Since inception, the Acura MDX has combined Honda’s feeling of longevity with an extra dose of added class. I suspect those who purchase the MDX like it very much, but in recent times, controversial grille designs and an overly-complicated infotainment system connected the three row crossover a little too closely to other Acuras. Subtle changes for 2017 aim to correct deficiencies while building on strengths.
Let’s just go straight to exterior styling and that new grille. Gone is the giant belt buckle, replaced by a version of Acura’s new “diamond pentagon grille” as seen on last year’s Precision concept car. It’s not particularly distinctive, but looks good with the restyled hood, front fenders, side sills, and facias. LED headlights and fog lights glisten up front while dual exhaust tips shine out back. Place it all over 20-inch wheels and the updates give the MDX a look that Acura calls “executive athletic.”
If the exterior is executive athletic, then the interior is luxurious mystic. It’s luxurious with supple leather, heated/cooled front seats, and a heated steering wheel. Real wood on the dash and doors is available with the Advance package. So are second-row captain’s chairs. Tri-zone automatic climate control keeps everybody comfy. Five passengers fit easily; seven squeeze in for shorter trips.
Beyond luxury touches, interiors are loaded with a suite of electronics that are both entertaining and frustrating. Bose audio, rear seat video system with flip-down widescreen, four USB charging ports, and SMS text messaging work well. Navigation could be far easier to program, but it got us there.
But, oh the complete nonsense that’s Acura’s two-screen infotainment set-up. This version seems easier to use, but it is complication without reason. Safety is enhanced with a surround-view camera system, adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assist, lane centering control, blind spot warning, and forward collision mitigation systems.
Given the smooth powertrain, you may be tempted to get a ticket. Under the newly-sculpted hood is a 3.5-liter V6 engine delivering 290 horsepower and 267 lb.-ft. of torque. I could do without auto idle-stop that pauses the engine at rest, but I’m a fan of variable displacement that shuts down three cylinders at cruise to conserve fuel. A nine-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel-drive deliver power to the street. Fuel economy ratings of 19/26-MPG city/hwy are pretty good for a large crossover.
During a four-hour round-trip to attend a mid-century furniture sale, the MDX was a perfect traveling companion. The peppy engine worked with the smooth, yet athletic, chassis to maintain almost any speed you please without an ounce of drama from beneath. Supportive leather seats, navigation, and the Bose audio system were welcome traveling companions – even if the stupid two-screen infotainment arrangement came along too. Had I wanted to haul anything home, flipping down the rear rows of seats and powering open the hatch would have been a cinch.
Overall, the MDX is a very nice and luxurious ride let down slightly by cumbersome electronics. Keep your eyes straight ahead and there’s nothing but joy. That should be reassuring for Acura as it enhances the 2017 MDX to counter the Mercedes-Benz GLE, Infiniti QX50, Volvo XC90, GMC Yukon, Dodge Durango, and Hyundai Santa Fe. Prices start at $44,050, but rose to $59,340 fully commissioned.
2017 Acura MDX
- Seven-passenger, AWD crossover
- Powertrain: 290hp 3.5-liter V6, 9-speed transmission
- Suspension f/r: Ind/Ind
- Wheels: 20”/20” alloy f/r
- Brakes: disc/disc fr/rr with ABS
- Must-have features: Luxury, powertrain
- Fuel economy: 19/26 mpg city/hwy
- Assembly: Lincoln, AL
- Base/As-tested price: $44,050/59,340