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 pushing ever forward on the performance front through suspension component tuning on Germany’s famed N?rburgring 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.
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 is a synergy between man and machine ? think of it as an executive family jet with three rows of seating for seven on four wheels.
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, is distinctive LED Jewel Eye? headlights that actually appear to be the eyes of an arachnid. Signature LED lighting also appears in the taillamp treatment.
The 2015 Acura MDX measures 2.0 inches longer than the previous-generation MDX and has a 2.8-inch longer wheelbase. MDX?s height has been lowered by 1.5 inches, and rear step-in height is reduced by 1.8 inches compared to second-generation models. The front track is 1.4 inches narrower and the rear wheel track is 1.2 inches narrower, with vehicle width reduced by 1.3 inches. This latest MDX also weighs 275 pounds less. This results in the MDX presenting a 2 percent smaller frontal area for improved aerodynamic efficiency, and a slightly narrower body for improved garage-ability, while the longer wheelbase helps to enhance ride quality and interior spaciousness. Passenger hip points in the first and second rows are lower by 1.2 inches and the third row is lower by 1.4 inches, helping to improve the feeling of stability and reduced body roll for all occupants.
The 2015 Acura MDX continues to maintain the core elements that have ensured its continued success since the first generation. Still present is strong (yet efficient) V-6 power, N?rburgring 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 2015 MDX delivers a host of features as standard equipment? such as a power operated tailgate and rearview camera. An optional Entertainment Package with Acura’s DVD Rear Entertainment System is available with either the Technology or Advance Package, which replaced the earlier Sport Package while delivering more content. 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.
The power source fpr the Acura MDX is a 3.5 liter SOHC 24-valve i-VTEC?, Direct Injected V6 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 an electronically controlled 6-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 ? 2WD= 20 city and 28-mpg highway / AWD= 18 city and 27 highway. The MDX is Tier-2 BIN5 / LEV-2 ULEV in terms of emissions ratings and the large 21.0 gallon fuel tank allows for a long cruising range.
Four Acura MDX trim levels will be offered: Base; Tech; Tech/Entertainment; and Advance/Entertainment. Base model pricing starts at $42,565 while the top-of-the-line MDX Advance/ Entertainment/SH-AWD begins at $56,780. Add $895 to the price of each model.
My 2015 Acura MDX test vehicle wore a Dark Cherry Pearl metallic exterior finish complemented by a Light Gray and Charcoal interior with simulated Koa wood-grained trim accents. It came equipped with both the Advance and Entertainment packages (the rear entertainment system utilizes a 16.2-inch split screen display). The base price was set at $56,780, while the final sticker totaled $57,675. after adding the destination and handling charge. 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 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.
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 up to 1.7-percent 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.
The high level of versatility and functionality that the 2015 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.
The 2015 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.
[wptabs style=”wpui-light” effect=”slide” mode=”horizontal”]
?[wptabtitle] SPECIFICATIONS: 2015 Acura MDX Advance/Entertainment SH-AWD [/wptabtitle]
|Price as Tested:||$57,675.|
|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 6-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.|
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:||Michelin Latitude Tour 245/55 R19 mounted on 7-spoke alloy wheels.|
|Length Overall:||193.6 inches|
|Curb Weight:||4.255 lbs.|
|Fuel Capacity:||19.5 gallons|
|EPA Mileage Estimates:||18 mpg city / 27 mpg highway|
|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 as well.