The Car Connection Acura MDX Overview
The Acura MDX is a seven-passenger luxury crossover SUV that does family like prime-time television.
With the MDX, Acura competes with vehicles such as the Lexus RX, the Infiniti QX60, and the Buick Enclave. When trimmed out in their most expensive versions, the Nissan Pathfinder and Volkswagen Atlas might also be considered competitors.
MORE: Read our 2022 Acura MDX review
The Acura MDX comes standard with front-wheel drive, although all-wheel drive is optional. The MDX has good handling and interior space, not to mention a wealth of in-car technology. It's been one of Acura's best sellers for a long time, for a reason.
The new Acura MDX
The latest MDX sports a new look, a new cabin, and the best infotainment displays and safety technology ever fitted to an Acura.
With its trim new shape, the MDX now wears a sinuous look that's more sport wagon than family SUV. The interior's inlaid with metallic and wood trim, and wrapped in leather in most models.
Carried over from the prior generation, the 290-hp V-6 now connects to a 10-speed automatic; a twin-turbo-Type S joins the lineup in 2022. For now, power outputs equal the former MDX while curb weight is up—but ride and handling have made a quantum leap, with much improved cornering, even with big 20-inch wheels on top models.
The MDX has gained interior space too, and offers up multi-adjustable front seats and a middle bench with a removable section. The third row's still small for adults, but it's more easily accessed—and tucks away to boost cargo space.
All MDXs now have automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitors, adaptive cruise control, and traffic-jam assist. Crash-test scores aren't in yet. With a base price of just below $50,000, the 2022 MDX comes with wireless smartphone charging, a panoramic sunroof, and a 12.3-inch infotainment display with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Options range from navigation, 20-inch wheels, high-end ELS audio, leather upholstery, and a surround-view camera system; most come standard on the top Advance edition.
Acura MDX history
The MDX entered the market back in 2001, when it supplanted a slow-selling vehicle dubbed the SLX—simply a rebadged version of the then-current Isuzu Trooper. Offered as a seven-passenger crossover, the original MDX came with a single drivetrain, a 3.5-liter V-6 with 240 hp, mated to a 5-speed automatic and AWD. Over the years, this first MDX would see its power boosted to 265 hp, while it added features such as Bluetooth connectivity, a rear-seat DVD entertainment system, Bose audio, satellite radio, and a voice-activated navigation system. Side-curtain airbags were added to the MDX's safety package, and the original model performed well in crash tests.
While it never reached the prestigious ubiquity of the Lexus RX, the Acura MDX became a reliable sight in upscale mall parking lots and commuter lanes thanks to its luxe equipment, airy interior, and relatively good ride and handling.
The second-generation MDX arrived for the 2007 model year with a substantial look and feel both inside and out. It featured a 3.7-liter V-6 engine with a power output of 300 hp as well as a new all-wheel-drive system. "Super Handling All-Wheel Drive," as Acura called it, was related to the one that would bow in the Acura RL large sedan and featured true mechanical torque vectoring on the rear axle. Standard equipment included a sunroof and leather trim, while options included a high-quality premium audio package; voice-activated navigation; and a rear-seat DVD entertainment system. Handling remained above-average for a crossover of its size, while the MDX's interior grew more spacious and useful, giving it one of the most adult-friendly cabins of any crossover vehicle. Fuel economy was not a strong point at 14 mpg city, 20 highway originally and then improving to 16/21 mpg in later years. This was in part due to the heavy and complicated AWD system that was fitted for this generation.
In 2010, the MDX was lightly refreshed, which included Acura's new and controversial corporate grille, which some likened to a bottle opener, though we found the MDX version of that design to be the best-integrated one found on any Acura. The MDX also received new electric power steering that year, but it missed the mark completely for responsiveness (it's too fast) and heft (it's too light). Safety remained a strong point, with the MDX named an IIHS Top Safety Pick. In 2010, the two-door Acura ZDX was introduced, with the model sharing some mechanicals with the MDX. Its severe lack of interior space led to very low sales, however; it was withdrawn after 2012. The Acura MDX changed very little for 2013, the last year before the entirely redesigned 2014 model.
The 2014-2020 MDX shared some of its running gear with a number of other Acura and Honda models, including the Pilot crossover and the Odyssey minivan. With sleeker looks, it bore a 3.5-liter V-6 with better power and fuel economy, and a short-lived Sport Hybrid model that didn't post appreciably higher fuel economy ratings. Crash-test scores improved as well, and the MDX of this generation added advanced safety features such as adaptive cruise control and forward-collision warnings.
In 2017 the MDX upgraded to a 9-speed automatic transmission, which helped the front-drive model to an EPA rating of 23 mpg combined. The all-wheel-drive system gained a sophisticated sport differential at the rear, with the ability to shift power from side to side across the rear axle. The Sport Hybrid adapted the NSX's "through-the-road" hybrid technology to power the rear wheels on battery alone. A 7.0-inch touchscreen joined the lineup in 2018; in 2019, Acura added a sporty A-Spec appearance package. The MDX carried over unchanged in 2020, and skipped the 2021 model year.