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Discussion Starter #1

Acura MDX feels good

A vehicle the size of the Acura MDX is usually a little too large for my tastes, so why then have I asked the nice lady in the Honda PR department if it’s okay for me to keep it?

I guess it’s that some vehicles just make you feel good when you’re in the driver’s seat – and the MDX is one of them. It also drives smaller than its 4,867 mm overall length and 2,109 kg curb weight. I like that.

I also like the fact it’s built at Honda of Canada’s Alliston, Ont. assembly plant.

Freshened for 2010, this seven-passenger SUV gets Acura’s signature design front grille, new front and rear fascia and side sills, revised hood and taillights with bright LED lights and many new trim pieces. And the gorgeous 19-inch seven-spoke aluminum alloy wheels are part of my test vehicle’s Elite package.

How elite is Elite? Well, there’s not a single factory installed option you can buy for this model. And Acura claims the Elite’s $61,990 MSRP represents a $510 reduction over 2009 and a $4,200 value improvement including an all new blind spot information system and an active damper system with comfort and sport modes.

Adaptive cruise control (ACC) is also part of the Elite package and can be set to automatically adjust your speed to maintain a set distance between you and the vehicle in front. Although there are three distance settings, none is short enough for big city driving. So when someone butts in to fill that space (because traffic abhors a vacuum), a warning beep sounds and the word “BRAKE!” flashes on the instrument panel. The brakes are automatically applied if you don’t react, but will not bring the MDX to a complete stop.

Acura employs what it calls Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) which not only directs power to the wheel with the best traction in slick conditions, but also is programmed to turn the outside wheels a little faster to help you hug the curves.

A new 3.7-litre V6 makes 300 hp at 6,300 rpm and in testing by the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada for the 2010 Canadian Car of the Year competition, the MDX raced from 0-100 km/h in 7.6 seconds – second quickest of the five vehicles in its category. It also registered an 80-120 km/h time of 5.7 seconds.

Surprisingly, for a vehicle in this price class, the all-new six-speed transmission is not the smoothest. Upshifts and downshifts seem to take a while, and are quite noticeable.

But you can use the paddle shifters, even in Drive.

Also surprisingly, in such an advanced vehicle, is the absence of keyless ignition.

Otherwise, the MDX Elite is packed with technology – all of it driver friendly – including heated and ventilated power front seats, rearview camera, rear DVD entertainment system, heated outside mirrors with reverse tiltdown, anti-lock brakes, tri-zone automatic climate control, 410-watt premium sound system with 15GB of hard disc storage, vehicle stability assist with traction control and a navigation system with bilingual voice recognition.

Although the cabin is relatively quiet (for a tall, boxy vehicle), with little wind noise, there is a fair amount of road noise from the Michelin Latitude tires.

On the front console, there’s a two-tier cupholder hidden under a sliding cover – a nice touch because not everyone likes the takeout java supersized and this allows easy access to a smaller container.

Cargo space behind the third row of seats is a generous 425 litres. But with those seats folded flat, that expands to 1,215 litres. Fold the second row down and it grows to an enormous 2,364 litres.

MDX comes pre-wired for a trailer connection and can tow up to 2,268 kg with trailer stability assist.

Summary:
Year/Make/Model
2010 Acura MDX
Price as tested
$61,990
Trim level
Elite
Price range
$51,990 - $61,990
Freight
$1,895
Options
none
EnerGuide fuel economy ratings
13.2L/100km city; 9.6L/100km hwy
Observed fuel economy
12.5L/100 km over 430 km
Warranty (basic)
4 years/80,000 km
Warranty (powertrain)
4 years/80,000 km
Competitors
BMW X5; GMC Yukon; Infiniti FX56; Lexus GX 460
Strong Points
* - SH-AWD
* - high level of standard equipment

Weak Points
* - burns premium fuel
* - no keyless ignition​

Editors Rating out of 5 *s:
Fuel consumption **** not that bad for a big V6
Value for price ****very competitive in its segment
Styling **** refined, not flashy
Comfort **** & 1/2 elegant interior lacks nothing
Performance **** one of the quickest big SUVs
overall **** an upscale, all-weather family hauler

 

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With upcoming model Acura 2010 ZDX crossover-coupe-whatever setting the tone for the brand in terms of refinement and technology, its once techno-trendsetting MDX sibling is looking a bit long in the tooth. Indeed, the second-gen MDX—which placed first of eight in our last shootout of $50,000 SUVs—has sat relatively unchanged since its 2007 debut, and this fact, combined with a number of newly engineered goodies also used in the ZDX, makes this year the perfect time for an update.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
MSN


Rating: 8.8
Bottom Line:
Thanks to a new 6-speed transmission, the 2010 Acura MDX is a pleasant drive, and the available techno-luxury goodies make the SUV a bargain, especially when compared with its German competition.
Pros:

* Extensive available tech
* Cool 3-angle rearview camera
* 6-speed automatic transmission takes all the uncertainty out of the drivetrain

Cons:

* Too many buttons on the dash
* Family nose is unattractive
* We miss the previous wood trim​

Acura has taken the knife to its 7-passenger SUV, giving a mid-cycle face-lift to an already successful platform. While a new hood, side skirts and familial front fascia help the MDX to stand out from the mall-bound luxury ute crowd, the real news is under the hood. A new 6-speed automatic gearbox replaces the previous, slightly befuddled 5-speed unit and gives Acura's people-hauler some much needed confidence in gear selection.

Model Lineup
The 5-door 2010 Acura MDX offers buyers three rows of seating in a 7-passenger configuration, although the third row is best left to individuals no bigger than the average middle-schooler. In base trim, the SUV is powered by a 3.7-liter V6 engine and makes use of the company's Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive, or SH-AWD. You also get a fair share of tech toys, such as heated 10-way adjustable front seats, tri-zone automatic climate control, Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity and a solid premium sound system.

Acura offers two other trim packages for the MDX, starting with the Technology Package. Features such as Milano leather seats, a navigation system, an excellent ELS Surround 10-speaker stereo and a multiview rearview camera all come along for the ride, as does a solar-sensing automatic climate-control system. If having more onboard tech than the space shuttle isn't enough electro-wizardry for you, Acura offers an Advance Package as well. On top of the Technology Package, you can expect radar-based adaptive cruise control, blind-spot sensors, vented front seats and auto-leveling headlights. The Advance Package also boasts larger 19-inch, 7-spoke wheels.

Under the Hood

Acura's 3.7-liter V6 engine stays on for 2010, complete with 300 horsepower and 270 lb-ft of torque. The VTEC variable valve timing helps the 6-cylinder broaden its power band and makes the most of your pennies in the tank. Acura opted for a traditional fuel-injection system in the MDX, instead of a more advanced direct-injection setup, but that doesn't stop the SUV from returning respectable fuel economy of 16 mpg city/21 mpg highway.

Those numbers are partly thanks to the aforementioned 6-speed automatic transmission. The gearbox is a serious improvement over the 5-speed unit found in the last generation MDX. Where the old transmission seemed to hunt and pick for the appropriate gear, the new 6-speed is decisive and precise. Shifts are quick and smooth, and that extra cog allows the engine to breathe easier at highway speeds — offering up 1 mpg more than the 2009 model in both city and highway driving.

Just as before, the MDX comes with Acura's SH-AWD full-time all-wheel-drive system. The company says the system was honed on the brutal tarmac of the famed Nurburgring in Germany, and carries a slew of tech advancements to help the SUV corner quicker and make the most of the available horsepower. Those include the ability to shuffle power to the wheel with the most grip, and to spin the outside rear wheel 1.7 times faster than the ones on the inside of a curve to reduce understeer.


Inner Space
Acura has decked the MDX's dash and center stack in new burlwood that isn't quite as attractive as the trim in last year's model, and the plethora of buttons throughout the cabin still comes off as a little overwhelming. The seats are snappily dressed units, comfy enough for extended stays in the saddle — at least in the first and second rows. While technically a 7-passenger crossover, as in most 3-row utes the last row is best left for emergency use only.

Fortunately, those way-back seats fold completely flat, giving up a Rhode Island-size cargo area. The rest of the cabin is light and airy, with great visibility from the captain's seat. The new multiview rear camera makes reverse maneuvers a cinch, though it's not as seamless as the "overhead" version in Infiniti's FX series.

On the Road

When equipped with the Advance Package, the 2010 MDX comes with a new Active Damper System. Using magnetically charged damper fluid, the suspension can be adjusted from firm to soft, creating a variable driving feel in the process. The driver can switch between a borderline too-soft Comfort setting and a considerably sharper Sport mode at the push of a button. The latter makes the big crossover feel as if it's laced up a new set of track shoes and dropped 500 pounds — eliminating most of the body roll and wallow we came to expect from the last MDX. Even if you aren't into all of the technological wonders found in the Advance Package, the Active Damper System might make stepping up a trim level or two a worthwhile consideration.

On the road, the MDX is quiet and well-mannered. The new 6-speed transmission does its job with zero fanfare, putting the vehicle in the right gear without any hesitation. We love the change. Acura says its SUV is quicker than the V6 Porsche Cayman, with a zero-to-60 sprint of around seven seconds. Thanks to that extra gear, it also manages better fuel economy.

Right for You?

We can't say the new exterior touches of the MDX are our cup of tea, but the mechanical improvements over last year's model make this luxury ute an absolute bargain. Throw in an incredible amount of available technology, and we're hard-pressed to figure out why anyone would go for the SUV's pricier competition, such as the Audi Q7, BMW X5 or Mercedes-Benz M-Class. Acura hasn't released pricing information on the 2010 MDX just yet, but expect it to be in the same ball park as the 2009 model, which starts at $40,990.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Detroit


I've been tough on recent reviews of Acura -- Honda Motor Co.'s luxury brand that seems to have lost it way with recent vehicles.

But then I got into the 2010 Acura MDX -- a slightly oversized crossover that reminds me how good this brand can be.

This seven-passenger crossover is a blast to drive with its super-handling all-wheel drive and comfortable and well-designed interior. My only question is: Where have you been Acura?

The MDX provides the luxury appoints you'd expect in a premium brand, surprisingly good road manners and lots of attention to detail inside and outside the vehicle.

The exterior is simple and straightforward with chunky lines along the side that hideous grille, which looks like something Vince Shlomi would sell on late-night television. "It slices, it dices, and if you act now, we'll throw in, not one, not two but three gut 'n grilles." Acura, however, has done a nice job with the narrow headlights that seem to flow right out of that grille.

For the 2010 model year, Acura tried to toughen up the MDX's looks and, overall, succeeded. Even with that grille, the MDX has an athletic stance. All of the lines seem to be drawn parallel to the ground to create a very stable look. The extra thick D-pillar in the back may make looking out more difficult from the third row, but it adds to the dramatic curves cut by the windows.

The MDX comes with either 18- or 19-inch wheels and looks better with the bigger wheels stuffed into the round wheel wells.

More importantly, the MDX rides and drives the way you'd expect an Acura to roll. The 300-horsepower, 3.7-liter V-6 provides lots of power. It feels a little heavy on the road -- tipping the scale at over 4,500 pounds -- but it is more of a luxury heavy feel that comes with much more expensive vehicles.

Torque Vectoring

One of the MDX's best features is the super-handling all-wheel drive system that can use the car's power to help its handling. Known as torque vectoring, the system will distribute power to the wheels the MDX needs spinning to stay on the road. It's amazing to experience the system, though it is not recommended for use on city streets.

But this system lets you drive with more confidence than you should probably have for such a big vehicle. The taut suspension allows for aggressive driving, but it doesn't make the ride harsh on long highway driving. The steering also felt very tight, providing a nice return to center and a tight confident feel. Some bigger crossovers tend to have steering with less resistance through corners, which at some speeds can cause you to over steer slightly.

The ride was quiet with little road or wind noise and the cabin was extremely comfortable.

While SUVs have lost favor with consumers and Congress, the MDX -- technically a crossover -- has much more of an SUV-seating position. You have good lines of sight and can see over cars in front of you. The interior is well laid out and very comfortable. The 10-way power-adjusted driver's seat lets you pick the best seating position and from there, things only get better.

There are climate controls for all three rows, Bluetooth connectivity for hands-free phone operation, a back-up camera and optional navigation system. The center stack still looks a little crowded with all of the buttons and knobs, but it only takes a day or two to get used to it.

Smooth Driving

For this model year, Acura has made paddle shifters standard, as well as an auto-dimming rear-view mirror (with a backup camera screen in the mirror) and LED-backlit instruments, which feel very easy on your eyes.

Also standard is a 253 watt eight-speaker stereo system that includes six-disc CD player, WMA player, MP3 player and XM satellite radio. Acura's technology package -- which bundles a number of features such as voice-recognition navigation -- uses an 8-inch LCD screen that includes a back-up camera with three separate views to make sure you're not backing into a bicycle, trash can or neighbor. The package also upgrades the stereo to a 410-watt digital stereo with 15 gigabyte hard drive to record and store music.

With the MDX, you're left wanting for nothing -- unless you have to sit in the third row -- which offers a tight 29 inches of legroom. Some of the third-row craze seems to have subsided, though I know a lot of families who swear by three-row crossovers because of the ability to put a seat between siblings. The flexibility of the seating does mean you can go from 15 cubic feet of storage to more than 80 cubic feet if all of the rows are folded down -- and that's one of the reasons the MDX felt like such a useful vehicle.

But what will really win you over is driving the MDX. Smooth, powerful and fun, the MDX shows the potential Acura can reach. Anyone and any brand can lose its way -- it's happened before, and it will happen again.

But the MDX shows that it's never too late to get your mojo back.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
CarThrottle


One of the trends from the past decade has no doubt been luxury SUVs. Even Porsche dived head first into the market with the Cayenne, with Acura has releasing its competitor into the marketplace – the three-row Acura MDX SUV.

Since its introduction it has been critically acclaimed, being Car and Driver’s Best Luxury SUV in 2005 and winning Motor Trend’s Sport/Utility of the Year Award in 2005, in addition to coming out on top in many other comparison tests. The MDX was fully redesigned in 2007 and received a Mid-Cycle Enhancement (MCE) for the 2010 model year.

Is it everything it is cracked up to be? To find out the answer, CarThrottle tested the MDX for a week, giving it a chance to prove its mettle.

The TL debuted a different look for Acura back in 2004, dubbed “Keen Edge Dynamic”, and it got more aggressive with the 2007 MDX and the next generation TL that debuted in 2009.

It hasn’t been universally praised by critics and on vehicles like the RL, we’re inclined to agree. However, it is a different story with the MDX. As the design language has evolved, the centerpiece of the look has become a large silver insert in the grille that Acura calls “Power Plenum”. The entire lineup has been updated to house the new grille, with the MDX receiving those updated styling elements for the 2010 model year.

New chrome elements, redesigned exhaust pipes and changes to the composition of the headlights make the MDX look more flashy and upmarket.

The overall look of the MDX is clean and handsome, as it has been since its introduction, but the changes on the 2010 model help take things up a notch. The MDX is a vehicle for people who like their SUVs to look like an SUV. If you want it to look like a cross between a car and a sedan, then the ZDX is for you (stay tuned for a test of that vehicle). The primary consideration in this segment isn’t exterior styling.

The interior, however, defies traditional expectations about an SUV. Stepping inside, you are greeted by a sweeping dash, high-quality leather and large amounts of wood trim. It is probably the thickest expanse of wood trim that we have ever seen, but we like it – extremely glossy, it looks lush and sets the MDX’s interior apart from every other vehicle in the segment. The particular trim of the wood divided those who saw it, but count us in the “for” camp.


The center stack has extremely tight tolerances that make it appear as if it is all one piece. The way it is constructed is unique, as the entire center stack area is comprised of one head unit sandwiched in-between the pieces of wood.

Acura says some of the controls have been reorganized for 2010 to make them easier to use, but getting into the MDX for the first time and seeing all those buttons is a bit daunting. In usage they worked well, but there is a question of aesthetics – it has a very busy look and a large amount of buttons – we counted 46 in all (double check) not including knobs. Some of the little chrome buttons looked a bit dated for such a technologically advanced car like this but these are just quibbles.

If Acura can find a way to reduce the amount of buttons just to reduce visual clutter there really isn’t anything we would change about this interior.

The back seat is comfortable and offers a good amount of legroom, as well as easy entrance into the third-row. With captains chairs not available in the MDX, Acura places emphasis on the outboard-seats offering the best experience as possible. Instead of just a straight bench across, they have a thought-out design with bolsters similar to the front seats. Nice!

At night, cool blue LED lights illuminate the center stack area and powerful bright lights light up the interior when being unlocked or when turned on. When the buttons for interior accessory lights are pressed they either fade on or fade off, a touch that shows attention to detail.

The seating position is excellent, the seats hold you firmly in place very comfortably – they are contoured, and on our particular tester, heated and cooled. The feeling is akin to being in a comfortable luxury chair. For this writer, the arm rest was placed perfectly in combination with the shift level. Ergonomics are simply top notch – competitors need to take a lesson from Acura in this area.

Acura calls the MDX the “Driver’s SUV”, and that is a tall order to live up to – especially given the apparent contradiction there, as most three-row conveyances are anything but.

One of the ways the MDX achieves that is with an available Active Dampening System, a really great feature that highlights different capabilities of the MDX. The system has two settings activated by a button on the center console. Pressing it engages Comfort mode, pressing it again and the vehicle is in Sport, the standard setting for the car’s suspension.

The suspension clearly responds, with noticeable differences between Comfort and Sport. In Sport, the ride quality is stiffer, roll is lessened and you can feel the road communicating more through the seats. It feels precise and agile in this mode. Laws of physics do still apply, but if we were winding down a mountain road at speed, this would definitely be the mode we’d be in. However, most of the time we aren’t doing that, and therefore most of the time we found ourselves in Comfort Mode.

None of the stiffness found in Sport mode is present in Comfort, yet it never wallows. The ride is smooth, serene and – well, cushy. The MDX works best in this mode, and it enhances the feeling of isolation in the MDX. Being in the interior is quiet and vault-like at speed.

Acura’s innovative Super-Handling All-Wheel-Drive System (SH-AWD) is standard on every MDX and gets its name from the ability to shift variable levels of power to each wheel. The system really does a lot to aid handling and grip, working silently to direct power where it is needed. There is a meter in the middle of the gauge cluster that shows where power is going – as expected, it was about 60/40 biased toward the front wheels during normal driving.

Perhaps the best description would be car-like: the MDX is effortless to handle, refined and agile. It feels like a TL with more capabilities – exactly what it should be.

The MDX is motivated by a 3.7L 300-horsepower V-6, mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission, up from 5 on the 2009 model. These form the centerpiece of Acura’s upgrades for 2010. Acura says the 3.7L is new, with reworked internal components, but it makes the same (respectable) 300-horsepower output as last year.

Given the MDX’s relatively lightweight and nimble nature, the engine provides for ample passing power. There are no official 0-60 specifications for the 2010 MDX, but the 2007 model has a quoted figure of 7 seconds. With the 6-speed automatic transmission for 2010, it most likely is a bit quicker.

As we mentioned earlier, Acura’s SH-AWD system is standard on every MDX, with the base model starting at $42,230. Our particular tester was loaded, and came in at at $53,755 when equipped with Advance, Technology and Entertainment packages.

We really like the straightforward and simple way Acura has structured their model lineup. There is the standard car and the ability to add extra packages – Advance, Technology and Entertainment, to suit your needs. Pricing on the MDX ranges from $42,320 to $53,755.

One thing Acura has been known for is being at the cutting-edge of technology, and the MDX is no different. It has the very latest – too much to go through each. There is a collision mitigation braking system that aims to avoid or reduce accidents, radar cruise control, blind spot information system, GPS-linked climate control, and a multi-view rear backup camera, just to name a few.

The placement of the navigation screen is excellent, and the unit was upgraded to an 8-inch VGA unit for 2010. It is placed perfectly within the drivers view, offering the ability to view it with minimal distraction to the driver.

We have been spoiled however, by the ease of use and benefits offered by a touch-screen unit – we felt like touching this one for quicker navigation, but it doesn’t offer the ability. Acura has a control knob on the center stack to operate the unit. It does take a bit of getting used to. Once you’ve got the hang of it, it proved to be intuitive, but there is a learning curve that is definitely steeper than on those with touchscreen units. We would take a bet the next-generation MDX will have a touchscreen system in the dash.

To help the ease of using the system on the road, Acura equipped the car to be able to receive an array of voice commands for the navigation system as well as other controls. Each can be delivered by pressing a button on the steering wheel, followed by a beep. The system worked well, except it had trouble accepting a particular address we wanted to enter in via voice. Curiously enough, the location didn’t even appear to be in the navigation system’s database.

Not sure what is up with that exactly. For 2010, the system was upgraded to a hard-drive based unit (that also brings along 15 GB for music storage). Strong points included excellent and non-intrusive route guidance. The Traffic Rerouting feature worked exactly as advertised and is one that could prove very valuable in a variety of circumstances. Quality and readability of the screen was also excellent in a variety of lighting conditions.

Ride height and excellent visibility increase the feeling of a can-do mantra with the MDX. Want to carry 7 passengers (kids in the back)? Can do. Want a sports sedan like-ride? Can do. Luxury cruiser in Comfort mode? Can do. Carrying cargo behind the rear seats? Can do. Want to do some light off-roading? Can do. The MDX is just an excellent all-rounder.

For someone looking for a new vehicle that can be a lot of different things, that versatility is attractive. It isn’t any wonder then that the MDX has been very close to, and even surpassing at times, the sales of Acura’s traditional best-seller, the TL mid-size sedan.

Over the time of our week with the MDX it acquitted itself well – aside from a few niggles, the MDX offers what people want in the segment. We would say in the segment, the 2010 Lincoln MKT would have to be its strongest competition, but in reality the two are highly different vehicles and the decision depends on preference. The MKT has more polarizing styling and doesn’t offer any off-road ability. No doubt, the MDX is the all-rounder of the segment, doing everything well.

At the beginning of the article, we asked if the MDX is all it is cracked up to be? The answer to that would be yes, with a few exceptions. Critical acclaim is warranted, but votes with customers’ pocketbook are what counts, and that is where the MDX has shined.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
CNET


3.5 out of 5 *s

Product Summary

The Good
: With an advanced all-wheel-drive system and active suspension, the 2010 Acura MDX handles like a sports car. Voice command for iPods, blind-spot warning, adaptive cruise control, and an excellent audio system round out the cabin tech.

The Bad: The navigation system's maps are the same old chunky things we've seen for years from Acura, and the engine is a throwback to the previous generation as well.

The Bottom Line: With bumped-up luxury appointments in the cabin, an advanced cabin tech suite, and unexpectedly good handling, the 2010 Acura MDX provides driving satisfaction for leisurely cruises and mountain romps.​

Luxury SUVs have become such a common sight that the notation for the 2010 Acura MDX on our schedule didn't raise much interest around the office. But then we saw the thing. Rather than the somewhat delicate, beak-nosed vehicle of the past, this one's squarish stance and big air scoops made it look like a hardened criminal.

OK, an exterior styling update. Fine. But Acuras have always seemed like upscale Hondas, never embodying the real luxury found in competitive brands such as Mercedes-Benz or BMW. We got in the cabin expecting to find the usual midlevel cabin appointments, but were instead greeted with beautiful wood-grained trim elements and thick leather seats.

Facing us in the center of the dashboard was the usual Acura controller, a large knob that works as a joystick and dial, surrounded by buttons with an LCD above. We weren't thrilled to see the same old maps on the navigation system, strictly 2D with somewhat jaggy resolution showing on street names.


Acura's stack looks cleaner in the MDX than in previous generations.​

Given that Acura uses an in-dash hard drive for the navigation system, we can't imagine these older generation maps take up a whole lot of space. Twisting the big knob around to delve into the navigation system's menus, we found the latest Zagat listings for restaurants and one of our favorite features, a database of scenic drives, listed by state.

Entering a destination into the system proved as easy as ever, the proximity of the knob to the screen making inputs seem nearly as direct as using a touch screen. Maneuvering the MDX out onto the route it calculated, we noticed the traffic flow and incident information overlaid on the maps, and dug into the settings to ensure that the car would dynamically change the route when bad traffic cropped up.

The navigation system guided us through city streets, its route guidance enunciating street names, and the MDX proved very drivable. In the madness of downtown streets, where random double-parked cars and road construction require quick lane changes, the MDX's light steering and responsive low-speed acceleration helped us jump the car from lane to lane.

Further assisting quick maneuvering was the MDX's blind-spot detection, which lit up an icon at the base of the A-pillar when it detected a car in the lane next to us. Given the high sides of the MDX, cars in the next lane were often completely invisible. Blind-spot detection is one of our favorite safety features, and it is nice to see Acura employing it in the MDX.


This icon in the A-pillar lights up when a car is in the MDX's blind spot.​

During this excursion we had the suspension in Comfort mode, which made it feel like we were driving a waterbed. The car moved along with a slow motion wallow, softening the ride and absorbing the bumps and pits mining the asphalt.

Power on
At a freeway onramp, we hit the gas hard to see how the MDX handled acceleration at the top end. Here, the 3.7-liter V-6 brought its 270 pound-feet of torque to bear, spooling up the car and engine speed, reaching toward 6,300rpm where the horsepower peaks at 300. This engine isn't the most high tech compared with what other automakers are offering, but it does have Honda's VTEC valve timing.

At freeway speeds, the suspension didn't hunker down, and we were still left with the soft wallow. But it didn't adversely affect the handling, either. The steering had the usual slack built in for an SUV, allowing for effortless driving. Since the beginning of this drive, we were eager to push the button on the console that would put the suspension into Sport mode, but restrained ourselves in the interests of testing the comfort setting completely.

We left the transmission in its standard drive mode, too, holding off on using its sport setting until we found an appropriate road. But flicking the paddle shifters on the steering wheel, we noticed the gear indicator showing 6. Acura has finally caught up with the rest of the world, installing six-speed transmissions. At 70 mph, the engine hummed along at a little under 2,000rpm, which should improve fuel economy.

The EPA rating for the MDX is 16 mpg city and 21 mpg highway, not particularly great numbers, but the vehicle does have third-row seating. In our driving, which combined city, mountain roads, and the freeway, we came in at 17.6 mpg.


You can change the following distance for the adaptive cruise control with a button on the steering wheel.​
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Defines the Class


For 2010, Acura’s best-selling crossover — and one of the first-ever luxury crossovers — gets a bit better in terms of interior features and a whole lot better when it comes to technology. It also receives a slightly new front end that’s less jarring than those on other Acuras. But the company couldn’t make the MDX any bigger, and it’s a snug fit for families — three rows of seats notwithstanding.

Even so, the MDX’s driver comfort, fun-to-drive nature and surprising value keep it competitive in a growing segment.

What’s new

The 2010 MDX gets a new front end highlighted by a slimmer grille that looks more like a beak than a perforated shield. The lower bumper also gets thin lower vents that resemble the ones on Acura’s TL sedan, but design changes overall are very subtle.

Inside, the major change to the MDX is an upgraded navigation system, which comes in a package with an upgraded stereo.

Performance

The MDX is comparatively small for a three-row crossover, but that smaller footprint makes it more nimble. That makes for a more enjoyable driving experience.

The MDX has a nice combination of spirited handling — partially thanks to Acura’s standard all-wheel-drive system — and ride comfort.

Only one engine is offered, but it’s a good one: a 300-horsepower V-6 that’s very spirited. The MDX wexudes some muscle and passes with gusto.

If you move up to an MDX with the Advance Package, which starts at $51,855, you get 19-inch aluminum wheels and a selectable sport suspension. The 19-inch wheels, though, are pretty stunning. The EPA rates mileage at 16/21 mpg city/highway.

Interior

When you buy an Acura, you get a nice, above-average luxury interior in terms of appointments, features and materials quality. Even the faux-wood trim looks somewhat real.

I found the driver’s seat exceptionally comfortable during long commutes.

The main problem with the MDX is backseat room. While there’s enough room for passengers of the adult variety, it’s a snug fit for children in child-safety seats. We installed a variety of seats as part of a standardized test, and a full-size convertible seat couldn’t fit when facing rearward, which is how all children must be placed until they’re a year old. An infant seat could fit facing rearward, but front-passenger legroom was compromised as a result.

Of course, not every buyer has kids in this age range. Tweens, teens and adults will enjoy the comfortable leather seats in the front and second rows of the MDX. They’ll also like the optional rear-seat DVD entertainment system and its large, 9-inch screen and wireless headphones for three passengers.

Technology

Since there wasn’t much Acura needed to change about the rest of the MDX, the company gave some attention to the aging navigation system. The MDX is the second model to receive Acura’s new system, after the new ZDX crossover, and it’s more than welcome.

While there’s still a somewhat awkward center control knob for managing the audio system, voice commands help some, especially when accessing music. The system uses a setup similar to Ford’s Sync system: Just plug in an iPod — it only works with iPod and iPhone devices — and use a single button on the steering wheel and your voice.

Safety

An Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Top Safety Pick in 2009, the MDX doesn’t retain that title for 2010 because it hasn’t undergone the organization’s new roof-strength test. It does still get top overall scores of Good in the IIHS’ front, side and rear crash tests.

A collision-avoidance system is optional. It uses radar to determine the location of a vehicle in front of the MDX and alerts the driver with sounds and lights if a collision may occur. If the driver disregards the warning, the system will tug at the driver’s seat belt and lightly brake the MDX. If no action is taken and the system deems a collision inevitable, it will tighten the front seat belts and apply the brakes hard to lower the impact speed.

MDX in the market

The MDX pretty much defined the luxury crossover segment, so it’s nice to see that after all these years there’s still a lot to like about it.

Other than a cramped interior when fully loaded with people, the MDX has few flaws. It’s priced right and features the most up-to-date gadgets for entertainment and safety. Plus, it’s fun to drive and not bad to look at, either.

There may be more competition in bigger wrappers these days, but the MDX still defines the class.

2010 Acura MDX

STARTING MSRP: $42,230-$51,855

EPA FUEL ECONOMY: CITY — 16; HIGHWAY — 21

AVAILABLE ENGINES: 300-HP, 3.7-LITER 
V-6 (PREMIUM)

AVAILABLE TRANSMISSIONS: 6-SPEED AUTOMATIC W/OD

AND AUTO-MANUAL

NEW OR NOTABLE

• REVISED STYLING FOR 2010

• NEW SIX-SPEED AUTOMATIC

• ADDITIONAL TECH FEATURES

• SEVEN SEATS STANDARD

• STANDARD ALL-WHEEL DRIVE

WHAT WE LIKE

• ABOVE-AVERAGE RELIABILITY

• THIRD-ROW SEATS STANDARD

• AWD PERFORMANCE

• HANDLING

• POWER

• DECENT GAS MILEAGE

WHAT WE DON’T

• MIXED OPINIONS ON STYLING

• CENTER CONSOLE DOORS

• SECOND ROW DOESN’T SLIDE FORWARD AND BACK

• DVD VIDEO DISPLACES MP3 JACK​

 

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Discussion Starter #10
Best Luxury SUV

2010 Acura MDX
The redesigned Acura MDX luxury SUV is a well-priced, well-engineered winner. No wonder sales are up 51 percent



Editor's Rating: *****

The Good: Price, high tech features, seven-person capacity, "super-handling" all-wheel drive

The Bad: Mediocre fuel economy, lack of luggage capacity when all rows of seats are in use

The Bottom Line: Dollar for dollar, the best seven-person luxury SUV on the market​

Up Front


Think sport utility vehicles are dead? Check out the latest sales statistics at Acura and you may change your mind. The redesigned Acura MDX luxury SUV is the top-selling product at Honda's (HMC) luxury division, well ahead of the Acura TL sport sedan. MDX sales were nearly two-thirds higher this May than in the same month a year ago and soared 51.2 percent, to 16,683, during the first five months of this year.

There's a reason for that. Dollar for dollar, the 2010 MDX is probably the best luxury SUV on the market. It has three rows of seats and a maximum capacity of seven, yet handles like a smaller, nimbler vehicle. That's partly because the MDX comes standard with Acura's terrific "super-handling" all-wheel drive system. Like other Acuras, it's also packed with performance, safety, and convenience technology, much of it standard (and much of it also found in the new Acura ZDX crossover vehicle).

Even so, the MDX's price remains relatively low. The 2010 sells for an average of about $45,000, according to the Power Information Network (PIN)—about $3,300 less than the average premium crossover SUV. Even fully loaded, the 2010 MDX tops out at a little under 55 grand.

Not content with that, Acura also improved its flagship SUV for the 2010 model year. The 3.7-liter, 300 horsepower V6 has been retuned and the automatic transmission upgraded from five to six speeds. Those changes helped raise the fuel economy rating to 16 miles-per-gallon in the city and 21 on the highway—1 mpg better than before on each count.

A number of new optional technology upgrades have been added, including a multi-view (normal, top-down, and wide-angle) backup camera, adaptive cruise control, blind-spot warning, and an accident-mitigation system that alerts the driver and activates the brakes if a collision seems imminent.

Standard safety gear includes knee bolsters and dual-stage front and side air bags, as well as front seat belt pretensioners, active head restraints, and cabin-length, head-protecting, side curtain air bags. The MDX's roof also has been reinforced to meet not only current but anticipated government standards. The MDX earned the top five-star government crash-test rating in every category except rollovers, where it earned four stars.

Convenience features include a hard-drive-based navigation system with real-time traffic information and a rear-seat entertainment system with a fold-down, high-resolution, nine-inch screen.

Most luxury SUVs are seeing double-digit sales increases this year. Other than the MDX, the strongest performers include the Audi Q5—which made its debut in 2009 and whose sales have soared 78 percent, to 7,790, so far this year—and the Cadillac SRX, which got a dramatic boost from its recent redesign. SRX sales are up a phenomenal 493.2 percent in the first five months of this year, to 18,861.

Behind the Wheel

Personally, I love being in the MDX, whether I'm behind the wheel or in the back seat. From a driver's standpoint, it's a lot like a BMW X5 (BMWA), except that it's cheaper and comes with more standard equipment. The MDX doesn't handle like a roomy people-hauler. Steering is tight and precise. The vehicle remains flat and in control when you throw it into a corner at any remotely reasonable speed. And the brakes bite like crazy.

Much as I loved the previous MDX, I could never understand why it sold so well. The suspension seemed almost too harsh for American tastes, which has been changed for 2010. The new MDX remains very sporty but its ride—whether in the sport or normal setting—seems more forgiving and comfort-oriented.

The electronic steering is also lighter to the touch, though the steering wheel itself is chunkier and more solid-feeling than before.

The MDX isn't the quickest SUV in its class, but it's plenty fast for most people. I clocked my test vehicle at around 7.2 seconds in accelerating from 0 to 60; Car and Driver magazine got a time of 7 seconds flat. That's quicker than the Mercedes ML 350 4matic (DAI:GR) (7.9 seconds), the BMW X5 xDrive30i (7.8 seconds, according to Automobile magazine), and the turbocharged version of the Cadillac SRX (7.5 seconds). It's about the same time I got in the top-selling Lexus RX 350 (TM).

However, the new 2011 BMW xDrive35i (6.4 seconds) is quicker than the MDX (as well as the previous X5). Other, faster rivals include the Audi Q5 3.2 Quattro (VOW:GR) (6.6 seconds according to Automobile) and the much larger Lincoln MKT (F) with an Ecoboost V6 (6.3 seconds).

In the Acura TL, I loved the super-handling all-wheel drive because it improves grip by shifting weight to the outside rear wheel during hard driving. In the MDX, it's probably most valuable in inclement weather. I wasn't able to drive my test MDX in snow, but it really clung to wet pavement.

Manual shifting activates automatically when you start using the steering-wheel-mounted paddles. The shifts aren't particularly quick, but it's still fun.

The MDX's cabin resembles a BMW's. There's more leather than before, and build quality is excellent. The main downside is that the center console remains a confusing mass of buttons and displays, some of which are less-than-intuitive to use. I've figured out the trip computers in several hundred vehicles but in the MDX, I couldn't get the trip odometer to reset to zero, even after consulting the lengthy owners manual. I also had trouble getting the DVD player to operate from the back seat. Owners will figure these things out over time, probably not without aggravation.

As in the previous MDX, the rear-seat entertainment center is fabulous. It comes with wireless headphones and can be operated from the front or rear seats using a ceiling-mounted control panel that pops out to become a handheld wireless remote control. The screen has higher resolution than before and the surround sound is amazingly realistic.

The third-row seat isn't exactly roomy, but two adults my height (5 ft., 10 in.) can squeeze in for short rides as long as their knees are akimbo. The second-row seats slide forward to make space so a passenger can crawl into the back row, but doing so is awkward. There isn't a lot of space and the floor is high off the ground. Another inconvenience: The third-row seat is designed for entry only from the right side of the vehicle.

The third-row seats fold down flat and the second-row seats fold down in a 60/40 configuration. Cargo space is only 15 cu. ft. with all the seats up, but expands to 42.9 cu. ft. with the third seat down, and to 83.5 cu. ft. with both rear seats down. On overnight trips you'd probably have to use a rooftop cargo system if you had passengers in both rows of rear seats. Maximum towing capacity is 5,000 lbs.

My gripes about the MDX? It still starts with a stiletto-style key—why no push-button starter? There's also a big blind spot (caused by the high seat backs and headrests) to the right and slightly behind the driver.

The model's main downside is that its fuel economy is mediocre, though improved. The MDX's 16/21 rating beats or more-or-less matches the all-wheel-drive Mercedes ML350 (15/20), and Ford's Lincoln MKT with an Ecoboost V6(16/22). Toyota's smaller Lexus RX 350 (18/24) and Volkswagen's Audi Q5 (18/23) do better. So does the new BMW X5 xDrive35i (17/25).

Acura probably could have eked out at least an extra mpg by going with a more sophisticated eight-speed automatic transmission such as the one in the new BMW X5.

Buy it or Bag It?


At an average selling price of just under $45,000, the 2010 MDX is a real bargain, especially considering its seven-person maximum seating capacity. The new BMW X5 (which has an optional third row of seats) is much improved over the previous X5 and is both speedier and more fuel-efficient than the MDX, as well as being slightly cheaper than the previous X5. Still, it starts at $46,675 in a very basic version, and $52,475 (plus $1,700 for a third row of seats) for a Premium version with leather upholstery and further standard equipment. On average, the 2011 X5 sells for $60,753, according to PIN—nearly $16,000 more than the MDX.

The roomy Lincoln MKT with AWD and an Ecoboost V6 sells for an average of $51,123. The Mercedes ML350 with AWD goes for $50,706, seating a maximum of only five people; it is being remodeled for the 2012 model year.

The top seller, the Lexus RX350 ($43,555), is a very well-designed vehicle. I also like the Cadillac SRX ($44,066) for shoppers who want a domestic brand. However, those models also have only two rows of seats. Ditto for the new Audi A5 ($44,066), which is very nice but competes more directly with the Acura RDX.

Bottom line: If I only needed two rows of seats, I might go with the Lexus, Audi Q5, or Cadillac SRX. If I needed seven-person capacity and didn't want to spend an arm and a leg, the new Acura MDX would be my top choice.

 
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