Even with nineteen-inch wheels, the MDX rides surprisingly well, much better than our Four Seasons Audi Q5. Acura's 300-hp V-6 powers the chunky MDX with authority, and it sounds good doing so. This vehicle is a little more annoying to get into and out of than the Audi, particularly in back (with a high step-in and narrow door aperture), but cabin space is good. Of course, there is the standard third-row seat, for those who need cramped occasional quarters for two more. Massively thick pillars, large rear headrests, and a shrunken tailgate window mean rear-quarter visibility stinks, making the blind-spot warning system a near necessity. The interior is nicely finished, not a work of art but uniformly good materials quality and no fit or finish issues. Lots of buttons on the dash could be better grouped by system, but even as is, it's better than wading through onscreen menus, and there are knobs for some important functions.
To me, the MDX offers by far the best canvas for Acura's current razor-blade-and-origami styling theme. What looks bulbous and disproportionate on the brand's cars and smaller crossovers looks at home on this medium/large crossover. I especially like the cool-looking graphite-colored wheels on our fully loaded test vehicle. Even the many-buttoned center stack that Joe mentions seems less annoying here, for some reason, than in smaller Acura products.
If the MDX isn't the best vehicle Acura currently sells, it's at the very least the best Acura that Acura sells. As Rusty noted, its vast expanse of sheet metal provides a proper canvas for the brand's new design language. More important, the MDX doesn't try to bring a knife to a gunfight. Whereas other high-priced Acuras, particularly the RL sedan, have always been missing a bit of the necessary hardware and swagger to compete toe-to-toe with rivals, the MDX offers every bit as much power, luxury, and refinement as its full-size competition. That makes all the better the fact that the base price is actually priced closer to small luxury crossovers like the Audi Q5 and Lexus RX. Even our fully loaded test car costs only a grand more than a similarly equipped Cadillac SRX that came through the office around the same time.
The Acura MDX continues to be one of my favorite SUVs in the luxury segment, mostly because of its looks. And for 2010 the big MDX got a minor facelift, including front bumper redesign. The muscular exterior design is nicely complemented in this example by the large 19-inch graphite wheels and the dark cherry exterior paint.
What Acura needs is an infotainment controller ala BMW's iDrive, Mercedes' Comand, or Audi's MMI. The center stack is littered with more than 50 buttons that are quite daunting to sift through. Acura already has the large knob/joystick that interfaces with the display, but the dynamic nature of the screen is underutilized. Most of the onscreen functions are mere repetitions of what you can achieve with physical buttons.
It's been nearly ten years since Acura introduced the MDX, and I still find it to be an attractive entry in the luxury-brand, seven-passenger crossover segment. Actually, the MDX was a crossover before we really even knew the term "crossover," as it was based on the platform of the Odyssey minivan from the get-go a decade ago. It's always been car-based.