Hey this week it's a soccer-mom mobile for me. The incredibly popular Acura MDX, for me the 2015 model loaded up to the nine's in the Elite package. This version is loaded – if not a little pricey for an MDX at over $65,000.
But being the Elite model it certainly is the most desirable, this SUV has everything one might need including seven seats with the included third row. A DVD entertainment system with a huge 16.2-inch display and all the usual suspects like navigation, three zone-climate control and technology like lane departure warning, lane keep assist and forward collision warning.
The surround view monitor system is pretty darn cool, certainly makes parking with a birds-eye view an interesting experience.
I was interested to find out that this vehicle features idle start/stop, but the first thing I noticed when I jumped in the MDX is that after it starts I can't even tell if the vehicle is running or not. The engine is incredibly smooth at idle, I've driven the vehicle a bit already and haven't noticed the start/stop feature, perhaps it's still too cold.
I know a lot of people with these vehicles and for those that like SUVs, they love their MDX -- will I love it too?
Pricing: 2015 Acura MDX Elite
Base Price (Elite): $64,290
A/C Tax: $100
Price as tested: $66,560
For some reason I feel like the last time I had an Acura and it had the double screen on the dash I was less than happy with hose the system worked. This time I don't mind it too much, it is still perhaps a little confusing when things like phone calls are displayed on both screens, but for the most part it seems like all the configuration items are done on the upper screen and the lower screen is really left for radio and HVAC controls.
Speaking of HVAC controls, I can't think of another vehicle that actually had an "auto" setting for the seat heating and ventilation. I got into the MDX this evening and noticed my buttocks were being cooled off, I know the system was off so I check the menus and it is set to auto, interesting indeed.
The important part for most MDX buyers though are the seats, all of the seats and of course the cargo capacity -- this is why people buy these things right? Let's start way at the back in the third row, only good for small children or one adult, the seats have nearly no leg room. Getting back there isn't as bad as you would think though as the rear doors open quite wide and the second row flips and slides forward with a push of a button. Getting out though was a little more difficult for this adult.
The second row is much more hospitable and actually comfortable, although that 16-inch TV screen is a little close for comfort maybe, kids sure won't mind. The remote for the AV system is smartly tucked into the roof panel and can be ejected for easier use and wireless headsets are also provided.
Up front where most owners will be spending their time features very supportive and comfortable captains chairs. The large armrest is adjustable even for shorter drivers like myself and the wood trim is elegant and both feels and looks great.
As mentioned previously the MDX is dead silent at idle. It's pretty much silent on the road as well, unless you really put your foot in it the MDX makes nary a sound in normal driving. You can easily carry on a conversation, wind and tire noise are very minimal as well.
The 3.5L V6 is responsive and mates well with the now-considered-passe six-speed transmission. The 2016 MDX will feature a nine-speed transmission which has issues in their other models with bad programming and the inability to shift out of park without needing a dealer visit. Hopefully they have solved those issues by the time the 2016 MDX is delivered as the MDX is a big seller for Acura.
Despite it's "sporty" feel for an SUV you are always reminded you are driving a larger vehicle when you realize the turning circle isn't that great. When switching from Comfort to Normal to Sport the throttle and transmission response changes. Even on Comfort the MDX has a sort of jarring ride over rougher pavement but from what I remember of previous MDXs it is not nearly as stiff and it is a pleasant drive.
Visibility is okay but somewhat limited -- you really have to look around the large A-pillars to be sure nobody is walking across in front of your path, full-size adults can easily disappear. Side and around visibility seems okay and the blind spot detection system certainly helps if you do miss a shoulder check.
The electronic aids on the other hand bother me, I have tried turning them off and on multiple times to see if it was my mood but they work consistently poorly. The lane departure warning will warn you anytime a line disappears even if you are not changing lanes and the lane keep assist takes over your steering even if you are centered neatly in your lane, making the steering wheel feel like it is attached to a gigantic rubber band.
The MDX is pretty versatile with a good size trunk even with the third row seats up, fold them down and it gets even better. Does it replace a minivan for cargo and passenger space? I don't think so but it does a decent job for what most people need. The trunk floor is high though, typical SUV height which can make loading heavier objects more difficult than a minivan that's for sure.
It is surprisingly quick too for a large SUV. The V6 really pulls the MDX around well and never feels strained. On top of that it also returns excellent fuel economy, I averaged 9.6 L/100 km over the week -- of course much of my driving is highway but there is a little mix of city in there.
Quiet, comfortable, reasonably fun to drive for a large SUV and pretty darn versatile -- no wonder the MDX sells like hotcakes. The MDX seems priced well for the base package and even some of the tech packages when you compare to the competition so that could also be a factor for seeing so many around.