2016 Acura MDX Advance SH-AWD Test Drive

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”2016 Acura MDX Advance SH-AWD”
Ups the ante with added options and enhancements
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The first generation Acura MDX made its debut in 2001 as the first 7-passenger luxury crossover. An all-new second-generation model bowed in 2007, all the while breaking new ground in the growing luxury SUV marketplace. The second generation MDX took the best qualities of its predecessor, expanding on them, and pushed ever forward on the performance front through suspension component tuning on Germany’s famed Nürburgring racetrack, while adding a higher level of sophistication through more luxurious appointments and technological offerings such as a new V6 engine, Acura’s Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) system and available Active Damper System with the Sport Package.


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The 2014 Acura MDX appeared marking the third generation with an all-new body and all-new platform. The exterior styling featured what Acura refers to as Executive Aero Sculpture with a sleek efficient look that reflects a tailored formal business air, with an emotional and expressive sophistication. The effect was a synergy between man and machine – appropriate to think of as an executive family jet with three rows of seating for seven on four wheels.
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In terms of its visual appeal, inspiration for the bold, lean and contemporary design execution continues with elements influenced by high-powered mega yachts — elements such as the adoption of large, clean surface areas accented by decisive line breaks, coupled with dynamic surface curvature treatments. The styling continues to reflect a harmonious blend of utility, luxury and tastefulness that is a continuation of themes found in other Acura vehicles, including the bold, but more subdued grille treatment. Up front, along with the new grille treatment, are distinctive LED Jewel Eye™ headlights that actually appear to be the eyes of an arachnid. Signature LED lighting also appears in the taillamp treatment.
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The 2016 Acura MDX is significantly upgraded with multiple new features and technologies, a more advanced powertrain along with an expanded model range. The enhanced 2016 MDX serves up even more advanced technology and exhilarating performance complementing the luxury, comfort and quietness inherent to Acura’s premium seven-passenger SUV. The 2016 Acura MDX is on sale now, with the manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) starting at $42,865.
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All new Acura MDX models will come equipped with a new advanced 9-speed automatic transmission that replaces the old 6-speed automatic sporting a push-button electronic gear selector that frees up room above the center console. All MDX SH-AWD models are also equipped with a new Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) system featuring a twin-clutch design that delivers enhanced torque transfer and handling capabilities. The 2016 MDX and MDX with Technology Package models may now be equipped with the AcuraWatch™ suite of advanced safety and driver-assistive technologies, which includes the first application of Road Departure Mitigation and Rear Cross Traffic Monitor to the MDX model line. The MDX models with the Advance Package come standard with AcuraWatch™.
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This latest iteration MDX adds numerous other luxury upgrades including a frameless rearview mirror, Siri™ Eyes Free voice recognition, an easy-entry/exit driver’s seat that moves 35mm rearward when the driver’s door is opened and TPMS fill assist that sounds an audible alert when the driver inflates the tire to the correct pressure. Additional upgrades, depending on trim, include a Multi-View Angle Rear Camera with Dynamic Guidelines (standard on all models), a bi-directional remote engine starter, idle stop and head up warning.

Doubling the model offerings, the new MDX is now available with AcuraWatch™ on all trims (standard on the Advance Package), while the Technology and Advance packages are optionally available with or without the Rear Entertainment System, replacing the earlier Sport Package while
delivering more content.

The 2016 Acura MDX continues to maintain the core elements that have ensured its continued popularity and success since the first generation. Still present is strong (yet efficient) V-6 power, Nürburgring tuned suspension, Acura’s acclaimed Super Handling All-Wheel Drive™ (SH-AWD®) system, ACE™ body structure There is a cache of state-of-the-art features including: Acura Navigation System with Voice Recognition™, AcuraLink Real-Time Traffic™ and a spectacular 10-speaker Acura/ELS Surround® Premium Audio System. The 2016 MDX delivers a host of features as standard equipment— such as a power operated tailgate and rearview camera. If that’s’ not enough to satisfy your requirements for comfort and convenience goodies, there’s an extensive list of available dealer installed accessories as well.
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The power source for the 2016 Acura MDX continues to be a 3.5 liter SOHC 24-valve i-VTEC®, Direct Injected V6 engine that generates 290 horsepower along with 267 pound feet of torque via an electronic (drive-by-wire) throttle to all four wheels through Acura’s SH-AWD as needed through a new electronically controlled 9-speed automatic transmission with Sequential SportShift and Grade Logic Control. The 3.5-liter Earth Dreams Technology engine with Variable Cylinder Management replaced the old 3.7-liter V-6, delivering slightly less horsepower and torque, but providing improved fuel economy. The MDX is Tier-2 BIN5 / LEV-2 ULEV in terms of emissions ratings and the large 19.5 gallon fuel tank allows for a long cruising range.
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Four Acura MDX trim levels will be offered: Base; Tech; Tech/Entertainment; and Advance/Entertainment. Base model pricing starts at $42,865 while the top-of-the-line MDX Advance/ Entertainment/SH-AWD begins at $57,080. Add $920 to the price of each model for Destination and Handling.

My 2016 Acura MDX test vehicle wore a Lunar Silver metallic exterior finish complemented by a Graystone and Ebony interior with simulated Koa wood-grained trim accents. It came equipped with the Advance, Tech packages, AcuraWatch features and SH-AWD. The base price was set at $56,400, while the final sticker totaled $57,340. after adding the destination and handling charge.
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The price admittedly represents a substantial investment, but keep in mind that this is a premium, luxury, 7-passenger SUV, with vastly improved seating features over earlier models. Second row seats move at the touch of illuminated buttons – one on the lower cushion and one on the second row seat back. Second row seating is split 60/40 and folds flat, while third row seats feature a 50/50 split also folding flat with auto-fold headrests. Front seats are ventilated and heated with the climate control system linked to the ECU. There is under floor storage behind the third row with a damped cargo lid.

SUMMARY: There are those who perceive the Acura MDX as falling into the SUV category, while others think of the MDX as a 7-passenger minivan. It reality, it qualifies as either, in addition to being a great deal more. The power is more than substantial, placing the MDX in the performance category with sedan-like handling characteristics and ride quality with Stability Control Vehicle Stability Assist™ with Traction Control System, and Trailer Stability Assist and Tire Pressure Monitoring System contributing to vehicle security and handling attributes.
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The Super Handling All Wheel Drive System is perhaps the most significant feature as far as vehicle stability and handling is concerned — SH-AWD™ “actively” varies the torque distribution between the front and rear axles, as well as between the left and right rear wheels, providing maximum grip under all driving scenarios. The system operates seamlessly and automatically, overdriving the outside rear wheel faster than the front wheels helping the vehicle to “rotate” around a corner. Active Handling Assist minimizes response delay, while extending torque vectoring by utilizing the brakes. Steering ratio is now 9% faster for reduced low-speed effort.

Other safety features include: Forward Collision Warning, Lane Departure Warning, Adaptive Cruise Control with Low-Speed Follow, Lane Keep Assist, Collision Mitigation Braking System and Front and Rear Park Assist.
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The high level of versatility and functionality that the 2016 Acura MDX provides, along with its luxury sedan-like amenities and ambience and the driver-oriented
Cockpit, are major plusses, while serving up both quiet and comfort, with improved NVH, whether seated up front or in the rear. Connectivity is courtesy of next generation AcuraLink with embedded and tethered services for content streaming. The MDX is capable towing a load of up to 5,000 pounds when properly equipped.

The 2016 Acura MDX represents yet another Acura project designed and engineered in the United States. The quality fit and finishes are reflective of the Acura brand, particularly in the MDX 5-door Advance and Entertainment model, which exemplifies the craftsmanship that has come to be expected of Acura vehicles — and the continued improvement that never seems to end. Factor in the vehicle limited warranty, along with the powertrain limited warranty, and the price tag really seems quite reasonable.

SPECIFICATIONS: 2016 Acura MDX Advance SH-AWD

Base Price: $56,400.
Price as Tested: $57,340.

Engine Type and Size: 3.5-liter, SOHC, 24-valve, i-VTEC, VCM, Direct Injection V-6 with Earth Dreams Technology and Drive-By-Wire throttle system.

Horsepower (bhp): 290 @ 6,200 rpm

Torque (ft./ lbs.): 267 @ 4,500 rpm

Transmission: Electronically controlled 9-speed automatic transmission with Sequential SportShift paddle shifters, Sport mode and Grade Logic Control.

Drive Train: Transversely mounted front engine / Super Handling-All-Wheel Drive.
Suspension: Front – Independent MacPherson suspension with telescopic, gas-filled Amplitude Reactive Dampers and 25.0 mm diameter stabilizer bar.
Rear – Independent multi-link suspension with telescopic, gas-filled Amplitude Reactive Dampers and 26.5 mm diameter stabilizer bar.

Brakes: Power-assisted 4-wheel discs (vented front), ABS with EBD, Brake Assist and VSA with Traction Control

Tires: Continental CrossContact Cross LX Sport 245/50 R20 – 102H all season, mounted on 5- “V”-spoke alloy wheels with machine face and graphite painted inners.
Wheelbase: 111.0 inches

Length Overall: 193.6 inches

Width: 77.2 inches

Height: 67.6 inches

Curb Weight: 4,268 lbs.
Turning Circle: 37.6 ft.

Fuel Capacity: 19.5 gallons

EPA Mileage Estimates: 19 mpg city / 26 mpg highway with idle stop.

Drag Coefficient: Not listed.

0 – 60 mph: Not tested.

Arv Voss is a Northern California based freelance motoring Journalist and member and past officer of several noted Automotive Journalist organizations who contributes regularly to a number of national and international media outlets. He reviews not only cars, trucks and SUVs, but motorcycles and unusual wheeled vehicles as well. 

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