2016 Acura MDX: More technology, comfort for luxury SUV

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Although it’s not a new generation, the 2016 Acura MDX has several updates from its one-year-older predecessor. The new edition of the luxury sport utility vehicle has a nine-speed, push-button automatic transmission and a revised all-wheel drive system. A frameless rearview mirror and several technology features are also new.

The Weekly Driver Test Drive

The three-row, seven-passenger Acura MDX feature a 3.5-liter, 290-horsepower with the aforementioned nine-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive is standard, but my weekly driver featured the optional all-wheel drive.

There’s a lot of competition in luxury SUVs and buyers can make diverse choices. With the Acura MDX, the choice is an abundance of comfort and and technology instead of less in those areas and more in performance from competition with Audi, BMW and Infiniti.

The Acura MDX standard feature list is extensive. It includes: 18-inch wheels, automatic LED headlights, heated mirrors, a power lift gate, a sunroof, rear privacy glass, keyless entry and ignition, heated eight-way power front seats (with driver power lumbar), driver memory settings, a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, leather upholstery, tri-zone automatic climate control and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. Technology highlights include twin dashboard displays (lower 7-inch touchscreen and upper 8-inch information display), a multi-angle rearview camera, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, SiriEyesFree voice controls for compatible Apple devices and an eight-speaker sound system with a CD player, an iPod/USB interface, Pandora and Aha compatibility and satellite radio.

 

The 2016 Acura MDX has been updated with many new features.
The 2016 Acura MDX has been updated with many new features. All images © James Raia/2015

 

My test vehicle also included three packages Tech, Advance and Entertainment — and all factored into the MSRP. The equipment lists are lengthy and vaulted the MDX into an increasingly prevalent automotive quandary: When does technology become cumbersome?

The package equipment on the MDX includes a common list — larger wheels and adaptive cruise control to rear parking sensors and heated rear seats. But there’s also more than two-dozen additional technology items, some of which may only please tech geeks.

The standard safety equipment is the most impressive: antilock disc brakes, traction and stability control, front-seat side airbags, a driver knee airbag, side curtain airbags and active front head restraints. A rearview camera is also standard, and AWD models come with a stabilizing function for trailer towing. As such, the Acura MDX gets top safety marks.

Optional or standard, depending on the trim level, are blind-spot monitoring (with rear cross-traffic alert), a frontal collision warning system, automatic braking for frontal crash mitigation, a lane-departure warning system, lane keeping assist and Road Departure Mitigation. The latter essentially combines a camera-based lane-keeping system and the automatic braking system to avoid drifting off road.

The 2016 Acura MDX offers a comfortable, quiet drive with one exception. The automatic start-stop idle system is a good idea for fuel-sipping values. But it’s not smooth and the result is a slight acceleration hesitation and lunging every time the engine re-starts.

Likes:

Easy access, easy to configure and easy to use third-row seating.

Overall comfort.

Push-button automatic transmission.

Lots of storage compartments.

Dislikes:

Below par console quality.

Odd noise and hesitation when engine engages via new interim start/stop fuel conservation feature.

Non-intuitive touch-screen menu.

Facts & Figures: 2016 Acura MDX

Acceleration: 0-60 mph, 6.5 seconds.
Airbags: 7.
Fuel economy: 19 mpg (city), 26 mpg (highway), 22 mpg (combined), nine-speed automatic transmission.
Horsepower: 290.
Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price: $57,080.00.
Manufacturer’s Web site: www.acura.com.
Price As Tested: $58,000.00.
Warranty: Bumper to bumper, 6 years/70,000 miles; Powertrain, 4 years/50,000 miles; Corrosion, 5 years/unlimited mileage.

What Others Say:

“The Acura MDX dominates the luxury crossover SUV market for one simple reason: it does everything well. Whether you want a luxurious family hauler, an agile and fun driving machine, or just seek the quiet and comfort of a luxury brand, the Acura MDX has it.” — Kelley Blue Book.

“The Acura MDX remains one of our favorite seven-passenger crossovers. The 2016 transmission and technology updates help keep it competitive in its class and take nothing away from its spirited handling and fun-to-drive character.” — Car and Driver.

“Stepping back and regarding the MDX as an entire package, we’d say it’s easy and inviting to drive, classy enough to satisfy those addicted to premium machines, high-tech enough to indulge that tendency in many of today’s driver. Good choice for those who fit, can decode operation of the infotainment/connectivity electronics and can spend $43,000 to $58,000.” — USA Today.

The Weekly Driver’s Final Words:

“The Acura MDX is an oxymoron. It’s a luxury SUV with a not-so-luxuriously built dash. It’s a three-row SUV with not as much seating room as one might expect. But it’s also a luxury SUV with a lot of technology and comfort features at a lower price than some of its more popular competition from BMW and Audi.”

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