2010 Acura MDX — Review
By James Tate of MSN Autos
Acura has taken the knife to its 7-passenger SUV, giving a mid-cycle face-lift to an already successful platform. While a new hood, side skirts and familial front fascia help the MDX to stand out from the mall-bound luxury ute crowd, the real news is under the hood. A new 6-speed automatic gearbox replaces the previous, slightly befuddled 5-speed unit and gives Acura's people-hauler some much needed confidence in gear selection.
Acura offers two other trim packages for the MDX, starting with the Technology Package. Features such as Milano leather seats, a navigation system, an excellent ELS Surround 10-speaker stereo and a multiview rearview camera all come along for the ride, as does a solar-sensing automatic climate-control system. If having more onboard tech than the space shuttle isn't enough electro-wizardry for you, Acura offers an Advance Package as well. On top of the Technology Package, you can expect radar-based adaptive cruise control, blind-spot sensors, vented front seats and auto-leveling headlights. The Advance Package also boasts larger 19-inch, 7-spoke wheels.
Under the Hood
Those numbers are partly thanks to the aforementioned 6-speed automatic transmission. The gearbox is a serious improvement over the 5-speed unit found in the last generation MDX. Where the old transmission seemed to hunt and pick for the appropriate gear, the new 6-speed is decisive and precise. Shifts are quick and smooth, and that extra cog allows the engine to breathe easier at highway speeds — offering up 1 mpg more than the 2009 model in both city and highway driving.
Just as before, the MDX comes with Acura's SH-AWD full-time all-wheel-drive system. The company says the system was honed on the brutal tarmac of the famed Nurburgring in Germany, and carries a slew of tech advancements to help the SUV corner quicker and make the most of the available horsepower. Those include the ability to shuffle power to the wheel with the most grip, and to spin the outside rear wheel 1.7 times faster than the ones on the inside of a curve to reduce understeer.
Fortunately, those way-back seats fold completely flat, giving up a Rhode Island-size cargo area. The rest of the cabin is light and airy, with great visibility from the captain's seat. The new multiview rear camera makes reverse maneuvers a cinch, though it's not as seamless as the "overhead" version in Infiniti's FX series.
On the Road
On the road, the MDX is quiet and well-mannered. The new 6-speed transmission does its job with zero fanfare, putting the vehicle in the right gear without any hesitation. We love the change. Acura says its SUV is quicker than the V6 Porsche Cayman, with a zero-to-60 sprint of around seven seconds. Thanks to that extra gear, it also manages better fuel economy.
Right for You?
James Tate cut his teeth in the business as a race team crew member before moving to the editorial side asSenior Editor of Sport Compact Car, and his work has appeared in Popular Mechanics, Automobile, Motor Trend and European Car. When not writing, Tate is usually fantasizing about a vintage Porsche 911.