The MDX is not your ordinary, everyday three-row crossover. Not only does it handle extremely well for its size, it’s available with a hybrid powertrain derived from Acura’s NSX supercar. While the setup used here is less exotic, its performance and drivability are better than the standard 290-hp V-6 version with optional torque-vectoring all-wheel drive. Too bad the MDX has a flawed infotainment system and an unimpressive interior—two important features that are inferior to our favorite alternatives. Apart from that, the Acura has abundant standard features and ranks among the most compelling options in its class.
What's New for 2018?
The MDX enters 2018 with teeny-weeny changes that consumers will still appreciate. The Acura finally adopts Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which are now standard. The MDX is also available with two new exterior colors: Basque Red Pearl II and San Marino Red. Those willing to wait until the 2019 version hits showrooms this summer can have one with the sporty A-Spec trim, which includes unique exterior and interior treatments.
- Base: $45,195
- Technology: $53,095
- Advance: $59,145
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
The MDX carries the same set of powertrains for 2018, and we still think the Sport Hybrid model is among the best examples of any partly electrified crossover available. The 290-hp 3.5-liter V-6 that powers the MDX is typical of the powerplants in three-row crossovers, and it’s a strong workhorse for the MDX. The nine-speed automatic transmission helps the MDX to be quicker than before with little to no loss of fuel efficiency. The nine-speed is mostly smooth and sure-footed, but it can be slow to downshift when you want acceleration. The MDX Sport Hybrid is powered by a version of the three-motor hybrid system that graces Acura’s halo model, the NSX supercar. This powertrain creates a total of 321 horsepower using its three motors and a 3.0-liter V-6 engine. We observed that the hybrid MDX could go up to 35 mph or so on electric power alone. With all four wheels clawing the pavement for traction, the MDX can sprint from zero to 60 mph in 6.0 seconds, an athletic result for any vehicle and particularly impressive for one that can seat seven. The MDX is a pleasure to drive. Acura’s all-wheel-drive systems help it to be more agile and engaging on the road than we expect a three-row crossover to be. The hybrid MDX was even quicker in our zero-to-60-mph test, at 5.7 seconds. The transitions between the gasoline engine and the electric motors are seamless; most drivers won’t notice a thing when the engine comes to life after a stoplight. The hybrid’s all-wheel-drive system relies on two electric motors powering the rear wheels.
EPA fuel economy testing and reporting procedures have changed over time. For the latest and most accurate fuel economy numbers on current and older vehicles, we use the U.S. Department of Energy's fueleconomy.gov website. Under the heading "Find & Compare Cars" click on the "Compare-Side-by-Side" tool to find the EPA ratings for the make, model, and year you're interested in.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
The MDX has an impressive standard-equipment list, but Acura’s interior materials don’t feel as upscale or as carefully designed as those in the Audi Q7 or the Volvo XC90. The new push-button electronic shifter on the center console is less user-friendly than the mechanical lever it replaces. The headroom in the MDX is on the low side for the class, and competitors offer more legroom in each row than the MDX. Second-row passengers will appreciate that the bench seat can slide back and recline slightly, but that’s cold comfort for passengers in the cramped third row. There’s less space in the MDX’s cargo hold than in those of its two most compelling rivals, the Volvo XC90 and the Audi Q7, but the MDX aced our practical storage tests despite its on-paper deficit. Hybrid-curious buyers will be glad to know that the MDX hybrid has the same cargo capacity as a non-hybrid MDX.
Infotainment and Connectivity
Unfortunately, Acura’s infotainment system is clearly a spiritual relative of those in Hondas, and the two-screen display is ineffectual. A plethora of power points and the available wide-screen entertainment system make up for some of the pain of paying extra for an ill-disguised, downmarket system. The MDX we tested was fitted with the $2000 Entertainment package, which includes five USB ports, a 110-volt power outlet, 12-volt and auxiliary inputs, and ports to connect media players to the wide-screen rear-seat video display. Bonus: the screen can display two different videos simultaneously. In addition to its frustrating interface, Acura Link returned a Fair performance rating in our test of the touchscreen’s response to inputs. The middling performance was matched by most competitors we tested, but the Audi Q7 once again bested the MDX.
Safety Features and Crash Test Ratings
Some older vehicles are still eligible for coverage under a manufacturer's Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) program. For more information visit our guide to every manufacturer's CPO program.