2010 Acura MDX AdvancePosted on September 17th, 2010
All-wheel drive gives Acura’s luxury SUV four-season performance
By Nina Russin
Acura’s sport-utility vehicle for active families has come of age. The original Acura MDX rolled out in 2001, combining luxury performance and four-season capability. A 3.2-liter V-6 engine and four-speed automatic transmission produced 240 horsepower, rivaling some competitive V-8 products. Three rows of seating held up to seven passengers.
While the MDX filled the needs of a growing market, the product lacked refinement. The seats weren’t particularly comfortable, and the cargo area was difficult to configure. All of that has changed with the current model. In addition, engineers refined the powertrain with a more powerful, fuel efficient V-6 engine and six-speed automatic transmission.
Acura’s super-handling all-wheel drive system distributes power between the front and rear axles as well as between right and left wheels. By controlling yaw, the all-wheel drive system reduces understeer to improve the car’s cornering capability, especially on wet and snowy roads.
Designers refreshed the MDX exterior for 2010, and added an advance package that includes 19-inch wheels and tires, and an active damping system that instantaneously adjusts the suspension for the road conditions.
New V-6 engine and six-speed automatic transmission add power and improve fuel economyThe 3.7-liter V-6 engine produces 300 horsepower and 270 lbs.-ft. of torque, giving the MDX powerful acceleration. Drivers can opt between using the six-speed transmission in fully-automatic or manual mode.
Formula-style shift paddles on the steering wheel make it easy to snap through the gears, enhancing performance on challenging roads. A large overdrive gear extends gas mileage on the highway, up to 21 miles-per-gallon.
The MDX tows up to 5000 pounds, exceeding our ALV minimum requirement. A hill start assist feature applies the brakes when the MDX accelerates off the line on steep grades, to prevent the car from rolling backwards.
Base price on the test car is $53,755, not including an $860 destination charge. Acura simplifies the buying process by including all safety, comfort and convenience features in the trim package, rather than adding them as options. MSRP also includes a six-year/70,000 mile powertrain warranty and a three month subscription to XM satellite radio with real-time traffic and weather updates.
Blind spot detection improves visibility in city traffic
I drove the MDX around the Phoenix metro area and in the Tonto National Forest, to assess the car’s performance as an owner might, commuting to work and heading off to the trails on the weekend. Leading edge safety features make the MDX as adept in traffic as on two-lane rural roads.
A standard blind spot detection system illuminates LED symbols located in the car’s A-pillars when cars in adjacent lanes pass through blind spots. Of all the recent safety systems to come to market, blind spot detection is the one I’m most excited about.
As road congestion increases, we find ourselves more frequently fighting gridlock on multi-lane thoroughfares. The blind spot warning light makes it easier and safer to merge from on ramps, and to exit the freeway from the middle lanes during rush hour.
The acid test in Phoenix is the area surrounding the airport, where all of the city’s major freeways intersect. During rush hour, commuters trying to save time match wits with out-of-towners hoping to find their hotels without getting lost. The effect is that of a perverse game of twister, with much higher stakes.
During my test drive, blind spot detection saved me from getting sideswiped by several kamikazes who had not yet discovered Firebird Raceway to the south, not to mention the typical ebb and flow of nine-to-fivers. The MDX’s substantial disk brakes with four-channel antilock braking didn’t hurt either.
A variable-assist power steering system provides more assist at low speeds for tight turns and parking, while maintaining positive on-center response at speed. The MDX is surprisingly nimble for a car close to sixteen feet in length.
Visibility to the front and sides of the vehicle is quite good. A standard rear wiper keeps the back glass clear in rain and snow. Standard high-intensity discharge headlamps produce a longer, brighter beam than conventional halogen.
The navigation system includes a rearview backup camera. Since the rear glass is framed by two wide D pillars, the backup camera is extremely helpful as a parking aid. Parallel lines superimposed over the camera image show the car’s trajectory, making it easier to back into vertical parking lot slots.
Engineers tuned the engine and transmission to rev low, extending fuel economy. The manual gear select option allows the driver to stay in the car’s sweet spot, about 3000-5000 rpm, when driving for sport.
Fun in the foothillsHaving tested the MDX in traffic, I was anxious to see how the SUV would perform on some challenging roads. I headed east of town to Bush Highway, which runs north-south through the west edge of the Tonto National Forest.
After exiting the highway, I shifted the gear select lever into manual mode, so I could use the paddle shifters on the steering wheel. While keeping the revs up didn’t do much for gas mileage, it made for a fun ride on the two-lane road through the desert.
The four-wheel independent suspension makes the MDX feel like a much lighter vehicle than it actually is. Performance is nimble and crisp without being overly harsh.
The active damping system uses rheological fluid in the shock dampers: sensors detect changes in road surface through magnetic signals, and send that information to actuators to adjust the suspension. Drivers can choose between sport and comfort modes: the comfort mode provides a more compliant ride. Personally, I found the sport mode perfect.
The 19-inch wheels and tires on the Advance package are an upgrade from standard 18-inch rims. They dress up the exterior, and give the MDX a slightly larger footprint.
The MDX seats up to five adults and two children. The second row can seat up to three across: the middle position has more head and legroom than many competitive products. Access to the third-row seats is decent thanks to a slide-and-enter feature in the second row, but there is very little legroom.
Overhead lamps over all three rows illuminate the interior at night, while a sunroof brings plenty of ambient light inside the car. Three-zone climate control keeps rear passengers more comfortable. Vents behind the center console circulate air through the back of the cabin.
Two-position seat memory allows multiple drivers to share the car. An adjustable lumbar support and a dead pedal enhance comfort on long drives. Both front seats have heaters and ventilators.
A power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel contains redundant audio controls, Bluetooth interface, information system controls and more. The number of buttons can make them difficult to locate while driving. The gauge cluster is easy to read in a variety of lighting conditions. The information display includes ambient temperature, odometer, trip meter and oil life meter.
A locking glovebox provides secure storage inside the passenger compartment. All passengers have ample access to bottle and cupholders. Front seat passengers can recharge portable electronic devices using a 12-volt power point at the base of the center stack, and plug in a computer using a 120-volt outlet in the center console. A USB and auxiliary port interface with music sticks and MP3 players.
A mouse device on the center stack controls the navigation system: it is easy to reach and very intuitive to operate.
Second and third-row seats fold flat with single levers to create an uninterrupted cargo floor. A power liftgate makes it easier to load large items in back. The MDX meets our bicycle-friendly standards.
All models come with front, side and side curtain airbags, daytime running lamps, electronic stability and traction control with rollover mitigation, and antilock braking. Acura builds the MDX at its assembly plant in Alliston, Ontario Canada.
Likes: A versatile sport utility vehicle with sporty performance and four-season versatility.
Dislikes: Too many steering wheel controls make them difficult to find while driving.
Model: MDX Advance
Base price: $53,755
As tested: $54,615
Horsepower: 300 Hp @ 6300 rpm
Torque: 270 lbs.-ft. @ 4500 rpm
Antilock brakes: Standard
Side curtain airbags: Standard
First aid kit: N/A
Bicycle friendly: Yes
Fuel economy: 16/21 mpg city/highway**
Comments: *Writer recommends eighteen-inch wheels and off-road tires. **The manufacturer recommends the use of 91 octane fuel.
2 responses to “2010 Acura MDX Advance”
Acura MDX SUV carries seven people in standard leather seats; overall MDX has a highly desirable blend of luxury, performance, and convenience. MDX gets a new 6-speed automatic transmission that improves fuel economy motivation comes from a 300-hp 3.7L V6 that is rated to tow 5,000 lbs.
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