That’s a good start to the surprising story that is 2015 Acura MDX. At every turn of our unfolding Phoenix saga, MDX surprised! First of all, forget about every preconceived notion you store in your personal hard drive as to what an SUV is or is not. MDX beats all expectations.
While MDX has no lack of competition in North America’s hottest automotive segment, Acura has taken this midsize cousin to Honda Pilot and evolved it into the best selling 3 row SUV in the U.S..
4300 pounds of refined comfort
In a recent article we expanded on the comfort, convertibility and quality of 2015 Acura MDX. While on the road to Sedona we discovered a surprisingly nimble mid-size SUV with car-like handling and interior quiet rivaling Acura RLX and Mercedes S Series. The greatest challenge for an MDX driver may be resisting a concert-quality music induced meditative state while running down the interstate at 100 mph.
What kept us awake while driving MDX in surround sound concert mode was a compelling game of ‘ fuel economy watch.’ One of the tools carried in the MDX array of electronic wizardry, as proudly displayed on the high resolution dash monitor,(MID) is a trip calculator and a history log featuring real-time fuel consumption.
Initially, while MDX claims the highest EPA, MPG rating in the premium midsize SUV segment, we were sceptical. As they say, “ Your actual fuel economy may very,” and our’s did. It actually beat EPA combined estimates by a full 10% on mid-grade regular gasoline.
High winds with temperatures in the mid to high 70s
The trip: Sedona’s Red Rock Vortex is approximately 138 miles upwind from Litchfield’s premium Wigwam Golf Resort, a great place to stay while visiting the Phoenix region. Saturday’s forecast was for 30 to 40 mph winds along the route that would take us through city, freeway and two lane rural driving conditions.
Just for laughs we decided to take MDX off road for a minute or two. The total trip with turn-around and walk on Cathedral Rock would run about 6 hours; much of it stop and go driving.
MDX offers 3 drive modes; comfort, normal and sport, via an Integrated Dynamics System(IDS) toggle positioned slightly below the shift lever. Frankly, for everyday driving and this trip, we opted to operate MDX in comfort mode. Note: While “sport” mode is available on MDX, we found the excessively stiffened steering and paddle shifting to be a bit redundant in a heavy SUV application. While MDX does not lack usable torque and acceleration power when called on, It’s not TLX. We found no call for paddle shifting when operating MDX.
“Comfort” mode is just that, comfortable and effortless. Steering is easy, braking, light and responsive while exceptional acceleration remains on hand when called for. In short, under all driving, road and weather conditions encountered on our trek to Sedona, MDX performed flawlessly.
Acura’s 290 horsepower direct injected VTEC V6 provided usable, seamless torque throughout the mid rpm range; while remaining civilized as to engine noise and high-revline. We found Acura’s engine and powertrain combination comparable to most V8 powered pickup trucks and SUVs on the road today.
Note: Rising off of the desert floor on the road to Sedona one encounters several 4,000 ft elevation up and down grades, many exceeding 6%. Acura’s MDX hill assist, ride stability, and Lane Watch ™ performed flawlessly on this journey, with nominal to no random transmission gear searching.
We experienced a fatigue-free driving experience with all comfort systems actuated. Individual adjustable climate control, cooled seats, navigation and stereo turned on in surround sound mode; 2015 Acura MDX recorded an average combined fuel consumption of 23.8 mpg on the return leg or our trip, with an average 22 mpg recorded for days 1-3 of our mostly city driving leg of the Phoenix MDX review. We find these results to be exceptional.