One of the best tests of our long term vehicles is the road trip. Thanks to extended time in the saddle, we’re able to unveil a car’s virtues and vices. Sometimes it can be a long cross country jaunt, or in this case, a mini-trip to Phoenix over two days in our 2016 Acura MDX which covered more than 680 miles and a solid 12-plus hours of wheel time.

While most of it was spent on freeways, the trip reinforced our view that the MDX is a well-sorted, roomy crossover SUV with plenty of driver aids and assists to make both everyday commuting and weekend getaways easy on both the backside and the brain. The comfy seats, adaptive cruise control and blind spot warning help combat fatigue while at the same time providing the safety benefits of having a co-pilot. The adaptive cruise in particular is easy to use with a handy steering wheel switch to select the following distance of the traffic ahead and it eliminates the need to tap the accel/decel switch—though if you prefer a more manual approach to cruise, that option is still available to you.

Plenty of redundant controls

The Acura’s dual screen setup in the center console is both a blessing and a curse. It offers plenty of redundancy in control strategies (you can actually manually program the nav system either using the lower touchscreen or the upper screen via the rotary controller). And as much as I prefer using more traditional controls, like the volume knob on the radio, the setup is complicated and loses some of its intuitiveness, especially when it relies primarily on the touch screen for such functions as the heated seats and fan speed for the HVAC system. The rotary dial does come in handy though when adjusting the scale on the map or scrolling through radio stations manually.

The other new feature in the 2016 Acura MDX is the 9-speed automatic transmission, which is fairly seamless in operation and helps our all-wheel drive test vehicle routinely return mid-20s fuel economy. (I logged an average of 24.1 mpg outbound and 25.3 mpg on the return). But sometimes on light application of the throttle from a stop, the vehicle seems to hesitate as it decides whether it wants to start out in first or second gear. And you’re certainly aware of the powertrain in stop-and-go situations when the automatic start/stop system is activated (it’s always default on, you have to manually override). Although the cycling process is fairly seamless, it does impact operation of engine-dependent systems -- like the climate control -- which also shut down whenever the engine switches off.

Out on the open road, the 2016 Acura MDX makes an ideal mount for mixing it up with semis and civilian traffic. The high seating position gives you a great view of the road and the stout 290-horsepower V6 has plenty of reserves for passing maneuvers. After just a taste of what this MDX can do in a relatively short trip, we look forward to longer treks in the days ahead.

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


Long-Term Update: Comfort

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