2018 MDX New Car Test Drive
Acura MDX is a roomy, midsize near-luxury crossover, enjoyable to drive, with sharp handling. MDX offers three rows to seat up to seven. It comes with a strong V6 or an even quicker hybrid powertrain. Opting for Super Handling All Wheel Drive improves stability and handling in dry and slippery conditions.
For 2018, Acura MDX gets a new 7-inch capacitive touchscreen with a faster response time and simpler menus and commands on the dual-screen interface. There are also two new colors for 2018: Basque Red and San Marino Red. The current, third generation model was introduced for the 2014 model year. It was revised for 2017 with fresh styling, better ride and handling, and more safety features.
The standard engine is a strong and smooth 3.5-liter V6 with direct injection making 290 horsepower and comes with a paddle-shifting nine-speed automatic transmission. MDX comes standard with front-wheel drive.
Super Handling All Wheel Drive transfers power front-to-back and side-to-side as needed, sending more power to the outside wheels in a curve, called torque vectoring. SH-AWD has been in Acura vehicles for more than a decade, and is still one of the few mechanical torque vectoring systems on the market. It works very well, stabilizing the car while making best use of available grip.
The MDX Sport Hybrid model uses a 3.0-liter V6 and seven-speed dual-clutch transmission mated to a three-motor system with one motor at the transmission and two for the rear wheels; the hybrid system was largely borrowed from the Acura NSX supercar and RLX sedan. It makes a total of 321 horsepower, and rates 25 miles per gallon EPA Combined. The Sport Hybrid includes SH-AWD, although the system is mechanically different from that in the non hybrid.
The standard 3.5-liter engine is EPA-rated at 21 mpg Combined, with SH-AWD, on Premium fuel. With the optional Stop/Start feature, which comes in a package, it gets 1 mpg more, though that feature can be annoying. It also uses two-stage Variable Cylinder Management that stops the fuel to three cylinders when the car is cruising. Despite all this technology, it still only gets 21 mpg Combined with all-wheel drive.
MDX is rated to tow up to 3500 pounds.
The MDX earns Top Safety Pick Plus from IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety), as well as five stars overall from NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration), including five stars in front and side crash test, four stars in rollover.
Safety equipment includes the AcuraWatch suite with forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning, road departure mitigation, and an adaptive cruise-control system with low-speed follow. A multi-view rear camera is also standard, while blind-spot monitors, surround-view cameras, and front and rear parking sensors are optional.
Acura MDX ($44,200) is equipped with leather, eight-speaker audio system with satellite radio, tri-zone automatic climate control, four fast-charging USB ports, 10-way power adjustable driver's seat, automatic headlamps, multi-view rearview camera, heated front seats, folding second-row seats, power tilt/telescope steering, steering-wheel audio and phone controls, and 12-volt power outlets in the center console and front armrest. Front-wheel drive is standard.
SH-AWD is extra ($2000).
The Technology Package ($4,400) adds navigation, blind-spot monitors, front and rear parking sensors, remote start and 19-inch alloy wheels. The Advance Package ($6,050) adds Stop/Start, roof rails, and Milano premium perforated leather upholstery with ventilated front seats. The Entertainment Package ($2,000) adds a DVD player, a 150-watt AC inverter, heated second-row seats, and second-row window shades. (Prices are MSRP and do not include destination charge.)
The Sport Hybrid adds $2,000 to an MDX SH-AWD.