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2016 Acura MDX Tech drives V6 SUV performance off the charts

Acura takes the best selling premium 3 row SUV in North America and drives its notable comfort and sport-like-performance to a level normally reserved for V8 powered suburban crawlers. Torque News takes a closer look at 2016 Acura MDX


For 2016, Acura MDX SH-AWD features a 9 speed automatic transmission with Integrated Dynamics System(IDS) technology

All-wheel drive, front wheel drive, “smart” and full time 4 wheel drive, it’s all been done before. Today Honda and Acura technology is pushing the envelope on what most consumers believe to be the optimal offering as to reliability, usable power and fuel economy. Visualize premium cabin comfort, starship-like tech connectivity, electronic noise cancellation and active safety features, road handling and instantaneous-on-demand torque transfer to the pavement that manages to exceed many sports-sedan offerings, that’s 2016 MDX.

We know of no other premium SUV(regardless of price) that offers”more” than MDX

In reading the previous paragraph, you now possess a snippet of what makes Acura’s latest version of MDX, the best selling 3 row SUV in North America, and what it brings to the North American SUV segment. Thanks to our friend Paul down at Kendall Acura of Eugene, Or, we were afforded a few minutes behind the wheel of 2016 MDX. We’ll follow up with an extended drive and review in a week or two.

According to Paul: Audi, Lexus and domestic SUV owners are switching to MDX, it’s a value exceeds price-point thing. But mostly, It’s Acura MDX owners returning for a 2nd or third MDX.

Writing in length as to an extended Phoenix, Arizona road trip in 2015 Acura MDX, arguably an exceptional SUV purchase or lease value, we were collectively blown away by MDX mechanical and electronic-tech performance as experienced under variable weather and road conditions. But the “like” goes much further and deeper than that. Stated with conviction and without reservations, dollar for dollar and simply put, 2016 Acura MDX is the greatest value found in a midsize premium SUV today.

What a 9 speed transmission and IDS technology does to enhance MDX performance

Bottom line: For(we)current or former Chrysler, Ford, G.M. and Mercedes crossover and SUV owners, looking for that missing in action V8 torque and horsepower is no longer a concern when operating MDX. By marrying the ZF 9 speed “Sequential Sportshift” automatic transmission and 3 range IDS (drive select mode) we discover a direct injected, cylinder managed EarthDreams ™ 3.5 liter V6(290 horsepower/267 ft.-lb torque) that effectively outperforms many V8 engines on several fronts, top of segment fuel economy being just one of them. For us, the icing on the cake is the fuel economy,(18-19 mpg city/ 26-27 highway) second to comfort and overall performance.

Then there’s the available option of Acura’s torque vectoring super handling all wheel drive.(SH-AWD) Truthfully, we find this feature to be seamless in the transfer of traction under all road conditions. For Sun Belt and mostly fair weather climates, MDX is also available in a front wheel drive (FWD) variant. And frankly, this may be the ticket for many buyers wishing to purchase or lease MDX at a lower rate while retaining the premium comfort and accoutrements. There's no visual difference(other than the badging) between FWD and SH-AWD. You may take a look at MDX specifications here.

The drive: There's no sense of FWD over or understeer with SH-AWD

MDX remains essentially the same quality vehicle as offered in 2015 with the addition of the 9 speed transmission and Acura’s Integrated Dynamics System ™(IDS) With this option(standard) the driver is in command of shift-points, steering responsiveness and throttle response. For MDX equipped with SH-AWD, “Sport” mode effectively distributes greater power(torque) to the outside wheels in a curving sweep; thus accelerating the vehicle out of the curve. In-short, this mid size 4000 lb SUV drives akin to a performance sedan while facilitating a-truck-like view platform and instilling confidence in the driver and passengers.

2016 Acura MDX presents a comfortable yet firm drive and ride experience. Acura engineering has done a commendable job of isolating transferred road noise from the cabin through passive and active measures. Featuring power adjusted heated and ventilated driver and front passenger seating, dual climate control and rear climate control, you've discovered infinitely adjustable rolling comfort zone.

Commercial time

Added to a long list of standard features, quality leather soft and hard textured surfaces, premium carpeting, headliner, abundant connectivity ports and a plethora of storage facilities. special sound absorbing glass and active electronic-wave noise cancellation. MDX takes dynamic infinitely adjustable cabin accommodation to an enviable level. The industry can’t touch Acura’s value-added price model,(MSRP $42,865-$57,080) and then there’s arguably the best audio and drop down surround sound theater system in the industry.

There’s a "loud pedal” when required

For most of us living in suburban or city environments, moving onto or off of the highway in traffic can be most problematic. This is where the “sports” button comes into play In the case of MDX, the “D” or drive select button doubles with a secondary tap as an instantaneous “sport mode” activator. We used it, it works! A near instantaneous downshift occurs with a tightening of gear ratio,(don’t ask) also pedal response is quickened while steering wheel feel and control is heightened.

How much fun is one allowed in a premium SUV?

For those drivers that miss shifting gears: Steering wheel mounted paddle shifters, yes, they also work. We discovered the “transformer” personality of 2016 MDX. Much like TLX, MDX possesses a split personality and is well worth a test drive. We further note minimal body roll experienced while cornering or braking aggressively; zero brake fade and an exhaust note reminiscent of Indycar.(when called for) Love it!

A final thought

Note: “Comfort” drive setting on MDX is akin to sitting in the back seat of a Town Car while sipping on your favorite libation. Thats’ where most drivers will leave it. A pleasurable driving experience within the quiet confines and comfortable seated luxury of the best selling SUV in North America.