Road Tested: 2016 Acura MDX AWD


SEATTLE — April 22, 2016 —For the 2016 model year, Acura looks to pretty much stay with the status quo on its latest MDX SUV and that’d a safe bet. For years now, the MDX has been one of the better mid-sized luxury SUVs going and this current iteration of it has been bestowed a plethora of tech-goodness. Fully assembled in America, it’s easy to see – after spending time driving it – why the MDX is such a popular choice amongst buyers as well.

Its potent 3.5 liter V6 is good for 290 horsepower and 267 ft-lb of torque. Coupled with the nine-speed automatic, it does well enough to give the MDX plenty of get-up-and-go when you need it. Even fully loaded with passengers, the MDX’s engine felt very capable for passing slower traffic up-hill etc.

Acura pairs the engine up with a nine-speed transmission which is great, on paper, for fuel economy, however, it feels rather unrefined as it tends to give a bit of a “thud” when accelerating from a stop. There were times, as well, where it seemed to not down-shift at the right times.

This all-wheel-drive model has some different traction settings that give the driver more control in adverse conditions. It uses the latest implementation of the Super Handling All-Wheel Drive system (SH-AWD) which dynamically distributes the power from a 70% front / 30% rear or 30% front / 70% rear and finally up to 100% going to the rear wheels only to one side or the other in an effort to reduce understeer. It’s easily one of the most advanced drive systems available today in an all-wheel-drive vehicle.

There’s a great deal of diversity of electronic options available for the MDX and this “advanced entertainment” model ratchets things up a few notches. Included are a 16” wide-aspect flip-down monitor for rear passengers that is coupled with wireless headsets as well. There’s an AC 115-volt power plug, and an HDMI input as well.

Additionally, the “tech package” in our test vehicle’s infotainment options include; XM Satellite Radio, AM/FM/HD, Bluetooth audio, the Acura ELS Studio Audio with twelve speakers, navigation with real-time traffic conditions (both street level and freeway).

While the sound quality is good it suffers from a lack of great bass response. Even though Acura shows the system as having a subwoofer, you’d never know it. Even with the bass and subwoofer settings maxed out in the audio settings, this ELS system is severely lacking bass. There are so many other audio systems available in competing cars these days that blow this one out of the water.

Ride quality is great, in fact it’s one of the better you’ll find out there in the SUV market. There’s little road noise, comfortable seats with ample leg room for the middle row passengers and well, not so ample for the third row – that’s where you throw the midgets or kids.

A couple of handy driver aids are the adaptive cruise control which helps maintain proper distance between you and the car in front of you as well as the Lane Keeping Assist feature (LKAS). LKAS uses a system of cameras to view the lane markings which will help the car steer itself down the road. Technically, you could remove your hands from the steering wheel completely and allow the vehicle to essentially drive itself for around 8 seconds at a time. After that, an alarm sounds and LKAS turns off, forcing the driver to resume control once again.

The MDX does offer plenty of power for both around town and driving at freeway speeds. You’ll find the quick acceleration quite useful for getting around slow traffic and its ability to pass on the freeway to be more than adequate.

Handling is another strong point for the MDX as the all-wheel-drive system helps to minimize understeer by shifting power to the rear wheels during cornering. Some body roll is present during hard cornering, however, it’s rather minimal and never feels unbalanced.

Regarding fuel economy, well it’s not superb at 19 around town and 26 on the highway but not bad considering the weight and class the MDX falls in.

Acura’s MDX is more compelling than ever and priced competitively at $58,000 (as tested) – at that price you’ll be hard pressed to find more well-equipped SUV out there. Toss in the advanced AWD system and you have the makings for a great year-round rig.


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