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2017 Acura MDX will impress luxury SUV shoppers Featured

Feb 26, 2017 Hit: 227 Written by 
The 2017 Acura MDX offers seating for seven.
The 2017 Acura MDX offers seating for seven. Photo courtesy of Acura

With the intense competition in the category, luxury automakers have to focus greatly on strategy when designing their vehicles -- considering every detail from looks to performance as compared to the rivals in the segment.


I recently spent some time in a 2017 Acura MDX, the three-row SUV from Honda’s luxury arm, and I’m back with a full report on how well they did their homework as they aim to grow their share in the segment.

Additional Info

  • Vehicle:: 2017 Acura MDX
  • Price as tested:: $59,340 (starts at $44,050)
  • Best feature:: Quick, smooth and quiet ride; strong safety features
  • Rating:: 4 out of five stars
  • Who will want this vehicle?:: Three-row luxury SUV buyers seeking a strong overall package that's affordable for the segment

 

LOOKS

The 2017 Acura MDX features three rows and offers room for seven, though the back seat should be left for the little ones due to space constraints (others in the category offer better third row room). On the positive side, the vehicle offers easy access to the third row.

The exterior design is attractive, with a new look up front that isn’t quite as gaudy as some rivals and will appeal to more conservative buyers (Lexus being one example of a contrast that’s more bold and in-your-face with their SUV designs). There are also improved LED headlights on the MDX.

Overall, I would say that both inside and out, the MDX is not quite as flashy looking as some rivals in the luxury SUV category. But it’s still clearly a luxury ride, and since the performance is pretty comparable, and price is often less, many potential buyers may be OK with it not being the most luxurious..

Among the amenities: You get options such as wood trim on interior; sport seats with premium leather trim; ventilated front seats; parking sensors; Heated 2nd row seats; heated steering wheel; rear door sunshades; LED fog lights; and roof rails

HOW’S THE RIDE?

The 2017 Acura MDX features a 3.5-liter, V6 engine; paired with a 9-speed automatic transmission. This produces 290 horsepower, and 267 lb.-ft. of torque.


Overall, in terms of drive quality, you get what’s expected from a luxury SUV: a powerful ride that is smooth on the road as well as quiet and insulated. While a large vehicle, the MDX is still capable of going fast when you need it to be, and the maneuvering of the vehicle went better than I expected.

The optional SH-AWD system helps handling without a doubt. FWD is standard.

The MDX can tow up to 3,500 pounds, and features a 4-wheel independent suspension.

My one complaint about the drive is that I was not a huge fan of how the stop-start system works.


TECHNOLOGY, SAFETY

The Acura excels in the safety arena, but could use some work when it comes to the infotainment system.

First, let’s look at some of what you will get on the safety and tech side of things: Full set of airbags; Vehicle Stability Assist, ABS, Tire pressure monitoring; Multi-view rear camera with dynamic guidelines; Satellite radio (free for first three months, but you’ll want to keep it); Pandora interface; Bluetooth; SMS functionality; Push button shifter; HomeLink system; Power tailgate; Power moonroof with tilt; Jewel-eye LED headlights.

The tech package adds the Acura Navigation system with voice recognition; AcuraLink Communication system with Real-Time traffic with street and freeway conditions; Tri-zone auto climate control; Remote start; Blind spot information; Rain-sensing wipers; LED Puddle lights; Rear cross-traffic monitor.

One thing that’s standard is AcuraWatch, which includes: adaptive cruise control; collision mitigation braking; road departure mitigation; forward collision warning; lane departure warning and lane-keeping assist system.

An Acura ELS Studio Premium Audio system with 12 speakers is offered, too.

That’s all gravy, but the biggest concern I had inside was the generally not user-friendly setup of the controls.

There’s what I’ll call a “unique” setup on the shifter (or more accurately, buttons that replace the shifter) that doesn’t seem necessary to me. I’m sure automakers have their reasons when these radical changes are made to vehicle operation, but I’m not sure how often they consult with potential buyers in the process of making these changes.

Also on the disappointing side, controlling everything from climate to radio seems more complicated than it should be on the dual-screen control interface in the MDX.


The rear-seat DVD entertainment system (with wireless headphones) worked well and without trouble. It’s great for families who want to keep kids occupied on longer rides, though I don’t like the 16.2-inch monitor screen hanging in middle (I prefer when it’s on back of seats).


MPG
Official numbers are 19 city/26 highway/22 combined. These are on par with most of the luxury SUV competitors it faces off against, slightly behind in some cases.


PRICE, BOTTOM LINE
My test vehicle was a top trim level model and costs just over $58,000; base price for the MDX starts about $44K, and you get a 50,000 mile (or 4 year) overall warranty; and 70,000 mile (or 6 year) warranty on powertrain.

Pricing is competitive in some cases vs. competitors (it’s about on par with the Infiniti QX60 and the Lincoln MKX), and a downright steal in some cases (BMW’s X5 and Audi’s Q7 have their lowest price in the mid 50K range, and go way up from there).

Overall, I enjoyed my time in the MDX and it’s a quality luxury ride that is smooth on the road and features an attractive exterior. The back row is a bit tight, and the biggest issue inside is the non-user-friendliness of the controls. WIthout these tech issues muddying the waters, the MDX would easily be in the running for best in class; But with them, it bunches things up quite a bit and the MDX -- while very solid overall -- has some tough competition from some other big names..

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AutoTechReviews.com can be found on Twitter @AutoTechReview, or stay updated at the AutoTechReviews Facebook page.

Matt Myftiu can be found on Twitter @MattMyftiu.

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Matt Myftiu

Matt Myftiu has been a journalist for two decades with a focus on technology, NASCAR and autos.

Website: www.autotechreviews.com

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