The 2020 Acura MDX doesn't draw much attention on the street, but this three-row crossover is surprisingly fleet-footed. With seating for up to seven and the ability to tow up to 5000 pounds, the 2020 MDX is more than capable of ferrying families on whatever adventure they choose. While the third row is small for adults and the dual-touchscreen infotainment system can be frustrating to use, the Acura SUV has comfortable seats and desirable luxury features. It also comes with either a dutiful V-6 engine or an optional high-tech hybrid powertrain in the Sport Hybrid model. Both versions supplement the MDX's fun-to-drive character, but the Sport Hybrid is particularly refined and speedy. Although it's not as stylish or as sophisticated as the best crossovers and SUVs in its class, the Acura MDX is a unique and engaging alternative.
What's New for 2020?
For 2020, the MDX carries over without any changes to its appearance, mechanical components, or available features. The lineup continues to offer a gasoline and gas-electric hybrid model as well as a second-row bench that allows up to seven passengers or captain's chairs that seat up to six. However, Acura did increase the base price of the regular MDX and the Sport Hybrid by $100.
Pricing and Which One to Buy
The Acura MDX starts at $45,395; the Sport Hybrid costs another $8500. We prefer the latter because of its excellent fuel economy in the city and enhanced driving character. It has standard all-wheel drive ($2000 on nonhybrid models) and includes the desirable Technology package, which otherwise costs $5000. This dresses up the cabin with leather seats and wood trim, brings better infotainment features such as navigation and a more powerful audio system, and adds blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and front and rear parking sensors. Those who want to maximize the MDX's technology and luxury features can choose the $6750 Advance package (adaptive suspension, second-row captain's chairs, heated and ventilated front seats, and more). Still, we'd save the money to maintain this three-row Acura's value.
Engines, Transmission, and Performance
The 290-hp V-6 that powers the MDX is typical of the powerplants in three-row crossovers, and it's a strong workhorse in this situation. The nine-speed transmission is mostly smooth and sure-footed, but it can be slow to downshift when you want acceleration. The hybrid MDX is surprisingly quick, and the transitions between the gasoline engine and the electric motors are seamless. While the gasoline version can tow up to 5000 pounds, Acura does not recommend towing with the hybrid version, which diminishes some of our praise. The MDX is also a pleasure to drive. The Acura's optional all-wheel-drive system (Super Handling All-Wheel Drive a.k.a. SH-AWD) helps it to be more agile and engaging on the road than we expect a three-row crossover to be. Both versions give up some of their edge on the competition when it comes to braking. The hybrid stopped in 188 feet, exactly the same distance as the standard MDX, and we noted some decreased braking power after successive hard stops.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
The MDX has EPA fuel-economy ratings that are very similar to those of the competition, but it outperformed expectations—and its rivals—in our real-world highway fuel-economy test. The all-wheel-drive nonhybrid MDX earned 28 mpg, making it the most efficient of the group we tested. The hybrid MDX, 244 pounds heavier and unable to make the most of its battery power at highway speeds, returned a somewhat underwhelming 25 mpg in that test. However, the hybrid version offers a significant improvement in city fuel economy, rated 26 mpg by the EPA versus the all-wheel-drive nonhybrid's rating of 19 mpg.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
The MDX has an impressive list of standard equipment, but Acura's interior materials don't feel as upscale or as carefully designed as those of the Audi Q7 or the Volvo XC90. Various competitors in this class 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 XC90 and the Q7, but the MDX aced our practical storage tests.
Infotainment and Connectivity
Unfortunately, Acura's infotainment system is clearly related to those in Hondas, and the two-screen display is as ineffectual here as ever. 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.
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
With excellent scores from both crash-test agencies and a suite of standard driver-assistance features that often costs thousands of dollars in competitors, the MDX is a standout even in this safety-conscious class. Key safety features include:
- Standard lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist
- Standard automated emergency braking
- Standard adaptive cruise control
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
Acura's new-car warranty is largely standard fare for luxury brands, but it's missing the complimentary scheduled maintenance that Lexus, Volvo, and others offer as part of the purchase.
- Limited warranty covers 4 years or 50,000 miles
- Powertrain warranty covers 6 years or 70,000 miles
- No complimentary scheduled maintenance