The 2017 Acura MDX has many blessings but none of the above-and-beyond luxury feel of an Audi Q5 or Volvo XC90, Warren Brown
writes. (Honda, Wieck.)
It has everything it needs, which probably is not enough for some people.
The 2017 Acura MDX AWD Advance sport-utility vehicle is neither super-modern nor extravagantly luxurious.
For example, it has much of the latest electronic equipment, but not all of it, not head-up display, which uses the windshield to present information such as current vehicle speed in comparison with local speed limits. It is the angel at war with the devil in me, in which the angel is winning.
With head-up display, there is no legitimate excuse for speeding. All of the necessary information for proper behavior, and necessary correction, is right there on the windshield in front of you.
In one HUD-equipped vehicle, I once looked at the windshield and noticed I was going 75 miles per hour in a 65-miles-per-hour zone, just in time to slow down before attracting the attention of a state law enforcement officer waiting around a curve.
That was almost two years ago. I’ve loved head-up display in cars and other vehicles ever since.
The MDX Advance, the top of the MDX line, which also includes the Standard and well-equipped Technology, does have many other blessings. But it has none of the above-and-beyond luxury feel of an Audi Q5 or Volvo XC90.
But the MDX Advance is comfortable, satisfying and equipped with much of the latest advanced electronic safety equipment installed as standard equipment.
I like that.
There is, for example, rear cross-traffic alert, which can help avert a back-up collision disaster; blind-spot monitoring, forward-collision mitigation and lane-departure warning, among other valuable systems.
But there is nothing fancy or silly luxurious about it.
That raises the question: What is the essential difference between the Acura MDX and its technological twin, the Honda Pilot, which includes the Pilot EX-L, Touring and Elite trims? Answer: None, really.
The Pilot is generally less expensive. But like the Acura, it also is well made and well equipped. The 3.5-liter, direct-injection, 24-valve V-6 engine (290 horsepower) that is found in all of the MDX models can be had in the Honda Pilots, too.
Acura has been bragging for the past two years or so about its torque-vectoring all-wheel-drive system (Super Handling All-Wheel-Drive), which does work quite well on windswept highways and in other inclement weather.
Does the system in the Honda Pilot work worse? No.
Don’t get me wrong. I like the MDX. I also like saving money. I’d buy the Honda Pilot.
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Nuts & Bolts:
Bottom line: The Acura MDX is a very nice, well-equipped, well-done sport-utility vehicle. The Honda Pilot is a better value.
Ride, acceleration and handling: It gets good marks in all areas.
Note of concern: Many garages in Boston, Chicago and New York City are quick to apply an “SUV fee” of at least $10 in addition to whatever else is charged to park those vehicles.
Head-turning quotient for MDX: Big without being aggressive or intimidating. Moderate, appealing cosmetic changes to the front fascia for 2017.
Capacities: It seats up to seven people. Cargo capacity is an estimated 70 cubic feet with third-row seats folded. The fuel tank holds 19.5 gallons of gasoline. Regular grade is okay.
City/highway mileage: I averaged a combined 22 miles per gallon.
Safety: Standard equipment includes four-wheel disc brakes, ventilated front/solid rear; four-wheel anti-lock brake system; emergency braking assistance; pre-collision safety system; stability and traction control; advanced electronics safety system suite; LED headlamps; side, head and front knee air bags.
Pricing: The MDX has been a bestseller for several years, and Acura dealers apparently want to keep it that way. The manufacturer’s final transaction price, fully loaded, is $57,340.