  • avatar

    Acura is the Rodney Dangerfield of Vehicle brands. Hard to feel sorry for Acura/Honda as they went out of their way to accomplish this.

  • avatar

    This trim should have launched DAY ONE when this MDX was released in 2013! Not at the end of the model’s life six years later! Especially since it was being positioned against the X5, as @speedlaw notes above. Just having this trim available for purchase from the beginning (even with no performance upgrades like this) would have done a lot to ward off the “mommy mobile” and “only bought because I couldn’t afford an X5 or Q7” reputation the MDX cemented with this generation.

  • avatar

    did this review include actually driving the car???

  • avatar

    The interior similarities to my 2015 Honda Odyssey EX are striking, although I’m sure the MDX seats are better. Sitting on a garbage can would be better than the EX front seats.

  • avatar

    We have a 2014 purchased new, the first year of the current iteration. The differences between it and this I noticed (at the dealer) are (1) the silly push button transmission control, (2) more speeds in the transmission, and (3) more leg room up front. My comments about our 2014 are it has plenty of power, more than enough for entering an expressway. If one wants to drag race they can buy a Hellcat. Fuel economy between central Illinois and Nashville, TN has been as high as 29 mpg, as low as 25 mpg. 26-27 is typical. If one can pay the $60,000 out the door price, they shouldn’t quibble over fuel costs. Variable displacement operations are unnoticeable. We had a 2009 prior to this one and zero “unscheduled maintenance” trips to the dealer between the two vehicles. If one would rather have a Benz, feel free. Just be sure to buy the extended warranty.

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