2002 Best Mid-Size Sport-Utility Vehicle

02 02 AllstaracuraMDX

By all rights, the Acura MDX should have won this All-Star award the minute it hit the market. It is a paragon of both sport and utility when its toughest competitors tend to favor an either/or approach to the segment. Last year, we were feeling more sporty, and the screaming BMW X5 was our winner. This year, in the aftermath of intense lobbying for a more rational, evenhanded weighting of attributes implied by the term sport-utility, the MDX emerged victorious. Nothing but the X5 came anywhere near it, and here's why.

Number one: Sport. The wide, unibody MDX will haul up to seven people and their stuff in deep luxuriousness. It rides like a limo, and its low-emission 240-horsepower VTEC V-6 will launch it from 0 to 60 mph in less than nine seconds. The remarkably hushed interior (extra padding in the roof and a thicker windshield) is stuffed with a host of creature comforts, including a CD player, a trip computer, keyless entry, multiple storage bins and pockets, and ten cup holders. Your passengers will bless you.

Number two: Utility. The MDX covers all basic utility needs, from medium-duty off-roading to hauling a boat to carrying home your grandma's Victrola. It's not Rubicon-ready, but minimum ground clearance is a totally acceptable 8.0 inches, it's been waterproofed to manage crossing through a foot and a half of water, the oil pan is extra-deep for hill-climb coverage, and there are cargo tie-downs and tow hooks if you need them. The MDX will haul 3500 pounds, and both rear seats fold flat to offer 82 cubic feet of cargo room, with four feet between the wheel wells.

Number three: Magic. It's common among all of our All-Star winners.

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