By Keith Buglewicz
KBB Expert Rating: 8.4
The Acura MDX dominates the luxury crossover SUV market for one simple reason: it does everything well. Whether you want a luxurious family hauler, an agile and fun driving machine, or just seek the quiet and comfort of a luxury brand, the Acura MDX has it. This year, the 2016 Acura MDX ups the ante on all of that with a new 9-speed automatic transmission to improve acceleration and fuel economy, a revised all-wheel-drive system to improve agility and safety, and a host of new technologies to help keep the MDX and its passengers safe and sound. It's in a just-right-sized package that offers excellent reliability, giving SUVs like the Infiniti QX60 and Audi Q7 a run for their money.
If you’re looking for a luxury SUV big enough to hold the entire family, luxurious enough to impress the neighbors, and reliable enough to keep well past the last payment date, the 2015 Acura MDX is an easy pick.
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Acura has wasted no time in updating its best-selling SUV. The 2016 Acura MDX offers up a new 9-speed automatic transmission, a new all-wheel-drive system, and a new suite of active safety features known as AcuraWatch that includes camera-based Road Departure Mitigation, and the pedestrian-sensing collision mitigation and braking system.
With a powerful V6 engine, available all-wheel drive, agile handling, and luxurious surroundings, the tough-to-beat 2016 Acura MDX dominates its luxury SUV competition. The engine is paired with a new...
... 9-speed automatic transmission this year. While we haven't driven the MDX with this new gearbox, we have high expectations since we liked the same transmission in the 2015 Acura TLX, once we got used to its peculiar push-button interface. Also new is a dual-clutch rear differential for its Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD). Combined with the stiff structure and driver-selectable modes on AWD models, and you have a sharp-handling luxury SUV that neatly splits the difference between the too-soft Lexus RX and too-stiff BMW X5. When you're just cruising, Acura's active noise cancellation help enhance an already quiet interior, while the adaptive cruise control with low-speed follow make road trips – or even ugly commutes – that much easier.
JEWEL EYE LED HEADLIGHTS
Acura's "Jewel Eye" headlights have become a signature look for the brand, and that's fine by us. Not only do they give the nose of the MDX and other Acura cars a striking appearance, the LED headlights recreate the daylight spectrum for better visibility at night and less eyestrain.
PUSH-BUTTON 3RD-ROW ACCESS
All 3rd-row access should be this easy. Just push a button on the 2nd-row seat in a new MDX, and it flips and folds quickly, without having to strain, lug or tug. Other SUV manufacturers should take notes.
The new Acura MDX interior carries over from last year, except for the new 9-speed automatic's push-button shifter. Acura's restrained luxury emphasizes comfort and ease-of-use, with luxuriant leather, soft-touch surfaces, and expensive-feeling buttons and switches. It'd be nice if the wood was real, and competitors like the Infiniti QX60 and Audi Q7 have a bit more artistry, but those are minor points. The uncluttered interface is thanks to a pair of LCD displays that perform most operations, and do it well once you get used to the setup. We particularly like how the easy-fold 2nd-row seat.
Acura has abandoned weirdness and returned to its handsome roots, and we should all be thankful. The Jewel Eye headlights are the centerpiece of MDX SUV styling, and while the "power plenum" grille still exists, it's nowhere near the gaudy shield that kicked off Acura's in-the-woods styling of the late 2000s. Instead, we get classy, well-proportioned and clean lines that are a definite step forward from the last-generation model. It's also less bulky, meaning that it's easier to maneuver in tight parking places.
For 2016, the Acura MDX lineup technically comes only one way, with various options packages upping the equipment levels and price. The basic MDX comes with the 3.5-liter V6 engine and 9-speed automatic transmission. Beyond that, there are the LED headlights, keyless entry with push-button start, a backup camera, 3-zone climate control, and a power liftgate. You also get heated front seats and an 8-speaker audio system that includes Aha Radio and Pandora. The Acura MDX backs up its 5-star and IIHS Top Safety Pick + crash test ratings with seven airbags, and trailer-sway control on all-wheel-drive models.
Available on all 2016 MDX models is the new AcuraWatch suite of driver-assist technologies, adding adaptive cruise control with low-speed follow, collision mitigation braking, lane departure warning, and several other safety systems. On top of that, there's the Technology Package, which includes a multi-view rear camera and navigation; an Advance Package that adds a remote engine start, head-up warning and "auto idle stop" (which shuts off the engine when you're at a stoplight to save fuel); and an Entertainment package that adds a rear-seat entertainment system. All-wheel drive is available on every MDX model.
You get one engine with the new Acura MDX: a 3.5-liter V6 with 290 horsepower, powering either the front or all four wheels. The new 9-speed automatic transmission features a push-button interface rather than a traditional shift lever, and paddle shifters on the steering wheel. Acura uses several tricks to improve fuel economy, such as Variable Cylinder Management, which shuts down three of the six cylinders during cruising and deceleration to improve economy. MDX models with the Advance Package include auto idle stop to improve the SUV's mpg. Interestingly, though, fuel-economy numbers drop a little bit this year depending on the model, although auto idle stop helps mitigate that a little. We'd still say that fuel economy of up to 27 mpg is still pretty good.
290 horsepower @ 6,200 rpm
267 lb-ft of torque @ 4,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/27 mpg (front-wheel drive), 20/27 mpg (front-wheel drive with auto idle stop), 18/26 mpg (all-wheel drive), 19/26 (all-wheel drive with auto idle stop)
A standard front-wheel-drive 2016 Acura MDX will run you just under $44,000 after you include the $920 destination charge. As you add Technology, AcuraWatch, Entertainment, and Advance packages the price climbs to a peak of $56,000 for a front-wheel-drive MDX SUV. Across the board, all-wheel drive adds about $2,000. With a peak price that's less than $60,000, which compares very favorably to competitors like the BMW X5 and Audi Q7, both of which start closer to $50,000 and can easily top $80,000 when fully optioned. The Lexus RX starts for less, but it only seats five, and can't match the MDX when it comes to standard features. Check out KBB.com’s Fair Purchase Price to find out what others in your area are actually paying for a new MDX. As a long-term investment, the 2015 MDX is expected to maintain some of the highest residual values among luxury SUVs.