For 2007, the Acura MDX SUV has been given a major rework. The most obvious change is its appearance. The exterior design is now much cleaner and continues the Acura knife-edged design elements found on the brand’s other models. The overall impression is one of a maturing identity.
From the driver’s seat, the view down and over the sloping hood line makes the vehicle seem much smaller than it actually feels. However, the higher beltline and expansive rear panels quickly put the vehicle’s size into perspective and so the optional rear-mounted camera is a Godsend when backing the MDX into a confined space.
Technology is omnipresent in this vehicle. The centre console, which flows down from the dashboard to the shifter, contains an LCD display panel for the Nav system, an audio display array, Bluetooth telephone interface, tri-zone heating and ventilation controls, 6-disc CD changer, XM satellite and conventional radio controls, as well as the controls for the rear audio and DVD-based entertainment system and the navigation system. Sounds rather cluttered, however, the interface is intuitive and the bilingual voice recognition system helps matters enormously.
Standard equipment on the MDX includes a leather-trimmed interior, heated seating in the first and second rows, eight-way power adjustments for both driver and front passenger seats, a 253-watt, eight-speaker audio system and handsome 18-inch wheels. Moving up to the Technology package brings a 410-watt sound system with 10-speakers, navigation system/rear mounted camera and a premium leather interior. The Elite tops things off with special wheels, a power tailgate, nine-inch rear DVD entertainment system with wireless headphones, Active Damper Suspension, auto-leveling headlamps, roof rails and a 115-volt AC outlet.
As is to be expected of a large vehicle the seating is very comfortable in the first and second rows, and better than average for those relegated to the 50/50-split third row. The latter folds away when cargo capacity is the order of the day. The 60/40-split middle row also folds down when more utility if needed.
On the safety front, the MDX excels with four-wheel anti-lock brakes, Vehicle Stability Assist with traction control, front dual stage airbags, front side air bags, full-length side curtain airbags with rollover sensors and Trailer Stability Assist. There’s also SH-AWD (super-handling all-wheel drive). It actively redistributes the power to the wheel that can put it to best use. A display within the instrumentation shows how much power each wheel is receiving – this makes for interesting theatre whenever you push the new 3.7L V6 engine up to its 6,000-rpm sweet spot. It is here you find the posted 300 ponies, up 50 HP over the previous engine.
Obviously, the power available means the MDX pulls strongly off the line with the increased horsepower and torque. Its real strength however, is the smoothness in the mid-range when the power comes on line. Factor in SH-AWD and its ability to overspeed the outside wheel (which turns the car into the corner) and you have quite a ride.
On that note, the ride delivered by the active dampers is quite firm in normal mode. Selecting the comfort setting takes the initial sting out of the ride without sacrificing too much in terms of handling. Both ride and handling are on par with most in this class.
In the seemingly crowded luxury SUV/CUV category, the MDX stands out with a new identity and the refinement and reliability carried over from the previous model. The extra power and technology will do much to bolster the reputation of Acura’s premium SUV.