2016 Acura MDX

Starting MSRP: $42,865 - $57,080

Estimated MPG: 19 city / 27 hwy

2016 Acura MDX Review

The 2016 Acura MDX strikes the right balance between size and performance, and it doesn't compromise when it comes to convenience or luxury features.

By David Pratt
Last Updated 05/03/2016

The 2016 Acura MDX's three rows of seats and stellar safety credentials make it a good choice for families who want to make an impression.

Available with front- or all-wheel drive, the MDX is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 engine. A nine-speed automatic transmission is new for the 2016 MDX, replacing the six-speed automatic that came standard with the 2015 model. Only one trim is offered, but the 2016 MDX is available with a number of option packages that add to the list of standard equipment.

Exterior

Exterior
8

The 2016 MDX presents a sleek, yet unassuming crossover profile by employing design elements that reduce bulk. Side windows are compact and taper at the rear to mask the presence of the third-row seat.

The roofline slopes gracefully down, while scalloped side panels and an understated rear bumper create a slim profile. The front end would not look out of place on a sedan, with its minimalist grille, LED headlights and sporty air intakes that sit low in the front fascia.

A power liftgate, automatic headlights and a power moonroof are among the 2016 MDX's standard exterior features. Our test vehicle, an MDX with the Advance package, adds understated roof rails.

Interior

Interior
9

As you would expect in a luxury SUV, the 2016 MDX is refined in its interior fit and finish. There's leather trim on the seats and steering wheel, as well as satisfying soft-touch surfaces that pad the dash and door panels. Chrome sharply defines the boundary of the infotainment system and the bottom edge of the wood trim on the dash.

The power-adjustable front seats feel solid and substantial, offering plenty of padding without feeling squishy. The front seats include high side bolsters for extra lateral support. There are two memory settings for the driver's seat, and the front seats have three heat settings.

Choosing the Advance package adds perforated front seats that provide three levels of cooling. Second-row seats are also supportive and comfortable. They slide, recline and feature a wide armrest with two cup holders if the center position is unoccupied. Models with the Entertainment or Advance packages also benefit from heated outboard seats in the second row.

Third-row passengers have a one-touch control that automatically slides the second-row seat forward to make it easier to climb in. Third-row legroom is adequate, and both rear rows are a split-folding configuration for flexibility when extra cargo space is needed. A simple pull of a release switch drops the seat backs for a level cargo area. There's 15.8 cubic feet of cargo space with all seats in use, which expands to 45.1 cubic feet with the third row folded. Folding both rows yields a useful 68.4 cubic feet of cargo space.

Performance

Performance
8

The 2016 MDX's standard 3.5-liter V6 engine generates 290 horsepower. A new nine-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive are standard, and all-wheel drive is optional. The base 2016 MDX gets an EPA-estimated 19/27 mpg city/highway. All-wheel drive models get slightly lower ratings at 18/26 mpg.

Models with the Advance package come with a start/stop feature that will shut off the engine to conserve fuel when the MDX comes to a stop. This feature improves city fuel economy estimates by 1 mpg for both models.

I found that the 2016 MDX accelerated smoothly through the gears in normal driving situations. Sport and Eco drive modes are available to alter the MDX's driving characteristics. Eco mode cuts down on throttle response, while switching to Sport is helpful to more readily pass cars in traffic, especially on hills. The suspension gives the MDX a stable ride quality and nimble handling for vehicle of this size.

Acura only sold all-wheel drive versions of MDX until front-wheel drive became standard on the redesigned 2014 model. While front-wheel drive models have a lower starting price, Acura's Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) improves handling by regulating engine power to each individual wheel to improve traction in turns.

Technology

Technology
10

Acura has loaded up the MDX with technology to make it suitably upscale and appealing. Push-button start and proximity key are standard, as is an eight-speaker audio system. The Technology package upgrades to a premium 10-speaker audio system.

An 8-inch color touch screen in the center panel controls settings for navigation, phone, climate and up to 10 audio sources that include satellite radio, a USB port, an auxiliary input and Bluetooth. I found the display's tabbed interface intuitive enough to use while driving.

The base model has a small digital multi-information screen between the analog tachometer and speedometer for information such as tire pressure and trip data. All other models add an extra multi-information display above the main infotainment screen. When changing views on the lower touch panel, the top panel can stay dedicated to a function such as navigation.

Below the infotainment screen are dedicated hard controls for adjusting audio and climate settings. Siri voice-recognition, available with the Technology package, is activated by pushing a button on the steering wheel. You can use voice commands to control audio, navigation and climate controls.

The automatic climate control has three zones, with controls on the back of the center console that enable second-row passengers to make their own climate adjustments. Pushing the envelope of what's possible, the automatic climate control system also uses GPS and a solar sensor in models with the Technology package. This allows the system to adjust for differences in sun intensity on different sides of the vehicle.

Safety

Safety
10

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gave the 2016 Acura MDX an overall rating of five out of five stars. As of this writing, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has not yet rated the 2016 MDX. However, the IIHS gave the similar 2015 MDX its best rating of Good for all crash tests, as well as an Advanced rating for front crash prevention. As a result, the 2015 MDX earned a Top Safety Pick+ designation from the IIHS.

All MDX models come equipped with a rearview camera. 

The available AcuraWatch Plus suite of safety features adds adaptive cruise control, forward-collision warning with automatic braking and lane departure warning that vibrates the steering wheel when the system detects the car drifting out of the lane. A road departure mitigation system is also included with AcuraWatch Plus, which nudges the car back between the lines if it senses that you're drifting out of your lane.

Cost-Effectiveness

Cost-Effectiveness
8

The 2016 Acura MDX starts at $42,865, but to get a model with AcuraWatch Plus and the Technology package you're looking at a base price of $50,490. Even with those options, the MDX makes a strong value proposition when compared with luxury three-row SUVs like the Audi Q7, Volvo XC90 and BMW X5, and you'll get Acura's reputation for reliability.

Overall

Overall
9

The 2016 Acura MDX is hard to beat in terms of value and safety. You can pay more for a few competitors in the segment that may offer slightly better performance or a little more luxury, but the MDX is like the seasoned decathlete of luxury crossovers: well-balanced across competitive areas.