2015 Acura MDX SH-AWDPosted on October 16th, 2014
Seven-passenger crossover makes a sport of driving
By Nina Russin
Growing families who need the versatility of a seven-passenger vehicle don’t have to settle for plain vanilla options. Acura’s MDX with super-handling all-wheel drive offers an appealing alternative, combining the sporty performance of sedans such as the TL, TSX and TLX with a larger, more versatile interior. The 2015 model is basically a carryover of the 2014 car that athletes voted as ALV of the Year in the family luxury category.
Base price for the all-wheel drive model is $44,565. The test car adds technology, advance and entertainment option packages. An $895 handling charge brings the final MSRP to $57,675.
Power comes from a 3.5-liter V-6 engine rated at 290 horsepower with 267 foot-pounds of torque. Acura’s variable cylinder management system automatically cuts power to half the cylinders when power demands are low to extend gas mileage. EPA fuel economy estimates for the all-wheel drive MDX are 18/27 mpg city/highway.
A six-speed automatic transmission includes a sport setting for more aggressive performance. The driver can manually select gears utilizing formula-style paddles on the steering wheel.
Adding fun to the daily commute
Acura engineers added a host of active safety features to the MDX to help commuters safely navigate through traffic. The technology option package includes blind spot monitoring. LED signals in the A pillars illuminate when vehicles in the adjacent lane pass through the driver’s blind spots.
The advance option package adds lane keep assist, a feature that uses the vehicle’s brakes to guide the car back towards the center of the lane if the driver starts to veer to one side without signaling, as well as adaptive cruise control that maintains a preset following distance from the vehicle in front.
A voice ‘activated SMS text messaging feature enables the driver to receive and answer text messages without taking his hands off the steering wheel.
Designed for growing families
The MDX keeps the needs of growing families in mind with an available rear-seat DVD entertainment system, reclining second-row seats that slide fore and aft six inches and a one-touch walk-in feature that moves the second row seat out of the way with the touch of a button.
Third-row seats fold into the floor when not in use to expand the cargo area. Available roof rails enable owners to add a cargo rack or carrier up top.
Test drive in Southern Arizona
This week I had a chance to drive the 2015 Acura MDX on highways and surface streets in Phoenix and Chandler, Arizona as well as a section of the Gila River Indian reservation south of town and on the Bush Highway: a two-lane road through the foothills of the Superstition Mountains.
What makes the MDX such an appealing package is its ride and handling, both of which are typical of smaller, lighter cars. This was especially noticeable on the Bush Highway northeast of town.
I shifted the transmission into sport mode that enabled me to keep the engine revving in its sweet spot: about 3,000 rpm. Granted this burned up some fuel, but the sheer enjoyment of driving made it worth it.
The suspension consists of MacPherson struts up front and a multi-link setup in back. Stabilizer bars on both axles keep the chassis flat in the corners. The electronic power steering system is well tuned to the car, offering plenty of assist at low speeds and solid on-center response on the highway.
Super-handling all-wheel drive uses torque vectoring to give the driver additional control in the corners. If the car starts to push, the car automatically applies braking at the appropriate wheels to help the driver regain directional control.
In dense highway traffic, the MDX does everything a good commuting vehicle should. The optional navigation system includes real-time traffic updates to help drivers avoid congested areas.
Engineers did an excellent job minimizing noise intrusion to the interior so passengers in both rows can converse.
Visibility around the perimeter is good. The rearview camera eliminates what would otherwise be large blind spots from the car’s D-pillars when the driver shifts into reverse.
Three rows of seating inside the MDX accommodate up to seven passengers. A remote start feature on the test car allows the driver to to pre-cool or pre-heat the vehicle. Tri-zone climate control keeps second and third-row occupants comfortable.
Second-row seats recline as well as moving fore and aft to make long road trips more comfortable. The seat between the captain’s chairs creates an additional pathway to the third row.
I found the driver’s seat easy to adjust with plenty of lower lumbar support. Driver’s seat memory enables multiple family members to share the car more comfortably. Both the gauge cluster and center stack screen are easy to read in bright sunlight or after dark.
A power tailgate makes it easier to load up the back with large cargo.
The Acura MDX comes with front, side, side curtain and driver’s knee airbags, antilock brakes, electronic stability control, tire pressure monitoring and torque vectoring.
The 2015 MDX is on display at Acura dealerships nationwide.
Like: A versatile yet agile seven-passenger crossover vehicle with available all-wheel drive for four-season performance.
Base price: $44,565
As tested: $57,675
Horsepower: 290 Hp @6200 rpm
Torque: 267 lbs.-ft. @ 4500 rpm
Antilock brakes: Standard
Side curtain airbags: Standard
First aid kit: N/A
Bicycle friendly: Yes
Fuel economy:* 18/27 mpg
Comment: *The manufacturer recommends the use of 91 octane premium fuel.
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