What's New for 2001
Acura brings a new sport-utility vehicle to the marketplace, combining great on-road performance, class-leading fuel economy and outstanding all-weather handling with seven-passenger seating and cavernous cargo capacity.
Acura may be late to the SUV party, but they've decided to come dressed to the nines with a uniquely transformable interior wrapped in an angularly attractive skin supported by a four-wheel independent suspension and 17-inch alloy wheels.
With its standard 240-horsepower, 3.5-liter VTEC V6 (which meets ULEV regulations nationwide) and electronically controlled five-speed automatic transmission, the MDX delivers better performance than many of its competitors. With an estimated EPA rating of 17 city and 23 highway, the MDX is also one of the most fuel-efficient SUVs in its class.
Power travels to the wheels through Acura's new Variable Torque Management (VTM) full-time four-wheel-drive system, which uses sensors to determine the vehicle's dynamic position and transfers engine torque to the wheels with the most grip. Unlike conventional automatic 4WD systems, Acura's proactively distributes engine torque during acceleration before wheel slip occurs. Unlike a Mercedes ML320, the MDX doesn't have a 4WD-low gear range and the towing capacity is low (at 3,500 pounds) for its class.
In terms of appearance, MDX includes Acura's signature pentagon grille, clean headlamp treatment and sharply chiseled front fascia, but with a muscular look appropriate to an SUV. Some of us find the bulky nose a bit off-putting, but from most viewpoints, the MDX is quite a looker. We like to think of it as a luxury off-road minivan that you can take through the brush all day, and the valet will still front-line it for you when you reach Spago for lunch.
Inside, the MDX features second- and third-row seats that split and fold flat into the floor, creating an interior that can be easily reconfigured from seven-passenger hauler (though we wouldn't recommend adults trying to cram in the third row) to a flat-floor Home Depot runner in a matter of seconds. Large, flowing shapes dominate the instrument panel and center console, which is highlighted by wood-grained trim.
The MDX comes with a comprehensive list of standard equipment, including leather seating surfaces (on first- and second-row seating), eight-way power and heated front seats, side airbags for front passengers, keyless entry, power moonroof, automatic climate control and a multi-function digital trip computer.
Opt for the Touring Package and the front seat positions become linked to the key fob remotes, plus you get a 200-watt Acura/Bose stereo with in-dash six-disc CD changer as well as a handy roof rack. An optional DVD navigation system, mapped for all the 48 contiguous states, is also available.
Sure, Acura may be a latecomer to the SUV party, but this is by far the most agreeable urban runabout to ever hit this segment. However, if serious boulder bashing or towing is in your future, shop elsewhere.