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2019 Acura MDX: Sport-Oriented Luxury

By James Raia, April 20th, 2019

As a three-row, midsize luxury sport utility vehicle, the Acura MDX helps define the increasingly popular automobile segment. Nearing its 20th birthday, the 2019 edition is in the sixth year of its current generation. And while a new offering seems imminent, this current model isn't staid. Acura has refreshed its upscale SUV several times, including the current model year.

With seating for up to seven occupants, the 2019 MDX is available with a variety of packages, including Technology, Advance, Entertainment, and new A-Spec trims. All models are equipped with 3.5-liter V-6 engines with 290 horsepower.

A nine-speed automatic is the only transmission offered and it's matched with front-wheel drive or optional all-wheel drive. A traditional shift mechanism is absent, replaced by a push-button display.

There's a learning curve to the push-button approach. It's convenient and efficient, but it requires a visual requirement unlike the feel-only approach of a traditional shifter. The former method means the driver may spend time, however brief, looking away from what's ahead or behind.

The two-screen navigation system is top-line, but also requires additional concentration on the various features of the lower display touchscreen and the knob controller on the dash for the upper screen.

Normal, Sport, and Comfort steering modes fit their respective driving "feels." Normal is light and precise for city driving. Sport is tighter and best suited for higher speeds. Comfort is best translated as super light.

Like other luxury manufacturers, Acura packs a lot into its standard features list. The A-Spec, included on my review vehicle, is an appearance package. Wider wheels and tires, a thicker steering wheel, front-seat ventilation, gloss black exterior accents, and a few added ornamentals spruce up the cabin.

The feature packages have mix-and-match options, from a premium sound system to remote engine start and fuel-saving automatic start-stop. Adaptive suspension, blind spot monitoring, cross-traffic alert, and a second-row entertainment system are available among the exhaustive equipment included and expected in a luxury SUV.

Driving the MDX is pleasant. Acceleration, steering, maneuverability, and overall quietness give the SUV the sport-oriented tendencies of its sedan siblings. The 0-to-60-mph acceleration is rated at 6.9 seconds. Gas mileage averages 19 miles per gallon in city driving, 25 mpg on the freeway. The MDX earned a five-out-of-five-star overall crash test rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The Acura is quick, smooth, and confident among a class that includes such respected competitors as Audi A7, Infiniti QX60, Lexus RX 350L, Porsche Cayenne, and Volvo XC90.

Third-row seating in midsize SUVs can prompt entry and exit issues. The Acura's front and second rows offer ample room and plenty of adjustment settings, but getting in and out of the third row is best accomplished by potential occupants with substantial flexibility.

As a luxury SUV, the MDX also fits its definition with a handsome interior design. The wood trim is well-positioned and combined leather and suede seating is attractive but not as firm as expected.

All occupants have good overall visibility, with the driver aided by a large, upright windshield and substantial retractable side mirrors. The back-up camera and optional surround-view camera have well-pixilated views on its high-definition video displays.

Some competitors are more luxurious. But the MDX is attractive in many areas. It fuel economy is tops among its peers. And its equipment-loaded price of slightly more than $56,000 is more appealing than other choices in the segment.

Overall, the Acura MDX holds its own in the competitive, vehicle-rich, luxury SUV segment.

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