For years, the upscale MDX has been a popular choice in America's suburbs and among Consumer Reports readers. It's easy to see why it is one of our higher-rated SUVs: this is a well-rounded, functional, and competitively-priced vehicle that does most things well.
The hushed cabin and supple ride provide the refinement expected of a luxury SUV. The 3.5-liter V6 engine is responsive and refined, plus delivers relatively good 21 mpg overall with the optional all-wheel-drive. (Front-wheel-drive is standard.) However, the nine-speed automatic isn't the smoothest or most responsive. A hybrid version is also available.
A modest 2017 freshening brought standard forward-collision warning and automatic emergency braking to all trims, a big advantage. (Blind-spot monitoring remains optional.) The update also introduced a hybrid model and included new front end styling.
The MDX has a roomy, comfortable, and very functional cabin that can hold up to seven people. Access to the third-row seat simply requires pressing a single button--a clever, user-friendly design that should be a benchmark for competing models. Such interior flexibility makes the MDX an excellent soccer-mom SUV.
Alas, if you're looking for driving pizzazz, you won't find it here. While the MDX handles competently and securely, it has no sporty pretense. The steering is short on feedback, and this big Honda lacks the agility found in competitors such as the Audi Q7, BMW X5, and Mazda CX-9, even though it boasts "super-handling AWD" badge on its rump.
Inside, the cabin is well finished. But the dual-screen, in-dash infotainment system is so frustrating and distracting to use that it takes away from the otherwise pleasant experience. Also, the push-button shifter is cumbersome and unintuitive to use, although it has comprehensive safeguards to prevent the car from an accidental roll away if you fail to put it in Park or open the door while in gear.
Priced on par with the Lexus RX, Volvo XC90, and Infiniti QX60, the MDX typically sells for thousands less than the German competition. However, Acura doesn't offer a lot of flexibility in ordering options, which can lead to frustration. Some common features, like a heated steering wheel or second-row captain's chairs, are only available on the top-of-the-line trim or by getting expensive packages or dealer-installed options. Also, some more plebeian-branded SUVs, like the Mazda CX-9 Signature and Kia Sorento SXL, don't cede much to the MDX and cost thousands less.