2020 Acura MDX Hybrid
2020 Acura MDX Hybrid Review
- Generous array of features and active driver aids for the money
- Excellent all-wheel-drive system allows for sharp handling
- Generous interior storage
- 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
- Dual-screen infotainment system can be quite difficult to use
- Handoff between all-electric and engine power is clunky
- 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 Sport Hybrid 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 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 Sport Hybrid is well-equipped. Of course, there are few 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 satisfied with the MDX Hybrid's balance of power and fuel economy.
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.
The Sport Hybrid part of the name means business, making this large, three-row SUV feel more nimble on curvy roads. But it also adds some low-speed drivability annoyances, which hamper the overall experience. Even so, the MDX remains a versatile and well-made choice for a luxury family hauler.
How does the MDX drive?
A performance hybrid may sound like an oxymoron, but the MDX makes it work — mostly. This large SUV is capable on curvy roads thanks to its excellent SH-AWD system and powertrain layout (the rear wheels each have an electric motor, enabling sharper, more precise handling).
It's also quicker than the standard MDX, provided you're in the right setting. The Sport mode keep the engine turned on while you're stopped, which makes the powertrain responsive when you hit the gas. If you're in other modes, there's a frustrating delay while you wait for the engine to fire up. Stopping smoothly can be difficult because the brake pedal offers little feedback.
How comfortable is the MDX?
The leather seats are plush, and the first- and second-row seats are equally comfortable when you select the second-row captain's chairs. The ride quality is smooth, which is even more impressive considering that the vehicle has large 20-inch wheels plus the extra weight of the hybrid system. Most climate controls are physical buttons, though you will have to select the climate screen in the infotainment system for additional adjustments.
The Sport Hybrid keeps the engine off at low speeds, which makes this version even quieter than the regular MDX. Alas, the powertrain sends a shudder through the cabin when the engine kicks back on.
How’s the interior?
The MDX Sport Hybrid's cabin is mostly spacious — second-row headroom is a little tight — and the third row is slightly more adult-friendly than third rows in competing crossovers. Windows in the rear three-quarter view are obstructed by the third-row headrests, but otherwise the MDX is easy to see out of. We especially like the buttons on the second-row seats that provide easy access to the third row. The highly adjustable driver's seat is accommodating.
The controls need a rethink, however. The two-screen infotainment system and push-button shifter require a steep learning curve. Some interior chrome trim can be overly reflective in direct sunlight.
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?
We're still wondering how Acura fit a hybrid system without compromising interior functionality. Cargo measurements are identical between the standard MDX and the Sport Hybrid. There's good space behind the third and second rows, but some midsize two-row SUVs offer more space overall.
Small-item storage space is plentiful. The center console offers deep storage space and multiple configurations that provide space and security for larger items. Second-row storage is similarly comprehensive. The main downside here is the lack of towing capability for the Sport Hybrid.
How economical is the MDX?
With an EPA rating of 27 mpg combined, the Sport Hybrid does far better than the non-hybrid MDX and is competitive with other large plug-in hybrid SUVs. We recorded an excellent 29.6 mpg on our evaluation driving loop.
Is the MDX a good value?
With a hybrid powertrain, sporty handling, third-row seating, and a competitive price, the MDX offers a compelling mix of attributes. You can find better fuel economy, entertainment systems and interior materials elsewhere, but you'll have to give something up in the process.
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.
You wouldn't expect sporty handling or excitement from a three-row SUV, let alone a hybrid one. Yet the MDX delivers just that. You just might develop a tinge of excitement about this family hauler.
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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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 Sport Hybrid SH-AWD 4dr SUV AWD w/Technology Package (3.0L 6cyl gas/electric hybrid 7AM). Including destination charge, it arrives with a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of about $53,000.
Other versions include:
- 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