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2019 Acura MDX

Starting at $45,295

2017 Acura MDX
Chris Doane Automotive|Car and Driver

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  • Highs Standard driver-assistance tech, excellent handling, desirable hybrid powertrain.
  • Lows Uninspired interior has limited space, frustrating infotainment system, expensive option packages.
  • Verdict Still a compelling alternative to European luxury SUVs.
By Eric Stafford


The 2019 Acura MDX is not your ordinary, everyday three-row crossover—not only does it handle extremely well for its size, it's available with a hybrid powertrain derived from Acura's NSX supercar. While the setup used here is less exotic, its performance and drivability are better than the standard 290-hp V-6 version with optional torque-vectoring all-wheel drive. Unfortunately, the MDX has a flawed infotainment system and an unimpressive interior—two important features that make this system inferior to most rivals. Apart from that, the Acura has abundant standard features and ranks among the most compelling options in its class.

What's New for 2019?

The 2019 MDX receives a handful of updates that includes a new appearance package, improved interior materials, and several performance enhancements. The nonhybrid MDX is now available with adaptive dampers, its nine-speed automatic has been revised for smoother acceleration, and the engine adds an improved start/stop system that is now standard. Acura also makes the sporty A-Spec package available on gas-powered models with all-wheel drive. It adds exclusive exterior bits such as dark trim and wider rims with low-profile tires. Inside, the unique interior appointments include faux-suede inserts and special A-spec gauges and steering wheel. The Advance package adds a new set of 20-inch wheels with wider rubber. Every version also receives several new exterior paint colors and a newly available interior wood treatment.

Pricing and Which One to Buy

Quicker, more powerful, and more efficient than the base model, the MDX Sport Hybrid is our choice; it comes standard with the Technology package. Standard fittings include blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and navigation, all-wheel drive with torque vectoring, and heated leather front seats. For buyers who aren't interested in hybrid technology, a gasoline-powered MDX with its available Super Handling All-Wheel Drive system, also known as SH-AWD, is also a satisfying choice.

Engine, Transmission, Performance, and Towing

Likes: Smooth hybrid powertrain, outstanding acceleration, truly sporty handling for a three-row crossover.
Dislikes: Hybrid model not rated for towing, disappointing braking capability.

The 290-hp V-6 that powers the MDX is typical of the powerplants in three-row crossovers, and it's a strong workhorse for this application. The nine-speed is mostly smooth and sure-footed, but it can be slow to downshift when you want acceleration. Front-wheel drive is standard, but we've only tested MDXs equipped with Acura's highly competent all-wheel-drive system. With all four wheels clawing the pavement for traction, the MDX can sprint from zero to 60 mph in six seconds, an athletic result for any vehicle and particularly impressive for one that can seat seven. The hybrid MDX was even quicker in our zero-to-60-mph test, at 5.7 seconds, and the inclusion of paddle shifters to command the seven-speed automatic transmission proves that the MDX Sport Hybrid intends to earn its middle name. The transitions between the gasoline engine and the electric motors are seamless. While the gasoline version can tow up to 5000 pounds, Acura does not recommend towing with the hybrid version, which diminishes some of our praise.

The MDX is a pleasure to drive. Acura's all-wheel-drive systems help it to be more agile and engaging on the road than we expect a three-row crossover to be. The hybrid's all-wheel-drive system relies on two electric motors that power the rear wheels. When accelerating, each motor powers a single wheel. During enthusiastic cornering maneuvers, the motor paired with the outside wheel can speed up slightly while the other motor slows its wheel, helping to turn the vehicle. Both versions give up some of their edge on the competition when it comes to braking. The hybrid stopped in 188 feet, exactly the same distance as the standard MDX, and we noted some decreased braking power after successive hard stops.

Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG

The MDX has EPA fuel-economy ratings that are very similar to those of the competition, but it outperformed expectations—and its rivals—in our real-world highway fuel-economy test. The all-wheel-drive regular MDX earned 28 mpg, making it the most efficient of the group we tested. The hybrid MDX, 244 pounds heavier and unable to make the most of its battery power at highway speeds, returned a somewhat underwhelming 25 mpg in that test. However, the hybrid version offers a significant improvement in city fuel economy.

Interior, Infotainment, and Cargo

Likes: Copious cupholders, standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, hybrid hardly compromises cargo space.
Dislikes: Subpar passenger space, distracting dual screens, lowest cargo volume among rivals.

The MDX has an impressive list of standard equipment, but Acura's interior materials don't feel as upscale or as carefully designed as in the Audi Q7 or the Volvo XC90. The new push-button electronic shifter on the center console is less user-friendly than the mechanical lever it replaces. Various competitors in this class offer more legroom in each row than the MDX. 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.

Unfortunately, Acura's infotainment system is clearly a spiritual relative of those in Hondas, and the two-screen display is as ineffectual here as ever. A plethora of power points and the available wide-screen entertainment system make up for some of the pain of paying extra for an ill-disguised, downmarket system.

There's less space in the MDX's cargo hold than in those of its two most compelling rivals, the XC90 and the Q7, but the MDX aced our practical storage tests despite its on-paper deficit. Hybrid-curious buyers will be glad to know that, thanks to clever mechanical packaging, the MDX hybrid has the same cargo capacity as a nonhybrid MDX.

Safety and Driver-Assistance Features

Overall Safety Rating (NHTSA)

View Crash Test Results

With excellent scores from both crash-test agencies and a suite of standard driver-assistance features that often costs thousands of dollars in competitors, the MDX is a standout even in this safety-conscious class. Key safety features include:

  • Standard lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist
  • Standard automated emergency braking
  • Standard adaptive cruise control

Warranty and Maintenance Coverage

Acura's new-car warranty is largely standard fare for luxury brands, but it's missing the complimentary scheduled maintenance that Lexus, Volvo, and others offer as part of the purchase.

  • Limited warranty covers 4 years or 50,000 miles
  • Powertrain warranty covers 6 years or 70,000 miles
  • No complimentary scheduled maintenance


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