Full 2009 Acura MDX Review
What's New for 2009
There are no significant changes for the 2009 Acura MDX.
Has that Escalade or Suburban got you down? Perhaps you bought way more SUV than you really need, and now something smaller and sportier is in order.
Or maybe your spouse is nagging you to sell that luxury sport sedan for something more practical. If so, perhaps you're on the hunt for something bigger (but still sporty).
In both cases, the solution to these infomercial-like dilemmas could very well be the 2009 Acura MDX. Although it's not as spacious as seven-passenger crossovers from Ford, GM and Mazda, the three-row MDX does provide more space for passengers and their stuff than any other midsize luxury-branded utility vehicle. At the same time, thanks to a trick all-wheel-drive system and an available adjustable suspension, the MDX delivers impressive handling for those who are being dragged kicking and screaming out of their fun-to-drive sedans and into a family-friendly rig. Fuel economy's not bad either, given its 300-horsepower V6.
If high-tech toys are your game, the MDX is sure to please. Even the base model gets loads of standard equipment, including xenon headlights, tri-zone climate control, Bluetooth and satellite radio. Stepping up to the options packages brings such goodies as voice-activated controls, rear-seat DVD entertainment and an excellent navigation system with Zagat restaurant ratings and real-time traffic. Audiophiles will find the Panasonic/ELS surround-sound system that comes with the Technology and Sport packages a must-buy -- it's one of the best around.
Overall, the 2009 Acura MDX is a well-balanced midsize luxury SUV with solid sporting credentials. And since the MDX offers some of both worlds when it comes to performance and utility, alternatives can fall on both sides of the spectrum. If performance and handling are bigger priorities than family hauling, the BMW X5, Infiniti FX35 and Porsche Cayenne are worth taking a look at. Competitors on the family-friendly side of things include the Buick Enclave, Ford Flex Limited and Mazda CX-9 Grand Touring. The similarly priced Lexus RX 350 is also worth checking out, although it is smaller. But in our opinion, the MDX represents a pretty good middle ground among all these other choices. And -- in keeping with the infomercial theme -- it can be yours for a reasonable price.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2009 Acura MDX is a midsize seven-passenger crossover SUV. Standard equipment includes 18-inch wheels, xenon HID headlights, a sunroof, tri-zone automatic climate control, a power tilt/telescoping steering column, heated eight-way power front seats with driver lumbar adjustment, a 50/50-split-folding third-row seat, leather upholstery, a trip computer and Bluetooth. An eight-speaker stereo with an in-dash six-CD changer, satellite radio and an auxiliary audio jack is also standard.
There are three options packages available (although Acura considers them trim levels). The Technology Package adds a power liftgate, a cell phone address book downloading feature that connects via Bluetooth, a voice-activated navigation system with real-time traffic, GPS-linked and solar-sensing climate control and a 10-speaker Panasonic/ELS surround-sound system. The Sport Package includes all the Technology Package items, plus an active sport suspension, auto-leveling headlights, different 18-inch wheels, perforated leather upholstery and metallic interior trim. The Entertainment Package can be ordered with either of the former packages and includes heated second-row seating, a 115-volt house-style power outlet and a rear-seat DVD entertainment system.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2009 MDX is powered by a 3.7-liter V6 that produces 300 hp and 275 pound-feet of torque. A five-speed automatic transmission with manual shift control is standard. The MDX features the same "Super Handling" AWD system (SH-AWD) found in Acura's RL and TL sport sedans, which is capable of transferring different levels of power to individual wheels to maximize traction and grip through turns and in inclement weather. In performance testing, we found that the MDX goes from zero to 60 mph in 8.1 seconds. Fuel economy is an estimated 15 mpg city/20 mpg highway and 17 mpg combined. When properly equipped, the MDX's maximum towing capacity is 5,000 pounds.
Standard safety equipment for the MDX includes antilock disc brakes with brake assist, front-seat side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags, active front head restraints and stability control with a stabilizing feature for trailer towing. In government crash tests, the 2009 Acura MDX earned a top five-star rating in both frontal and side-impact tests. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the MDX a top score of "Good" for occupant protection in frontal offset and side-impact crashes. These crash-test performances are among the best in the MDX's class.
Interior Design and Special Features
The MDX's cabin is a high-tech parent's dream. Even the base model has its fair share of electronic toys, and the Technology and Sport Packages add even more goodies. The Panasonic/ELS surround-sound system is quite simply one of the best in the business, as is the navigation system. With all these items to control, however, the MDX's dash is cluttered with buttons. It can be overwhelming at first, but once you know where everything is, it becomes intuitive.
The MDX is one of the more spacious three-row midsize luxury crossover SUVs on the market. An adult could fit in the third row for a short journey, although the rearmost seats are better suited for kids. A total of 83.5 cubic feet of cargo space is available with the second and third rows folded, which is also above average for a midsize luxury crossover.
For a three-row SUV, the 2009 Acura MDX does a fine job of driving as if it's not one. On curvy roads, the MDX is an eager partner thanks to the SH-AWD. There's a sensation of the torque shifting from wheel to wheel during hard cornering, cluing the driver into the magic behind the electronic curtain, but it all happens so effectively that it's encouraging rather than distracting. Equipped with the Sport Package, the MDX's two-mode dampers soak up the bumps when necessary and firm up when the pace quickens.
The 3.7-liter V6 isn't quite as smooth as we've come to expect from Acura's past V6s, but it's hard to argue about its power. Acceleration is a shade soft until the tach needle builds momentum, at which point the engine pulls with enthusiasm. The MDX's five-speed automatic transmission readily provides transparent and smooth upshifts and downshifts when the throttle is prodded.