2020 Acura MDX
2020 Acura MDX Review
- Generous array of features and active driver aids for the money
- Optional SH-AWD system enhances handling and all-season traction
- Smooth and confident acceleration from the V6 engine
- Quiet, comfortable and spacious cabin
- Cabin looks and feels less luxurious than those of some rivals
- Adaptive cruise control can be slow to respond and abrupt when it does
- Two-screen infotainment system is nonintuitive and difficult to control
- No significant changes for 2020
- Part of the third MDX generation introduced for 2014
Who says you have to pay a luxury-car price for a luxury car? It's a question evoked by the 2020 Acura MDX crossover SUV, which is one of the best in its class even though it's also one of the least expensive. This three-row SUV is comfortable, quiet, smooth, spacious, and, when equipped with the available all-wheel-drive system, unusually fun to drive. We think it's an excellent choice for those shopping for something a little nicer than a standard SUV but without a budget-breaking price tag.
Unlike many of its rivals, the Acura MDX is well-equipped in its base form and has a sufficiently powerful V6 engine. Of course, there are a number of packages to bolster the MDX's luxury credentials, culminating in a trim that features upgraded leather, a surround-view parking camera, and USB ports for all three rows. Even at its most expensive, the MDX tops out where many other European luxury SUVs begin. Of course, those rivals offer high-octane engines to beef up their performance game, but we think you'll be plenty satisfied with either the base MDX or the MDX Hybrid that boosts output and conserves fuel at the same time.
The MDX is well-rounded, but it's not without its faults. First and foremost is its infotainment interface. Functions are split between an upper display screen (controlled via a dash-mounted knob) and a lower touchscreen display. Both are sluggish, and it's difficult to remember which screen the function you want to access is located. Additionally, the interior materials don't quite reach the quality of what's used in the MDX's more expensive rivals.
But if you can live with the strange screen setup and nice — rather than exceptional — cabin materials, you'll find the MDX to be a smart pick for a luxury SUV that won't overly tax your bank account.
What's it like to live with the MDX?
Want to know even more about the Acura MDX? Learn about day-to-day ownership from our editorial experts' long-term test of a 2014 SH-AWD with Technology and Entertainment Packages. How much did we like the MDX's quiet interior? How was the tech? Was the cargo room sufficient for everyday use? How was the fuel economy? Learn this and more from our test. Note that the 2020 MDX differs from the 2014 model we tested — in 2016, it added a new SH-AWD system, nine-speed automatic, smartphone integration and a hybrid trim — but our coverage is otherwise applicable.
The versatile, well-made and feature-packed Acura MDX is arguably the most sensible choice in the midsize luxury SUV segment, especially given its impressive handling. For what you get compared to what you have to pay, it's a great value.
How does the MDX drive?
The Acura MDX is one of the most confident luxury midsize SUVs to drive. Its torque-vectoring Super Handling All-Wheel Drive system allows this big SUV to carve corners like a smaller crossover, and the Sport mode's heftier steering wheel weight makes it feel appropriately stable at higher speeds.
The 290-horsepower V6 provides adequate acceleration, making for a 0-60 mph time of a respectable 6.8 seconds. This is quicker than most rivals fitted with a base four-cylinder or V6 engine, but it can't hold a candle to uprated competitors with turbocharged six-cylinders or V8s.
How comfortable is the MDX?
Big SUVs that seat seven have to be comfortable, and the MDX delivers. Even with large 20-inch wheels, the MDX rides smoothly and controls its body motions well. The seats are similarly cushy and offer all-day comfort. The A-Spec's unique faux suede upholstery is thick and pliable, and it keeps cool on hot days. The minimal amount of wind and road noise contributes to its cocoon-like atmosphere.
The climate control system, however, drags down the Acura's comfort scores. The seat ventilation isn't very strong, and there are no vents in the third row. The climate controls are a little difficult to use since they are split awkwardly between hard keys and digital buttons.
How’s the interior?
The Acura MDX is a spacious and versatile SUV. While the third row is best for children or shorter adults, it's more accommodating than the back seat of many rivals. Getting into the third row is relatively simple thanks to single-press buttons that slide the second-row seats forward.
A highly adjustable driver's seat and power tilt-and-telescoping wheel help drivers find a good position. It's easy to see out the front and sides, but the second-row seat blocks the view out of the three-quarter window. Glaring flaws include the nonintuitive shifter and an infotainment system that divides functions between the upper display (with a dash-mounted knob controller) and the lower touchscreen.
How’s the tech?
The dual-screen setup looks high-tech but isn't terribly intuitive, even after you've used it for a while. It's difficult to remember which screen contains which settings, and the lower touchscreen has a confusing menu structure and layout. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are present, but they are displayed on the upper screen, and the knob controller is suboptimal.
Many advanced driving aids are standard, but their operation can seem half-baked. For instance, our test vehicle's adaptive cruise system accelerated and braked the vehicle suddenly in heavy traffic, and in several instances it accelerated after coming to a complete stop, even though the car in front hadn't moved.
How’s the storage?
Convenience and efficiency play a big part in vehicle utility, and the Acura MDX capitalizes on these aspects. The MDX slightly edges out others in the class in total storage volume, and the easy fold-flat seats make loading long cargo items a breeze. Interior storage space is another bright spot thanks to large cupholders and bins, plus a deep center bin.
If you want to pull your gear with you, the all-wheel-drive MDX can tow up to 5,000 pounds (front-wheel-drive models are limited to 3,500 pounds), but you'll have to buy a separate hitch. This is better than some rivals, but some European competitors can tow more than 7,000 pounds.
How economical is the MDX?
The EPA rates the MDX between 21 and 23 mpg in combined driving, depending on which configuration and version you pick. In general, this is a bit better than average for a midsize three-row SUV.
Is the MDX a good value?
The MDX represents a good value for the luxury segment. However, it doesn't offer the inspiring, jaw-dropping interiors provided by its European competition. It also faces an in-house threat: The Honda Pilot provides more versatility with modest trade-offs in performance, features and refinement.
The Acura's basic warranty is for four years/50,000 miles, and powertrain coverage is six years/70,000 miles. That's roughly the same as what Japanese rivals offer but better than what some European competitors do. The MDX also comes with free roadside assistance for four years/50,000 miles. Unlike some other brands, there's no complimentary maintenance plan.
In a world full of mundane crossovers, the MDX stands out as a driver's choice. The handling is almost shockingly good and the performance is hard to fault. Yet despite its dynamic talents, the MDX doesn't possess the verve of a BMW X5 or Mercedes-Benz GLE. Of course, it costs a boatload less money. It's refined and competent, and the A-Spec version has a few neat styling additions. But at the end of the day, it's a competent rather than a truly exciting SUV.
Which MDX does Edmunds recommend?
Acura MDX models
The 2020 Acura MDX is a three-row luxury SUV that seats up to seven. It's offered in four trim levels (also referred to as packages): an unnamed base model, Technology, A-Spec and Advance. The base MDX is well-equipped, and the Technology package includes a few desirable additions. The A-Spec is more of an appearance package but has some unique upgrades. The range-topping Advance has all the features you'll likely want in this class of vehicle.
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Most helpful consumer reviews
2020 Acura MDX video
2017 Acura MDX Review
NOTE: This video is about the 2017 Acura MDX, but since the 2020 Acura MDX is part of the same generation, our earlier analysis still applies.
Our experts’ favorite MDX safety features:
- Lane Keeping Assist
- Identifies lane markings and works to keep the vehicle within its detected lane if it starts to drift due to driver inattention.
- Adaptive Cruise Control
- Allows you to set a speed and maintain a desired distance from the car ahead. Will bring you to a stop if needed.
- Surround-View Camera System
- Four exterior cameras create a 360-degree view of the MDX's immediate surroundings.
Acura MDX vs. the competition
2020 Acura MDX
2020 Acura RDX
Acura MDX vs. Acura RDX
Redesigned just last year, the Acura RDX — a crossover in the next size class down from the MDX — has a new interior layout that makes the cabin look quite different from the aging MDX. That's not to say it's better, however. Our editors are split on whether its touchpad interface and single display screen are an improvement over the MDX's dual-screen setup. In any case, we think the RDX is a good choice in its class. It costs quite a bit less than the MDX, but it also only has two rows of seating.
Acura MDX vs. Honda Pilot
The MDX and the Honda Pilot share a common platform, so think of the Pilot as an MDX without the luxury badge and leather-and-wood-soaked interior. That said, the Pilot is a great car in the three-row SUV class and looks quite nice in its upper trim levels. It also offers most of the features the MDX has, along with a more intuitive infotainment system and a more traditional SUV profile that gives it slightly more cargo room. Shoppers looking to save some money would do well to consider the Pilot.
Acura MDX vs. Audi Q7
The MDX is considerably less expensive than the Audi Q7, to the extent that a fully loaded MDX costs just a few thousand dollars more than a base Q7. On the other hand, the Q7 feels more refined, with a smooth and powerful turbocharged V6 engine, agile handling, and a greater range of available features. Its cabin is also more upscale, and its infotainment system is infinitely easier to use than the MDX's. We think the Q7 is worth the extra money, but you're not giving up too much by going with the MDX.
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Is the Acura MDX a good car?
What's new in the 2020 Acura MDX?
According to Edmunds’ car experts, here’s what’s new for the 2020 Acura MDX:
- No significant changes for 2020
- Part of the third MDX generation introduced for 2014
Is the Acura MDX reliable?
Is the 2020 Acura MDX a good car?
How much should I pay for a 2020 Acura MDX?
The least-expensive 2020 Acura MDX is the 2020 Acura MDX 4dr SUV (3.5L 6cyl 9A). Including destination charge, it arrives with a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of about $44,500.
Other versions include:
- SH-AWD 4dr SUV AWD w/Technology Package (3.5L 6cyl 9A) which starts at $51,500
- SH-AWD 4dr SUV AWD (3.5L 6cyl 9A) which starts at $46,500
- 4dr SUV w/Technology Package (3.5L 6cyl 9A) which starts at $49,500
- 4dr SUV (3.5L 6cyl 9A) which starts at $44,500
- SH-AWD A-Spec 4dr SUV AWD (3.5L 6cyl 9A) which starts at $55,000
- SH-AWD 4dr SUV AWD w/Advance Package (3.5L 6cyl 9A) which starts at $58,250
- Sport Hybrid SH-AWD 4dr SUV AWD w/Advance Package (3.0L 6cyl gas/electric hybrid 7AM) which starts at $59,750
- Sport Hybrid SH-AWD 4dr SUV AWD w/Technology Package (3.0L 6cyl gas/electric hybrid 7AM) which starts at $53,000
- 4dr SUV w/Advance Package (3.5L 6cyl 9A) which starts at $56,250
- SH-AWD 4dr SUV AWD w/Technology and Entertainment Packages (3.5L 6cyl 9A) which starts at $53,500
- SH-AWD 4dr SUV AWD w/Advance and Entertainment Packages (3.5L 6cyl 9A) which starts at $60,250
- SH-AWD PMC Edition 4dr SUV AWD (3.5L 6cyl 9A) which starts at $61,750