2002 Acura MDX Review

Pros & Cons

  • Powerful V6 engine, roomy interior, fold-flat third-row seat, sophisticated 4WD system.
  • Limited off-road capability, below-average tow rating, lacks personality.
List Price Estimate
$1,468 - $2,550

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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 it's 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 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 trailer towing capacity is low (at 3,500 pounds) for its class.

In terms of appearance, the 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 trying to cram adults into 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 woodgrained trim.

The MDX comes with a comprehensive list of standard equipment, including leather seating surfaces (on first- and second-row seats), 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 Model 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.

Like most other Acuras, and Hondas, for that matter, the MDX is meticulously engineered to serve a specific purpose, much like a good set of Craftsman tools. There is no doubt that this attribute is attractive, as evidenced by Honda's sales successes over the years. But the MDX is not given to whimsy or flair. Consumers desiring a more impudent SUV should look elsewhere.

2002 Highlights

Introduced last year, Acura's capable SUV receives only minor changes for 2002. There are four new exterior colors, and enhancements have been made to reduce noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) for a quieter, more comfortable ride.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the Used 2002 Acura MDX.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

LOVE LOVE LOVE this 2002 ACURA MDX TOURING
grammyjan1978,01/06/2014
I drove this, loved the looks of it, and it has 187,000 and counting. I would buy another one just like it...got it at 54000 at dealer certified and have had no issues whatsoever. I love my Acura. My only question...I just drove to work and for the first time I clicked the four wheel drive VDX button, how can you tell if it goes off...I clicked it and no change...got me to work in 13 inches of snow...
02 MDX
bill_tiffany_jr,03/06/2009
The MDX has been great although the 02 is well known for transmission failure. Mine gave out at 60K. There are hundreds and hundreds of similar stories, even at much lower mileage levels. You will here a "burr"ing sound between 40 - 50 MPH while traveling in 5th gear. Talk to your dealer and to Acura customer service in order to get a new transmission heavily discounted or best case, for free, even when you are out of warranty.
Don't be a Dummy from 3 Transmissions
davesocal,04/18/2012
Bought this MDX new with all options. At 55,000 had the transmission replaced using my extended warranty (1 month shy of expiration and any work done under the warranty or extension it is only good thru the end of the extension date, meaning I only had one month of warranty on the new transmission). This transmission died at 88,000 mi. 6k replacement from the dealer, which was whittled down to 2 thousand. This car has been babied thru the dealer servicing since purchase. Service managers admit the design is faulty. And mentioned I was lucky to get this much use before the transmissons died ! DO NOT PURCHASE THIS CAR USED !!! YOU WILL HAVE A PROBLEM !!!
Worried after reading......
hdavis39,12/29/2010
I love my MDX. I am worried now that I have read the significant issues people have had with their transmission. I pray that I will not. I have over 163,000 miles on my car now and have never had any major issues. I changed the timing belt just to avoid future problems when I did a major maintenance. I will say with regard to safety that this vehicle has been safe. I have six children and I have had several people hit me and I rear ended someone once. The only damage to my car were mere scratches. It is built like a tank. Maybe I will be one of the lucky ones but so far I cannot complain. This is the best car that I have ever driven.

Safety

NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger5 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
  • Side Barrier Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger5 / 5
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front SeatNot Rated
    Back SeatNot Rated
  • Rollover
    Rollover4 / 5
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of RolloverNot Rated
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 2002 Acura MDX

Used 2002 Acura MDX Overview

The Used 2002 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).

What's a good price on a Used 2002 Acura MDX?

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Which used 2002 Acura MDXES are available in my area?

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Should I lease or buy a 2002 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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