2003 Acura MDX
This 2003 review is representative of model years 2001 to 2006.
By Dan Jedlicka of MSN Autos
Significantly more power, a standard stability control system and even an available new rearview television camera are among features that should keep the Acura MDX one of the most popular midsize sport-utility vehicles.
The all-wheel-drive MDX has been a hit since its arrival for 2001 as the first Acura-designed SUV. Its alluring combination of performance, luxury, refinement and competitive pricing has never allowed it to even begin collecting dust in showrooms.
The MDX is from Honda's upscale Acura division. It shares its basic design with the Honda Pilot, and the lineage of both can be traced to the carlike Honda Odyssey minivan. Such sharing of designs and components among successful vehicles helps hold down costs of attractive new models.
The stylish 4-door MDX has base prices ranging from $35,700 to $42,000. It comes as a base version and in four Touring trim levels.
All Touring versions have items such as a power front passenger seat, upgraded sound system with an in-dash 6-disc CD player and rain-sensing windshield wipers.
There's also leather upholstery for the first two seat rows, cruise control, heated front seats and power windows, mirrors and door locks.
Tight Third Row Seat
Second- and third-row seats split and fold into the floor to open up an impressive 82 cubic feet of cargo space. However, there isn't much cargo room with all seats in their normal position.
On the downside, fuel economy is an estimated 17 mpg in the city and 23 on the highway, and premium fuel is called for. But then, one can't expect much more from a powerful sport-ute that weighs 4,420 to 4,504 pounds.
Eliminating the need for a mechanical connection between the accelerator pedal and engine is a new drive-by-wire throttle system. It controls the throttle during transmission shifts for improved smoothness—a key asset with high-line sport-utilities.
Other significant new features are an all-wheel-drive system recalibrated to improve performance, particularly on low-friction surfaces. But off-road abilities are limited because there is no low-range gearing.
Steering has been refined to enhance road feel and reduce kickback on poor roads. Improved front brake calipers improve stopping abilities with the standard anti-lock brake system. Electronic brake force distribution allows better control during emergency stops.
New Safety Features
The list of improvements goes on—and on. For example, the MDX is sturdier because body rigidity has been increased 35 percent by reinforcing components such as the rear subframe and tailgate.
Redesigned alloy wheels make the MDX look sportier, and there are newly standard mudguards.
Other new features include automatic on-off headlights and automatic-up driver's-side window.
The new-generation, satellite-linked Acura Navigation System has a new voice recognition system, upgraded graphics and expanded database with more than 7 million points of interest. However, the system raises the MDX price to $40,500.
Order an MDX Touring with the navigation and entertainment systems and you're staring at a $42,000 list price.
But, with all its improvements and new features, the MDX is more desirable than ever.