Many consumers don’t think of the Acura MDX when searching for a new luxury SUV or crossover, but it’s definitely a model you need to put on your list. We think the improvements on the 2017 MDX make it one of the best-driving crossovers in its class. It’s all-weather capable and has a quiet, spacious cabin.
Over the weekend, we drove the 2017 Acura MDX AWD with the Advance trim.
The Acura MDX receives a significant remodel, including a new hood, refreshed front and rear fascias, restyled front fenders, and new headlights. This year’s MDX is the first Acura to sport the new diamond pentagon grille.
Features & Options
The 2017 Acura MDX AWD Advance comes standard with 20-inch alloy wheels, automatic LED headlights with auto high beams, heated side mirrors, an electronic parking brake, a power liftgate, a sunroof, and keyless entry and ignition. Inside, you’ll find heated, eight-way power-adjustable front seats (with power lumbar adjustment for the driver), driver-seat memory settings, a power-adjustable steering wheel, leather upholstery, tri-zone automatic climate control, and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.
Technology highlights include dual dashboard displays (a lower 7-inch touchscreen and an upper 8-inch regular screen), Bluetooth, five USB ports, Siri Eyes Free, and an eight-speaker sound system with a CD player, Pandora and Aha compatibility, and satellite radio. The AcuraWatch suite includes Adaptive Cruise Control, Collision Mitigation Braking, Forward Collision Warning, Lane Departure Warning, and Lane Keeping Assist.
The Advance package adds front and rear parking sensors, LED foglights, automatic engine stop/start, a surround-view camera, a heated steering wheel, sport seats with premium leather; power lumbar adjustment for the front passenger, front-seat ventilation, natural wood trim, heated second-row captain’s chairs, second row sunshades, and two additional USB ports for the third row. Pricing was not available for our MDX tester.
The first thing we had to figure out was the new push-button transmission shifter, located on the center console. But, once we got it handled, it was a nice change from the big sifters in other SUVs. It frees up space on the console, and it’s easy to use with its distinct buttons and levers. The premium leather seats are plush and supportive, with low side bolsters that make sliding in and out easy. Much different than the Recaro performance seats in my last tester.
What we didn’t like is how the driver’s seat slides back automatically when the door is opened, and we had to readjust the seat each time we got in. A week isn’t long enough for this journalist to program the seats, so we had to deal with it. The cabin is roomy for this class and the fit, finish, and material quality is first rate.
Rear passengers are bathed in comfort too and the optional Advanced Package offers second row captains chairs that come heated for extra winter warmth. The third row seats are easier to get to with the captains chairs, but are good for kids and not adults as in most 3-row SUVs. The second and third row seats fold flat and with both seats folded, the cargo space reveals an underfloor storage area with room for items you need to hide away. It has a handy lid that can be moved out of the way.
Engine & Fuel Mileage Specs
This MDX tester came with the 3.5-liter direct-injected V6, making 290 horsepower and 267 lb-ft. of torque. It’s coupled with a nine-speed automatic transmission that drives all four wheels. This MDX came with the optional SH-AWD system for all-weather capability. EPA ratings come in at 19/26/ city/highway and 22 combined mpg, using premium unleaded fuel. The start/stop feature gets you 1 mpg more, though it can be annoying.
For driving enthusiasts, the MDX is one of the sportier crossovers when you get behind the wheel. The 3.5 liter V6 makes enough power to have fun when pushed hard. It offers up strong acceleration, rivaling some of its European competitors while still getting good fuel economy. We used the steering wheel paddle shifters in Sport mode, enabling the MDX’s 9-speed automatic to quickly shift up or down. When left in normal mode, acceleration is smooth and the nine-speed transmission keeps revs high at full throttle.
On the highway, the ride is comfortable, but we could feel higher frequency bumps through the larger 20-inch wheels at lower speeds. In the tight mountains corners, this tester had minimal body roll and the suspension soaked up larger bumps. During city driving, the MDX is easy to maneuver in traffic, but the automatic start/stop function still takes too long to react off the line after coming to a stop.
The cabin is quiet and kept us insulated from the city, thanks to an active noise-cancellation system, active engine mounts, acoustic glass in the windshield and windows, and extra insulation throughout the vehicle.
For those who live in cold climates, the MDX’s SH-AWD is an exceptional system that moves power front-to-back and side-to-side, depending on where you need traction. In the corners, the system transfers more power to the outside wheels in a curve (torque vectoring), similar to performance cars. This also makes a difference on dry roads where there may be loose gravel near the edge of the road but clean near the middle.
The 2017 Acura MDX gets improvements to make it one of the best-driving crossovers in its class. It’s all-weather capable and has a quiet, spacious cabin. Throw in the MDX’s long list of safety features, and you’ve got a top family contender in this class.
Denis Flierl has invested over 25 years in the automotive industry in a variety of roles. Follow his work on Twitter: @CarReviewGuy