Used 2001 Acura MDX

2001 Acura MDX
List price range
2001 Acura MDX

Pros

  • Powerful ULEV V6 engine, nicely appointed interior, seven-passenger seating, excellent on-road performance.

Cons

  • No 4WD-low range, meager tow rating, protruding proboscis.

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Edmunds' Expert Review

A bland but otherwise utterly capable and perfectly useful SUV.

vehicle overview

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.

2001 Highlights

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.

Top consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 2001 Acura MDX.

Acura MDX - Transmission ISSUES - BEWARE!!!
acura_issues,09/12/2011
I used to be a fan of Acura until I purchased an Acura MDX and ran into ALL KINDS of Power Transmission issues. I'm not the type of person who is a "complainer", but believe me when I tell you that Acura is having all kinds of issues with the torque converters on their transmission. Most of the time, the issues show up right after the warranty. The dealership (McGrath Acura) will give you the run around and have you contact the Acura Customer Care 1-800 #. Once you do that, if you complain loud enough they will assign you to a District Manager who will do absolutely nothing to satisfy you. If you're smart, do a simple Google Search on Acura transmission issues and see what comes up. You will be amazed by the number of complaints that loyal Acura customers have regarding Transimission issues
Acura knows it transmissions so don't buy them to support their mistakes
fetters,08/25/2011
I love this vehicle and it broke my heart when in two days the transmission was gone. I love this vehicle yet after paying thousands of dollars and servicing transmission-nothing. I called Acura and they were useless. I had a recall at 40,000 to LOOK at transmission just to save them from when it does go out and it will!! Serveral shops do them and make a living from them when we called around. I thought Chrysler had issues but you DON't get what you pay for here!! Will never buy again to not get any support from them.
Love This Ugly Car
scullymo,04/26/2011
Bought it used from an individual with 100k on it. other than a transmission job at 190k, I have had no problems with this vehicle. It is by far the ugliest thing I have ever driven but I would buy another in a heartbeat! I now have 235k on it and I'm hoping to make it to half a mil!
210K miles - going strong - paid for itself
Tango Papa,07/19/2016
Bought this brand new when it first came out in 2001 when my daughter was born so we had space to change baby diapers in the back and was safe for the whole family. It was a fantastic new car on the scene. Well, 15 years later, my daughter is 15 now and learning to drive and she will inherit the MDX as her first car to drive around. It has 210K miles on it. Its mostly been trouble free. Transmission went at 129K so was out of any warranty. (Apparently the early models, including mine, used a GM transmission as Acura had not quiet gotten their transmission ready for the car, later models used Acura transmission). The transmission rebuild cost $4500 but included a special attachment to the radiator to resolve the heating problem that these transmission had. On this second transmission, the car is now at 210K miles and it looks like it would probably do another 20K-40K without much problems. Changed battery 4 times (we live mostly in hot climate). Changed Tires 4-5 times. Changed brakes twice. Three timing belt jobs. One 100K tune up. Countless air filter and oil changes. Leak in power steering fixed (twice). A/C hose replaced. Engine mounts replaced under warranty. Catalytic converter went at 160K miles...feel I have spend $6-7K on all the repairs and normal maintenance over the years including wear and tear items like Battery, Tire, Brakes , Wipers etc....that works out to less than $500 per year which is not bad at all. I feel part of the issue with car trouble is crooked dealers who try to get you to replace items which don't need immediate replacement. Unless its an obvious problem impacting safety and drivability don't replace the item unless you are convinced it needs replacing. Car still looks new after 15 years. Amazing paint job. And guess what, didn't like the look of the new 2014 MDX so bought a nice new Range Rover - very fancy - but after 2 years and numerous problems, I traded it in for an UGLY but hopefully much more reliable 2016 MDX. New 2001 MDX touring bought for $37K in California in 2001. New 2016 MDX Base model bought for $39K in Texas in 2016...which was $5K off the MSRP due to up coming model change over.
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Features & Specs

MPG
15 city / 21 hwy
Seats 7
5-speed automatic
Gas
240 hp @ 5300 rpm
MPG
15 city / 21 hwy
Seats 7
5-speed automatic
Gas
240 hp @ 5300 rpm
MPG
15 city / 21 hwy
Seats 7
5-speed automatic
Gas
240 hp @ 5300 rpm
MPG
15 city / 21 hwy
Seats 7
5-speed automatic
Gas
240 hp @ 5300 rpm
See all Used 2001 Acura MDX features & specs

Safety

IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
    Not Tested
  • Roof Strength Test
    Not Tested
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
    Not Tested
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test
    Good

More about the 2001 Acura MDX
More About This Model

At some point in the early-'90s, a Honda manager looked out his window and saw the constant stream of dump trucks backing up to Ford's corporate offices to unload all the bales of cash reaped in from sales of Explorers (conjecture on my part). Being smarter than your average corporate bear, he thought to himself, "Hmm, you know, there might be something to this whole SUV thing after all."

Not having its own SUV at the time, Honda's stopgap solution was to call Isuzu and obtain a bunch of Rodeos and rebadge them as Honda Passports. Starting in 1996, the same was done with the Trooper to create the Acura SLX. Not a bad strategy, though Honda probably could have chosen a better partner -- Isuzu doesn't build the greatest SUVs (In our eight-vehicle Midsize SUV Comparison Test in the summer of 2000, a Honda Passport finished last.).

Honda's first in-house SUV, the compact CR-V, was a good first step (it arrived in 1997), but Honda still needed something bigger to quench America's Big Gulp-sized thirst for SUVs. The cavalry finally arrived at the 2000 North American International Auto Show in the form of the Acura MDX. Though only a concept vehicle, it was clear Honda intended the MDX to be a production vehicle. Soon after, it was announced that the MDX would arrive in late 2000 as a 2001 production model.

But Acura's arrival to the midsize SUV party is a bit late, don't you think? After all, there are lots of major league stars already in attendance, such as the BMW X5 3.0i, the Lexus RX 300, the Infiniti QX4 and the Mercedes-Benz ML320. The Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited, the Mitsubishi Montero Limited, and the Ford Explorer Limited AWD are also rumored to be here. One would hope that Acura has brought something more than just a bag of Ruffles and a 2-liter bottle of Shasta...

After spending a day with the MDX at Acura's press introduction in Hershey, Pa., we can say with confidence that Acura has indeed showed up to the party with something good. Very good, in fact. Acura wants the MDX to be a no-compromises luxury SUV, one that can deliver both the sport and the utility that consumers desire. This no-compromises goal has resulted in three-row seven-passenger seating, a maximum cargo capacity of 81.5 cubic feet, a 3,500-pound towing capacity (4,500 pounds if towing a boat), acceleration, braking and handling equal to a typical four-door sedan, an acceptable level of off-road capability, and high-zoot luxury features like GPS navigation and dual climate control systems.

Exclusively for the North American market (for now, anyway), the MDX is built on Honda's light truck platform. This platform also serves as the basis for the Honda Odyssey minivan. The two vehicles have little in common, however. Acura says the MDX shares only about 12 percent of the Odyssey's architecture. Most of the similarities lie in the design of the front-third of the body structure. From the A-pillars back, the MDX is an all-new design.

Acura's main priorities for the body structure were superior collision performance and a high level of rigidity without unnecessary weight. Acura says the body structure provides the strength needed to resist standard barrier impacts, offset crashes and side impacts. Though no government crash testing has been done as of this writing, Acura expects the MDX to earn five stars in NCAP frontal barrier tests and side impact tests. A "good" rating is expected from the IIHS's offset barrier tests.

The highly rigid and lightweight body structure comes into play for Acura's goal of creating an SUV that doesn't handle like an average SUV. Most SUVs have an independent front suspension with a solid rear axle, but the MDX uses a fully independent suspension similar to the Odyssey's. Up front is a strut-type suspension with L-shaped lower control arms and in back is a compact multi-link trailing arm design. Four-wheel disc brakes and ABS are standard.

The front and rear tracks -- 66.3 and 66.5 inches, respectively -- are relatively wide for an SUV, and the wheelbase (106.3 inches) is short. Acura wanted a wide track and short wheelbase to improve stability and agility. For comparison, an RX 300 has a front track of 61.6 inches and a rear track of 61.0. With a base curb weight of 4,328 pounds, the MDX is 347 pounds lighter than the seven-passenger Montero.

Being a luxury SUV, you might expect the MDX to be the automotive equivalent of a warm marshmallow in terms of ride quality. But that is not the case. With its relatively soft springs and firm dampers, the MDX provides a ride quality similar in feel to other Honda products. Controlled and taut, the MDX provides good handling while driving on curvy roads. The steering, however, seems more typical of an SUV, with a high degree of vagueness and little feedback.

For power, the MDX features a 3.5-liter SOHC V6. Equipped with Honda's VTEC variable valve timing system, this engine produces 240 horsepower at 5,300 rpm and 245 foot-pounds of torque at 3,000 rpm. The torque curve is exceptionally flat, with 95 percent of the engine's torque available from 2,000 rpm to 5,000 rpm. In terms of V6-equipped luxury SUVs, the MDX must share top horsepower bragging rights with the QX4. Acura says acceleration from zero to 60 should be in the low 8-second range.

The MDX's V6 is mated to a five-speed automatic transmission (no manual is offered). The transmission's gear spacing is fairly wide to improve low-end grunt while still keeping the revs down for top-gear highway cruising. At 60 mph in fifth gear, the MDX's engine is spinning at a low 1,700 rpm. An optional tow package adds a transmission oil cooler to keep the tranny's temperature acceptable during heavy-load conditions.

The MDX's most interesting powertrain component is its four-wheel-drive system. Called Variable Torque Management 4-wheel-drive (VTM-4), the MDX's system is similar to the one fitted to the CR-V. During normal cruising conditions, the MDX and the CR-V apply power only to the front wheels for better fuel efficiency. But whereas the CR-V's mechanical 4WD system must encounter front-wheel slippage before torque is diverted to the rear wheels, the MDX's electronically controlled system is much more proactive about traction. To get the most traction possible, the VTM-4 monitors throttle inputs and wheel speeds and then continually adjusts torque output to the rear wheels.

The key to the VTM-4 is a special rear axle drive unit. Like any front-wheel-drive vehicle, the MDX has half-shafts in front that constantly power the front wheels. But there is also a constantly spinning propeller shaft that runs from the transmission to the rear drive unit.

Not a rear differential in the typical sense, the MDX's final drive is a unique hypoid ring-and-pinion gearset. The gearset does switch torque from the propeller shaft's longitudinal orientation to the lateral orientation necessary to drive the rear wheels. But this happens only when the VTM-4's electronics say so.

A connection from the ring gear to each wheel's half shaft is made by left- and right-side clutches. Each clutch consists of an electromagnetic coil, a ball-cam device and a set of 19 wet clutch plates, which are similar in design to clutches used in an automatic transmission. When the VTM-4's electronics determine that torque should be distributed to the rear wheels, an electric current is sent to the electromagnetic coils, activating the ball-cam device, which in turn compresses the wet clutch plates, thereby engaging drive to the corresponding rear wheel. Being an infinitely variable system, the amount of torque provided to the rear wheels is directly proportional to the electric current sent from the ECU.

A button on the dash allows drivers to manually lock torque output to the rear wheels (equaling an approximate 50/50 split between the front and rear wheels) to aid extraction from a slippery ditch or a snow bank. The VTM-4 lock also serves to equalize torque between the left and right rear wheels, thereby improving traction.

Acura says it considered using a conventional four-wheel-drive system (one with a low-speed transfer case), but ultimately decided it would be undesirably bulky and heavy given the MDX's intended mission. The MDX is built for "medium duty" usage, medium duty being defined as the capability to support trips into the wilderness for camping or to launch a boat.

We had the opportunity to pilot the MDX on varied off-road terrain. Though Acura selected the route, this luxury SUV did seem to have enough capability to handle what most people would expect their SUV to do in terms of crossing gullies and climbing washed-out hills. The 8 inches of ground clearance was enough to clear small rocks. Still, the MDX isn't a Jeep CJ-7. Without a low-speed transfer case, its four-wheel-drive system is best suited for dealing with snow, ice and other minimal-traction situations.

Because the rear suspension and four-wheel-drive system are compact, extra passenger and cargo space is freed up for the interior. There is no drive tunnel for the propeller shaft, allowing a completely flat load floor. Three-row seating -- two bucket seats in front, a three-passenger 60/40-split middle-row bench seat, and a two-passenger 50/50-split bench seat in back -- is standard. The first two rows are trimmed in leather, while the third row is upholstered in a leather-like matching vinyl.

The heated front seats seem to be pretty comfortable, and there is plenty of legroom for second-row passengers. Because of the MDX's wide stance, shoulder room is notably expansive. The third row is for small children only, but there is still enough legroom (29.3 inches) to put adults back there for very short trips.

Both the second- and third-row seats fold flat easily. With the third seat up, cargo space is 14.8 cubic feet. Lower it but keep the second row up, and 49.6 cubic feet will be available. The rear liftgate opens skyward but is a one-piece unit, meaning that you cannot pop open the glass separately. Acura says there is enough space between the rear wheels to load 4-foot-wide sheets of building materials into the cargo area.

For safety, every seating position has three-point seatbelts. There are also dual-stage front airbags and front side airbags mounted in the seats. The front passenger seat is equipped with a system designed to disable side airbag deployment and prevent injury to a small child if they lean into the side airbag deployment path. Once the child returns to an upright seating position, the side airbag will reactivate. Child safety-seat anchor points are provided for both the second and third rows.

The MDX's interior design is clean and simple, with a dominant center pod containing the audio system, climate control buttons, and a large multi-function LCD monitor. The monitor is both button and touch-screen operated, and is used to control the optional DVD-based navigation system. Overall interior build quality seems to be very good, though Acura is using more hard plastic for the interior than you might expect for a luxury SUV. There is wood trim located on the dash, doors and shifter console. Items like a two-stage center bin, a convenient cubby slot ahead of the shifter and a big glove box provide storage space. A total of 10 cupholders are located throughout the interior.

There is one official trim upgrade called the Touring Package. So appointed, the MDX gets an upgraded Bose audio system with an in-dash six-disc CD audio system, a power-operated front passenger seat, memory seating for the driver, reverse gear tilt-down for the passenger-side mirror, a 150-pound capacity roof rack and special 17-inch alloy wheels.

One of the MDX's most impressive interior features is its dual HVAC system. More than just a simple "dual zone" climate control, the MDX actually has two independent climate systems for both the front and rear passengers. This means that rear passengers get their own heater core, air conditioning condenser, and heater and air vents. The rear HVAC can be operated from the rear or linked to the front HVAC to provide maximum cooling and heating capacity. Acura says the combined systems can provide 19,000 BTUs, a capacity that slightly exceeds the heating and cooling capacity found in the average American home. Or possibly exceeding the hot air coming from Senator Edward Kennedy's mouth.

It is clear that Acura has built a very capable SUV. Like Honda did with the Odyssey, Acura has taken its time, determined how people really use their SUVs and dissected the competition to see what works and what doesn't. The result is a vehicle that is truly good at most everything. If you have a dying need to go rock crawling or tow a 6,000-pound trailer, the MDX isn't what you want. But for every other use, whether it be going camping, skiing, hauling materials from Home Depot or just taking the kids and the dog to the park, the MDX is just about equal or superior to every other luxury SUV. Pricing should start in the mid-30s. And just like Honda and its Odyssey, we expect Acura to sell every single one it makes. Best put down your deposit now.

Used 2001 Acura MDX Overview

The Used 2001 Acura MDX is offered in the following submodels: MDX SUV. Available styles include Touring 4WD 4dr SUV (3.5L 6cyl 5A), Touring 4WD 4dr SUV w/Navigation (3.5L 6cyl 5A), 4WD 4dr SUV (3.5L 6cyl 5A), and 4WD 4dr SUV w/Navigation (3.5L 6cyl 5A).

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Should I lease or buy a 2001 Acura MDX?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

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