Competes with: Buick Enclave, Infiniti QX60, Lexus RX 350L
Looks like: An RDX that likes to eat a lot of pizza
Drivetrain: 290-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 with nine-speed automatic transmission; front- or all-wheel drive
Hits dealerships: Now
Now in the sixth model year of its current generation, the Acura MDX receives a refresh for the 2019 model year that includes a new, sportier A-Spec trim, plus mechanical enhancements and interior changes. This is the third year in a row that Acura updated the MDX — the 2017 model year changed up the three-row SUV's styling and last year brought a technology-focused update. For 2019, the changes are a bit more eclectic and touch more parts of the MDX, but the SUV's core remains much the same.
Acura still splits the MDX's trim levels into options packages, including the Technology, Entertainment, Advance and aforementioned A-Spec.
The MDX keeps its aggressive look, all angles and sharpness up front with the standard "Jewel Eye" LED headlights providing a futuristic-looking twist. Building on this is the new A-Spec model, which looks the sportiest of the bunch. It features 20-inch shark-gray aluminum-alloy wheels wrapped in wider, low profile P265/45R20 tires (the same ones on Advance models), which are a half-inch wider than the lesser tires. The A-Spec gets a unique front bumper, lower sills, a rear spoiler and larger exhaust tips.
Exterior color choices have also expanded to nine options, including an Apex Blue Pearl that's exclusive to the A-Spec.
Acura upped the MDX's luxury credentials for 2019, adding available Desert Olive Ash wood trim and high-contrast stitching; four-way power lumbar adjustments are also now standard for the front seats. The MDX still comes with plenty of standard technology, including Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility, five USB ports and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.
One thing that doesn't make the jump is Acura's new touchpad-based multimedia system that debuted in the 2019 RDX. That's how the Acura MDX technology package keeps Android Auto connectivity, which the new RDX lacks. This could be seen as a bonus for some; our staff is split in opinions for the new system.
The A-Spec adds sport seats with Alcantara inserts, high-contrast stitching, sport pedals, a steering wheel with a thicker rim and gloss-black trim pieces. Advance models add second-row captain's chairs, two more USB ports in the third row and ventilated front seats.
Under the Hood
The engine is unchanged: a 290-horsepower, 3.5-L V-6 that makes 267 pounds-feet of torque. The nine-speed automatic transmission has new tuning, however, and Acura says it makes the MDX smoother at launches by prioritizing 2nd gear starts when possible. However, when the MDX is in a drivetrain sport mode, under heavy acceleration or towing, 1st gear is still available for maximum power.
Front-wheel drive is standard, and Acura's Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive system is optional (SH-AWD is standard for A-Spec models). To sharpen handling, SH-AWD can send up to 70 percent of available torque to the rear wheels and up to 100 percent between the left and right wheels.
Newly available for 2019 are adaptive shock absorbers, previously only offered on the MDX Sport Hybrid but now found on gas models with the Advance package. EPA-estimated fuel economy remains at 23 mpg in combined ratings for FWD models and 22 mpg for AWD models. The A-Spec checks in slightly behind at 21 mpg.
Standard safety features remain a strength for the updated MDX, with AcuraWatch coming standard on all models. AcuraWatch, a suite of safety features, includes automatic emergency braking, lane-centering steering, adaptive cruise control and road departure mitigation. Also available are a blind spot warning system, front and rear parking sensors, a head-up display and a 360-degree camera system.
The Acura MDX starts at $45,295 (including destination charges) for the base model, followed by Technology models at $50,295 and Advance models at $57,045. If you want AWD or a rear entertainment system, each option adds $2,000 to the base price. The Acura MDX AWD-only A-Spec model starts at $55,795.
The 2019 Acura MDX is on sale now; the 2019 Acura MDX Sport Hybrid goes on sale in August.
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