You might think Acura’s compact RDX crossover would be their top selling model, or even one of their sedans, but it’s actually the midsize MDX that carries that badge for the brand. So, now halfway through its life cycle, it gets some updates to keep sales up, and give lessees a reason to re-up for another go ‘round.
At the risk of giving everything away right off the bat, we’ll say that the Acura MDX is one of the best crossover utilities at any price point.
And why that continues to be the case, is with well thought-out constant refinements, like what the 2017 MDX has to offer.
But then again, we always celebrate the little things around here. So, having a real volume knob for the radio and genuine wood trim that comes with the MDX Advance makes us almost giddy. And it is in up-level Advance trim where you’ll see the most updates.
3-row seating is standard in all MDX trims, but Advance now comes with new 2nd row Captain’s Chairs. Also new are a heated steering wheel, 6-USB ports, and a surround-view camera.
Access to the 3rd row is push-button simple, and there’s a wide-open entryway; but just child size space for actually sitting.
Still plenty of room for hauling cargo however; 15.0 cubic-ft. behind the 3rd row, 38.4 behind the second, and maxing out at 68.4 with all seats folded.
As for the driver’s perch, there’s plenty of room to operate, and great comfort in the seat. There are a lot of controls on the steering wheel, but they’re logical and easy to master.
Gauges are very traditional with a relatively small info display; while the center stack still features Honda’s odd dual screen setup.
The MDX has always been good looking, with enough presence to wear Acura’s large pentagonal-shield grille without looking awkward. Well, upgrades for ’17 include a new version that does away with the chrome band, and it looks miles better.
The rest of the front fascia, fenders, and hood are finely tweaked as well. And, there is new brightwork on the rockers, between this Advance’s 20-inch wheels; as well as a new rear bumper and updated tailpipes.
All MDX’s now add the full AcuraWatch suite of safety features including Collision Mitigation Braking.
No changes to suspension or powertrain; so the ride continues to be composed but athletic, and power from the 3.5-liter V6 remains more than adequate. No turbo-4 here, yet the fully-modern 9-speed automatic transmission will keep you from having ratio envy.
The V6’s output is a stout 290-horsepower and 267 lb-ft. of torque. Super Handling all-wheel-drive is optional on all trim levels.
Variable Cylinder Management and Idle Stop help Government Fuel Economy Ratings, which are 19-City, 26-Highway, and 22-Combined with all-wheel-drive. Our 22.3 miles-per-gallon average on Premium matched that almost perfectly.
For an average Energy Impact Score of 15.0-barrels of annual oil use with C02 emissions of 6.7-tons.
Performance numbers are also quite good. At the test track, our MDX exhibited a slight hesitation off the line; but then almost immediately, power came on fast and hard, taking us to 60 in 6.3-seconds.
There’s actually a fair amount of engine noise creeping into the cabin, but it sounds strong and pleasing as it revs fairly quickly; while the 9-speed attempts to keep up, shifting through gears with a smooth hastiness. The ¼-mile results were 14.9-seconds at 94 miles-per-hour.
On our slalom course, the MDX got through with typical Honda/Acura efficiency; fully competent, yet nothing to get overly excited about.
There is a very slight amount of understeer and body roll; but both are kept well in check with Super Handling all-wheel-drive diverting power to where it can be used best.
Steering feel is a little numb, though it tightens up considerably in Sport mode.
Our 120-foot average stopping distance from 60 was quite good for a 3-row crossover; but some fade did seep in as the brakes got hotter, and pedal feel was inconsistent. However, it stayed very stable throughout.
The much bigger MDX news for ’17 is a new Sport Hybrid version that arrives this summer. We’ll be behind the wheel of that one very shortly, so stay tuned for a full review.
MDX pricing starts very reasonably at $45,025; add $2,000 more for Super Handling all-wheel-drive. To get the most for your money, and to experience the ’17 updates to the fullest; Advance trim starts at $55,475.
Engine: 3.5 liter
Torque: 267 lb-ft.
0-60 mph: 6.3 seconds
1/4 mile: 14.9 seconds @ 94 mph
EPA: 19 mpg city / 26 mpg highway
Energy Impact: 15.0 barrels of oil/yr
CO2 Emissions: 6.7 tons/yr