KBB Editors' Overview
By KBB.com Editors - Updated Date: 12/6/2011
From its debut in 2001 right through to the current 2012 model, the Acura MDX SUV has continued to be one of our favorite SUVs. And we are not alone. In addition to critical acclaim, the MDX has always been well regarded by consumers, as measured by its consistently strong sales position in the segment (second only to the Lexus RX 350). Balance is the MDX's strong suit. It manages to combine good useful space and room for seven with reasonable overall size, and it is responsive and easy handling while still being comfortable and accommodating. Back in model year 2010, the MDX was significantly upgraded with a new powertrain and fresh exterior styling, and the 2012 Acura MDX remains in essentially that same form.
You'll Like This Car If...
Power, performance and usability make the 2012 Acura MDX an unusually capable premium midsize SUV. It also features a generous helping of clever, advanced technology.
You May Not Like This Car If...
Other players in the category, including the Lexus RX 350 and Buick Enclave, may offer more pure comfort and a softer attitude all around.
What's New for 2012
There are no major changes for 2012.
The fact that Acura introduced the current-generation MDX on a racetrack with other high-performance SUVS says quite a bit. The fact that the MDX put the biggest smiles on our faces says even more. When pushed hard, the MDX's 300-horsepower engine, sophisticated all-wheel-drive system and optional active-damping system combine to deliver an SUV that's remarkably fun to drive hard. We were also impressed by the MDX's off-road capability. Realistically, very few MDXs will ever see a racetrack or even a seriously muddy trail, but the athletic MDX is plenty pleasing around town and on the highway.
A navigation system that provides real-time traffic and weather info and an audio system that delivers amazing 6-channel Surround Sound via any medium you want make this option group a must-have.
Apply some power in a hard corner and the MDX's Super Handling All-Wheel Drive system transfers extra torque to the rear outside wheel, delivering truer steering response and perceptibly higher cornering limits.
Though clearly focused on delivering exceptional performance, the 2012 Acura MDX does not compromise on practicality. A full 15 cubic feet of cargo capacity is available behind the third-row seats (only two cubic-feet less than the full-size Chevrolet Tahoe). Both rear rows fold flat to accommodate larger loads. The reclining second-row seats offer plenty of legroom, even for 6-footers. The third row, of course, is best for smaller folks and shorter trips. The MDX even offers a minivan-like 10 cupholders. Up front, the 2012 MDX is an attractive mix of sport, luxury and technology, with highlights that include perforated leather or premium Milano leather seats, simulated Koa wood or metallic trim and a collection of intuitive controls and LED lighting.
Good proportions, clean lines, pronounced wheel arches and an aggressive stance give the 2012 Acura MDX a strong presence on the road. Details such as high-intensity discharge (HID) headlights, turn signals integrated into the outside mirrors and LED taillights add to the high-tech flavor of the MDX. Opinion may split on the chrome "beak" grille treatment that is a corporate-Acura trademark, but at least it's recognizable. The 2012 Acura MDX is somewhat larger overall than the Lexus RX 350 and Volvo XC90.
Notable Standard Equipment
Even "standard" means very well equipped on the 2012 Acura MDX. You get the powerful V6 engine and sophisticated all-wheel-drive system, 18-inch alloy wheels, leather seats, power and heated front seats, power moonroof, HID headlamps, Bluetooth hands-free phone interface, a 253-watt 8-speaker audio system with 6-disc CD/MP3/WMA changer, 3-zone automatic climate control, an auto-dimming mirror, rear-view camera, steering-wheel-mounted audio and cruise controls, six airbags and electronic traction and stability controls.
Notable Optional Equipment
As is Honda/Acura practice, the 2012 Acura MDX's optional features are bundled into three distinct packages. The Technology Package includes a sophisticated navigation system with an 8-inch LCD screen, AcuraLink real-time traffic and weather reports, Zagat restaurant reviews, plus a DVD-Audio Surround Sound system and power rear liftgate. The Advance Package features active damping adjustment for the suspension, ventilated sport seats covered in rich perforated Milano leather, a sport steering wheel with paddle shifters, Collision Mitigating Braking System, Adaptive Cruise Control, blind spot information system, auto-leveling HID front headlamps and 19-inch alloy wheels. The Entertainment Package adds a DVD rear entertainment system.
Under the Hood
The V6 in the 2012 Acura MDX holds the distinction of being the most powerful engine Acura has ever offered. It works through a 6-speed automatic transmission and the clever Super Handling All-Wheel Drive system that manages the torque split not only between front and rear but also between the left and right rear wheels. In addition to cornering advantages, the system also makes for a less-intrusive stability control system. The available Active Damper System, in which the shock absorbers can change from soft to firm in milliseconds, helps mitigate the traditional trade-offs between a comfortable ride and spirited handling. The MDX features unibody construction and a fully-independent suspension, and can tow up to 5,000 pounds with the added benefit of a Trailer Stability Assist feature.
300 horsepower @ 6,300 rpm
270 lb-ft of torque @ 4,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 16/21
The 2012 Acura MDX's Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starts just under $44,000 and extends to a little over $55,000 when the top option packages are included. As a premium, in-demand vehicle, the MDX will likely see transaction prices fairly close to those MSRPs, which will be reflected in our Fair Purchase Price. The well-rounded, well-equipped MDX makes a worthy competitor to a wide range of premium SUVs - from the Volvo XC90 to the Porsche Cayenne - with pricing that we feel compares favorably to anything in the category. As for resale value, we expect the MDX to perform better than average, on par with its closest rival the Lexus RX 350 and much better than Cadillac SRX or Lincoln MKT.