|The MDX gets an all new grille and frontal styling for 2017. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
After ogling the stunning open-pore hardwood trim and beautiful satin-finish aluminum across the Elite’s instrument panel, doors, and centre console, take a closer look at its unique seat upholstery, complete with off-white piping and stitching on perforated Ebony Milano black hides. It’s all a cut above. And the second-row would never have me calling shotgun if I weren’t always in the driver’s seat. It’s as luxuriously appointed as the row up front, with individual captain’s chairs to each side and a wonderfully detailed brushed metal, wood and leather trimmed centre console down the middle. The usual third row sits behind, giving this particular MDX six-occupant seating, so it’s not quite as capable for family
|A refreshed derriere with new LED taillights makes the new MDX look ritzier. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
They’ll even enjoy seat heaters on cold winter days. Still, I can already hear the mid-summer bellyaching, “Why don’t we get seat coolers like you guys?” But you can retort that “We don’t get side window sunshades up here, so be grateful!” and then follow that up with something like, “Just be quiet and enjoy Pete and Elliot on the 16.2-inch screen while I’m fighting my way through traffic.”
Sure you get real life visuals via Acura’s impressive surround-view camera system, which is cool but hardly as entertaining as the adventures of a kid and his pet dragon. There are HDMI input jacks for games in back too, and the sound quality is superb thanks
|Standard LED headlights make the MDX stand out from the crowd. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
I prefer less visual and more audio, whether streaming my favourite financial and economics shows off my smartphone or pumping up the Radiohead, Acura providing AM, FM, and satellite radio to satisfy most anyone’s tastes. This 6 Passenger version even gets six USB ports for connecting and charging devices, so no one will feel left out.
Front and rear parking sensors are also part of the Elite upgrade, a good thing as you
|Elite trim includes LED fog lamps, body-colour lower panels, and unique 20-inch alloy wheels. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
This said all Acura MDX trims are worthy of attention. The base model is probably most impressive due to everything you get for just $53,690 plus freight and fees, such as its V6 engine, advanced nine-speed automatic transmission with paddles, torque vectoring SH-AWD, 18-inch alloys, wiper-linked auto on/off full LED headlamps with auto high beams, remote start, proximity access, pushbutton ignition, electromechanical parking brake, power-adjustable steering column, ambient lighting, adaptive cruise control with low-speed follow, colour TFT multi-info
|Subtle changes can make a big difference. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
All this is great, but it’s the MDX’ assortment of standard safety features that leaves
|The MDX delivers premium levels of quality to separate it from more mainstream mid-size SUVs. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
My Elite also included much of the equipment found the mid-range $57,190 MDX Navi trim, although not that model’s larger 20-inch alloys that are different but equally stylish, the rest of its features including perimeter/approach puddle lights, rain-sensing wipers, enhanced HVAC with humidity control air-filtration and a sun position detection system, bigger eight-inch infotainment with navigation, hard-drive
|A driver-centric cockpit makes the MDX feel sportier than many competitors. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
Above Navi is $60,190 MDX Tech, which reaches higher with another bump in audio output to 529 watts, while adding rear entertainment with a smaller nine-inch screen, a 115-volt AC power outlet, proximity sensing access for all four doors, perforated Milano hides, plus the second-row seat heaters and side sunshades noted earlier, while the driver enjoys auto-leveling headlamps and auto-dimming power-folding side mirrors. Up the ante with everything previously noted and you’ve got the $65,790 MDX Elite, while my Elite 6 Passenger doesn’t cost a penny more despite its nicer second-row buckets and fancy centre console.
While all the features are impressive, it’s the quality of finishings that let you know the MDX is not only a premium ride, but also
|Classic analog-style gauges are separated by a large colour multi-info display. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
That’s especially true with the drivetrain, the MDX only making one combination available no matter whether you choose base, Navi, Tech or Elite trim. Its 24-valve, SOHC, i-VTEC and direct-injection enhanced V6 measures 3.5 litres and puts out a gutsy 290 horsepower and 267 lb-ft of torque. It’s one of the strongest base engines in its class, and while it might
|A two-tiered infotainment system delivers more details all the time. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
Take heed, it’s unorthodox shifter will take some getting used to, an array of buttons and pull switches where the regular shift lever used to go, but a little time spent on the road will sort out any unfamiliarity while it’s novelty is certainly a conversation piece. Like most modern transmissions the MDX’ incorporates auto idle-stop, although only in Elite trim. It shuts the engine down when it would otherwise be idling and then automatically starts it up again the instant you need it, a smooth operation that you’ll soon grow used to and might even learn to appreciate.
|The MDX’ optional surround-view camera system allows 360-degree visibility for safer parking. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
The MDX is renowned for its handling prowess, the original helping to change perceptions of Japanese performance way back at the turn of the millennia when it arrived on the scene. It carved up a canyon road with the best from Europe, but it wasn’t until the second-generation MDX arrived in 2007 that it surpassed those pompous
|High quality soft synthetics, leathers, open-pore hardwoods and metals surround MDX Elite owners. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
|Standard perforated leather with white piping and stitching make for a plush cabin. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
It helps if you set Acura’s Integrated Dynamic System (IDS) to Comfort mode first, or alternative to Sport mode for getting the most out of the suspension’s amplitude reactive dampers and Agile Handling Assist brake torque-vectoring technology, IDS sharpening throttle response, allowing higher engine revs between shifts, adding steering weight, and relaying more torque to the outside rear wheels amid corners for better turn-in, while even making the powertrain sound sportier, this an altogether more capable performer than all previous MDX iterations.
That second-generation MDX I mentioned a moment ago certainly turned heads. It
|The front lower centre console is particularly upscale thanks to either olive ash or black limba hardwood inlays. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
|The 6 Passenger makes for a much more comfortable second row. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
The MDX is a big SUV, so no matter the size of your family members it’ll fit you all in, including the dog. Unlike many in the class, there’s usable cargo space when all three rows are in use, Spot getting 447 litres (15.8 cubic feet) to himself when the rearmost row is upright. That’s around the same volume as a mid-size car’s trunk, albeit vertically apportioned (which Spot will appreciate), while he’ll get up to 1,230 litres (43.4 cubic feet) of romping room when those 50/50-split seatbacks are lowered. The process only needs a tug on each rear handle, found on
|Yet more hardwood, metal and leather separates the two second-row seats, while a cavernous cargo bin hides below. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
When those seats are upright Acura provides easy “One Touch Walk-In” pushbutton access to the third row that automatically pops the second row seatback forward and slides the entire seat in the same direction; there are buttons
|The third row provides comfortable seating for smaller folks. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
Speaking of kinsfolk, don’t worry about bringing the kids along to your local Acura showroom,
|Even when all rows are filled with family, there’s room for gear or a dog in back. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
Colour choices aside, the only two Elite options include no-cost Saddle Brown Milano leather with black stitching and piping instead of the standard black with white I tested, which will automatically force you to choose between genuine olive ash or black limba hardwood inlays, while available dealer installed accessories include a variety of 20-inch alloys, different styles of running boards, roof rack crossbars, 3,500- and 5,000-lb towing packages, and more.
|Lay all the rear seats flat and there’s plenty of cargo capacity, while the second-row centre console rests below the load floor. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
If you’re considering a mid-size luxury SUV I probably don’t need to recommend the MDX, because it’s likely on your shopping list already. If for some reason it’s not, it should be. It was the bestselling dedicated three-row model in its class last year with 5,425 Canadian buyers, only beaten by models that come standard with five seats, which are normally more popular. This is where I make my pitch for a return of the fabulous ZDX, still one of my favourite SUVs, but alas it’s not going to happen so I won’t embarrass myself by lobbying too aggressively, the MDX already sporty enough for most peoples’ wants and much more capable of fulfilling their needs than the discontinued model’s sloping rear backside could ever hope to be. At least this Elite 6 Passenger model adds the cool factor back that most family haulers lack.
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