Acura turns out a luxurious performer with the MDX
This week’s vehicle spotlight is on the 2020 MDX – Acura’s flagship three-row luxury crossover vehicle that has an emphasis on both sport and luxury.
Most will agree that the MDX is a good looking SUV, and because of that, not much has changed with the exterior over the past few years. The MDX continues to have that unique look from other SUVs – making it easy to spot and find in crowded parking lots full of SUVs. And it’s the perfect height too – high enough to see above traffic, but not too tall that makes getting in and out of difficult.
Occupants will like the inside of the MDX for various reasons. Some will fall for the luxurious comfort provided by the excellent seats that are both heated and vented, while others will be impressed with all the buttons and gadgets found throughout the cabin.
Like most Acuras, the cabin of the MDX is loaded with cutting-edge technology. The center console is occupied by two screens that make up the infotainment, climate and nav systems. It’s a nice setup – but maybe a little overkill. More than once I’ve wondered if the dual screens is really necessary. Thankfully all the controls and features are simple and easy to use.
As the cabin has a look and feel of luxury, the shift selector appears to be NSX super car-inspired. They may appear strange at first but the buttons and their actions seem natural and after a short time in the MDX, using them becomes second nature.
When equipped with the Technology and Advance Packages, the MDX gets a multiview parking camera, navigation system, real-time traffic and weather updates, an adaptive suspension, adaptive cruise control, auto-leveling headlights and a blind-spot warning system. So not only is the MDX very high-tech, it’s also very safe.
Backseat passengers are not forgotten either. When equipped with the Entertainment Package the MDX is fitted with an ultrawide 16.2″ DVD display with wireless headsets, heated seats and even side sunshades. The third row is easy to access and decent for short trips. For serious cargo hauling, both second and third row seats can be folded down to accommodate about 84 cubic feet worth of stuff.
At the heart of every Acura MDX is a 3.5 liter V6 engine that makes 290 horsepower and 267 lb-ft of torque. A nine-speed automatic transmission is used to send the power to the front wheels, or all the wheels in the case of all-wheel drive models.
For 2020, the MDX is offered with Acura’s A-Spec package. Typically a performance trim package, on the MDX the A-Spec gives it unique 20-inch alloy wheels, slightly different exterior styling and special badging. Inside there is a different steering wheel and sport seats with Alcantara inserts. Also, second-row seating is reduced from three to two, making this MDX a six-passenger SUV. While there are no performance gains with the A-Spec package, it does give the MDX an appearance that it is geared for the driving enthusiast. All A-Spec MDX’s come with Acura’s all-wheel drive system.
Acura’s “Super-Handling” all-wheel drive system (SH-AWD) is quite amazing. It not only distributes power between the front and rear axles (like most other all-wheel drive systems do), but also between the left and right wheels. This not only lends itself to excellent traction, but increases the handling capabilities of the MDX. As you might have guessed, like everything else on the MDX, SH-AWD is very sophisticated and high-tech.
It hasn’t taken me long to discover that the 2020 MDX is one fine driving machine, hardly feeling like the three-row SUV that it is. Initial acceleration is brisk enough without being a rocket ship, but once the MDX gets moving, the engine pulls with enthusiasm. The SH-AWD system isn’t always noticeable, but the Acura’s precise handling is, making the MDX a fun SUV to drive. When the weather takes a turn for the worse, the SH-AWD becomes a driver’s best friend.
The MDX has always been a good seller for Acura – it’s one of the best-selling three-row luxury SUV out there. And one thing that separates it from other typical luxury SUVs is that buried within the three-rows of seats, there is a bit of a sports car in there. For the family that would like to have an NSX but needs an SUV, well, there is the MDX A-Spec.
— Christopher A. Randazzo
By The Numbers:
2020 Acura MDX AWD A-Spec
Base Price: $54,900.00
Price as Tested: $56,295.00
Layout: front-engine / all-wheel drive
Engine: 3.5 liter SOHC V6
Transmission: nine-speed automatic
Horsepower: 290 hp
Torque: 267 lb-ft
EPA Fuel Economy: 19 city / 25 highway mpg
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