2019 Acura MDX A-Spec Review - For the Team

Chris Tonn
by Chris Tonn
Fast Facts

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

[Images: © 2019 Chris Tonn/TTAC]

Chris Tonn
Chris Tonn

Some enthusiasts say they were born with gasoline in their veins. Chris Tonn, on the other hand, had rust flakes in his eyes nearly since birth. Living in salty Ohio and being hopelessly addicted to vintage British and Japanese steel will do that to you. His work has appeared in eBay Motors, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars, Reader's Digest, AutoGuide, Family Handyman, and Jalopnik. He is a member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association, and he's currently looking for the safety glasses he just set down somewhere.

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2 of 36 comments
  • Der_Kommissar Der_Kommissar on Feb 05, 2019

    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.

  • Someoldfool Someoldfool on Feb 06, 2019

    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.

  • MaintenanceCosts So this is really just a restyled VW Fox. Craptacular tin can but fun to drive in a "makes ordinary traffic seem like a NASCAR race" kind of way.
  • THX1136 While reading the article a thought crossed my mind. Does Mexico have a fairly good charging infrastructure in place? Knowing that it is a bit poorer economy than the US relatively speaking, that thought along with who's buying came to mind.
  • Lou_BC Maybe if I ever buy a new car or CUV
  • Lou_BC How about telling China and Mexico, we'll accept 1 EV for every illegal you take off our hands ;)
  • Analoggrotto The original Tassos was likely conceived in one of these.