Harsh though it may seem, if it wasn’t for the MDX there’s a good chance Acura wouldn’t exist today.
It buoyed the brand through troubled times as the German competition raised its collective game, staving off what could’ve been a tragic death. It’s long been a comfortable, attractive, and satisfying sport utility that’s been through four generations and counting.
The 2023 Acura MDX continues this proud legacy and is better than it’s ever been – although there’s one critical flaw that stands out for all the wrong reasons.
For $59,390 to start – plus a non-negotiable freight charge of $2,375 – the 2023 Acura MDX is fitted with a generous number of features. Beyond the power-adjustable heated front seats, premium sound system, and wireless smartphone charging, to name a few, the MDX gets a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, and a 12.3-inch centre display with a corresponding touchpad Interface.
Meanwhile, this tester includes a head-up display, 16-way power-adjustable front seats, further upgraded audio, and more.
It’s the touchpad Interface, the only way to operate the infotainment interface, that’s nothing less than a complete deal-breaker. If for any reason you are wearing gloves, no matter the set sensitivity level, the touchpad will ignore your requests the vast majority of the time. Graciously, a heated steering wheel is standard and, with a little luck, the same touchpad will operate as desired roughly two out of every three attempts. Thankfully, all climate functions can be accessed via physical buttons.
In all other respects, the 2023 Acura MDX provides smart and user-friendly functionality. For example, reaching the third row is easy thanks to the button-actuated second-row operation. The cabin offers decent storage, comfort, and plenty of features.
When the third row is in use, cargo space hovers around the 500-L mark. When stowed, the volume increases to roughly 1,200 L.
The MDX’s cabin is quite attractive. Fit and finish are faultless, and the materials used – including the genuine wood trim in this Platinum Elite tester – are top-drawer. In true Acura form, the seats are perfectly fashioned to provide comfort and support. Second-row occupants will be pleased with the amount of room at their disposal; however, the third row is best relegated to the smaller among us.
On the road, the 2023 Acura MDX is decently quiet. The serenity is punctuated mostly by the V6 engine when given the beans. As far as this author’s concerned, it’s a lovely distraction.
As noted, Acura’s designers went awry in the mid- to late-2000s. They found their way back over the last few years with their latest crop of products – namely the RDX, TLX, and MDX.
Launched just last year, the fourth-generation MDX is the most dynamically styled of the bunch. In fact, the longer you look at it the more cohesive its various design elements become. Unlike many other vehicles, the MDX’s grille-to-fascia ratio is spot on. From the side, the overhangs are generous but far from exaggerated, and the door creases add an enhancing visual distraction. The tested Platinum Elite’s 20-inch multi-spoke alloy wheels are classy and sporty at the same time.
The 2023 Acura MDX carries on with the Honda-sourced 3.5L V6 engine. Of the many V6 engines still in service today, it remains one of the smoothest and most refined. It produces 290 hp at 6,200 rpm and 267 lb-ft of torque 4,700 rpm. These numbers are average at best, but what it lacks in specifications is more than offset by the superb and standard 10-speed automatic transmission.
The MDX feels far quicker than it actually is thanks in no small part to the 10-speed’s gearing and sharp operation. What also plays into the sense of speed is the V6’s gratifying melody.
Driving Feel: 9.5/10
Like the powertrain, the MDX’s on-road behaviour is layered in velvet. The SUV’s all-new extra-rigid structure, fitted with amplitude reactive dampers, delivers a surprising level of comfort. Even so, the MDX handles with as much surefootedness as any German equivalent. Acura’s now legendary all-wheel drive system puts the available power to good use at all times.
With the included Integrated Dynamics System (IDS), the MDX’s driving characteristics can match the driver’s mood. The programmable individual mode (sport, Comfort, and normal are also included) can truly be tailored, providing an ideal mix of chassis dampening with sporty throttle response. The steering’s variable assistance is well-calibrated. Finally, as far as braking goes, pedal travel isn’t too long or spongy for the SUV’s sporty nature.
Fuel Economy: 8.5/10
The 2023 MDX’s fuel consumption numbers are respectable for a non-electrified SUV that tips the scale at over 2,041 kg (4,500 lb). Acura rates the MDX as consuming 11.2 L/100 km in combined driving, with city and highway ratings of 12.9 and 9.4, respectively. Meanwhile, this cold and wintery test week finished at a combined 12.5 L/100 km..
The 2023 MDX is delivered with numerous standard active and passive features. They include forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assistance, and blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, among many others.
Priced at $61,765 before tax, the base MDX is a near bargain given its included features, performance, and styling. Unfortunately, it and the second-in-line Tech trims are essentially unavailable due to demand outstripping production. This leaves the A-Spec, at nearly $69,000, as the most affordable and available version at the time of this writing.
When compared to the Infiniti QX60, its most direct midsize three-row adversary, it’s expensive. The Infiniti provides more kit for the price – although it’s nowhere near as engaging and pleasant to drive.
The 2023 Acura MDX is a thoroughly appealing midsize SUV. Among its Japanese competition, it stands alone as the sole interesting option. When the Germans join in, the MDX suffers somewhat – especially when pushing $70,000 or more. The Audi Q7 is a devilishly enticing entry that offers less kit and reliability for more money, meaning a decision will come down to brand preference more than anything else. Even so, the dreadful touchpad interface is reason enough to consider all options carefully.
|Peak Horsepower||290 hp @ 6,200 rpm|
|Peak Torque||267 lb-ft @ 4,700 rpm|
|Fuel Economy||12.6 / 9.4 / 11.2 L/100 km cty/hwy/cmb|
|Cargo Space||513 / 1,368 / 2,690 L behind 3rd/2nd/1st row|
|Model Tested||2023 Acura MDX Platinum Elite|
|Price as Tested||$73,275|
$500 – Platinum White Pearl paint, $500