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2016 Acura MDX: What's Changed

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Most significant changes in the new Acura MDX: New transmission with push-button gear selector, revised all-wheel drive and new optional safety features
Price change: $100-$250 increase
On sale: Today
Which should you buy, 2015 or 2016? 2015. The nine-speed automatic transmission and push-button gear selector weren’t two of our favorite features in the new Acura TLX; maybe they’re better executed in the MDX.

Acura is giving the MDX a tweak not long after the popular luxury three-row SUV was redesigned for 2014. The 2016 Acura MDX receives an updated powertrain with a revised all-wheel-drive system and a new nine-speed automatic transmission featuring a push-button gear selector. The mechanical changes don’t help fuel economy, however, which is actually down 1 mpg on some models compared to the 2015’s ratings.

Related: 2015 Acura MDX Review

New for 2016, safety features are bundled into an available AcuraWatch package that Acura adds to its family of trim levels: MDX with Technology Package, MDX with Rear Entertainment System, etc. AcuraWatch separates advanced safety features available for 2015 into a package and adds a few new ones such as Road Departure Mitigation and rear cross-traffic alert.

Replacing the previous six-speed automatic transmission is a new nine-speed automatic that Acura says is 66 pounds lighter and enhances acceleration performance with more closely spaced gears plus 25 percent faster shift times. Say goodbye to the traditional column-mounted gear selector and hello to the new push-button gear selector where Park, Neutral and Drive are engaged with the push of a button; Reverse is selected by a separate control.

Mechanics have also changed in the MDX’s all-wheel-drive system, which now uses Acura’s next-generation Super Handling All-Wheel Drive. The revised system is 19 pounds lighter and has an increased torque vectoring response for enhanced turning; torque vectoring creates yaw movement by changing wheel speed and can create a more responsive handling experience. Acura says the torque-vectoring responsiveness has been enhanced to benefit agility and stability.

One area not enhanced is fuel economy, which is odd considering the additional three gears and weight loss from the above features.

Front-wheel fuel economy drops 1 mpg across the board from the 2015 model’s 20/28/23 mpg city/highway/combined to 2016’s 19/27/22 mpg, while all-wheel models don’t see as much as an impact going from 2015’s 18/27/21 mpg to 2016’s 18/26/21 mpg; only a 1 mpg drop in highway ratings.

Buyers can make up some fuel economy by choosing an MDX with a new stop-start feature that shuts off the engine when stopped to save fuel economy. The feature is only available on higher trim levels including the Advance & AcuraWatch Plus trim with front- or all-wheel drive as well as the MDX SH-AWD with Advance, Entertainment Package & AcuraWatch Plus Packages. All are $53,000 and above. On front-wheel-drive models, the stop-start feature bumps fuel economy to 20/27/23 mpg and all-wheel-drive models get 19/26/22 mpg, which is 1 mpg better than 2015 in city and combined ratings.

The AcuraWatch suite of safety features takes many of the advanced safety technology from 2015’s Advance Package and adds it to the new AcuraWatch Package; it also adds new safety features. Road Departure Mitigation is new for 2016 and when equipped, monitors lane lines and other markers to recognize when the car has left the lane. It will then apply steering correction and the brakes to self-correct. A rear cross-traffic monitor works with the blind spot warning system to alert drivers when a vehicle is approaching from the side while the car is in Reverse.

AcuraWatch includes the following:

  • Adaptive cruise control 
  • Collision mitigation braking system 
  • Forward collision warning 
  • Lane departure warning 
  • Lane keeping assist 
  • Road Departure Mitigation 
  • Blind spot warning 
  • Multiview rear camera 
  • Rear cross-traffic monitor

The 2016 MDX goes on sale today.

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Photo of Joe Bruzek
Managing Editor Joe Bruzek’s 22 years of automotive experience doesn’t count the lifelong obsession that started as a kid admiring his dad’s 1964 Chevrolet Corvette — and continues to this day. Joe’s been an automotive journalist with Cars.com for 16 years, writing shopper-focused car reviews, news and research content. As Managing Editor, one of his favorite areas of focus is helping shoppers understand electric cars and how to determine whether going electric is right for them. In his free time, Joe maintains a love-hate relationship with his 1998 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am that he wishes would fix itself. LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/joe-bruzek-2699b41b/ Email Joe Bruzek

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