Having driven our long-term 2016 Acura MDX on a short road trip to Santa Barbara a few weeks ago, it was a natural choice when a short-notice road trip from Los Angeles to San Francisco suddenly appeared on my schedule. The MDX was already a good road tripper in my mind thanks to its numerous driver-assist features. With three kids in the car and twice as many miles to drive, I was curious if my short-drive infatuation would translate into a long-distance love affair.

Turns out, "love" is too strong a word, but I'm still glad the MDX is in our fleet. The active cruise control and lane-keeping assist proved useful on the long, boring stretches that make up California's central valley, the former slowing the car as I approached slower traffic, and the latter gently nudging me now and then to ensure I was in my lane and nobody else's. The rear-seat entertainment system worked perfectly, easily recognizing the HDMI-connected iPad, and keeping the kids occupied while I was able to listen to my own music while the miles droned by. The V6 engine in the MDX is, in my opinion, one of the best out there. It's powerful enough to make short work of passing big rigs or whatever obstacles impeded progress -- along with a satisfying growl at full throttle -- and quietly smooth the rest of the time. In Comfort mode, the ride was more than acceptable, and even the balky 9-speed automatic was fine once it warmed up. With just the four of us in the car, we were comfortable for the most part, and the miles whizzed by.

Cargo limitations

On the downside list, the V6 only got about 23 mpg, well short of its 26 mpg EPA highway estimate. The ELS sound system lacked any bass punch, its highs were too sharp, and it was all but inaudible in the third row. The MDX is also on the small side, meaning you get cargo room or space for 7 people, but not at the same time. We could barely fit two suitcases behind the third row, and during movie time, that third seat was cramped enough that one kid actually gave up and joined me up front. The middle-position in the second row was even worse for movie-time, since you basically stare at the ceiling. Yes, I know, #firstworldproblems and all that, but it was a drag nonetheless. The flip side is that there was plenty of space with just two in the second row, and during shorter hops around town when my sister and niece joined us, there was no griping coming from the third row. The conclusion: Keep the crowd small, or keep the trip short.

Our long-term MDX worked well, and I'm glad we had it. But for those times when a road trip is either longer or more crowded, I'd choose the room and cargo space of our long-term Kia Sedona over the technology of the MDX.

See past reports for our long-term 2016 Acura MDX...


Long-Term Update: Comfort

Long-Term Update: Road Trip Lite

Long-Term Update: Utility

Long-Term Update: Powertrain

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