2010 Acura MDX
Already considered one of the best full-sized SUVs on the market, the Acura MDX gets a new look and a few new tricks for 2010. The most noticeable change is found in the exterior, which adopts the new Acura branded front-end, among other alterations. But its changes are not just cosmetic. Acura has swapped out the previous generation’s 3.7-liter V-6 engine for a new one, giving you a broader power range for more on-demand fun. A new six-speed transmission and enhanced handling components make this already good ride even better. What hasn’t changed is what made this car so special to begin with: namely its fantastic all-wheel drive system and interior quality. The navigation system could use a few updates to the interface and fuel economy is underwhelming, but you’d be hard-pressed to find many more negatives with this SUV. The MDX is one of the best in its class, especially in terms of performance, and this year’s modifications have only improved it.
What's to Like
Drive qualities are excellent for a seven-seat SUV. Having a low roofline keeps the MDX from looking gigantic; it may seat seven, but it doesn’t take up vertical or horizontal space like other SUVs. Standard AWD is a winner, especially when pricing the competition. Little touches like the auto-open rear tailgate make this a family-friendly vehicle despite its more sporty appearance.
What's Not to Like
Thanks to that low roofline we mentioned, the third row of seats has limited leg and headroom and is useable only for children. The screen interface and graphics need updating to compete with the rest of the class. There’s a nice information screen between the gauges, but it needs more functions within it to be of real use to the driver. Exterior styling might be too aggressive for some.
DriverSide Driving Impressions
As SUV drivers became more discerning with regards to their vehicle’s drive characteristics, car companies had to re-think their offerings. This is why many SUVs, like the MDX, are now actually built on car platforms – creating what we call ‘crossovers.’ The MDX is a great example of what this can accomplish. It’s a smooth ride, with more pulling power than you’d expect out of a car this large, and the steering is dead on with a good amount of feel to it. No more of that floaty, unconnected feeling. The Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) is fantastic and works to deliver power to the wheel that needs it the most, an ability that noticeably helps the MDX maintain grip around corners. This, coupled with a new V-6 with a more useable power range, means that the SUV can handle all normal driving conditions easily. The brake pedal feeds smooth stopping power to the wheels as well, and visibility is great for such a low-to-the-ground vehicle.
Engine and Drivetrain
The MDX is powered by a new 3.7-liter VTEC V-6 engine that produces 300 horsepower – the same as last year – but drops to 270 lb-ft of torque, five less than the previous engine doled out. A six-speed automatic transmission allows you to blip through gears with manual shifting. Hill start assist, to keep the heavy MDX from rolling back, is standard.
Interesting Vehicle Features and Options
A blind spot warning light on the A-pillar illuminates when there is a car in your blind spot and flashes if you signal to change lanes, helping to avoid potential accidents. The MDX also has an optional collision mitigation braking system that will flash the word ‘Brake’ and beep when you come up too fast upon an object. The MDX isn’t just about safety though – opt for the ELS surround-sound system for a high-quality listening experience, with its 10 speakers, 410 watts and USB integration.
Key Technology Evaluation
A navigation system with Zagat restaurant ratings is included with the technology package. We like the system, but the graphics and interface are due for an update. Also part of the package is a multi-view rear camera – especially helpful for backing into parking spots – and real-time traffic and weather information. Bluetooth connectivity and an auxiliary input jack are standard.
Green Evaluation/Gas Mileage
Seven-seat SUVs aren’t usually the types to command fantastic fuel economy, and the MDX is no exception. Despite using a fairly thrifty V-6, the weight of the vehicle, combined with full-time all-wheel drive, leads the MDX to guzzle gas like a pro. It returns just 16 mpg around town and 21 mpg on the highway.
A Closer Look: Vehicle Details
What Acura does really well is comfort. And in the driver’s seat this is especially apparent. Standard leather swathes every seat – even the two in the rear – and the driver-centric controls are easy to reach, with many located directly on the steering wheel. If the cabin has one fault, it’s that it’s too button-heavy and the instrument panel could use some cleaning up.
The best quality about the MDX is that it looks dramatically smaller than its interior space would lead you to believe. For 2010, it adopted the Acura branded front grille and a more aggressive body design with chrome touches and LED taillights. The MDX rides atop 18-inch wheels, but you can opt to go bigger with 19s.
Market Segment and Pricing
The MDX has a lot of bang for its buck, and at $42,230 to start, Acura’s biggest ware goes up against more expensive seven-seaters. Of course, if you’re into tech, you’ll have a hard time resisting the packages, which can run the MSRP up to $53,755. Take a look at the $40,630 Buick Enclave CXL-1
and the $46,900 Audi Q7
for a comparison-shop.
What We Think
Seven-seaters don’t get much better than this. Sure, the exterior design is a bit jarring and a few tech features need to be updated, but really the MDX does most everything else incredibly well. The drive is spectacular for the size and weight of the vehicle, and for something that can transport an entire junior basketball team (plus coaches), it’s quite an unassuming size. If the MDX did this all for a couple thousand more, we’d be pleased, but the fact that the price generally undercuts the competition makes us swoon.