In our recent drive of the refreshed 2017 Acura MDX we find a new take on the brand’s top of the line crossover SUV that continues to be a must not miss when shopping.
For 2017 the Acura MDX three-row crossover SUV was the first to get the new design that will become part of their family of products. With what’s called the “diamond pentagon” grille of the Acura Precision design concept and “Jewel Eye” LED headlamps, it does have an all-new look that’s more distinct and upscale than before.
The redesign also included new LED tail lamps and redesigned rear bumper fascia that includes nicely shaped rear-exhaust outlet trims that give it a bit more of a performance feel than before. Our top-of the AWD Advance tester also featured large 20-inch wheels and tires that fit well proportionally.
Inside, our MDX featured premium leather seating that was pretty robust in its form and feel. This was combined with genuine open pore wood trim that can’t in any way be though of as less than the real thing. The finishes throughout were impressive in their feel and precision fit.
The seats themselves were very comfortable and supportive up front with power adjustments and both heating and ventilation. The second row captains chairs also allowed for adjustments and were heated too. The third row though snug does offer reasonable room for up to medium sized adults.
Storage in the MDX was impressive with a very deep center console that has multiple ways to access it. That same console design was duplicated between the rear captain’s chairs. Very nicely done.
The dash houses what has been unique for Acura in the dual screen information and audio system. The dual screens are easy to see and allow for you customize what you see on the larger display screen as you use the lower touchscreen for controls.
It works reasonably well but because some hard controls for things like heated and ventilated seats and some climate controls are eliminated, you do have to dig around in various menus to do simple tasks at times. Audio from the premium sound system was good but not class leading.
The last interior note I’ll mention is the push-button gear selector for the 9-speed automatic transmission. It’s not a favorite of mine as a gear lever is just simpler and more intuitive as well as gives you a place to rest your hand. There are paddle shifters on the steering wheel however for those that want to shift manually.
That transmission sends power to all four wheels though SH-AWD from Acura’s venerable 3.5 liter SOHC, yes that’s right SOHC V6. It does have modern touches however like VTEC variable valve timing, cylinder shut-off and now direct fuel-injection.
This gives it 290 horsepower and 267 pound-feet of torque. While that isn’t class leading in terms of horsepower, it does churn along in a very refined manner around down and becomes silent on the highway.
The EPA rates it at 19 mpg city, 26 mpg highway and 22 mpg combined. In our week with it we achieved exactly 22 mpg in a mix of city and highway driving.
Handling on the highway was solid and smooth at speed. Around town and on curvy roads we found the MDX to feel a little clumsy at times with a bit more body roll and forward to rear pitching when stopping and going. The suspension also made an occasional thunk or crash over rougher pavement patches.
Our tester rang in at a total price of $57,340 with very few left dollars you can spend to upgrade the MDX further. Comparatively it matches many of its competitors in terms of features for dollars but when it comes to finesse and driving dynamics there are other peers who offer a bit more polish and performance.
One notable item is the fact that the Acura Watch suite of driver assistance and safety systems is now standard equipment across the entire line of MDX models. With lane keeping assistance, a full perimeter watch and forward emergency braking, it’s something that some competitors only offer as an option.