If you need a big crossover vehicle but don't want to give up on performance completely, the 2011 Acura MDX might suit you well.
It has a heart of gold, for sure--or really, a great V-6. The 300-horsepower, 3.7-liter six doles out strong acceleration and impressive passing power, thanks to features like variable valve timing and electronic throttle. It even sounds good, with a tinge of intake growl making its way into the otherwise stone-silent cabin.
It's paired up with a six-speed automatic with paddle shifters. Those flappers keep things lively: click right or left and the MDX snaps off gearchanges and stays in manual-shift mode for about a half-minute, anticipating you'll want more hands-on control of the shifting. Together, the automatic and the V-6 let the MDX step off smartly from stoplights; Acura says the crossover will run to 60 mph in about 7.0 seconds.
The glaring error in the MDX's programming lies in its electronic power steering. It's far, far too light and fast for a truck of this size and caliber; there's almost a total lack of connection between wheel motions and cornering forces, and that's a shame because retuning the MDX's optional magnetic-electronic shocks has cleared up the brittle ride that affected those vehicles. We used to recommend only the base suspension; now it's up to you and your budget.Acura’s Super Handling all-wheel-drive system remains standard. The complex system pushes power to each wheel based on its available traction. It's constantly measuring grip, handing out more power to the wheels still stuck best to the pavement--and that neatly excises most of the sluggishness that usually afflicts crossovers with all-wheel drive. That's why the MDX is more engaging to drive, and why it can be hustled along a curvy road like a smaller, lighter vehicle.