Product Reviews

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The MDX has been one of our higher-rated models. We like its strong, refined powertrain and pleasant ride. The comfortable interior offers good visibility, seating for seven passengers and a very decent amount of cargo room. The MDX also feels agile in routine driving, but does not inspire confidence in emergency handling, even with its stability-control system.
Alerts
There are 12 recalls on this vehicle. Learn More.

Road Test Results

Performance
Acceleration Acceleration Acceleration tests are conducted on a smooth, flat pavement straightaway at the track. Time, speed, and distance measurements are taken with a precise GPS-based device that’s hooked to a data-logging computer.
0 to 60 mph 0 to 60 mph (sec.) The time in seconds that a vehicle takes to reach 60 mph from a standstill with the engine idling.
Transmission Transmission Transmission performance is determined by shifting smoothness, response, shifter action, and clutch actuation for manual transmissions.
Fuel Economy Fuel Economy We perform our own fuel-economy tests, independent of the government's often-quoted EPA figures and the manufacturers' claims. Using a precise fuel-flow measuring device spliced into the fuel line, we run two separate circuits to represent city and highway consumption.
CR's Overall Mileage CR's Overall Mileage CR's overall mileage is a composite of measured fuel usage on a prescribed city course and highway cruising; and CR's 150-mile test trip of mixed driving, if tested. In recent road tests, we've discontinued the 150-mile trip test.
CR's City Mileage CR's City Mileage Measured fuel usage on a prescribed city course.
CR's Highway Mileage CR's Highway Mileage Measured fuel usage on a prescribed highway cruising.
Annual Fuel Cost Annual Fuel Cost The cost and amount of fuel used in 12,000 miles and is calculated from CR's overall mileage.
Braking Braking The braking rating is a composite of wet and dry stopping distances and pedal feel. Braking distance is from 60 mph, with no wheels locked.
Emergency Handling Emergency Handling Several factors go into the rating, including the avoidance maneuver speed and confidence, as well as how the vehicle behaves when pushed to its limit,
Comfort / Convenience
Ride Ride Our expert judgment of how well the suspension isolates and absorbs road imperfections and how steady it keeps the body on various road surfaces.
Noise Noise Our expert judgment of the vehicle's interior noise level in everyday driving.
Front Seat Comfort Front Seat Comfort Our judgment of how comfortable the front seat is for drivers of various heights.
Rear Seat Comfort Rear Seat Comfort Our judgment of how comfortable the rear seat is for two passengers to sit across.
Interior Fit and Finish Interior Fit and Finish An expert evaluation of the interior quality and craftsmanship.
Trunk/Cargo Area Trunk/Cargo Area Our rating is based on the amount of luggage or cargo space that a vehicle has in the trunk or cargo area.

Owner Reports

Worse Better
Reliability History Reliability History The reliability charts are based on responses on hundreds of thousands of vehicles from our latest Annual Auto Survey. Consumer Reports subscribers reported on any serious problems they had with their vehicles during the past 12 months that they considered serious because of cost, failure, safety, or downtime, in any of the trouble spots included in the table below. The results are presented relative to the average model that year. Extra weight is given to the more serious areas such as major engine or transmission problems. Based on this data and further analysis, we predict reliability for the latest year. N/A indicates that we did not receive a large enough sample size to provide data for a specific year. An X indicates that the vehicle was not manufactured for a specific year.
2000
2001
NA
2002
NA
2003
2004
2005
2006
2007
2008
2009
2010
2011
2012
2013
2014
2015
2016
2017
2018
Reliability Trouble Spots
Engine Major Engine Major Engine rebuild or replacement, cylinder head, head gasket, turbo or supercharger, timing chain or timing belt.
Engine Minor Engine Minor Accessory belts and pulleys, engine computer, engine mounts, engine knock or ping, oil leaks.
Engine Cooling Engine Cooling Radiator, cooling fan, antifreeze leaks, water pump, thermostat, overheating.
Transmission Major Transmission Major Transmission rebuild or replacement, torque converter, clutch replacement.
Owner Satisfaction Owner Satisfaction To learn about satisfaction, CR has collected survey data from our annual survey on more than half a million vehicles. Our subscribers provide great insights into their satisfaction by answering one simple question: If they had it to do all over again, would they definitely buy or lease the same model? In addition, respondents also rate their cars in six categories: driving experience, comfort, value, styling, audio, and climate systems. N/A indicates that we did not receive a large enough sample size to provide data for a specific year. An X indicates that the vehicle was not manufactured for a specific year.
2000
2001
2002
2003
2004
2005
2006
2007
2008
2009
2010
2011
2012
2013
2014
2015
2016
2017
2018
Driving Experience Driving Experience Includes acceleration and handling
Comfort Comfort Includes seats, climate control, noise, and ride
Value Value Did you get what you wanted relative to the price you paid?
NA
Styling Styling How it looks inside and out
Safety Equipment
ABS and side air bags standard. ESC standard from 2003. Head protection air bags standard from 2004. Forward collision warning and blind spot monitoring optional from 2011. Forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking standard from 2017.
Road Test

The MDX has been one of our higher-rated models. We like its strong, refined powertrain and pleasant ride. The comfortable interior offers good visibility, seating for seven passengers and a very decent amount of cargo room. The MDX also feels agile in routine driving, but does not inspire confidence in emergency handling, even with its stability-control system.

Seating
2 front, 3 rear, 2 third
Drive Wheels
AWD
Warranty

In most cases, automotive warranties are based on the vehicle identification number (VIN), and the warranty will be valid regardless of ownership. The dealership can tell you exactly how much warranty is left.

Read more about extended warranties
Body Styles
4-door SUV
Transmissions Available
  • 5-speed Automatic
Engines Available
  • 3.5-liter V6 (260 hp)

Owner Reported Trouble Spots

The Reliability score is based on our latest subscriber survey of 2003 Acura MDX owners. The owner comments describe problems respondents experienced with this vehicle.

In-car Electronics

CD or DVD players, radio, speakers, GPS, communication system (e.g., OnStar), display screen freezes or goes blank, phone pairing (e.g. Bluetooth), voice control commands, steering wheel controls, portable music device interface (e.g., iPod/MP3 player), backup or other camera/sensors.

What Owners Say

“Intermittent, goes blank and comeback while driving. Also impact the A/C. It goes into default setting whne Display goes blank”

Anonymous, NJ (2003 Acura MDX None 3.5-L V6)

“The display screen controls the heat air and it doesn't work”

Anonymous, SC (2003 Acura MDX None 3.5-L V6)

“The display system constantly reboots and makes the system unUSble. (suspect cold solder joint) It also controls the heating/cooling fan which you cannot control”

Anonymous, MN (2003 Acura MDX None 3.5-L V6)

“Navigation/backup camers/ climate controls unavailable after screen failed. Expensive to fix”

Anonymous, MI (2003 Acura MDX None 3.5-L V6)

“After several minutes if the screen is not used it will first freeze and then go blank. Very frustrating if you are trying to use navigation or check mileage and gas levels. A restart of the engine brings it back”

Anonymous, UT (2003 Acura MDX None 3.5-L V6)

“The screen has gone blank and comes back asking for a code, then goes blank again. I cannot adjust the air conditioning and heat because they are controlled on the display”

Anonymous, GA (2003 Acura MDX None 3.5-L V6)

“navigation & on-screen climate stopped functioning. Repaired Nav computer but did not solve issue. Unresolved”

Anonymous, WA (2003 Acura MDX None 3.5-L V6)

“GPS no longer works. Working on sending the system to another party to recondition”

Anonymous, MA (2003 Acura MDX None 3.5-L V6)

“Nav unit keeps resetting Back up camera and HVAC controls route through device so they do not work correctly”

Anonymous, IL (2003 Acura MDX None 3.5-L V6)

“Nav went out, touch screen no longer functions at all”

Anonymous, AZ (2003 Acura MDX None 3.5-L V6)

“The navigation system quit quite a few years ago. This year, it took all controls for the heat/air with it. The cost to replace is over $1,000 and I haven't been able to cover the cost”

Anonymous, SC (2003 Acura MDX None 3.5-L V6)

“only works intermittently, usually after about five or ten minutes after starting”

Danielle R., SC (2003 Acura MDX None 3.5-L V6)

“Stopped working. Wouldn't read from DVD”

David D., MD (2003 Acura MDX None 3.5-L V6)

“Remote steering wheel controls do not function properly”

Fred F., ON (2003 Acura MDX None 3.5-L V6)

“backup camera part of nav touch screen now only works sometimes”

Anonymous, AZ (2003 Acura MDX None 3.5-L V6)

“CD will not always move from a selection to another. At times I need to hit the side of the unit the get it to move to the next selection. The mechanism at times locks up and shuts down the unit. ( displays err or switches to the radio and then when”

Anonymous, BC (2003 Acura MDX None 3.5-L V6)

Climate System

Blower (fan) motor, A/C compressor, condenser, evaporator, heater system, automatic climate control, refrigerant leakage, electrical failure.

What Owners Say

A/C compressor

“Compressor failed after 14 yrs, but car has had very good reliability with no other major issues”

Evan J., FL (2003 Acura MDX None 3.5-L V6)

“Clutch on compressor went out had to replace the whole compressor”

Anonymous, OR (2003 Acura MDX None 3.5-L V6)

“System leaked - $900 to repair (by dealer)”

James K., MA (2003 Acura MDX None 3.5-L V6)

“Replacement of the ac compressor”

Anonymous, MN (2003 Acura MDX None 3.5-L V6)

“After 265000 miles, A/C compressor had a massive failure, causing complete rebuild of A/C system - $2600 repair. Probably not unreasonable to have this type of failure of original component after this amount of time and mileage”

William W., NC (2003 Acura MDX None 3.5-L V6)

“compressor failed”

Shane M., KS (2003 Acura MDX None 3.5-L V6)

“The A/C compressor clutch relay was stuck in 'on' position. Caused a parasitic 2-amp draw which kept killing my battery. Took the Acura dealership 3 visits before they could figure out the problem”

Fran F., FL (2003 Acura MDX None 3.5-L V6)

“Old car so hose went. Had to have it repaired and recharged”

Robert B., CA (2003 Acura MDX None 3.5-L V6)

“Can't find leak”

Anonymous, MO (2003 Acura MDX None 3.5-L V6)
Blower (fan) motor

“Loud clicking noise while fan is being used”

Allison B., MO (2003 Acura MDX None 3.5-L V6)

“Replace rear blower resistor”

Anonymous, GA (2003 Acura MDX None 3.5-L V6)

“went out about 100,000 miles. Blower to rear seat failed at 30K miles”

Anonymous, OR (2003 Acura MDX None 3.5-L V6)

“Makes clicking noise all the time”

Anonymous, NJ (2003 Acura MDX None 3.5-L V6)
Evaporator

“Expected after 11 years of service”

Anonymous, FL (2003 Acura MDX None 3.5-L V6)

“The heater box was replaced because there was no heat only fan blowing air in winter with limited insufficient heat”

Chris N., NY (2003 Acura MDX None 3.5-L V6)

Transmission Major

Transmission rebuild or replacement, torque converter, clutch replacement.

What Owners Say

Transmission rebuild or replacement

“Transmission failed and was replaced”

Anonymous, GA (2003 Acura MDX None 3.5-L V6)

“I had to have the transmission rebuilt”

Anonymous, CA (2003 Acura MDX None 3.5-L V6)

“Gears would not engage occasionally when it was cold, after getting to a stop light and trying to move.. Gears would also slip when trying to accelerate in moving traffic”

Anonymous, WI (2003 Acura MDX None 3.5-L V6)

“Trasmission had to be replaced at 120,000”

Anonymous, WA (2003 Acura MDX None 3.5-L V6)

“The car stopped in traffic & had to be towed. There was no warning that the transmission was going out”

Anonymous, CA (2003 Acura MDX None 3.5-L V6)

“problem known to Honda since at least 2007 when issued a service bulletin . Model years 2003 and 2004 got faulty transmissions which fail prematurely with symptoms of torque converter "judder" and hesitation about 40 mph. Honda refused to share cos”

Anonymous, OR (2003 Acura MDX None 3.5-L V6)

“Transmission failed. Replacement over $5000. Unexpected large expense on a vehicle known for reliability”

Anonymous, MO (2003 Acura MDX None 3.5-L V6)

“Transmission was rebuilt but sometimes slips”

Anita M., CA (2003 Acura MDX None 3.5-L V6)

“TMSN was slipping out of gear. Had to be rebuilt 3 times and finally a replacement TMSN was installed. It developed a crack at 10K mi. It has taken us 17 months, 3 rebuilds, and 2 rebuilt TMSN's to finally get it working correctly”

R A., OH (2003 Acura MDX None 3.5-L V6)

“Under 70,000 miles. Acura no help with cost. Dealer price $3,000 more than AMACO”

Scott F., OH (2003 Acura MDX)

“Expensive”

Anonymous, CA (2003 Acura MDX None 3.5-L V6)
Torque converter

“Torque converter makes grinding noises under load. Dealers pretend to not be able to detect this, but the internet is full of this issue for our model MDX”

Anonymous, WA (2003 Acura MDX None 3.5-L V6)

Suspension

Shocks or struts, ball joints, tie rods, wheel bearings, alignment, steering linkage (includes rack and pinion), power steering (pumps and hoses, leaks), wheel balance, springs or torsion bars, bushings, electronic or air suspension.

What Owners Say

“worn bushings resulting in "clunky" ride”

Anonymous, CO (2003 Acura MDX None 3.5-L V6)

“Slight leak”

Anonymous, NC (2003 Acura MDX None 3.5-L V6)

“power steering pump failure”

Randel P., CO (2003 Acura MDX None 3.5-L V6)

“The noise of the failing power steering pump was very irritating. Even though it wasn't an emergency to get replaced according to my mechanic it was annoying. The cost could be fairly expensive but my mechanic has always kept his costs as fair as he”

Joyce C., GA (2003 Acura MDX None 3.5-L V6)

“Steering making grinding noise while turning at slow speeds”

Scott M., AB (2003 Acura MDX None 3.5-L V6)

“Noisy replaced”

Fred F., ON (2003 Acura MDX None 3.5-L V6)
Shocks or struts

“Just worn out at 130,000+miles”

John G., TX (2003 Acura MDX None 3.5-L V6)

“Failing struts made for a rough & noisy ride. Expensive to repair”

Joyce C., GA (2003 Acura MDX None 3.5-L V6)

“replaced the front shocks and springs”

Douglass S., MS (2003 Acura MDX None 3.5-L V6)
Steering linkage (includes rack and pinion)

“Rack and Pinion is failing. Don't want to spend on it as the car is too old”

David L., NY (2003 Acura MDX None 3.5-L V6)
Wheel balance

“1 wheel always causes a vibration”

Anonymous, MO (2003 Acura MDX None 3.5-L V6)

Paint/Trim

Paint (fading, chalking, cracking, or peeling), loose interior and exterior trim or moldings, rust.

What Owners Say

Loose interior trim or moldings

“cover on side of drivers seat is loose and very difficult to fix”

Gene G., CA (2003 Acura MDX None 3.5-L V6)

“Acura could not replace knobs broken from front of air vents without costly removal of entire dash”

Anonymous, MS (2003 Acura MDX None 3.5-L V6)
Paint (fading, chalking, cracking, or peeling)

“Peeling paint, cracking, and fading detract from visible value of car”

Anonymous, MS (2003 Acura MDX None 3.5-L V6)
Loose exterior trim or moldings

“The side molding is peeling back”

Eugene S., IL (2003 Acura MDX None 3.5-L V6)
Rust

“Silver dollar size rust at the top of the rear wheel wells on the exterior painted area”

Eugene S., IL (2003 Acura MDX None 3.5-L V6)

“Rust through around rear wheel wells under wheel flares”

Anonymous, MI (2003 Acura MDX None 3.5-L V6)

Body Integrity

Squeaks, rattles, wind noises, loose or cracked seals and/or weather-stripping, air and water leaks.

What Owners Say

Air or water leaks

“water leak on driver side above steering wheel, no cause fund, $500 spent on idagnosis”

Peter C., BC (2003 Acura MDX None 3.5-L V6)

“Replaced radiator”

Joseph E., IL (2003 Acura MDX None 3.5-L V6)

“Persistent rain leaks in drivers carpet/footwell area”

Anonymous, BC (2003 Acura MDX None 3.5-L V6)

“Steering makes squeaking/popping sound”

Anonymous, TX (2003 Acura MDX None 3.5-L V6)

“excess wind noise in door seals”

Anonymous, BC (2003 Acura MDX None 3.5-L V6)
Wind noise

“Never has been a quiet ride”

Anonymous, UT (2003 Acura MDX None 3.5-L V6)

Electric System

Alternator, starter, hybrid battery and related systems, regular battery, battery cables, engine harness, coil, ignition switch, electronic ignition, distributor or rotor failure, spark plugs and wires failure.

What Owners Say

“They never have worked perfectly. Sometimes they do and other times they don't”

Anonymous, UT (2003 Acura MDX None 3.5-L V6)
Wiper motor or washer

“The auto wiper control goes to max speed when on lower speeds”

Gene G., CA (2003 Acura MDX None 3.5-L V6)

“wires tot he tailgate hatch feed through which controls the rear wiper, tail light and heater system shorted together. This cause the transmission to be locked in park because the safety system could not tell if the brake pedal was pressed because th”

Anonymous, MN (2003 Acura MDX None 3.5-L V6)

“Rear wiper stopped working”

David D., MD (2003 Acura MDX None 3.5-L V6)
Warning lights

“The check engine and the VTM-4 light come on and go off frequently. The drivers seat returns to #1 position when left in #2. 31”

Anonymous, WI (2003 Acura MDX None 3.5-L V6)

Fuel System

Check engine light, sensors (includes O2 or oxygen sensor), emission control devices (includes EGR), engine computer, engine computer, fuel cap, fuel gauge/sender, fuel injection system, fuel pump, fuel leaks, stalling or hesitation.

What Owners Say

Emission control devices (includes EGR)

“Had to replace two catalytic convertors”

Anonymous, GA (2003 Acura MDX None 3.5-L V6)

“Cataytic converter failed”

Chris R., TN (2003 Acura MDX None 3.5-L V6)

“Cat and exhaust piping rusted”

Emory P., NY (2003 Acura MDX None 3.5-L V6)

Transmission Minor

Gear selector or linkage, leaks, transmission computer, transmission sensor or solenoid, clutch adjustment, rough shifting, slipping transmission.

What Owners Say

“Sometimes slips when stopped and more often when engine is cold. We have to put it in neutral and then back into gear”

Anita M., CA (2003 Acura MDX None 3.5-L V6)
Coolers and lines

“Transmission fluid cooling line broke on highway at radiator attachment. The radiator broke, all transmission and radiator fluid drained, and the transmission was slightly burned. The radiator, atttachment fiting and all fluids were replaced”

Anonymous, MI (2003 Acura MDX None 3.5-L V6)

“Transmission fluid leaked into radiator requiring radiator replacement”

Anonymous, NY (2003 Acura MDX None 3.5-L V6)

Brakes

Antilock system (ABS), parking brake, master cylinder, calipers, rotors, pulsation or vibration, squeaking, brake failure or wear.

What Owners Say

“Brake Padwear required the replacement of pads, drums (turn), calipers”

Robert G., CO (2003 Acura MDX None 3.5-L V6)

“No problem just had the front brakes changed to do squeet, And loss of braking power”

Anonymous, TX (2003 Acura MDX None 3.5-L V6)
Regular brake failure

“Replaced rotors”

Robert G., CO (2003 Acura MDX None 3.5-L V6)

Engine Minor

Accessory belts and pulleys, engine computer, engine mounts, engine knock or ping, oil leaks.

What Owners Say

Engine computer

“Misfire & codes do not tell the cause”

Peter C., BC (2003 Acura MDX None 3.5-L V6)

“Ongoing leak that is too costly to fix because entire transmission has to be removed”

Robert B., CA (2003 Acura MDX None 3.5-L V6)

“Small engine oil leaks not sure of source”

Anonymous, TX (2003 Acura MDX None 3.5-L V6)

Drive System

Driveshaft or axle, CV joint, differential, transfer case, 4WD/AWD components, driveline vibration, traction control, electronic stability control (ESC), electrical failure.

What Owners Say

Driveshaft or axle

“Replace rear axle seal”

Anonymous, GA (2003 Acura MDX None 3.5-L V6)

“developed leak from rear main seal and 4th gear pressure switch one week after car had all fluids replaced for routine maintenance. Over $2000, unclear why failed a week later”

Scott M., AB (2003 Acura MDX None 3.5-L V6)

Engine Major

Engine rebuild or replacement, cylinder head, head gasket, turbo or supercharger, timing chain or timing belt.

What Owners Say

Head gasket

“Did not get any warning lights until engine over heated. This car not used for long trips. Coolant apparently escaped into cylinders leaving no noticeable puddles etc. shame on me for not checking the coolant levels etc $1,375.00 repair at a very reasonable shop. Not the dealer”

John G., TX (2003 Acura MDX None 3.5-L V6)

Body Hardware

Power or manual windows, locks and latches, tailgate, hatch or trunk, doors or sliding doors, mirrors, seat controls, safety belts, sunroof, convertible top.

Engine Cooling

Radiator, cooling fan, antifreeze leaks, water pump, thermostat, overheating.

Power Equipment

Cruise control, clock, warning lights, body control module, keyless entry, wiper motor or washer, tire pressure monitor, interior or exterior lights, horn, gauges, 12V power plug, remote engine start, alarm or security system

Exhaust

Muffler, pipes, catalytic converter, exhaust manifold, leaks.

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