2008 Acura MDX Review

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Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
May 12, 2008

The 2008 Acura MDX has a little more passion than most larger SUVs, with no less practicality.

The 2008 Acura MDX fills the top spot in the Japanese brand's luxury-utility lineup. It's big on passenger space and cargo room, and has a fairly advanced sense of style, too. In performance, it's a middle-of-the-road vehicle, tuned for comfort and safety, not off-road capability.

New last year, the MDX carries into the 2008 model year with almost no changes.

A 300-hp, 3.7-liter V-6 powers the MDX and gives it generous acceleration and passing power. Its 5-speed automatic changes gears smoothly. Towing ability is good, at a max rating of 5,000 lb.

Review continues below

Every MDX comes standard with all-wheel drive that can shift power from front to back, and from right to left across the rear wheels. It's a feature called torque-vectoring that can boost stability while it helps the MDX carve through corners more cleanly. Here, it works. The MDX is rewarding to drive: it has a responsive drivetrain, and the suspension strikes a nice balance between road comfort and enthusiastic responses. Push it, and the mDX responds to curved roads like a lighter, smaller vehicle. The steering is especially good, with an uncommon level of feedback that makes the MDX easier to drive than its peers under a range of conditions.

The MDX's interior is inviting and trimmed in warm, supple leather and soft-touch plastic, detailed with woodgrain and metallic surfaces. The controls are another story: they're at times needlessly complex.

Storage abounds inside the MDX, with plenty of cubbies and bins. Passengers have plenty of space to get comfortable. The front chairs are especially good, even for big and tall bodies. The third-row seat doesn't make much room for anyone larger than a size 2, though.

Acura fits the MDX with standard 18-inch wheels, leather, tri-zone climate control, Bluetooth, a 6-disc CD changer, and satellite radio. Sport models have premium leather, new wheels, and adaptive shocks. A rearview camera is an option, as is a navigation system.

Top scores in all crash tests make the MDX a safety all-star; both the NHTSA and IIHS give it their best ratings. All models get stability control and side-curtain airbags that protect passengers in all three rows of seats.

9

2008 Acura MDX

Styling

You’ll either love the MDX, Acura's big crossover, or hate it--but you will not be able to ignore it. Those who like an edgy, high-tech-looking vehicle will embrace the 2008 Acura MDX; traditionalists will want to try elsewhere.

Car and Driver describes the new MDX Acura as "a little sleeker and a little less boxy without excessive compromise of interior," which has "a sporty ambience."

Edmunds.com says the MDX "lacked a little in terms of personality and prestige." Other adjectives used for this SUV were "athletic," "hunkered down," and "aggressive."

Forbes Auto calls it "bolder and richer-looking" with "chiseled lines."

The Auto Channel expressed great admiration for its "bold lines and well-defined fenders," which take their inspiration from "car, not truck styling cues." Regarding the five-sided, medieval-looking grille, this source was quick to point out that it has been a virtual corporate logo for the past several years. Chances are, if you really dislike it, there are aftermarket customizations available.

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2008 Acura MDX

Performance

The 2008 Acura MDX is as athletic as it looks--if you need raw power without wanting to mortgage yourself to ExxonMobil or Texaco, this SUV is a good choice.

This 2008 Acura may look like a thoroughbred, but it has the power of a draft horse.

The Auto Channel reports that with the MDX, Acura's new 3.7-liter V-6 is "the largest and most powerful ever in an Acura," not only beating the previous model, but with 300 hp, it's the most powerful six-cylinder SUV on today's market. This is borne out by the vehicle's 2.5-ton towing capacity (a 1,500-pound improvement over the previous model), which is more than adequate for a large house or camping trailer, wooden sailing vessel, or horse trailer.

The MDX, according to ConsumerGuide Automotive, averages 15.5 mpg, but less-than-stellar fuel economy is to be expected with a vehicle of this type--and for what this vehicle is, the 2008 MDX's mileage is actually not too bad. EPA estimates according to Forbes Autos are actually 17 mpg in city driving and 22 mpg on the open road.

This 2008 Acura's 5-speed automatic works like a charm when it comes to acceleration and passing, and is the perfect mate for the workhorse powerplant. The automatic can be shifted with paddle controls. In addition, the Acura's all-wheel-drive setup works well to send power to all wheels, Forbes Auto says.

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2008 Acura MDX

Comfort & Quality

Whether it's the daily commute or an extended road trip, you'll travel in comfort in the 2008 Acura MDX.

Most reviewers were pleased with the comfort level when driving the Acura MDX, though one thing to understand about the 2008 MDX is that it is not designed for off-road expeditions over rough terrain.

ConsumerGuide Automotive gives this SUV above-average marks for overall comfort. When studying this particular report, TheCarConnection.com noted the best marks were given for the base model, without options; the ride of this model was "compliant but controlled." On the other hand, the suspension available with the Sport package (explained in greater detail below) "allows too much wallow" when in Comfort Mode, and is too "brittle" when in Sport Mode.

Consumer Reports says that the Acura MDX provides a "pleasant...supple and controlled ride... and is more agile than its predecessor," also praising its overall quietness, especially at highway speeds. Edmunds.com agrees, stating that when it comes to "comfort, versatility and refinement, the MDX excels."

The Auto Channel describes the 2008 MDX as having "all of the positive attributes of a crossover--space, versatility, and comfort, plus its own style"--calling it "high-tech contemporary mid-luxury."

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2008 Acura MDX

Safety

If safety while driving is your primary concern, the 2008 Acura MDX is absolutely a top choice.

All the sources consulted by TheCarConnection.com's editors raved about the 2008 Acura MDX's remarkable safety levels.

Car and Driver's comment about few equaling the safety of the 2008 Acura MDX is an understatement. They report the MDX Acura includes all of the standard "active features" that are usually found on today's vehicles, which include ABS brakes with electronic brake force distribution, stability control, and traction control. In addition, standard (not optional) safety equipment reported on this site includes two-stage front airbags, front side-impact airbags, height-adjustable front seatbelts with pretensioners, and three-row curtain airbags with integrated rollover sensing.

The Auto Channel reports that the 2008 Acura employs the company's patented Advanced Compatibility Engineering (ACE) in the vehicle's structure and design. In case of a head-on impact, ACE construction distributes the force in such a way as to keep the MDX's passenger cabin from collapsing. What is marvelous here, however, is that the designers were not thinking only of the vehicle's occupants, but others as well. The hood design is specially designed to minimize injuries to any pedestrians that may be hit, and the bumpers are at a level that will do the least damage to other vehicles. In addition, one will find suspension stability and traction control devices that greatly improve driver control.

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2008 Acura MDX

Features

You've got access to all the high-tech goodies you want with the 2008 Acura MDX, but you'll pay--considerably--for them.

There is really only one Acura MDX model that comes with various options packages. As reported on The Auto Channel, these are the Technology Package, the Sports Package, the Entertainment and Tech Package, and the Sport and Entertainment Package. Which one you'll want depends on what your priorities are.

The reviewers at Edmunds.com were most impressed with the high-tech goodies available for this 2008 Acura. Even the base model (with no options) includes genuine leather seats as well as a sunroof, a fully adjustable steering wheel, XM Satellite Radio, and Bluetooth for hands-free cell phone operation. With the Sport and Entertainment package, owners can enjoy amenities such as an active damping suspension system for even greater comfort and control, as well as a voice-activated navigation system, real-time traffic reports, a 10-speaker audio system, and--for the kids on those long road trips--a rear-seat DVD system.

The only criticism here is not of the MDX Acura itself, but of manufacturer Honda; as usual, these options are not available on an a la carte basis--only in "package" form, according to Forbes Autos. As of this writing, the Technology Package runs $3,500, while the more comprehensive Sports Package is $5,600; adding the Entertainment option to either (it's not available by itself) will run you another $2,200.

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8.8
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Styling 9.0
Performance 9.0
Comfort & Quality 9.0
Safety 10.0
Features 7.0
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