Building a successful a premium vehicle model is difficult. Mazda is clawing its way up into the segment with prices that are hard to match, and the differentiation between a top-trim mainstream model of a similar vehicle is sometimes hard to explain to the shopper. Acura’s Performance Manufacturing Center (PMC) special editions take the guesswork out of finding the special bits.
The PMC edition is a run of just 330 units. We tested number 92. These vehicles are all “hand-crafted” by Acura’s team in Marysville, Ohio, the home of the Acura NSX supercar. Acura puts a bit of extra effort into making the PMC trims seem very special, and it works.
We had a chance to sample the MDX PMC this week and came away very impressed with the vehicle. Here’s what we found in our usual test report format. We only had the vehicle for a few days, but we spent a lot of time with it and covered over 200 miles in a wide variety of driving conditions.
2020 Acura MDX PMC – What Is It?
The Acura MDX is a three-row premium crossover. We’d call it “mid-sized.” This crossover is designed more for all weather and all road duty than any off-road work. The MDX is a top-seller in this segment, and Honda has no equivalent to it in that brand’s line. The PMC trim is a step up from the already pretty special Advance trim of this model.
2020 Acura MDX PMC – What Is Its Price?
All MDX PMCs have the same price of $63,745, including destination fees. While that price tag may sound steep to shoppers seeing Kia Tellurides priced in the $40ks, the PMC isn’t priced more than its premium-brand peers. Acura’s price includes no included maintenance plan, and the warranty is four years or 50K miles in duration.
2020 Acura MDX PMC – How Is It Powered?
The MDX has a six-cylinder (non-turbo) engine that develops 290 hp and a relatively low 267 lb-ft of torque. The engine is smooth and nearly silent in operation. The engine is mated to a 9-Speed automatic with paddle shifters that we found a good pairing. There is never any hunting for gears, and the MDX always seems to shift smoothly and quickly. We used the paddles to select specific gears during mountain driving, and they worked very well.
2020 Acura MDX PMC – The Drive
The 2020 Acura MDX PMC is a smooth operator. Acceleration is satisfying, but not explosive. The MDX’s 3.5-liter non-turbo engine does not have the strong torque of today’s electric vehicles, PHEVs, and turbocharged vehicles we test in this price range. It would be no surprise to us if Acura offered an engine with more torque in its next-generation MDX.
However, none that we have tested offer the balance that Acura’s MDX PMC does of sharp handling, straight-line tracking on the highway, and comfort over rough roads. This vehicle feels perfectly dialed in. Braking was also just right. This is a midsized crossover that you will enjoy driving on lonely back-country roads, which is where we conducted most of our testing.
We also tried the MDX PMC on some rural dirt roads. Here, the MDX continued to impress us. Washboard sections on inclines that upset most vehicles didn’t bother the MDX one bit.
Overall, the MDX is a sedate cruiser when you wish it to be and can be fun when you have room to run. Highway driving is very relaxing with Acura’s lane centering and adaptive cruise control doing a great job of helping you eat up miles.
2020 Acura MDX PMC – Infotainment, Interior, and Features
The MDX PMC has two screens in the center stack. The bottom one is just within reach and can be touched. The top one is deeply recessed into the dash, and one uses a rotary knob to make selections. It all works, and we adapted to it within a few hours of trying it out.
The controls are broken up a bit. For example, if you wish to turn on the seat heaters, you select a button which then pops open an infotainment menu screen. You then select seat heat. We’d prefer a thumb-wheel or switch, but many shoppers want fewer buttons. They will like the approach Acura took.
The top screen becomes your Nav and Google command screen when you enable the connect-by wire Android Auto system. The lower screen can show other information, such as music info. The steering wheel also has most of the common functions at your fingertips.
One way the PMC is special is its seats and interior trim. The heated and cooled seats are black Milano leather seats with premium microfiber inserts, black piping and red stitching. Boy, are they comfy in chilly fall weather. Nothing is better than microfiber suede, in our opinion. Combined with the seat and steering wheel heaters, the seats enable you to keep the cabin cooler and still be comfortable. They also grip you and keep you in place when you are on the twisty bits of road.
Acura uses a lot of gloss black elements to offset the gorgeous Valencia Red Pearl nano pigment paint. One place that Acura restrained itself from using this gloss black styling is around the infotainment system.
Acura equips AWD versions of its MDX line with spare tires, a feature we like to see on all crossovers, SUVs, and family vehicles.
2020 Acura MDX PMC – Conclusion
Those looking for a premium three-row crossover with exceptional build quality and attention to detail should put the 2020 Acura MDX PMC on the top of their list. The MDX PMC offers a great ride, great looks, and offers a bit of exclusivity in a segment where being special matters.
John Goreham is a long-time New England Motor Press Association member and recovering engineer. Following his engineering program, John also completed a marketing program at Northeastern University and worked with automotive component manufacturers. In addition to Torque News, John's work has appeared in print in dozens of American newspapers and he provides reviews to many vehicle shopping sites. You can follow John on Twitter, and view his credentials at Linkedin
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