When most people describe a typical three-row, family friendly crossover, the last adjectives they probably ever expect to use are “sporty” and “fun,” but the 2016 Acura MDX is perhaps anything but typical.
Most telling about the primary focus of the 2016 Acura MDX is that it is built on the same Lincoln, Alabama assembly as two other proven Honda-badged people movers – the Honda Pilot and Honda Odyssey – but where most vehicles in this segment get a mild, car-derived chassis tuning, the MDX has always been set up to balance comfort and sportiness. Just two years into its current design, the 2016 Acura MDX arrived with a handful of updates focusing on an improved powertrain, and with even more changes in store for the 2017 model year, we had a chance to drive a fully loaded 2016 Acura MDX SH-AWD decked out with all the latest goodies.
2016 Acura MDX Exterior:
In terms of its exterior design language, Acura has definitely taken its lumps for the grille that has graced its front ends for almost a decade now even though the latest versions – such as that found on the 2016 Acura MDX – are far less offensive. The good news is that the 2017 Acura MDX will usher in a new brand identity for Acura, but in the meantime, it’s hard to find any major faults with the styling of the 2016 Acura MDX thanks to the stylish body lines, well-proportioned dimensions and, of course, Acura’s attractive Jewel Eye LED headlights. The chrome trim around the side windows makes the roofline deceptively sleek, but the thick D-pillars hide a tall, squared-off roofline that promises lots of passenger space for this three-row crossover. Overall, Acura has done enough to avoid the MDX from looking like just another cookie-cutter crossover.
2016 Acura MDX Interior:
Like all luxury crossovers, the 2016 Acura MDX packs as much premium comfort, content and technology into the cabin as possible regardless of which of the three rows passengers are sitting. High-quality leather seating is standard across the lineup as are other features such as three-zone climate control, heated front seats and power moonroof. For the front occupants, this fully loaded tester was equipped with heated and cooled front seats, the 12-speaker Acura/ELS Studio Premium Audio System and the standard navigation system. All of the navigation and infotainment functions can be controlled using a dual-screen setup. Requiring a little seat time for familiarity is the new push-button shifter that was brought on along with the new transmission. The sleek design makes the cabin look more modern, but it takes a little time to get used to.
Since this is a family-centric crossover, the cabin of the 2016 Acura MDX can be enjoyed by all seven passengers. The second row has a limo mode that maximizes legroom, but even when there are third-row occupants, space is plentiful. Ingress and egress to the third row is easy thanks to the one-touch tilt and slide operation of the second-row seats, and there is sufficient headroom and legroom for adult passengers. To make longer trips even more enjoyable, the Entertainment Package comes through big time with a 16.2-inch, widescreen DVD Rear Entertainment system with HDMI compatibility. Finally, when cargo capacity is needed, the 2016 Acura MDX can accommodate 14.8 cubic feet of gear behind the rear seats and up to 68.4 cubic feet of cargo with the second and third-rows folded flat.
2016 Acura MDX Performance:
All 2016 Acura MDX models are powered by a 3.5-liter direct-injected V-6 that delivers 290 horsepower and 267 lb-ft of torque, and one of the biggest changes made for the 2016 model year is a new transmission. Replacing the old six-speed automatic is a nine-speed gearbox that also benefits from the Sequential SportShift Paddle Shifters mounted on the steering wheel. In base form, the MDX comes with a front-wheel drive layout, but this 2016 Acura MDX was equipped with Acura’s Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD), which has also been upgraded for 2016. This torque-vectoring system now uses a lighter twin-clutch rear differential, and it has the ability to send engine power to individual wheels.
Between the new transmission and the updated SH-AWD system, the powertrain has allowed the 2016 Acura MDX to drop 85 pounds of curb weight. That brings even more sportiness to a crossover long considered one of the best packing as much fun as it can passengers and cargo. The engine is extremely responsive both off the line and in passing/merging situations, but it is also extremely efficient with EPA fuel economy estimates of 19 mpg in the city and 26 mpg on the highway** when equipped with the available Idle Stop feature that improves city fuel economy by 1 mpg on both the FWD and SH-AWD models. Even better, these figures are easily attainable in daily driving as this tester averaged over 23 mpg in combined driving. Steering and suspension tuning are remarkably nimble, and on top of everything else, the 2016 Acura MDX has a towing capacity of 3,500 pounds.
2016 Acura MDX Safety:
Along with its Acura luxury division, Honda has established itself as one of the safest automakers in the industry right now, and the 2016 Acura MDX is a shining example. Thanks to a solid design and the new-for-2016 AcuraWatch suite of safety features, the 2016 Acura MDX has a five-star overall crash rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration as well as a Top Safety Pick+ rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. AcuraWatch is optional on all MDX trim levels and standard on the Advance Package, and it includes driver assistance technologies such as Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) with Low-Speed Follow (LSF), Collision Mitigation Braking System (CMBS), Forward Collision Warning (FCW), Lane Departure Warning (LDW), Lane Keeping Assist System (LKAS), Road Departure Mitigation (RDM), Blind Spot Information (BSI), Multi-View Rear Camera with Dynamic Guidelines and Rear Cross Traffic Monitor.
2016 Acura MDX Overall:
The 2016 Acura MDX is priced starting at $42,865* putting it in the sweet spot of the current automobile market. At a time when you can get a mid-size vehicle from a mainstream automaker in the $40,000 range, this starting price for a well-equipped, three-row Acura is impressive. Of course, once you start tacking options – and there are plenty with 16 available trim level combinations – the bottom-line price can rise quickly. Optioned up with all the available packages (Tech, Advance and Entertainment), this 2016 Acura MDX SH-AWD had an as-tested price of even $58,000.
With the 2016 Acura MDX, Acura backs up a luxurious, tech-filled interior with a driving dynamic that feels more suited to a sporty sedan than a seven-passenger crossover. Even more improvements are on the way for 2017, which should ensure that the MDX holds its ground as the best-selling three-row luxury SUV in the U.S.
Make sure to visit your local AutoNation-affiliated Acura dealership and test drive the 2016 Acura MDX today!
*MSRP excludes tax, license, registration, destination charge and options. Dealer prices may vary.
**Based on 2016 EPA mileage ratings. Your mileage will vary depending specific vehicle trim, how you drive and maintain your vehicle, driving conditions, and other factors.