Introduced as a 2001 model, the midsize sport utility vehicle from Hondas luxury division has tallied impressive sales totals and competes against such rivals as the BMW X5, Lexus RX 300 and Mercedes-Benz M-Class. Interested buyers have faced waiting lists for the car-based MDX, which is loaded with luxury features.
For its second year in the lineup, Acuras SUV sees no significant changes. A DVD-based navigation system is the only major option, along with a Touring Package that includes a roof rack and an eight-speaker Acura/Bose stereo with a six-CD changer.
Styled in California, the MDX features sloping rear roof pillars like those on the Lexus RX 300. Bold creases highlight the hood and bodysides. The MDX grille is similar to the one used on Acuras sedans. Tires are 17-inchers, and the MDX has a four-wheel-independent suspension.
Seven passengers occupy three rows of seats in the MDX, which offers two front buckets, a three-place split middle bench and a two-place split rear seat. The center and rear seats fold flat into the floor to create additional cargo space that can accommodate a pair of mountain bikes or even a 6-foot ladder. Standard features include leather upholstery, remote keyless entry, a power moonroof and a seven-speaker Acura CD/cassette stereo system. Cargo volume is 81.5 cubic feet when the seats are folded flat.
Under the Hood
Borrowed from Hondas Odyssey minivan, a 240-horsepower, 3.5-liter aluminum V-6 engine teams with a five-speed-automatic transmission. A VTM-4 variable-torque management all-wheel-drive system powers the front wheels on smooth, dry roads. On slippery surfaces, it automatically transfers power to the rear wheels as needed to maintain traction. A dashboard button can be used to lock the system, which allows it to deliver maximum traction. Acura claims the MDX can accelerate from zero to 60 mph in less than 9 seconds. Dual-stage front airbags, side-impact airbags for the front seats and antilock brakes are standard.
The MDXs acceleration is energetic, if not a tad sluggish in the first moments. Handling with somewhat of a tight feel, the MDX comes across more like a performance model than a gentle highway cruiser especially when its equipped with the Touring Package. Steering is extra-sharp, which makes it easy to keep the MDX on course. With or without the Touring Package, it grips tenaciously in curves.
Because the suspension is quite firm, the ride is close to luxurious on smooth pavement but less genteel when the surface becomes even moderately rough. Seats are exceptionally supportive, and occupants have plenty of space. Except for a hearty roar during acceleration, the MDX operates quietly.
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