2018 MDX New Car Test Drive
The Acura MDX, one of the best-driving crossovers in its class, is improved for 2017, with a prettier face, better ride and handling, and more standard active safety features. These changes come on top of the 2016 upgrades, led by a paddleshifting nine-speed automatic transmission.
Also new is the 2017 Acura MDX Sport Hybrid with SH-AWD (super-handling all-wheel drive). It uses a 3.0-liter V6 and seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, mated to a three-motor hybrid system: one motor at the transmission and two for the rear wheels. It makes a combined 325 horsepower, and Acura says it will get a combined 25 miles per gallon.
The standard MDX comes with a 3.5-liter direct-injection V6 making 290 horsepower with front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. With awd, it's EPA-rated at 18/26/21 mpg, on Premium fuel. With the optional Stop/Start features, which comes in a package, it gets 1 mpg more, though that feature can be annoying.
SH-AWD is an exceptional system that moves power front-to-back and side-to-side. The MDX also uses what Acura calls IDS, for Integrated Dynamics System, with Comfort, Normal, Sport and Sport Plus modes. With SH-AWD, the system puts more power to the outside wheels in a curve. That's called torque vectoring.
The MDX earns the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Top Safety Pick Plus rating, as well as five stars overall from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, including five stars in front and side crash test, four stars in rollover. For 2017, the MDX gets the AcuraWatch suite of safety and driver-assist systems as standard equipment. That includes 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.
The MDX is rated to tow up to 3500 pounds, with a 350-pound tongue weight. That's light to medium weight, borderline for a boat, depends on the size of the boat.
Acura MDX with front-wheel drive ($43,950) is equipped with leather, eight-speaker audio system with satellite radio (upgraded for 2017), 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. Also a package of safety gear that includes forward-collision warnings with automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warnings, lane-keep assist, and adaptive cruise control.
MDX SH-AWD ($45,950) adds Super Handling All Wheel Drive. (Prices are MSRP and do not include destination charge.)
The Technology Package adds navigation, blind-spot monitors, front and rear parking sensors, remote start and 19-inch alloy wheels. The Advance Package adds Stop/Start, roof rails, and Milano premium perforated leather upholstery with ventilated front seats. Entertainment adds a DVD player, a 150-watt AC inverter, heated second-row seats, and second-row window shades.