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- Highs Quick and good-handling for its size, long list of features, available hybrid powertrain.
- Lows Substandard interior for its class, cramped third row, outdated infotainment system.
- Verdict The MDX's athletic driving dynamics and extensive list of standard and optional features make it a compelling alternative to European luxury SUVs.
We lauded Acura’s three-row crossover as a master of the genre when this generation first set tire to pavement in 2014. Its attractive and distinctive design, available torque-vectoring all-wheel-drive system, sporty handling, and practicality remain its strongest characteristics. A new set of standard safety technologies and a facelift this year have added to its charm, and an NSX-derived hybrid model is now available. The MDX is still one of our favorite vehicles in this segment, but it’s no longer the best, having been outpaced by a couple of newer competitors that do their jobs better.
What's New for 2017?
The MDX's signature Acura grille is now history, having been replaced by a pentagonal diamond-pattern air intake. And Acura’s suite of active-safety equipment trickles down to become standard on base models this year. The biggest development for 2017 is the introduction of a hybrid model, which uses a modified version of the Acura NSX’s powertrain to increase both power and efficiency.
- Base: $45,045
- Sport Hybrid: $52,955
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Engine, Transmission, and Performance
The 290-hp 3.5-liter V-6 that powers the MDX is typical of the engines in three-row crossovers, and it’s a strong workhorse for the Acura. The nine-speed automatic transmission, which replaced the previous six-speed in 2016, is mostly smooth and sure-footed, but it can be slow to downshift when you want acceleration. Overall, the MDX is a pleasure to drive. It's very quick, and Acura’s available Super Handling All-Wheel-Drive (SH-AWD) system makes it one of the best-handling vehicles in its class. When cruising, most of the power is sent to the front wheels. But when necessary, an all-wheel-drive MDX can direct up to 70 percent of the available torque to the appropriate rear wheel to aid cornering and traction. The MDX Sport Hybrid gets a total of 321-hp from a 3.0-liter V-6 combined with three electric motors. The hybrid’s standard all-wheel-drive system relies on two of the motors powering the rear wheels.
EPA fuel-economy testing and reporting procedures have changed over time. For the latest numbers on current and older vehicles, visit the EPA’s website and select Find & Compare Cars.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
The MDX has an impressive standard-equipment list, but Acura’s interior materials don’t feel as upscale or as carefully designed as those in the Audi Q7 or the Volvo XC90. Second-row passengers will appreciate that the bench seat can slide back and recline slightly, but that’s cold comfort for passengers in the cramped third row. On paper, there’s less space in the MDX’s cargo hold than in those of its two most compelling rivals, but the MDX aced our practical storage tests. Hybrid buyers will be glad to know that, thanks to clever mechanical packaging, the MDX hybrid has the same cargo capacity as a non-hybrid MDX. A large front center console gives the MDX an edge in interior storage.
Infotainment and Connectivity
Unfortunately, Acura’s infotainment system is clearly a spiritual relative of those on current Hondas, and the two-screen display is as outdated and ineffectual here as it is in the Accord. Standard features include an 8-inch display, Bluetooth connectivity, USB and auxiliary inputs, power ports, and an eight-speaker audio system with SiriusXM satellite radio. Higher trims and available packages add items like navigation and premium 11-speaker audio. In a departure from otherwise comprehensive standard-equipment offerings, the MDX is missing many infotainment features that we have come to take for granted in luxury cars, including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Safety Features and Crash Test Ratings
Overall Safety Rating (NHTSA)
Some older vehicles are still eligible for coverage under a manufacturer's Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) program. For more information visit our guide to every manufacturer's CPO program.