- Handsome looks
- Confident power
- Spread-out space
- Good efficiency from hybrid
- Standard active safety features
- Pricey options packages
- Top trims don’t feel quite as luxurious as we’d expect
- Third row can be cramped for tall adults
- Shallow cargo area
The 2020 Acura MDX is a stately three-row family crossover that has aged well.
The 2020 Acura MDX three-row crossover makes all the right moves for family buyers.
It's spacious for up to eight, with handsome lines inside and out, and the MDX is serene and quiet on the road. This year, the MDX is largely the same as last year.
We give it a 6.8 on our overall scale thanks to its friendly confines and quiet road manners. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
It costs about $45,000 to start and is available with three packages—Advance, Technology, and A-Spec—that dress the MDX up with more features and a tony cabin, but don’t alter performance. An MDX Sport Hybrid makes more power than the MDX, but its best trick is efficiency.
We like the exterior and interior themes, which play it cool compared to other luxury SUVs that offer more glitz or more macho. The MDX is relatively aged compared to those other vehicles, but its lines still look good.
Most MDX crossovers are powered by a 3.5-liter V-6 that makes 290 horsepower, which is adequate for the two-ton SUV. A 9-speed transmission can be a little fussy at times but doesn’t spoil the ride. All-wheel drive is optional and costs $2,000 more.
The MDX Sport Hybrid melds a 3.0-liter V-6 with hybrid batteries and electric motors and produces 321 combined hp and 27 mpg combined, according to the EPA. The all-wheel-drive system in the hybrid system is fundamentally different but just as competent in delivering all-weather traction.
All MDXs ride comfortably and calmly, a must-do for any family vehicle.
Inside, up to eight passengers will fit, although we’d swap out the second-row bench for two captain’s chairs that are more comfortable for adults. The third row is acceptable for small grown-ups, although children are a better fit. The cargo area behind the third row swallows up to 15 cubic feet of gear and the load floor is relatively low, although the space is shallow with all three rows upright. Fold down the third row and that space grows to more than 38 cubic feet.
Federal and independent testers give the Acura MDX high marks for crashworthiness, and every MDX is equipped with automatic emergency braking.
Base cars don’t skimp much for features. They’re equipped with leather upholstery, keyless ignition, 18-inch wheels, power moonroof, LED headlights, power-adjustable front seats, three-zone climate control, four USB ports, eight-speaker audio system, and a dual-screen infotainment system with an 8.0-inch display atop a 7.0-inch touchscreen. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are baked into the system, but use the 8.0-inch display that requires a clickwheel controller.
We’d opt for the Advance package that adds bigger wheels, interior accents, uprated audio and blind-spot monitors for $5,000 more.
2020 Acura MDX
The 2020 Acura MDX dresses up a big crossover with tasteful lines.
The MDX is relatively old compared to others in its class, but its lines have aged gracefully.Its interior is still handsome and elegant, and its exterior is pointed and pleasing, even with the SUV’s big proportions.
We give it points above average for its interior and exterior and land at 7. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
The MDX’s beak is still handsome, punctuated by a diamond-patterned grille that was introduced a few years ago. The headlights wrap into the front fenders with an arch that reaches further back into the doors. The creased hood eventually gives way to a long roofline that reaches back toward the rear fenders and meets with rear haunches that belie the crossover’s front-wheel-drive preference.
In back, the Acura skips over dowdy bulges with clean taillights and a pointed rear bumper that reaches higher than the wheels without compromising its low load floor.
The interior is clean, despite dual touchscreens and a pushbutton shifter that is too complicated for our tastes. Wood accents are dressy and complement the functional theme without muddying the composition too much.
2020 Acura MDX
Calm and collected, the 2020 MDX is a perfect road-trip vehicle.
Road trips just aren’t what they used to be.
With the 2020 MDX, Acura has a three-row SUV that’s quiet and calm on long hauls. Its best attribute is its soft ride and easy-going nature, which stands in contrast to the long slogs we made in noisy sedans and wagons growing up.
The MDX Sport Hybrid is more powerful than the MDX, but it’ll be less common. We give the MDX a 6 for performance. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
A 3.5-liter V-6 that makes 290 hp is fitted under the hood of the MDX. It’s a tried-and-true powerplant that delivers adequate power to the big, 4,200-pound SUV. It accelerates confidently from a stop and can tow up to 3,500 pounds. Its operation blends seamlessly into the background, without much notice.
Front-wheel drive is standard, although many will opt for all-wheel drive. The Acura system is a sure-footed, mechanical torque-vectoring all-wheel-drive system that’s one of the last of its kind. It can shuttle power from left to right up to 100 percent, or front to rear up to 70 percent. It’s an analog system in a digital world and we still like it.
Every regular MDX is equipped with a 9-speed automatic transmission that’s better behaved than in years past, but can still be confused. It operates better at a deliberate pace, it can hunt to find the right gear for quick passes. We have our quibbles with the odd pushbutton shifter that’s needlessly complex.
The MDX gets 18-inch wheels as standard fare, although 20-inchers are an option. No matter which tires the Acura rides on the ride is calm and quiet.
MDX Sport Hybrid
The MDX Sport Hybrid pairs a 3.0-liter V-6 to hybrid batteries and electric motors. It’s similar to powertrains used in the RLX hybrid sedan and NSX supercar. In the MDX Hybrid it makes 321 hp, although any noticeable power gains are negated by the additional 200 pounds of batteries.
Like the MDX, the Sport Hybrid rides quietly and calmly. It returns up to 27 mpg combined, according to the EPA, which is good for the class.
Unlike the MDX, the Sport Hybrid uses its electric motors and hybrid batteries to provide all-weather traction. The electric motors in the rear of the MDX will spin up the rear tires when all-wheel drive is needed more, and although the system is different than the mechanical-based version in the MDX, it’s just as seamless.
The MDX Sport Hybrid uses a dual-clutch 7-speed automatic transmission, which we prefer, instead of the 9-speed unit.
2020 Acura MDX
Comfort & Quality
The 2020 MDX has a premium feel with seating for up to seven adults.
The Acura MDX comfortably seats up to seven adults, swathed in leather, in quiet confines. Related to the Honda Pilot, the MDX shines in carrying people and cargo. Starting from an average score, the MDX gets points above average for its front seats and back seats, another for its cargo space and another for its people-pleasing space. It’s a 9. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
The front seats are comfortable for nearly any body type, and MDXs equipped with the Advance package get deeper buckets that are more supportive but also narrower.
The rear seats are similarly comfortable, with good leg room. Acura quotes 36 inches, which is less than some rivals, but the front seatbacks are scalloped for better knew room. The rear bench can be swapped out for captain’s chairs in Advance models, which is really the MDX’s best look.
The third row is best for children, although adults 6-feet-tall or shorter can fit. The seating position is a little more knees-up than in the front two rows, but the seats are easily accessible with one-touch access in the second row. Three abreast is a big ask for adults, children will fit across better.
With three rows of seats in place, the MDX holds 15 cubic feet of cargo although the space is fairly shallow. With the second row stowed, the cargo space expands to more than 38 cubes. With only the front seats in place, the MDX holds nearly 70 cubic feet of cargo.
2020 Acura MDX
Standard automatic emergency braking complements good crash-test scores in the 2020 MDX.
Federal and independent testers agree that the 2020 Acura MDX is safe in a crash. The NHTSA gave the 2020 MDX five stars overall, including five stars in every subtest except the calculated rollover score, where it earned a four-star rating. The IIHS gave the MDX a Top Safety Pick award in 2019 and considering the similarities with this year’s version, we can carry over those scores.
Those crash-test scores and standard automatic emergency braking on every model earn it an 8 out of 10 on our safety scale. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
The IIHS rated the automatic emergency braking system in the MDX as “Superior” and noted that the crossover automatically avoided forward collisions at 12 and 25 mph.
The Top Safety Pick award applies to all MDX crossovers thanks to standard adaptive LED headlights fitted to all models. That’s relatively rare among crossovers, base versions usually skip over expensive headlights.
Outward vision in the MDX is OK but also compromised by the big Acura’s chunky rear roof pillars. We suggest opting for the Advance package that adds front and rear parking sensors for more help navigating the MDX into tight parking spaces.
2020 Acura MDX
Every 2020 MDX is well-equipped, but infotainment is beginning to show its age.
Tech is what the 2020 Acura MDX does best.
The three-row luxury crossover is well-equipped in every version with unobtrusive tech that fits well into our daily routines. Starting from an average score, the MDX nets points above average for its good standard features and impressive infotainment setup. It’s a 7 on our scale. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
Like last year, the MDX is available with three add-ons: A-Spec, Technology, and Advance packages. Base crossovers cost more than $45,000 and get leather upholstery, keyless ignition, 18-inch wheels, power moonroof, LED headlights, power-adjustable front seats, three-zone climate control, four USB ports, eight-speaker audio system, and a dual-screen infotainment system with an 8.0-inch display atop a 7.0-inch touchscreen. All-wheel drive is a $2,000 upcharge.
We’d opt for the Advance package that adds $5,000 to the bottom line, but still clocks in around $50,000 with mandatory destination charges. The MDX Advance adds 20-inch wheels, upgraded leather, wood accents, remote start, blind-spot monitors, parking sensors, navigation, upgraded audio, and telematics.
The A-Spec appearance package doesn’t make the MDX any sportier, but adds accents to the interior and exterior that may be attractive—but it’s $3,500 add-on doesn’t look good to us.
At the top, the MDX with A-Spec, Advance, Technology, and rear-seat entertainment tops $60,000, but we’re not sold on its value.
The MDX Sport Hybrid is available with Advance and Technology packages that push the price beyond $60,000, but can’t be equipped with A-Spec or rear-seat entertainment add-ons.
Acura MDX infotainment
The MDX shows its relative age compared to others in its class in its infotainment setup. The world has largely moved on from dual-screen infotainment systems, but the MDX remains steadfast in its setup. The top 8.0-inch screen displays navigation and some vehicle information, while the bottom touchscreen is used for navigating menus.
When active, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone systems run on the top screen, which requires using a console-based clickwheel to navigate. It’s hardly ideal, but both systems offer better navigation systems than Acura’s built-in offering.
The system is less polished than rivals on the market, but we’re sure owners won’t have an issue acclimating to the menus after a small learning curve.
2020 Acura MDX
The 2020 MDX is competitive with rivals for fuel economy, the hybrid version is even better.
The 2020 Acura MDX is comparatively fuel-efficient among other luxury three-row haulers. Opt for the MDX Sport Hybrid and it becomes very fuel-efficient.
We rate based on the volume model, which is an all-wheel-drive MDX without hybrid batteries. The EPA rates those crossovers at 19 mpg city, 26 highway, 22 combined. That’s a 4 on our scale. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
Front-drivers are more efficient than all-wheel-drive versions. The EPA rates the 2020 MDX with front-wheel drive at 20/27/23 mpg.
The MDX with all-wheel drive and the A-Spec package gets unique wheels that cut into fuel economy and rate 19/25/21.
The MDX Sport Hybrid is the top of the pile and the EPA rates it 26/27/27 mpg.
Acura doesn’t have many competitors among three-row hybrid vehicles. The XC90 T8 rates 25 mpg combined, by the EPA. The Lincoln Aviator will offer a plug-in hybrid powertrain when it arrives for 2020, but it isn’t yet rated by the EPA.