He said/She said: 2010 Acura MDX

Barbara ? We don?t think of the MDX as the typical SUV, it?s more like the first of the crossovers or as we used to call them, soft-roaders.? These SUV-style vehicles made more sense for the average user.? Typical owners wanted the muscular SUV look, slightly higher seating position, expanded cargo capacity and more of a go anywhere ability.? What they didn?t want was having to climb up into the cabin, be subjected to a rough ride or the noise, which often came from aggressive tire treads.

The desired go anywhere ability was mostly limited to foul weather handling on paved, or at worst, a muddy dirt road.

In short, what a lot of shoppers wanted was something like a wagon version of the Acura TL sedan with a higher ride level and a more rugged persona, and that?s exactly what the MDX provides.

Bill ? I?m not sure how typical we are, but that?s exactly why we liked the MDX.

Since its introduction in 2001, we?ve driven dozens of Acura MDXs, and with each new model it?s fun to see the latest innovations.? The advancements are seldom features like auto locking axles or hill decent control, it?s fun things navigation or audio systems or advanced safety features.

For 2010, the most notable changes center on drivetrain, chassis and technology.

Barbara ? The new MDX gets a more aggressive front-end treatment complete with Acura?s signature grille.? The rear has rolled edge polished stainless-steel exhaust finishers and brighter LED taillights.

Engineers worked hard to keep weight down, too, expanding the use of magnesium, aluminum and lightweight high-strength steel.

The interior is more luxurious than ever, especially when equipped with the Technology Package, which adds premium Milano leather in addition to the fantastic navigation and audio systems.

Unfortunately, Acura has done like everyone else and added a third row of seating; I just don?t see the MDX as a seven passenger model, but that seems to be what consumers want.

Bill ? New under the MDX hood is a 300-hp, 3.7-liter V-6 engine, and a new Sequential SportShift six-speed automatic transmission with a multi-clutch torque converter.? I like that the driver has the option of letting the transmission work automatically or shifting manually using the steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters. ?With Grade Logic Control, Shift Hold Control, Cornering G Shift Control and Hill Start Assist, this is the most advanced automatic transmission Acura has offered.

Barbara ? Priced at $43,040, including the destination charge, the MDX has an extensive list of standard equipment from leather seating and all power to premium audio with Bluetooth.? The three available option packages advance the MDX to an amazing level. The Technology Package ($3,675) includes Milano leather, rear-view camera, AcuraLink satellite communications, the navigation system with voice recognition, real-time traffic and weather, 60 GB hard disk drive and one of the best audio systems in the business.? The Advance Package ($9,625) includes the technology package features, adaptive cruise, active damper system, collision mitigation braking, blind spot information and ventilated front seats.? The Entertainment Package ($1,900) adds a rear entertainment system and heated rear seats.

Bill ? With its powerful engine and smooth new six-speed automatic transmission MDX is almost like a wagon version of the impressive TL sedan.? The performance is very strong with a 7.6-second 0 to 60 mph acceleration time.? With the new Active Damper System, it puts the MDX into a new category of handling.? On the Sport setting, the system individually adjusts the shock absorber damping in as little as five milliseconds to control body movements.? The result is a flat, controlled ride more like a sport sedan than an SUV.? The Comfort setting makes it ride more like a luxury sedan.

The new transmission helps the fuel economy, which is now 16 mpg city and 21 mpg highway.? During a week of mixed driving, including a long drive in the country, we averaged a respectable 19.6 mpg.

Barbara ? My tastes always run toward styling and the creature comforts, and the MDX gets high marks for both.? I especially like the elegant interior in this latest model.? There?s lots of competition in this category, and the MDX is one of the best.

Bill ? My preferences always run more toward the technology and performance, and MDX gets top marks in these areas.? I can think of no other SUV that has the level of great gadgets as are found in the MDX, and I especially like that Barbara can be programming the navigation system while I?m driving.? No stopping needed!

The performance and handling are excellent, too.? It?s not the fastest SUV on the block, but it?s certainly fun to drive.

That?s two thumbs up for the MDX.

mada, Porsche Cayenne, Toyota Sequoia, Volkswagen Touareg, Volvo XC90

[Rating:8.5/10]

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