What's New for 2011
The Acura MDX is unchanged for 2011.
The Acura brand is typically the purveyor of sensible luxury cars with strong value and copious features. You buy an Acura because it's reliable and well-made; ultimate brand cachet isn't as important. That mindset also applies to the 2011 Acura MDX, but in this case the MDX also happens to be one of the most luxurious and fun-to-drive midsize luxury crossover SUVs in its class.
Much of the fun-to-drive quality relates to Acura's so-called "Super Handling" all-wheel-drive system (SH-AWD). By proportioning power automatically to the outside wheels during cornering, the system helps make the MDX feel more agile and happier in the corners. Finally, well-controlled body roll and communicative steering contribute to a responsive crossover that drives much smaller than it is.
Inside, the MDX has a cabin that matches Acura's RL flagship for quality and certainly all of its similarly priced SUV competitors. Wood trim, soft-touch materials and high-quality switchgear create a luxurious ambience. As for features, even the base MDX comes with a wealth of standard equipment, and the three available option packages up the luxury and convenience quotient even further. If there's any point of contention, it's that the center stack is awash with buttons, though they prove to be intuitive once you know where everything is.
For the money, the 2011 Acura MDX makes a lot of sense. True, vehicles like the Buick Enclave and Ford Flex are roomier, but the Acura is certainly a more high-end item. The BMW X5 and Mercedes-Benz ML-Class are smaller and more expensive, the Infiniti FX is considerably smaller, the Land Rover LR4 is thirstier and more expensive, and the Lexus RX 350 lacks a third-row seat. All certainly have benefits of their own, but when it comes to being both sensible and desirable, the Acura MDX is second-to-none.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2011 Acura MDX is available in one trim level. Standard equipment includes 18-inch wheels, automatic xenon headlamps, foglamps, a power liftgate, a sunroof, privacy glass, heated eight-way power front seats, two-way adjustable driver lumbar, a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, leather upholstery, tri-zone automatic climate control, a rearview camera, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, Bluetooth and an eight-speaker sound system with six-CD changer, auxiliary audio jack and satellite radio.
The Technology package adds a multiview parking camera, GPS-linked and solar-sensing climate control, upgraded leather upholstery, a navigation system, real-time traffic and weather, voice controls and a 10-speaker Acura/ELS surround-sound audio system with digital music storage and an iPod/USB audio interface. The Advance package includes all Technology items and adds 19-inch wheels, an adaptive suspension, adaptive cruise control, a blind-spot warning system, the Collision Mitigation Braking System (CMBS), auto-leveling headlamps, a sport steering wheel and ventilated front seats. The Entertainment package, which can be added to the Technology or Advanced packages, adds a rear-seat entertainment system and heated second-row seats.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2011 Acura MDX is powered by a 3.7-liter V6 that produces 300 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission and Acura's "Super-Handling" all-wheel-drive system are standard.
In Edmunds performance testing, the MDX went from zero to 60 mph in 7.1 seconds. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 16 mpg city/21 mpg highway and 18 mpg combined. When properly equipped, the MDX's maximum towing capacity is 5,000 pounds.
Standard safety equipment for the 2011 Acura MDX includes antilock disc brakes with brake assist, front-seat side airbags, side curtain airbags, active front head restraints and stability control with a stabilizing feature for trailer towing. The optional CMBS, by monitoring following distance and rate of closure, alerts the driver if a collision seems probable via visual and auditory warnings. If a collision is imminent, the system can automatically apply hard braking and cinch up the front seatbelts.
In Edmunds brake testing, the MDX came to a stop from 60 mph in 123 feet -- a solid distance for this type of vehicle. The MDX has not yet been rated using the government's new, more strenuous 2011 crash tests. According to 2010 ratings (which aren't comparable to 2011 ratings) the Acura MDX earned a top five-star rating in all of the frontal-impact and side-impact tests. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave a top score of "Good" to the same vehicle for occupant protection in frontal offset and side-impact crashes.
Interior Design and Special Features
The MDX's cabin is a technology-lover's dream. Even the base model has its share of electronic toys, and the Technology and Advance packages add even more. Best of all, they are easy to use thanks to the use of not only buttons but also a multipurpose knob and voice commands. Basically, you can do things the way you prefer. The Panasonic/ELS surround-sound system is one of the best, as is the navigation system.
The MDX is pretty spacious for a three-row midsize luxury crossover SUV. An adult can fit in the third row for a short journey, although the rearmost seats are better suited for kids. If you want legitimate room for adults, the Buick Enclave or Ford Flex are better choices. 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 2011 Acura MDX does a fine job of acting as if it's not one. On curvy roads, the MDX is an eager partner thanks to the "Super-Handling" all-wheel drive. There's a sensation of torque shifting from wheel to wheel as needed during hard cornering, cluing the driver into the magic behind the electronic curtain, but it all happens so effectively that the result is encouraging rather than distracting. Equipped with the Advance package, the MDX's active dampers soak up the bumps when necessary and firm up when the pace quickens. The MDX is truly one of the most rewarding luxury crossovers to drive.
Acceleration from the 3.7-liter V6 is a shade soft until the tach needle climbs into the midrange, at which point the engine pulls with enthusiasm. The MDX's six-speed automatic transmission upshifts smoothly and quickly downshifts when the throttle is prodded.