2017 Acura MDX

2017 Acura MDX Review

The versatile Acura MDX is one of the most sensible choices in the midsize luxury SUV segment.
4.0 / 5
Edmunds overall rating
author
by Jonathan Elfalan
Edmunds Editor

Edmunds expert review

The Acura MDX has long been a popular choice for midsize SUV shoppers due to its reputation for reliability and favorable resale value, but it's more than just a practical alternative. Thanks to an advanced torque-vectoring all-wheel-drive system (SH-AWD), the MDX is one of the sportier three-row SUVs on the market for drivers so inclined. Its buttery-smooth V6 engine is another strong point, offering acceleration comparable to some European rivals yet returning respectable fuel economy, too. There were some drivability issues with the nine-speed automatic transmission upon its introduction last year, but a software update this year aims to provide a solution.

The 2017 MDX receives a significant face-lift, including a new hood, fresh front and rear fascias, restyled front fenders and different headlights. This year's MDX is also the first Acura to sport the brand's diamond pentagon grille, which will come as particularly welcome news if you weren't a fan of the previous shield-like grille.

Another notable addition is the Sport Hybrid model. With a gas-electric powertrain similar to the one in Acura's flagship sedan, the RLX Sport Hybrid, the MDX Sport Hybrid makes more power and returns better fuel economy than the standard model. And with its adaptive suspension and driver-selectable dynamic modes (two sport and two comfort modes), the Sport Hybrid is more agile than it appears. It comes at a significant price premium, however.
Overall, the 2017 Acura MDX still can't quite match the upscale feel of European rivals such as the Audi Q7 or Volvo XC90, but the gap is smaller than ever. Throw in the MDX's practical advantages and the Sport Hybrid's excellent three-row crossover fuel efficiency, and you've got a top contender in this class.



What's new for 2017

The 2017 Acura MDX receives a comprehensive face-lift, including a new front end with fresh headlight and grille designs. A Sport Hybrid model debuts with more power and better fuel economy than the regular MDX. New standard features for 2017 include capless fueling, an electronic parking brake, auto high beams, additional USB ports and the AcuraWatch suite of active safety aids (previously optional on some MDX versions). Newly available features include 20-inch wheels, LED foglights, automatic locking when you walk away from the vehicle, power-folding mirrors, a surround-view camera system, a heated steering wheel, upgraded wood trim and second-row captain's chairs.

We recommend

It costs a bit more, but we think the new Sport Hybrid is the best pick for an MDX this year. The additional power, better fuel efficiency and standard all-wheel drive are all worthwhile upgrades. You can't get the Sport Hybrid as a base trim level, but we like the top Advance package anyway.   Highlights include 20-inch wheels, a heated steering wheel, a surround-view camera system, second-row captain's chairs and elegant wood trim. The downside is that this is the most expensive MDX  you can buy. If you're drawn to the MDX for its value proposition, a lesser MDX is still appealing.



Trim levels & features

The 2017 Acura MDX is a three-row luxury crossover SUV that seats up to seven. It’s offered in three trim levels — Standard, Technology and Advance — that are positioned as packages. There's also an Entertainment package that's offered on both Technology and Advanced models. The Standard MDX comes pretty nicely equipped, but the Advance can't be ignored with its many attractive features. All of the above models employ a 3.5-liter V6 engine (290 horsepower, 267 pound-feet) paired to a nine-speed automatic transmission and can be had with front or all-wheel drive. The Sport Hybrid uses a smaller 3.0-liter V6 combined with three electric motors (combined 321 hp, 289 lb-ft) and a seven-speed automatic transmission to deliver an estimated 27 mpg combined.

Note that the AcuraWatch safety suite, which used to be a package, is now included in all models, so all MDX drivers will reap the benefits of features such as forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, lane and road departure warning and mitigation, and adaptive cruise control.

Highlights of the well-equipped Standard package include 18-inch wheels, automatic LED headlights with auto high beams, heated side mirrors, an electronic parking brake, a power liftgate, a sunroof and keyless entry and ignition. Inside, you'll find heated, eight-way power-adjustable front seats (with power lumbar adjustment for the driver), driver-seat memory settings, a power-adjustable steering wheel, leather upholstery, tri-zone automatic climate control and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. Technology highlights include dual dashboard displays (a lower 7-inch touchscreen and an upper 8-inch regular screen), Bluetooth, five USB ports, Siri Eyes Free, and an eight-speaker sound system with a CD player, Pandora and Aha compatibility and satellite radio.

The Technology package adds niceties such as 20-inch wheels, automatic wipers, remote engine start, power-folding side mirrors, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, a navigation system, a color driver information display and a 10-speaker premium audio system with HD radio.

The Advance package turns on the charm with front and rear parking sensors, LED foglights, automatic engine stop-start, a surround-view camera system, a heated steering wheel, sport seats with premium leather and trim, power lumbar adjustment for the front passenger, front-seat ventilation, natural wood trim, heated second-row captain's chairs, second-row sunshades and two additional USB ports for the third row.

The Entertainment package can be specified with either the Technology or Advance package and adds a DVD-based rear entertainment system. If you add it to the Technology package, it comes with a 9-inch screen and 11 audio speakers; if you add it to the Advance package, it comes with a 16.2-inch screen (with an HDMI input) and 12 audio speakers, plus it replaces the captain's chairs with seven-passenger seating.

Lastly, the all-wheel-drive MDX Sport Hybrid boasts a 31-horsepower advantage over the non-hybrid MDX, with a total of 321 hp delivered via a unique powertrain consisting of a smaller 3.0-liter V6 engine, three electric motors and a seven-speed, dual-clutch automatic transmission. The Sport Hybrid is available with the Technology or Advance package only, however.



Trim tested

Each vehicle typically comes in multiple versions, although trim levels share many aspects. The ratings in this review are based on our full test of the 2017 Acura MDX SH-AWD w/Advance Package (3.5L V6 | 9-speed automatic | AWD).

Edmunds Scorecard

Overall4.0 / 5

Driving

4.5 / 5

Acceleration4.5 / 5
Braking2.5 / 5
Steering4.0 / 5
Handling5.0 / 5
Drivability3.5 / 5

Comfort

4.0 / 5

Seat comfort4.5 / 5
Ride comfort3.5 / 5
Noise & vibration4.5 / 5
Climate control4.0 / 5

Interior

3.5 / 5

Ease of use2.0 / 5
Getting in/getting out3.5 / 5
Driving position5.0 / 5
Roominess4.0 / 5
Visibility4.0 / 5
Quality3.5 / 5

Utility

5.0 / 5

Small-item storage5.0 / 5
Cargo space4.5 / 5

Technology

4.0 / 5

Audio & navigation4.0 / 5
Smartphone integration4.5 / 5
Driver aids3.0 / 5
Voice control4.0 / 5

Driving4.5

The 290-horsepower, 3.5-liter V6 and optional Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive are key factors in making the MDX one of the most confident midsize SUVs in this price range. It's not as thrilling as some competitors, but it is effortlessly capable.

Acceleration4.5

Acceleration is smooth and assertive. Although low-end torque is not this V6's strong suit, the nine-speed transmission does a great job of keeping the revs high at full sail. The MDX hits 60 mph in 6.5 seconds, which is more than respectable but a half-beat slower than the supercharged Audi Q7.

Braking2.5

Pedal feel is light. We found the MDX's brakes easy to modulate in real-world driving. But at our test track, the initial stopping distance from 60 mph was a longish 123 feet and it got worse from there, with notable brake fade after multiple stops. This could be an issue on long downhill stretches.

Steering4.0

Of the three steering mode settings, the Normal setting achieves a nice balance between light and precise, while the Sport setting's tighter on-center effort feels best suited for stability at highway speeds. Comfort is ultra-light and a little too loose for our preferences.

Handling5.0

The MDX's torque-vectoring AWD system is impressive. It whips this big SUV around corners and magically allows it to carve tighter lines than you'd believe it could. We can't imagine the front-wheel-drive MDX being capable of the same.

Drivability3.5

The nine-speed transmission is smoother-shifting for 2017 thanks to a software update, but the auto engine stop-start function still takes too long to react off the line after coming to a stop. The MDX Sport Hybrid's three electric motors promise to enhance the base MDX's modest low-end oomph.

Off-road4.0

The MDX's Super Handling All-Wheel Drive is capable enough, but it's designed more for inclement weather than off-road exploration. The SH-AWD system lacks the adjustable terrain/surface settings that its lesser Honda Pilot sibling provides. There is no hill descent control.

Comfort4.0

Comfortable seats and ample sound deadening are hard to fault, but more expensive competitors offer slightly better accommodations. The same goes for the ride, which lacks some of the bump-smoothing sophistication that pricier rivals provide.

Seat comfort4.5

The front seats offer all-day comfort along with standard heating and available ventilation (standard on Advance). The high second-row seats require minimal knee bend but are somewhat tight on headroom. The third row is quite snug and best reserved for kids.

Ride comfort3.5

Sharp, higher frequency bumps are felt through the 20-inch wheels (especially at lower speeds), but body motions are well-controlled and bigger undulations are nicely damped.

Noise & vibration4.5

Wind noise is kept at bay thanks to triple-pane windows. The smooth-revving V6 never feels harsh and stays quiet below 5,000 rpm. There is some mild thumping from the tires over surface changes.

Climate control4.0

Climate controls are split between the touchscreen and a row of buttons and rocker switches. The layout is more logical than in some other Acura/Honda products, but it requires an extra step for certain adjustments. Performance is effective.

Interior3.5

The MDX is spacious and versatile for the midsize luxury segment, and though its third row is tight, it's more usable than most. Still, mainstream models such as the mechanically related Honda Pilot are even more practical.

Ease of use2.0

The push-button gear selector will take some time to adjust to and requires that drivers look down to see what they're doing, which isn't optimal. The same goes for the two-screen infotainment system, which allocates functions between screens in a sometimes confusing manner.

Getting in/getting out3.5

Clever single-press buttons slide the second-row seats forward for third-row access, but the resulting pass-through can be a squeeze for adults. Otherwise, access to the front- and second-row seats is good and comparable to others in the segment.

Driving position5.0

A highly adjustable driver seat and a power tilt-and-telescoping steering column are standard on all MDX models, so chances are you'll be able to find a comfortable position regardless of trim level and personal dimensions.

Roominess4.0

The third row will please only kids and perhaps adults of short stature. Still, it's better than the third rows of some other luxury SUVs. The front seats feel spacious in every dimension, but headroom in the second row is surprisingly tight.

Visibility4.0

Tall side windows, an upright windshield and big side mirrors all facilitate visibility, but the second-row seat blocks the rear quarter window. The optional surround-view camera lends significantly more confidence while parking.

Quality3.5

Everything seems meticulously put together, and the Advance's wood trim adds an air of luxury. However, European competitors still manage to feel more substantial than the MDX, and their cabin designs more elegant.

Utility5.0

Convenience and efficiency play a big part in vehicle utility, and here the Acura MDX capitalizes. Total cargo volume isn't the biggest, but easy fold-flat seats make loading long items a breeze. Storage space in nooks and crannies is another win.

Small-item storage5.0

The MDX's cabin features large cupholders and door bins, plus a deep center bin with clever compartment configurations that can accommodate a purse or a tablet. Use of space is commendable.

Cargo space4.5

Total cargo capacity is on par with that of other three-row midsize luxury crossovers, and better than two-row models. The ease with which the third- and second-row seats fold flat and provide a level load floor merits praise.

Technology4.0

Acura has projected an image of advanced technology in recent years but hasn't always followed through. The MDX remains a mixed bag. Its smart device integration and host of advanced safety aids are impressive, but its clunky dual-screen interface and so-so graphics leave something to be desired.

Audio & navigation4.0

The MDX's navigation system is straightforward to use via the rotary knob, with easy zoom and pan functions, but its graphics aren't great. Acura's 10-speaker ELS sound system comes standard on all but the base model, adding a speaker or two with the Entertainment package. Sound quality is strong.

Smartphone integration4.5

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto aside (they aren't offered), the MDX offers responsive smartphone integration, particularly for iPhone users. The standard Siri Eyes Free feature allows you to hear and respond to texts on the go.

Driver aids3.0

Acura deserves credit for the MDX's suite of standard active safety features, though we find the adaptive cruise control to be somewhat dimwitted. It's often too quick to hit the brakes and too slow to speed up again. The surround-view camera is effective and easy to recommend.

Voice control4.0

Acura's native voice recognition has always been pretty good for inputting navigation directions, and it's even more powerful when paired to the Siri Eyes Free system for access to functions such as reading and responding to texts.

Edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.