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Acura MDX, 2008: Weidel on Wheels

Acura MDX, 2008: Weidel on Wheels 1A day trip, weekend adventure or a week or more of vacation time, I love to travel. It’s all good — getting away, investigating a new area or returning to the scene of great memories. It’s even better in an Acura MDX.

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In some respects, I’m the same way with cars. I’ve experienced good and bad memories in the past decade test-driving all kinds of vehicles. I’ve learned I gravitate heavily toward mid-sized sport utility vehicles like the Acura MDX, among others, since what they offer is usually a good fit for my needs.

With that in mind, I revisited the MDX, one of my favorite vehicles, several weeks ago. My only further cemented my like of this stylish SUV and its wonderful handling, powerful engine, high safety scores and solid fuel efficiency.

Two years ago, I took a pleasant day trip to San Francisco, where the MDX effortlessly climbed many of the famed city’s steep hills, cruised over the Golden Gate Bridge and provided great handling in both the over-crowded city streets and a serpentine drive along Highway 1.

Last year, I headed up Interstate 80 with a group of anxious snowboarders in the MDX on a brutally cold, windy day. Long lift lines and freezing conditions were a bad combination that afternoon and evening at Boreal. Yet the smooth ride and comfort of the MDX, aided by a superb rear DVD entertainment system, made the trip worth taking. The ride was probably better than the time on the hill.

Acura MDX, 2008: Weidel on Wheels 2

There wasn’t a memorable trip with the 2008 Acura MDX, just an average week of navigating streets and freeways of Placer County. But it still provided the type of pleasant driving that may one day have me shopping for this upscale SUV.

Following last year’s first redesign since the MDX was introduced in 2001, not much has changed. No complaints here. The only thing I found wrong with the MDX was the limited third-row seating, and extremely common trait among the mid-size SUV crowd.

A 3.7-liter, V6 engine with plenty of torque and 300 horsepower made the MDX feel more like a powerful V8. The horsepower was increased a year ago and so was its towing capacity, now 5,000 pounds.

Acura’s stiff chassis and its electromechanical all-wheel-drive system (called SH-AWD) made its debut in the RL sedan. It shifts torque front to back and side to side, allowing for increased stability and traction.

The MDX has a long list of standard features and likewise a long list of expensive ex cesses. The MDX starts at $40,195, a decent sticker price for the classy crowd this Acura hangs with — the Lexus RX 400, BMW X5, Infiniti FX, Porsche Cayenne and Volvo XC90.

Fast Facts: 2008 Acura MDX

Power — 3.7-liter, V6, 300 horsepower; Mileage Estimate — 15 mpg (city), 20 mpg (highway); Base Price — $40,995; Standard Features — power front seats; memory driver system; center console; 6-disc, CD/MP3 changer, satellite radio; wireless cell phone link; automatic headlights.

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