2018 Acura MDX Review with Video

The basics: 
Starting price: $53,090 + taxes
As tested: $56,590 + taxes
Average fuel economy over a week: 13.5 L/100 kms (17 US MPG)
Competitors: Lexus RX, Audi Q7, Infiniti QX60, Land Rover Discovery, etc. 

This is the third Generation of the MDX, and it’s safe to say that Acura really knows what they’re doing here… It’s the most popular 3 row SUV in Canada, and was the first crossover SUV to offer that 3rd row of seats.  It’s dominated the market since it’s inception back in 2000, and amongst people I talk to, seems to be the standard by which the others will be judged.  People looking at an MDX would likely be considering things like a Lexus RX, Audi Q7, or Infinity QX60, and if the MDX isn’t best of the bunch, it definitely seems to be the most well known,  but to be honest it’s staring to feel to me like it’s a little in need of an update.  

This is the third Generation of the MDX, and it’s safe to say that Acura really knows what they’re doing here… It’s the most popular 3 row SUV in Canada, and was the first crossover SUV to offer that 3rd row of seats.  It’s dominated the market since it’s inception back in 2000, and amongst people I talk to, seems to be the standard by which the others will be judged.  People looking at an MDX would likely be considering things like a Lexus RX, Audi Q7, or Infinity QX60, and if the MDX isn’t best of the bunch, it definitely seems to be the most well known,  but to be honest it’s staring to feel to me like it’s a little in need of an update.  

If you feel like the MDX has been redesigned recently, it’s because the 2017 model year got a bit of a facelift in that Acura Changed the look of the MDX by adding their diamond pentagon grill, and adding redesigned LED Headlamps.  So yeah, it looks the part, from the outside, but when you get into it and start to drive it and really just live with it, you start to notice some of the little things that date back to the 2014 redesign.  Like the MDX is still running the same 3.5L powerplant from almost 5 years ago, and while it’s now been paired with a 9 speed automatic transmission, it still feels a bit thirstier than it should…  I’ve been averaging around 13.5L/100Km, which is about 17.5 US Miles per gallon.  So yeah, not exactly cheap on gas, but if it’s power that you would rather have  on hand when you need it, the MDX has you covered there with 290 pony’s and 267 pound feet of torque, and when you step on it, you feel it, especially if you used the MDX’s Intergrated Dynamics System which lets you select between three options for, Normal, comfort, or sport.  More on that in a bit…

Now the MDX is available in a Hybrid as well, and that version actually offers even more go, with 321 horses and 289 Pound feet of torque, and as you’d expect, better economy.  Now, we haven’t tested the Hybrid ourselves, but Acura is saying to expect around 9L/ 100Km, and I’ve heard other people say that they’ve gotten even better numbers than this, coming in around 8.5L / 100Km, which works out to 26 US Miles per gallon.  

Of Course, The MDX isn’t cheap, starting at over 56,000.  That’s over 8 grand more than the Infiniti QX60, but most of what you want in a luxury SUV does come standard on the MDX. All the models have AWD, every trim package includes things like power tailgate, a multi angle rear camera, Apple Car Play, a remote starter, acoustic glass, and Acura’s Active Noise and Sound Control, which, by the way, makes a real difference. At 100km/h with winter tires, the MDX measured an excellent 59 decibels. This thing is quiet to drive.  To my mind, there really isn’t much that you’d want to add should you want to option this thing up.  There is the sportier A-Spec version, but it’s a looks thing, engine and drive train are the same. Or of course the aforementioned hybrid, but that add on about 12 grand.


Now let’s get back to that aforementioned update that I said the MDX could use… There are rumors of a complete redesign in the pipes, with some people talking the 2020 model year, which isn’t that long to wait, but if you’re looking to pull the trigger on vehicle sooner than that, there are some things you’ll want to consider with the current MDX. As Far as a capable, luxurious, family hauler, this thing rocks.  There’s a reason it’s been a staple of the Luxury SUV Market since it’s release. It’s spacious, it’s comfy, and it feels and looks like a high end SUV.  The Fit and finish are right where you’d expect from a brand like Acura.  The seats are comfortable, and the cockpit has a sophisticated feel to it.  When my wife first got in the MDX she commented on how nice everything came across.  

The Dual screen system, while a little clunky to figure out and operate, feels hi-tech, kind of like you’ve got options out the wazoo, and to be honest, you do.  All the stuff you’d expect is here, Apple car play and Android Auto, bluetooth connectivity, nav, buttons for the dual zone climate control and heated seats, all stuff you’d expect from a Luxury SUV.  Now you find your way around all this tech via a touch screen on the lower screen, and a control wheels for the upper screen.  As you’d expect there are also buttons on the steering wheel to navigate all this stuff too, and if I’m being honest, it’s all just a bit much.

 It kinda makes the interior feel a bit clunky, if not even a little confusing.  I consider myself a tech guy as well as a car guy, but it took me a few days to figure all of this stuff out… and it just wasn’t…. Easy.  Like I definitely know people who would find some of this stuff overwhelming  and need someone to walk them through it. On top of that, once you do have it all figured out, it’s still just a bit, like I said, clunky… Like it all works well enough, but things like the display on the touch screen don’t show all the info you might want about a certain song unless you punch around a little bit… connecting to bluetooth was a bit laggy, and some of the functions with the control wheel just aren’t as intuitive as I would have expected form an SUV in this price range.  

Back to the Integrated Dynamic system I was mentioning before…  

These modes affect steering feel, throttle response, and which wheels are getting power when you’re driving through a curve.  That’s part of the MDX’s SH-AWD, which, for the unitiated, stands for Super handling All wheel drive.  They also change the exhaust note, and yeah, it’s noticeable… in a good way.  Now, It’s important to be clear here, and I actually found this a bit confusing, that the IDS system, whose switch is right here near the gear shift buttons, is not to be confused with the button with the button just above it, which chooses between Normal drive and Sport modes for the transmission….

See What I mean about things being a bit confusing in here?  That said, once you kinda get it all figured out, it does have everything you could want and then some, and works well enough.  Beyond these details though, I have to say the the interior of the MDX really shines, and this where we get into what I really just love it, and that’s how all around comfortable it is.  

The cockpit here is spacious and refined, with little comforts that really make the deference, like a power telescoping steering wheel, fully adjustable power seat with memory, lots of storage for things like your keys and wallet, and nice little touches like the wood inlays, and this grippy texture so you can just set your phone down and not worry about it sliding all over the place.  Keep going and you’ll find the back seats to be equally comfortable and spacious, with their own climate controls and ports for your passengers to charge their devices.  It also has this drop down screen for a DVD Player, and while it keeps with the theme of the 2018 feeling a bit dated, I still know lots of families that use these things, and like I mentioned before, for someone less tech savy, it’s straightforward plug and play.  Another nice feature was the included headsets in the back…and while I could totally see kids or teenagers borrowing these things and you never seeing them again, it’s a nice little perk that adds to the premium feel of the MDX.  The Flat floor and built in Sun shades are a nice perk too.

Keep going and you’ll find an optional third row that all things considered Acura has made relatively easy to access, with a simple push of a button for people to get in and out.  With the 3rd row stowed, the MDX offers just a tonne of rear storage here, were’ talking 1087 litres with the seats folded down. in our standardized trunk test we can easily fit everything and more, and still have lots of room for the dog, or anything else you’d want back there.  Use all the seating, and you’re still getting 424 litres, which is manageable, or if you really want to help your friends move, you can fold down all the rear sets and get a huge 1936 litres.

In our standardized Rear facing Car seat test, the MDX did fine, coming in at 28.5 Inches from the back of the front passenger seat to the glove box, and while I’m not a tall guy at 5’9, but I found the seats plenty roomy for what they are, and the whole package really makes for a really competent family hauler.  I would have loved to see things like a panorama sun room, like in the Audi Q7, or the double moonroof you can get in the infinity QX60,  as opposed to this smaller sun roof we have here, and we were a bit surprised to not find ventilated seats at this price point, but beyond that the MDX is joy to drive.  I was actually a bit surprised how good it felt on the road, almost truck like in it’s presence…

It feels big, and safe, but still sophisticated and refined in it’s driving and handling. The fit and finish inside are top shelf, and you feel like you’re in a luxury automobile, which really counts in the price range.  There were other little things that I liked about the acura too…  Like this Key…. Now, I don’t love how remote keys seem to be getting bigger and bigger, but this one feels worth it… , For example, it has these little lights on that show you how it’s communicating with the car… Anyone who’s used a remote start knows that one of the touchy things about it is that you click the buttons, but then have to wait until you’re outside to find out if you were actually within range for it to work, but not so with the MDX.  the key actually tells you if the remote start or lock and unlock buttons worked via these little lights. Yellow means the remote is trying to talk to the car, green means it worked, and red means no go.  Now it’s not exactly telsa’s drive your car with your phone remote, but it’s something, and i appreciate it.  

the MDX Can tow up to 2200 Kilograms, but for many people that won’t be enough… that aforementioned Audi Q7 beats it by a long shot with it’s beefier model towing up to 3400 Kilograms….  but it’s worth mentioning that it does cost a lot more, starting at just over 74,000 Canadian.  

So is the MDX right for your family?  Well, do you want a ride that feels like top shelf luxury from a name that’s earned it’s respect?  And if so, do you mind dealing with a somewhat stubborn infotainment system and taking the time to learn your way around it?  If you’re planning on owning the MDX for a long time, I think it might be worth it, and Like I said, my wife loved it.  

Family Wheels report card:
Family Wheels driver comfort score: 5/5
Family Wheels interior layout score: 3.5/5
Family Wheels infotainment system score: 3.0/5
Family Wheels interior noise score: 5/5 (59 dB @ 100 kms/h w/ winter tires)
Family Wheels performance score: 4/5
Family Wheels rear passenger score: 4/5
Family Wheels trunk score: 4/5
Family Wheels fuel economy score: 3/5
Family Wheels build quality score: 4/5
Family Wheels value score: 4/5

Family Wheels overall score: 39.5/50= 79%


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