REVIEWS: 2011 Acura MDX Advanced Entertainment

April 25, 2011
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I attended the media launch of the original Acura MDX way back in April 2000, and I've always liked the vehicle since. This second generation is getting on in years but has aged well. The overall demeanor of the vehicle is very satisfying. It's luxurious and well-built and comfortable but not ostentatious. It is only as big as it needs to be, as compared with, say, the Audi Q7 that we had in the office at the same time, which carries a ridiculous amount of mass.
2011 Acura Mdx Full Left Side View
The MDX's center stack is a little confusing on first use, with a bewildering array of buttons and switches and screens and letterings, but I suppose that most owners quickly learn how to use everything.
Joe DeMatio, Deputy Editor
The MDX is the best-selling Acura and is probably the best Acura period. Unlike some of the brand's other offerings, it doesn't side-step competitors with a low price: It's an expensive full-size crossover that feels and drives every bit like an expensive full-size crossover. It also wears the most natural and good-looking execution of Acura's angular design language - it's not an afterthought nor is it overdone. The interior is more conservative, but is similarly attractive and built to the same high standard as the cabin of the RL sedan we had in a few weeks ago.
I did not get to drive the MDX as much as I'd like, as we were in the throes of sending our magazine out to the printer (how old fashioned!), but found the ride sufficiently comfortable for my tired commute home.
David Zenlea, Assistant Editor
The Acura MDX is an excellent example of the sporty refinement that the brand is synonymous with. The entire vehicle has a substantial, solid character that never feels heavy or cumbersome. The sporty and luxurious cabin oozes quality and I found it to be more comfortable than some of its competitors, such as the BMW X5 and the Lexus RX. In fact, on the sport vs. luxury scale the MDX is a near-perfect halfway point between these two SUVs. The Acura's steering is a weak point as it could use more feel, but it's less heavy than the X5's and better weighted than the RX's.
Jennifer Misaros, Managing Editor, Digital Platforms
2011 Acura Mdx Back Seats
It's a shame I didn't have more time to spend in the MDX, because after delving into its equipment list, there are several things I'd like to have tried out, such as the real-time weather feature with which you can look at current weather radar maps and see the forecast for the next three days. Or the GPS-linked tri-zone climate control that claims to automatically adjust the air temperature and fan speed according to the position of the sun.
2011 Acura Mdx Left Side View
Of course, this particular MDX has those features because it's the absolute top-of-the-line model in the MDX lineup. Other items on this model that aren't in lesser trim levels include a rear-seat DVD system, heated second-row seats, adaptive cruise control, active dampers, nineteen-inch wheels, and auto-leveling headlights.
All of which is to say that the MDX, at least this particular one, is a very pleasant place to spend some driving time. It's large enough to be practical for families but not so large that it's hard to maneuver and doesn't take up every last bit of space in a garage. The seats are comfortable, the steering wheel is hefty and solid, and the wood trim has a very nice high-gloss sheen. The large navigation screen is hooded to keep the light from washing it out and, while there are lots of buttons on the center stack, at least they're well labeled. Amy Skogstrom, Managing Editor It's a shame I didn't have more time to spend in the MDX, because after delving into its equipment list, there are several things I'd like to have tried out, such as the real-time weather feature with which you can look at current weather radar maps and see the forecast for the next three days. Or the GPS-linked tri-zone climate control that claims to automatically adjust the air temperature and fan speed according to the position of the sun.
Of course, this particular MDX has those features because it's the absolute top-of-the-line model in the MDX lineup. Other items on this model that aren't in lesser trim levels include a rear-seat DVD system, heated second-row seats, adaptive cruise control, active dampers, nineteen-inch wheels, and auto-leveling headlights.
All of which is to say that the MDX, at least this particular one, is a very pleasant place to spend some driving time. It's large enough to be practical for families but not so large that it's hard to maneuver and doesn't take up every last bit of space in a garage. The seats are comfortable, the steering wheel is hefty and solid, and the wood trim has a very nice high-gloss sheen. The large navigation screen is hooded to keep the light from washing it out and, while there are lots of buttons on the center stack, at least they're well labeled.
Amy Skogstrom, Managing Editor
2011 Acura Mdx Front Bumper
We've sung the praises of Acura's appropriately named Super-Handling All-Wheel-Drive system before (like in this Acura TL versus Audi S4 comparison test or this update on our Four Seasons ZDX), but it's a tune that I'm willing to happily hum again after driving the MDX. On dry roads, the system unobtrusively yet confidently sends extra power to the outside rear wheel in corners, effectively helping turn the vehicle and making it feel significantly more agile. And if road and traffic conditions are appropriate (i.e. a light dusting of snow and no fellow motorists in sight) and stability control is disabled, this big people hauler can become an exuberant drift machine that's able to safely and easily hang the tail out for half a city block. Best one-mile errand to the grocery store ever!
2011 Acura Mdx Rear Left View
Although the MDX doesn't handle as sportily as the ZDX (blame its 150 pounds of extra curb weight and five inches of height), it's 1000 times more practical than its platform-mate. I never even hit my head on the ceiling or A-pillar during my weekend with the MDX, which also has a spacious row of comfortable middle seats and lots of room behind them for cargo or additional passengers. I try the kids-only third row, but at least it's there. Nonetheless, I think the MDX would be a poor minivan substitute for folks who often travel with six or seven passengers.
Like the ZDX, the MDX has Honda's powerful, rev-happy 3.7-liter V-6 and a smooth six-speed automatic. The leather seats are supple and lovely, but based on how much wear our long-term ZDX's seats are showing, I wonder how well they'll endure daily use.
Rusty Blackwell, Copy Editor
2011 Acura Mdx Trunk
I found the MDX to be quite a pleasant surprise. I had never driven one before, and I'd always found them to be pretty uninspiring in appearance and wasn't expecting anything special. On the contrary, the MDX was a delight to drive, and the interior is really impressive. The comfortable and supportive seats were wrapped in an extremely attractive black leather with contrasting stitching. The leather and nicely grained plastics throughout the interior and were nicely accented by copious amounts of glossy wood trim -- a quantity of wood that might have looked terrible in a lesser cabin, but in the MDX, it all fit together perfectly.
2011 Acura Mdx Front Interior
The dash IS covered with the typical Acura array of individual buttons for every possible input or setting, but these controls are presented attractively and sensibly. The second row had plenty of room, and while I didn't try the third row, it looked perfectly suited for the typical duty of occasionally shuttling an extra kid or two.
Outside, the MDX is fairly understated except for the highly styled Acura razor-blade front end. The darker-than-typical silver paint on our test car combined with the charcoal-tinted nineteen-inch wheels made for a clean, tailored look with nicely executed details that grew on me the more I photographed it.
The MDX packs a roomy, comfortable, and attractive interior in a nicely proportioned, unobtrusive package, and I was completely won over by my stint behind the wheel.
Matt Tierney, Art Director
2011 Acura Mdx Back Seats
2011 Acura MDX Advanced Entertainment
2011 Acura Mdx Front Left View
Base price (with destination): $54,965
Price as tested: $54,965
Standard Equipment:
3.7-liter SOHC 24-valve V-6 engine
6-speed automatic transmission
SH-AWD system
4-wheel disc brakes with ABS
Vehicle stability assist
Tire pressure monitoring system
Acura ELS surround sound system with 10 speakers
AM/FM/XM/DVD-A with hard disk drive
MP3/auxiliary/USB audio input
Bluetooth connectivity
Acura navigation system with voice recognition
Rear-view camera
Heated and cooled front seats
Auto-dimming rearview mirror
Power tailgate
Power moonroof
Fog lights
Remote keyless entry
GPS-linked tri-zone automatic climate control
Active damper system
Collision mitigation system
Blind spot information system
19-inch alloy wheels
Auto-leveling Xenon HID headlamps
DVD rear entertainment system
Heated second row seats
Options on this vehicle:
None
Key options not on vehicle:
Towing package -- $634
Fuel economy:
(city/hwy/combined)
16 / 21 / 18 mpg
Engine:
Size: 3.7L SOHC 24-valve V-6
Horsepower: 300 hp @ 6300 rpm
Torque: 270 lb-ft @ 4500 rpm
Drive:
Four-wheel
Transmission:
6-speed automatic
Curb weight: 4627 lb
Wheels/tires: 19 x 8.5-inch aluminum wheels
255/50R19 all-season tires
Competitors: Audi Q7 3.0T, BMW X5 35i xDrive, Lexus RX350
2011 Acura Mdx Full Left Side View

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