2010 Acura MDX Review

Updated for 2010, the MDX continues to deliver luxury and value

2010 Acura MDX Review

Back in 2001 Acura introduced the MDX mid-size luxury crossover, long before such things were the norm. In fact, most other automakers were (and still are) concentrating on off-road capable SUVs in this segment. Fast forward to 2010 and the MDX has surpassed all other Acura models to become the volume leader in the Japanese automaker’s luxury lineup.

FAST FACTS

1. For 2010 the MDX gets a new 6-speed automatic transmission that improves fuel economy to 16/21-mpg (city/hwy).

2. Motivation comes from a 300-hp 3.7L V6 that is rated to tow 5,000 lbs.

3. Standard features include a power liftgate, SH-AWD and a backup camera.

4. A new Advance Package for 2010 includes 19-inch wheels, an Active Damper System, vented front seats, adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring and a Collision Mitigating Braking System.

We’d say that Acura’s gamble to build a crossover while the rest of the market was focused on more traditional SUVs has paid off, but it wasn’t a gamble. Rather, Acura followed its business plan to build models like the MDX that forego unnecessary off-road capability for functional real-world practicality.

The reality is, the vast majority of buyers in this segment will never take their vehicle to the beach, let alone up the side of a mountain, and so the underlying car architecture works perfectly. In fact, since the beginning Acura made no secret of the fact that the MDX has no off-road ambitions. Instead it was designed to deliver added ride height, a luxury drive with high-end features, a stylish look, good passenger and cargo room, plus the value of Honda reliability and a lower price point when stacked up against the German competition.

STYLE AND EFFICIENCY UPDATES FOR 2010

Already successful in all of these categories, Acura has made a short list of changes for 2010 to help keep the MDX at the top of the heap. Most noticeable is a mild redesign that certainly helps set the MDX apart. We can’t say we love Acura’s bird beak front grille that’s now being used across its entire lineup, but you’ll no loner confuse the MDX with a Lexus. The new corporate face of Acura is starting to slowly grow on us and on the big MDX the “power plenum” grille is less ostentatious and more decorative. Perhaps we’re just being worn down, but Acura’s designers might just have been ahead of their time.

A design cue we really do like are the updated exhaust pipe finishers, which help give a little flare to the rear of the big crossover.

Changes have also been made under the hood with a new engine and transmission – although when it comes to the engine, the term “new” must be used loosely. Honda says the 3.7-liter V6 gets more usable power. That sounds like a bit of a stretch. We don’t have a torque curve to examine, but the MDX makes the same 300-hp, which now comes on at 6300 rpm (300 rpm higher). As for torque, it comes on 500 rpm sooner at 4500 rpm, but the total is also 5 ft-lbs less at 270 ft-lbs. Regardless, power is sufficient and while we’d like to see Honda develop a V8 engine for other vehicles, the MDX doesn’t need one.

The tow rating for the engine is a reasonably high 5,000 lbs, which is great for a crossover – although with the limited torque it’s sure to feel labored when you approach the max.

More important than engine changes, however, are changes to the transmission, with a new six-speed unit for 2010 that ups fuel economy to 16/21 mpg from last year’s 15/20-mpg rating. We like the improvement, but these numbers still seem dreadful. For a luxury brand, Acura is slipping behind in certain respects with 7- and 8-speeds quickly becoming the norm, while it is only now upgrading to a 6-speed.

One area where Acura has been a leader in for quite a few years is in AWD technology. The company’s SH-AWD system distributes power not only front to rear, but also side to side in the rear. It’s more designed for optimum grip in performance settings than for getting you out of the mud – but it can help with that too.

HIGH-TECH ADDITIONS INCLUDE AN ADAPTIVE SUSPENSION

Another new addition for 2010 are lighter 18-inch wheels that are designed to improve both handling and ride quality. There’s likely a difference, but not something you can qualitatively measure. The MDX suspension setup is already quite good delivering a ride that is both comfortable and reasonably sporty. Our test model featured larger 19-inch wheels and lower profile tires as part of the Advance Package, delivering a perfectly comfortable ride but with a slightly more dynamic edge.

That package is new for 2010 and also includes an Active Damper System so drivers can choose between a soft or firm suspension setting. The difference between the two setups isn’t dramatic but is noticeable. Designed more for sporty flare, we preferred to leave the harder setup on, switching only to the soft setting on longer highway drives or when the road got rough. (It’s also nice if you’ve got a couple sleeping kids in the back.)

Other items included in the Advance Package are a blind spot monitoring system, adaptive cruise control, perforated higher-grade Milano leather seats with ventilation, auto-leveling headlights, paddle shifters and a Collision Mitigating Braking System (CMBS) that works similar to other systems on the market notifying the driver of an impending crash using an auditory alert before engaging the brakes partially to reduce the severity of the collision.

Vehicles equipped with this package cost $51,8551, roughly a $6,000 premium over the standard model with the Technology Package. We like some of the items, but wish we could get just a few of them a la carte.

TECH PACKAGE INCLUDES LUXURY NECESSITIES

As for the Tech package, it’ll bring the base $42,230 price up to $45,905 but includes what can almost be considered necessities in a vehicle of this caliber; things like leather seats, Navigation and Acura’s ELS Surround sound system with 410-watts, 10-speakers and a built-in hard disk drive (HDD) with USB connectivity. Generally Acuras come with pretty weak audio systems, but this one can really pound out the tunes. The Nav system displays on an 8-inch LCD screen which is also used for the backup camera. Even models without the Tech package get a backup camera, but it’s a tiny screen located on the rearview mirror.

Acura’s Keyless Access System can also be considered a modern luxury must-have, although with memory settings tied to the keys, we can foresee problems when two keys get close to the car. Notably absent is a push-button ignition. A final Tech Package item in is a tri-zone automatic climate control system – something the back seat passengers are sure to appreciate.

As for those rear seats, they’re moderately roomy but there isn’t as much legroom as we’d expect in a vehicle of this size. Technically, the MDX is a seven seater and there is a third row as well, but it’s mostly useless and serves a better function when folded flat, increasing the cargo room from a sedan-like 15 cubic-feet to a significant 42.9 cu.-ft. Access to all the space is made easy through a standard power tailgate.

In terms of the overall cabin, it’s typical Acura; following more in line with a BMW meets Audi type of minimal-but-well-done luxury, as opposed to the more lavish interiors of a Mercedes or Lexus. The vented front seats are, however, supremely luxurious and those in the rear seat will love the optional heated outboard seats.

In true Acura fashion, the ergonomics are great although the steering wheel easily has a half a dozen too many buttons.

THE VERDICT

The 2010 additions, particularly the new style, are sure to give the MDX a new lease on life at the top of the mid-size luxury crossover/SUV segment. Most importantly, however, is the price. Starting at $42,230 it undercuts all major competitors by a fair margin, with the Mercedes ML starting in the $45,000 range, the BMW X5 in the $47,000 range and the new Lexus RX460 at just over $50,000. Even our fully loaded model with the Advance and rear-seat Entertainment Packages just topped the Lexus at $53,755.

With an almost Lexus-like way of succeeding in all areas but never really excelling in any particular one, we can’t say we love the MDX, but it would be our top pick in the segment – if, as we suspect is true for most shoppers, true off-road capability and more heavy-duty towing capability are not required. We would suggest shoppers also seriously consider the too-big-for-its-class Lexus RX as an alternative.

Barring that, we’ll take our MDX in Aspen White Pearl a color that perfectly suits this luxurious suburban soft-roader.

RELATED READING

2010 Land Rover LR4: First Drive 2009 Infiniti FX35 2009 Infiniti FX50 2009 Volvo XC90 Review 2010 Ford Flex Limited AWD EcoBoost Review 2009 BMW X5 xDrive35d First Drive

« Back
SWEEPSTAKES – OFFICIAL RULES, TERMS AND CONDITIONS

AutoGuide.com’s Monthly Overlay Newsletter Signup – By subscribing to our email newsletter, Entrants are eligible to win one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card (value of $100.00 USD). One (1) winner will be chosen every month at random and contacted by VerticalScope Inc.’s staff. *Amazon.com is not a sponsor of this promotion. Except as required by law, Amazon.com Gift Cards ("GCs") cannot be transferred for value or redeemed for cash. GCs may be used only for purchases of eligible goods at Amazon.com or certain of its affiliated websites. For complete terms and conditions, see www.amazon.com/gc-legal. GCs are issued by ACI Gift Cards, Inc., a Washington corporation. All Amazon ®, ™ & © are IP of Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates. No expiration date or service fees.

1. NO PURCHASE OR PAYMENT OF ANY KIND IS NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN THIS SWEEPSTAKES. AGE/RESIDENCY RESTRICTIONS, VOID WHERE PROHIBITED.

2. PRIZE: One (1) Winner will be randomly selected every month to each receive: one (1) $100.00 Amazon.com Gift Card (the “Prize Supplier”). Total approximate retail value of all prizes is approximately $100.00 USD. Prizes are not transferable and no cash or prize substitution is allowed. Prize package is awarded "as is" with no warranty or guarantee, either express or implied.

3. ELIGIBILITY: From the time of entry through the final date of prize fulfillment, each contest entrant and selected entrant must be a permanent lawful citizen and resident residing in the 50 United States or the District of Columbia or in Canada, and be twenty one (21) years of age or older. VOID IN PUERTO RICO, THE U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS, IN ALL FOREIGN COUNTRIES OUTSIDE OF THE UNITED STATES, AND ALL OTHER U.S. TERRITORIES OR CANADA AND POSSESSIONS AND WHERE PROHIBITED OR RESTRICTED BY LAW. Employees, officers, directors, agents and representatives, of the Sponsor and the Prize Supplier and each of their respective parent companies, affiliates, subsidiaries, advertising and promotion agencies, promotion partners and any entity involved in the development, production, implementation, administration or fulfillment of this Sweepstakes, and the immediate family members (e.g., spouse, mother, father, sister, brother, uncle, aunt, nephew, niece, grandparent, in-law, daughter and son, regardless of where they live) and persons living in the same household (whether or not related) of such individuals are not eligible to participate or win. Only one selected entrant per household. All decisions of the Sponsor with respect to this sweepstakes are final. The Sponsor shall have the right at any time to require proof of identity and failure to provide such proof may result in disqualification from the Sweepstakes.

4. ENTER BY INTERNET: You may enter this sweepstakes via the Internet by logging onto AutoGuide.com and subscribing to our email newsletter via the pop-up overlay.

5. SELECTION OF WINNER: One (1) Entrant will be selected by random selection who have subscribed to our email newsletter. The winner may be announced publicly on AutoGuide.com and will be contacted by VerticalScope Inc.’s staff. The winner will be required to provide a mailing address (that is not a P.O. box) to receive the prize which will be shipped free of charge.

6. ODDS OF WINNING: Odds of winning a prize are determined by the total number of eligible entries received.

7. RESTRICTIONS: The prize package consists of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card with an approximate value of $100.00 USD. If prize cannot be awarded due to circumstances beyond the control of the Sponsor or Prize Supplier, no substitute prize will be awarded due to the unique nature of the prize. Sponsor and Prize Supplier shall not be liable to the winner or any person claiming through winner for failure to supply the prize or any part thereof, by reason of any acts of God, any action(s), regulation(s), order(s) or request(s) by any governmental or quasi-governmental entity (whether or not the action(s), regulations(s), order(s) or request(s) prove(s) to be invalid), equipment failure, utility failure, internet failure, terrorist acts, threatened terrorist acts, air raid, blackout, act of public enemy, earthquake, war (declared or undeclared), fire, flood, epidemic, explosion, unusually severe weather, hurricane, embargo, labor dispute or strike (whether legal or illegal) labor or material shortage, transportation interruption of any kind, work slow-down, civil disturbance, insurrection, riot, or any other cause beyond Sponsor's or Prize Supplier's control (collectively, "Force Majeure Event"). Sponsor shall not be responsible for any cancellations, delays, diversions or substitutions or any act or omissions whatsoever by the performers/events, other transportation companies or any other persons providing any of these services and accommodations to passengers including any results thereof such as changes in services or accommodations necessitated by same.

8. CONDITIONS: By entering the Sweepstakes, entrants agree to be bound by the Official Rules, Terms and Conditions and that Sponsor has the irrevocable right to use in perpetuity entrants' names, user names, likenesses, photographs, voices, home mailing address, biographical and prize information, and entry materials, without notice to entrants and without compensation or obligation, in any and all media now or hereafter known throughout the world, in any manner whatsoever, to advertise and promote Sponsor, its products and services, the Sweepstakes, and for any other purpose except where prohibited by law. Entrant waives the right to assert as a cost of winning a prize any and all costs of verification and redemption or travel to redeem said prize and any liability which might arise from redeeming or seeking to redeem said prize. Sponsor is not responsible for fraudulent calls or emails made to entrants not by the Sponsor. If the Sweepstakes is not capable of running as planned by reason of damage by computer viruses, worms or bugs, tampering, unauthorized intervention, fraud, technical limitations or failures, any Force Majeure Event or any other cause which, in the sole opinion of Sponsor, could corrupt, compromise, undermine or otherwise affect the administration, security, fairness, integrity, viability or proper conduct of the Sweepstakes, Sponsor reserves the right, in its sole and absolute discretion, to cancel, terminate, modify or suspend all or any part of the Sweepstakes, and to select a winner from among all eligible entries received by Sponsor up until the time of such cancellation, termination, modification or suspension, as applicable. Sponsor reserves the right in its sole discretion to disqualify any individual that (i) tampers or attempts to tamper with the entry process or the operations of this Sweepstakes in any manner, (ii) violates the Official Rules, Terms and Conditions or (iii) acts in an unsportsmanlike or disruptive manner, or with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass any other person. CAUTION: ANY ATTEMPT BY AN ENTRANT OR ANY OTHER INDIVIDUAL TO DELIBERATELY DAMAGE OR UNDERMINE THE LEGITIMATE OPERATION OF THIS SWEEPSTAKES IS A VIOLATION OF CRIMINAL AND CIVIL LAWS. SHOULD SUCH AN ATTEMPT BE MADE, SPONSOR RESERVES THE RIGHT TO SEEK CIVIL AND/OR CRIMINAL PROSECUTION AND/OR DAMAGES FROM ANY SUCH PERSON TO THE FULLEST EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW. Any expenses and receipt and use of the prize and federal, state and local taxes and fees applicable in connection with the prize awarded are the sole responsibility of the winner. An IRS Form 1099 will be issued in the name of the winner for the actual value of the prize received. This Sweepstakes is subject to all federal, state and local laws of the United States. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED. Sponsor, Prize Supplier, and their respective officers, directors, parent companies, affiliates, subsidiaries and advertising and promotion agencies, employees, representatives and agents are not responsible for and shall not be liable for (i) any injuries, losses or damages of any kind caused by a prize resulting from acceptance, possession or usage of the prize, or (ii) printing, distribution or production errors. Sponsor or its affiliates may rescind any promotion found to contain such errors without liability at its or their sole discretion.

9. SPONSOR: The Sponsor of this contest is VerticalScope Inc. (the owner and operator of AutoGuide.com), 111 Peter Street, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario, M5V 2H1.

Subscribe to our email newsletter and automatically be entered to win.
*Restrictions apply. See offer for details

Get Breaking Automotive News, Reviews and Video in your Facebook Feed!

Already Liked