Thursday, November 12, 2015

Acura's MDX has racy looks, earnest oomph

Mark Glover’s AutoGlo reviews of the latest motor vehicle models also can be seen on The Sacramento Bee’s website at

This review originally appeared in the October 2015 edition of the Northern & Central California Cruisin’ News published out of Folsom, California – mg

Sacramento, CaliforniaI see on the schedule that I am due to receive the 2016 Acura MDX with all-wheel drive and a ton of special extras.

And while getting a luxury sport-utility vehicle wearing a $58,000 sticker price is certainly something special, it doesn’t get the heart racing like, say, a Corvette or a wickedly overpowered Mustang.

A three-row, seven-passenger SUV doesn’t have that kind of spice and … What the ????!!!

My MDX tester (PHOTO by Charles Glover) shows up in all its silver paint splendor, and I see right away that it’s equipped with a NINE-speed automatic transmission and an upgraded AWD system, wearing the name Super Handling All-Wheel Drive.  The front end of the thing has a grille-by-NASCAR look and that is accentuated to the max by a string of “Jewel Eye” LED headlights.

Further inspection of this seriously-made-over-for-2016 model reveals push-button gear shifting (I can hear the purists howling from here!!!) and a four-wheel independent suspension.  Naturally, this being an Acura and priced higher than my first house, it’s loaded with enough comfort, convenience and safety perks to fill a big-city phone book.

Even as I start it up, I don’t know what to expect, given that laundry list of somewhat surprising features related to forward movement.  About a half hour later, I’m pretty impressed.

Luxurious and quiet cutting through the wind, this MDX is also a performer, reaching a level that far exceeds the advertised 3.5-liter V-6 engine rated at 290 horsepower.  And I’m not used to seven-passenger SUVs responding so quickly and enthusiastically when I mash my right foot to the floor.

The run-up through the nine gears is seamless and pleasingly rapid.  Handling is downright sedan-like.  The MDX felt totally secure and in control in my hands.  I already know that this MDX is a big-seller in the Acura lineup, and now I’m thinking: “Wait until folks get a load of this upgraded version.”

For all its high-spirited energy propelling a weighty vehicle, the MDX gets pretty good fuel mileage at 19 miles per gallon in the city and 26 mpg on the highway.

Cargo-carrying configurations run the gamut with moving second-row seats and folding third-row seats to produce a formidable package hauler.  There’s even a handy sub-floor storage space at the very back to hide a briefcase or similar-size item.

The list of safety features is incredibly long, with enough on-board warning systems to save your bacon even if you’re asleep at the wheel.  I found the front-end system warning system a little too fast on the draw, however.  It seemed perpetually convinced that I was going to ram the car in front of me during typical rush-hour commutes on the freeway.

There are small, cool touches that I found interesting.  For example, the digital display showing the desired interior cabin temperature would flash red when I upped the automatic control and blue when I pushed down to make it colder.  A small thing for sure, but nifty.

All this was pleasant.  Rarely am I surprised by a vehicle these days, but this MDX did the trick.  As year-over-year improvements go, the 2016 MDX is a winner in the high-end SUV segment.

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