2009 MDX New Car Test Drive
The Acura MDX was completely redesigned for the 2007 model year. Larger than before, it improves upon on the first-generation MDX (2001-2006), which had a unique combination of style, design, utility, and a rock-solid powertrain. The MDX balances power and fuel economy well. All that made it very popular among mid-size luxury SUVs. Given last year's complete redesign, there are only a few minor changes for 2008.
For 2008, the MDX adds a new auto dimming Day/Night rear view mirror; updates to the navigation and real-time traffic systems; a new exterior paint color choice of Sterling Gray Metallic; and a taupe interior is now available with the Aspen White Pearl exterior.
The Acura MDX is built on a truck platform, not on an adaptation of a passenger car platform. It is among the largest vehicles in its class, offering lots of space for folks and cargo. From its wild grille to its elaborately stylish cat's-eye headlamps to its huge new taillamps, it has a more muscular look compared to the original, especially in the areas around the tires. Sporty styling cues include the big, fat dual exhaust tips that look like they belong on a V8, and the hefty five-spoke alloy wheels.
The seats are laid out in three rows of two but can offer seating for up to seven people. The 10-way driver and 8-way front passenger power seats allow huge adjustment latitude for long-distance comfort for drivers of many different sizes.
Its rigid structure is beneficial for ride and handling as well as tightness, which should prove beneficial as the vehicle ages.
It has a large, powerful V6 engine, combined with a five-speed manual-shift automatic transmission. Inside, there is an organic, unified presentation of instruments and controls, a more involving scheme for the driver that should be appreciated by moms and dads alike.
We found the MDX quiet and quick, with nicely weighted steering. The active damper system that comes on the Sport model makes driving the MDX more fun, with a flatter ride and less body roll in the corners. The driver can select between sport and comfort modes for sharper handling or a softer ride. The navigation system, satellite radio, iPod input jack and Bluetooth phone synching make it easy and fun to go down the road.
The Acura MDX competes with the BMW X5, Volvo XC90, Lexus RX 350, Mercedes-Benz ML 350. Acura hopes the new MDX will appeal to women who want a sports car but need an SUV.
The 2008 Acura MDX ($40,195) offers three optional packages.
The Technology package ($43,695) includes the voice-activated navigation system with Zagat reviews and ratings, real-time traffic data, and a rearview camera. The AcuraLink satellite communications provides information specific to the vehicle, including required maintenance information. There is a 410-watt ELS surround sound system with 6CD changer and 10 speakers, wireless telephone equipment, and three-zone automatic climate control that automatically adjusts temperature and fan speed according to the position of the sun. For 2008, 32 markets have been added to the Real Time Traffic system, which now covers 76 major metropolitan areas.
The Sport package ($45,795) includes the Technology package and adds Delphi active-damping magnetic rheological shock absorbers, perforated leather interior trim, alloy wheels, and self-leveling HID headlamps.
The Entertainment package ($2,200), is available with either the Technology or Sport packages, adds a DVD rear entertainment system, heated second-row seats, a power tailgate, and a 110-volt power point in the front console.
Safety equipment includes two-stage frontal air bags and active head restraints, two-stage driver and front-passenger knee bolsters, front-seat side-impact air bags, and three-row side-curtain air bags with rollover triggering. Active safety features, designed to help the driver avoid accidents in the first place, include all-wheel-drive, electronic stability control, and anti-lock brakes (ABS) with electronic brake force distribution and brake assist for panic stops. The MDX earned a Top Safety Pick designation from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, which conducts crash tests for the insurance industry.