2011 Acura MDX: Top of the line Acura SUV

Auto review by Veeno Dewan

The MDX is Acura’s flagship crossover SUV and is due for a replacement soon after more than a decade of solid service and successful sales. I’ve noted in a previous article how my next-door neighbor’s wife has an older model 2006/7 MDX and always smiles and compliment me on any MDX I bring home for testing.

One thing Acura have done is ever so skillfully update the MDX and the current model has the sleek creased styling that has been the hallmark of Acura’s design ethos of late, the look is contemporary, a smart blend of aggressive sharp lines especially in the nose and skillfully arcing curves and bulging flanks. This is in stark contrast to the simple, full-bodied lines of my neighbours MDX. The MDX has a third row of seats and 425 litres of cargo with all seats up and 1,215 litres behind the second row. It not the roomiest third row for adults but then it’s hard pressed to find any SUV with more than adequate room.

Our tester was a top of the line Elite trim-level which featured heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, Adaptive Cruise Control, Blind Spot Information and Acura’s Collision Mitigation Braking system. Additional creature features included Acura’s premium 410-watt ELS surround-sound 15GB hard-drive audio system, with a 9- inch DVD entertainment screen and personal sound feature, navigation with voice recognition, a multi-view rear camera setup and tri-zone air conditioning with sun detection and humidity control.

The base MDX is available as $52,690 while the Elite despite all its toys and extras still comes in reasonable $62,690.

The Acura dash panel is a sight to behold with a multitude of switches and buttons to operate the sophisticated technology. It all done very well I might add and clearly designed for those who relish and embrace new technology, not disdain it. At night there are enough illuminated switches and gauges to light up a small city!

The MDX seats seven passengers and an adequate amount of cargo. Plush leather seating, high quality trim and superb fit and finish are Acura hallmarks and much in evidence. The technology does not only extend to the interior. Engineering wise the MDX is powered by a 3.7-litre SOHC V-TEC V6. A sophisticated jewel- like engine that develops 300 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque
through a 6-speed autobox. Don’t bother looking for a V8 version, as Honda deeply rooted in efficiency does not offer a V8 engine in any of its vehicles let alone the MDX.

Traction to all four wheels is courtesy of another masterpiece. In this case Acura’s excellent SH-AWD, (Super Handling All Wheel Drive) system) which has the ability to split torque between the right and left wheels and send extra torque to the outside wheels when cornering. This ‘Torque splitting’ allows the outside wheels to drive their way through a corner to provide that all- important extra traction when needed for superb grip.

On the road the MDX is fast sure-footed and nimble for its size. Yes you can take it on rough trails, but it is more in its element as an all-round luxury SUV that will get you across country in the summer and to the ski slopes in winter.

The V-TEC variable valve technology kicks in to provide instantaneous acceleration delivered with a nice growl.

You can use the shift paddles on the steering wheel to auto- change gears in different driving conditions or when the mood suits you with a modicum of sportiness. Suspension wise, Comfort mode is a good compromise if you have a few people on board as it still offer taut defined handling but with a cushion of sorts. Sport however definitely sharpens up the dynamics a tad. A simple button operates either mode.

Down side are hard to find. To sum up the Acura’s MDX in the Elite version is a fine handling, refined, technology driven Crossover SUV that seats seven-passengers in luxury. The SH –AWD offer superb performance and security in all weathers and road conditions. The MDX compares extremely well with premium German competition and is well worth a look at.

2012 Acura MDX priced from as $52,690