2018 Acura MDX

2018 Acura MDX Review

Great value and an available hybrid version help the MDX stand out among three-row luxury SUVs.
4 star edmunds overall rating
author
by Carlos Lago
Edmunds Editor

The 2018 Acura MDX may be less expensive than similarly sized three-row luxury SUVs, but by no means does that imply disappointment. This popular three-row crossover SUV is versatile and has an appealing mix of safety and luxury-oriented features.

The MDX is enjoyable to drive, too. Its two powertrain options, a standard 3.5-liter V6 engine or an optional gas-electric hybrid with a 3.0-liter V6, provide a suitable amount of oomph for quick passes and freeway merging. Acura's available Super Handling All-Wheel Drive system can also enhance this SUV's agility when you're driving around turns.

The aforementioned hybrid system is distinctive in that Acura designed it to deliver increases in both power and fuel economy. Indeed, we've found the Sport Hybrid is quicker than the regular MDX in our testing, and the EPA estimates you'll get 27 mpg combined in the Sport Hybrid compared to 22 mpg in a regular all-wheel-drive MDX.

After a refresh last year, the 2018 MDX is improved further by a faster and more powerful entertainment system that supports Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, addressing the biggest complaints we've had with prior years of the MDX. Though there are a few remaining drawbacks, they're pretty minor. Overall, the MDX remains a strong contender if you're shopping for a three-row midsize luxury crossover SUV.



what's new

The 2018 Acura MDX addresses some of our biggest complaints with prior models with the addition of a refreshed dual-screen infotainment system, including a new capacitive touchscreen that Acura says is 30 percent faster. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay support is now standard as well.

we recommend

While the improved power and fuel economy of the Sport Hybrid model seem appealing, the model's lack of responsiveness at low speeds can be annoying. For this reason, we recommend the standard MDX equipped with all-wheel drive and the Advance package. You won't be disappointed by its power, and the all-wheel-drive system adds welcome agility to this three-row SUV. Plus, the Advance adds features such as 20-inch wheels, a surround-view camera, premium leather and ventilated front seats.




trim levels & features

The 2018 Acura MDX is a three-row luxury SUV that seats up to seven. It's offered in three trim levels: Standard, Technology and Advance. The Standard and Technology MDXs come nicely equipped, and the Advance has all the features you'll likely want in this class of vehicle. All of the above employ a 3.5-liter V6 engine (290 horsepower, 267 pound-feet) that's paired to a nine-speed automatic transmission with either front- or all-wheel drive. The Sport Hybrid uses a smaller 3.0-liter V6 in conjunction with three electric motors (combined 321 hp, 289 lb-ft) and a seven-speed automatic transmission to deliver an estimated 27 mpg combined.

Highlights of the Standard package include 18-inch wheels, automatic LED headlights with automatic high beams, adaptive suspension dampers, a power liftgate, a sunroof, and keyless entry and ignition. Inside, you'll find power-adjustable front seats with heating, driver-seat memory settings, a power-adjustable steering wheel, leather upholstery, tri-zone automatic climate control and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.

Technology features include support for Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, a dual-screen infotainment system (with a 7-inch touchscreen), Bluetooth, four USB ports, and an eight-speaker sound system with a CD player and satellite radio. The MDX's standard AcuraWatch safety suite features forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, lane and road departure warning and mitigation, and adaptive cruise control.

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 top-down surround-view camera system, a heated steering wheel, sport seats with premium leather and trim, front-seat ventilation, 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. Note that it replaces the captain's chairs with the standard second-row bench seating.

Finally, there's the all-wheel-drive MDX Sport Hybrid. It's available with the Technology and Advance packages only.



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 2018 Acura MDX SH-AWD w/Advance and Entertainment Packages (3.5L V6 | 9-speed automatic | AWD).

NOTE: Since this test was conducted, the current 2018 Acura MDX has received some revisions, including an updated infotainment system that includes standard Android Auto and Apple CarPlay support. Our findings remain broadly applicable to this year's MDX.

Edmunds Scorecard

Overall4.0 / 5.0

Driving

4.0 / 5.0

Acceleration4.5 / 5.0
Braking3.0 / 5.0
Steering4.0 / 5.0
Handling5.0 / 5.0
Drivability3.0 / 5.0

Comfort

4.0 / 5.0

Seat comfort4.5 / 5.0
Ride comfort3.5 / 5.0
Noise & vibration4.5 / 5.0
Climate control4.0 / 5.0

Interior

3.5 / 5.0

Ease of use2.0 / 5.0
Getting in/getting out3.5 / 5.0
Driving position5.0 / 5.0
Roominess4.0 / 5.0
Visibility4.0 / 5.0
Quality3.5 / 5.0

Utility

5.0 / 5.0

Small-item storage5.0 / 5.0
Cargo space5.0 / 5.0

Technology

3.5 / 5.0

Audio & navigation3.5 / 5.0
Smartphone integration4.0 / 5.0
Driver aids3.0 / 5.0
Voice control3.5 / 5.0

Driving

edmunds rating
The 3.5-liter 290-horsepower V6, nine-speed automatic transmission and optional Super Handling All-Wheel Drive are key factors in making the MDX one of the most confident midsize SUVs to drive. It's not exciting, but it is effortlessly capable.

Acceleration

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Acceleration is smooth and confident. The MDX hits 60 mph in 6.9 seconds, which is considerably quicker than the Infiniti QX60 and Lexus RX 350L, but a bit slower than rivals equipped with supercharged and turbocharged six-cylinder engines.

Braking

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The pedal feel is light, but predictable modulation means it's easy to bring the MDX to a smooth stop. The MDX required 121 feet to stop from 60 mph, an average stopping distance for the class.

Steering

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There are three steering mode settings. The Normal setting achieves a nice balance between feeling light but precise, while Sport'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.

Handling

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The torque-vectoring AWD system is impressive. It reduces understeer and allows this big SUV to whip around corners when you really push it. In most situations, the MDX doesn't feel like a sporty SUV, but it sure handles like one.

Drivability

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The nine-speed transmission shifting has improved and is generally pleasant in typical driving. The automatic stop-start system takes too long to reignite the engine and pull away from a stop, which causes some annoyance.

Off-road

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The MDX's Super Handling All-Wheel Drive is designed more for inclement weather than off-road exploration, which is typical for a more luxury-oriented class. It lacks the terrain and surface settings of the Honda Pilot and doesn't offer hill descent control.

Comfort

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Comfortable seats and ample sound deadening are hard to fault, but paying more in this segment will yield even more impressive comfort credentials. The same goes for the ride, which lacks some of the bump-smoothing sophistication of pricier rivals.

Seat comfort

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

Ride comfort

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Sharp 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 & vibration

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Wind noise is minimal at highway speeds. 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 control

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The 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 and Honda products, but it requires an extra step for certain adjustments. Performance is effective.

Interior

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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 use

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The push-button gear selector 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 divides functions between the upper display (with a dash-mounted knob controller) and the lower touchscreen.

Getting in/getting out

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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 position

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A highly adjustable driver's 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.

Roominess

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The third row will suit 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.

Visibility

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The 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.

Quality

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

Utility

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Convenience and efficiency play a big part in vehicle utility, and the Acura MDX capitalizes on the space it occupies. Total storage volume is spacious, and easy fold-flat seats make loading long cargo a breeze. Interior storage space is another area that was thoughtfully configured.

Small-item storage

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

Cargo space

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Total cargo capacity is slightly larger than it is in other three-row midsize luxury crossovers and more sizable than in two-row rivals. The ease with which the third- and second-row seats fold flat and provide a level load floor is cause for praise. A storage bin beneath the cargo area is a nice touch.

Child safety seat accommodation

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There are two LATCH anchors on each of the outboard middle seats, hidden under slits. They are slightly below the slits and quite easy to access. Tethers are on the bottom of the second-row seatback. The third row has no anchors, but there are two tethers in the middle of the seatback.

Technology

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The MDX's dual-screen setup certainly looks high-tech, but it isn't terribly intuitive, even after you've used it for a while. It's difficult to remember which screen contains which settings. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are present, but the dial controller is suboptimal.

Audio & navigation

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Unfortunately, the new infotainment interface isn't much more intuitive than the last one. Functions are still split between two screens, and the lower touchscreen has a confusing menu structure and layout. Lots of unused space in some menus and a cluttered display in others. Audio is excellent.

Smartphone integration

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The MDX Advance features five USB ports: three under the front armrest console and two behind the console for rear passengers. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard, but the image is displayed on the top screen. That means you have to use the dash-mounted dial controller to access it.

Driver aids

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Our Advance model came with a number of high-tech safety features, but there were some issues. Adaptive cruise control accelerated and braked suddenly in heavy traffic but was otherwise fairly predictable. Lane keeping assist didn't always activate. The resolution on the surround-view camera display is muddy.

Voice control

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The voice control system recognizes speech well, and navigation instructions are easily understood. It didn't always have our phonebook indexed, so calling via voice commands ("Call Mike," for example) wasn't always possible.

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.