2016 Acura MDX

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$13,830–$51,654 Inventory Prices
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Road Test
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Key Specs

of the 2016 Acura MDX. Base trim shown.

Our Take

From the Cars.com Vehicle Test Team

The Good

  • Ride quality
  • Front-seat comfort
  • Quietness
  • Sliding and reclining second-row seats
  • Gas mileage
  • Responsive automatic transmission

The Bad

  • Third-row space
  • Second-row captain's chairs not offered
  • Clunky multimedia interface

Notable Features of the 2016 Acura MDX

  • New nine-speed automatic transmission
  • Updated AWD system available
  • New active safety features available
  • Seven-seat SUV
  • Push-button third-row access standard

2016 Acura MDX Road Test

David Thomas

A fully loaded 2016 Acura MDX was impressive when chauffeuring around my own children and a few others, but was more pleasantly surprising when I pushed its performance on solo drives.

When it comes to luxury SUVs for families, the seven-seat Acura MDX has been a favorite almost since the day it went on sale. Redesigned from the ground up for 2014, the 2016 MDX gets a new nine-speed automatic transmission and a few other minor changes in what was already widely considered the top of its class. You can compare the 2016 and 2015 models here.

Exterior & Styling
Acura's design is certainly modern, and on this large of a vehicle it looks quite handsome. The MDX won't stand out in a parking lot or school loading zone, but the row of LED headlamps does set it apart slightly.

The Dark Cherry Pearl paint scheme and beige interior of the 2016 Acura MDX I tested was a bit classier than the all-black 2014 model with black interior I evaluated previously.

Eighteen-inch alloy wheels are standard on both front- and all-wheel-drive models, and there are two variations of optional 19-inch wheels. Which you get depends on the option package you pick, Technology or Advanced.

How It Drives
A 290-horsepower 3.5-liter V-6 engine pulls the three-row SUV away from stops with plenty of speed. Whether you're on your daily commute solo or fully loaded with people on the weekend, the MDX never seems to lack power.

The new nine-speed transmission feels refined and shifts quickly — and ofte...

A fully loaded 2016 Acura MDX was impressive when chauffeuring around my own children and a few others, but was more pleasantly surprising when I pushed its performance on solo drives.

When it comes to luxury SUVs for families, the seven-seat Acura MDX has been a favorite almost since the day it went on sale. Redesigned from the ground up for 2014, the 2016 MDX gets a new nine-speed automatic transmission and a few other minor changes in what was already widely considered the top of its class. You can compare the 2016 and 2015 models here.

Exterior & Styling
Acura's design is certainly modern, and on this large of a vehicle it looks quite handsome. The MDX won't stand out in a parking lot or school loading zone, but the row of LED headlamps does set it apart slightly.

The Dark Cherry Pearl paint scheme and beige interior of the 2016 Acura MDX I tested was a bit classier than the all-black 2014 model with black interior I evaluated previously.

Eighteen-inch alloy wheels are standard on both front- and all-wheel-drive models, and there are two variations of optional 19-inch wheels. Which you get depends on the option package you pick, Technology or Advanced.

How It Drives
A 290-horsepower 3.5-liter V-6 engine pulls the three-row SUV away from stops with plenty of speed. Whether you're on your daily commute solo or fully loaded with people on the weekend, the MDX never seems to lack power.

The new nine-speed transmission feels refined and shifts quickly — and often, considering how many gears it has to choose from. The gear selector itself is an odd duck, with push-buttons for Park and Neutral and another that cycles between Drive and Sport modes. The Reverse button, though, is placed in such a way that you must pull back on it to activate, similar to the up position for most power-window switches. It's placed this way to avoid inadvertent shifts into Reverse, but it is awkward at first. After a few days, though, I got used to it. Also, the differing locations and button positions for Reverse and Drive make them easier to locate without looking down.

Push the D/S button while in motion and the MDX goes from Drive to Sport mode. Once Sport is engaged, one of the otherwise quietest vehicles I can recall testing comes to life, the engine roaring from ahead of the cabin with a snort that surprises.

This is a vehicle where Sport mode truly makes a difference, especially when using the paddle shifters. With the engine revving higher in the rpm range, I took a curving highway on-ramp with some actual giddiness — and then was even more surprised at how precise the steering was.

Somewhat floored by that single burst of excitement, I paid more attention to everyday driving situations afterward. It's easy to take the MDX's performance for granted when you're absentmindedly cruising around suburbia, but it truly is one of the best performers in this class of luxury SUVs, which includes the Infiniti QX60, the Land Rover LR4 and the larger Buick Enclave. You can compare all four here.

The Acura MDX also feels nimbler than all of those, at 193.6 inches long. That's 2.8 inches shorter than the QX and 8.3 inches shorter than the Enclave, but 3.5 inches longer than the boxy LR4, which is more than a half-foot taller at the roofline.

The MDX's mileage is also quite good, at an EPA-estimated 18/26/21 mpg city/highway/combined with the SH-AWD option. The standard front-wheel-drive Acura MDX gets 1 mpg better in all categories. The all-wheel QX60 bests it slightly, at 19/26/22 mpg, but both are ahead of the Enclave, at 16/22/18 mpg, and the LR4, at 15/19/16 mpg (both with all-wheel drive).

An engine stop-start function is included on top-of-the-line models with either MDX drivetrain, raising both city and combined mileage by 1 mpg (mpg hwy was unchanged), according to EPA estimates.

Interior
The MDX's shorter length means its third-row seat is somewhat small, giving up 3.4, 5.8 and 8.9 inches of legroom against the QX, Enclave and LR4, respectively.

However, many shoppers use the third row seating sparingly; I only needed it when I ferried my teenage niece and nearly teenage nephew, along with my own child-seat-bound 5- and 7-year-olds, around suburbia. The tallest, my niece, climbed into the third row rear seat and found it not as spacious as her parent's Enclave, but gave it an OK rating; for the 30 or so minutes she was detained back there, she had no complaints. Everyone else fit rather easily across the second row.

The 60/40-split second row also slides forward and back to give more room to third-row passengers. There is no captain's chair option for the second row, however — something many families prefer.

While my young passengers were comfortable, mom/aunt and dad/uncle in the front were even more so. Interior dimensions up front are on par with or exceed the three SUV competitors mentioned above. The leather seats are plush, and the lighter beige interior of our test car added a welcome brightness to the cabin.

Ergonomics & Electronics
Honda and Acura both use a dual-screen system for multimedia and navigation, which is equal parts innovative and frustrating. There's big type on both screens and large shortcut buttons around a central control knob, allowing for easy access to the various functions and menus.

While most functions that display on the upper screen, near the top of the dashboard, are easily operated, using the lower touch-screen to control things like the radio is laborious.

One thing that is exceptionally easy to use is the optional rear entertainment system. There's a 9-inch rear screen in the Entertainment Package, but if you add the Advance Package, which our test car had, there's a 16.2-inch widescreen monitor and DVD player — no Blu-ray here — that can be operated by the driver or rear passengers. Insert a disc, hit the play button and you're in business. It's a much simpler interface than I've found with other rear systems.

The Acura MDX's system comes with wireless headphones, but you can also play the sound through the optional 10-speaker surround-sound system. In fact, along with the wider screen, Acura throws in two more speakers, in the ceiling, for 12 total, to enhance the experience for rear passengers.

The quality of the surround sound is as good as any home theater system I've experienced, making it almost a movie-theater experience for kids in back. Parents do have to set the sound so they can hold a conversation up front, but it would be hard to deprive the kids of the experience.

There are also multiple inputs for HDMI and video, so one side of the screen can display a movie and the other can show a video game system, if it's plugged in. No more arguments from the back on long road trips … at least regarding entertainment.

Cargo & Storage
Because of the 
Acura MDX's somewhat smaller dimensions in this class, you'd think there would be compromises in cargo room, but that's not the case. I drove the MDX around almost entirely with the third-row seats in place and didn't find a real need to lower them for routine shopping trips. I was able to fit two large bags of dog food, a case of wine and a few other shopping bags in that truncated space quite easily.

When the third row is down, cargo room increases from 14.8 to 38.4 cubic feet. The QX is similar, at 15.8 cubic feet, while the LR4 has just 9.9 cubic feet behind the third row. That bigger body-type Enclave is significantly bigger, though, with 23.3 cubic feet behind the third row.

I personally couldn't imagine many families needing more room, but I routinely hear from shoppers in this class that they find the Acura MDX too small.

I did wish the cargo floor itself were a little lower, so younger children could access it more easily when grabbing sports gear, or for a smoother entry for four-legged family members. 

Inside the cabin, there are plenty of places to stash gadgets, drinks, small bags and all the other items families accumulate.

Safety
Acura's safety pedigree is apparent in the MDX. The 2015 earned a five-star overall crash-test rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and Top Safety Pick Plus status from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, which is the highest designation that organization assigns.

A slew of advanced safety features are available for Acura vehicles, most of them in an optional AcuraWatch Package for $1,500, which is also included in the Advance Package. AcuraWatch includes adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning with autonomous braking, lane departure warning and lane-keep assist, a blind spot monitoring system, a multi-angle backup camera and rear cross-traffic alert.

Each of the safety features I experienced during my test worked as one would expect, with the proper amount of sensitivity, keeping unnecessary alerts from sounding. Rear cross-traffic alert is one safety technology I've found myself appreciating on a day-to-day basis. Like other models equipped with it, the Acura MDX senses when a car is approaching on a perpendicular path when you're backing up. This is most often helpful in parking lots, but it saved me even when backing out of my driveway, which has good visibility to the street. Sometimes cars just go faster than they should in my neighborhood, it seems.

Value in Its Class
Whether I'm at the office, spending time with my family or on social media, I frequently get asked for advice on the MDX and its competitors. Some people want to know if it's worth moving up from a non-luxury three-row, or they've already made up their mind and just want to know which is the best luxury three-row.

At $43,785 to start, the MDX is well-priced — a little bit higher than the QX and a little bit lower than the Enclave. Most buyers will move up to the Technology Package, with upgraded stereo and navigation pushing the price to $48,100, including a destination fee. Those prices are with front-wheel drive; the SH-AWD trim costs an additional $2,000.

Staring at $50,000 isn't easy, but it's the price of admission for the features most shoppers are looking for in this segment, and Acura isn't charging a premium versus the rest of the class.

It would be hard to say there's a better all-around choice than the Acura MDX, unless you're looking for that added room. Some buyers might feel the MDX is too small, but I don't see it; I'll keep recommending it to the families who keep asking about it.

Send David an email  

 


Latest 2016 MDX Stories

What Drivers Are Saying

Exterior Styling
(4.5)
Performance
(4.5)
Interior Design
(4.5)
Comfort
(4.6)
Reliability
(4.8)
Value For The Money
(4.6)

Latest Reviews

(5.0)

Best car for the money

by Vince. B. from Sturgis ky on July 18, 2018

Beautiful car. Loaded with features. Excellent warranty. Definitely worth researching. Glad I purchased. Couldn?t find anything close to it for the price. Smooth ride and easy to maneuver. Read full review

(5.0)

JUST PLAIN NICE!

by MRBOBBO from MICHIGAN on July 17, 2018

PROBABLY THE NICEST, MOST LUXURIOUS, MOST COMFORTABLE CAR I'VE EVER OWNED! NOT TOO TICKLED WITH AFTER SALE CUSTOMER RELATIONS BUT THEN AGAIN, I WON'T BE SEEING THEM EVERY DAY FOR THE NEXT COUPLE OF ... Read full review

Safety & Recalls

Recalls

The 2016 Acura MDX currently has 1 recall

IIHS Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

Based on 2016 Acura MDX 3.5L

IIHS rates vehicles good, acceptable, marginal, or poor.

Head Restraints and Seats

Dynamic Rating
good
Overall Rear
good
Seat Head/Restraint Geometry
good

Moderate overlap front

Chest
good
Head/Neck
good
Left Leg/Foot
good
Overall Front
good
Restraints
good
Right Leg/Foot
good
Structure/safety cage
good

Other

Roof Strength
good

Side

Driver Head Protection
good
Driver Head and Neck
good
Driver Pelvis/Leg
good
Driver Torso
good
Overall Side
good
Rear Passenger Head Protection
good
Rear Passenger Head and Neck
good
Rear Passenger Pelvis/Leg
good
Rear Passenger Torso
good
Structure/safety cage
good

Small Overlap Front - Driver Side

Chest
good
Head/Neck
good
Hip/Thigh
good
Lower Leg/Foot
good
Overall Evaluation
good
Restraints and Dummy Kinematics
good
Structure and Safety Cage
good
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is a nonprofit research and communications organization funded by auto insurers.

Manufacturer Warranty

  • Bumper-to-Bumper

    48 months / 50,000 miles

  • Powertrain

    72 months / 70,000 miles

  • Roadside Assistance

    48 months / 50,000 miles

CPO Program & Warranty

Certified Pre-Owned by Acura

Program Benefits

24-hour roadside assistance, trip-interruption services, trip-planning services, emergency fuel delivery, emergency lockout service and Acura Concierge Service

  • Limited Warranty

    7 years / 100,000 miles

    1-year/12,000-mile non-powertrain warranty begins after expiration of original warranty (4 years/50,000 miles) or on date sold as certified (no deductible); 7-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty begins from the original in-service date (no deductible)
  • Eligibility

    Under 6 years / 80,000 miles

    Vehicles receive a 182 point inspection and reconditioning.

    See inspection details.

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Cars.com Car Seat Check

Certified child passenger safety technicians conduct hands-on tests of a car’s Latch system and check the vehicle’s ability to accommodate different types of car seats. The MDX received the following grades on a scale of A-F.*

Third-row access

B

Infant seat

C

Booster

(third row)

B

Booster

(second row)

B

Latch or Latch system

A

Forward-facing convertible

(third row)

A

Forward-facing convertible

(second row)

A

Rear-facing convertible

A
* This score may not apply to all trims, especially for vehicles with multiple body styles that affect the space and design of the seating.
For complete details,

Warranty FAQs

What is a Bumper-to-Bumper warranty?

Often called a basic warranty or new-vehicle warranty, a bumper-to-bumper policy covers components like air conditioning, audio systems, vehicle sensors, fuel systems and major electrical components. Most policies exclude regular maintenance like fluid top offs and oil changes, but a few brands have separate free-maintenance provisions, and those that do offer them is slowly rising. Bumper-to-bumper warranties typically expire faster than powertrain warranties.

What is a Powertrain warranty?

Don't be misled a 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty doesn't promise a decade of free repairs for your car. It typically covers just the engine and transmission, along with any other moving parts that lead to the wheels, like the driveshaft and constant velocity joints. Some automakers also bundle seat belts and airbags into their powertrain warranties. With a few exceptions, powertrain warranties don't cover regular maintenance like engine tuneups and tire rotations.

What is included in Roadside Assistance?

Some automakers include roadside assistance with their bumper-to-bumper or powertrain warranties, while others have separate policies. These programs cover anything from flat-tire changes and locksmith services to jump-starts and towing. Few reimburse incidental costs like motel rooms (if you have to wait for repairs).

What other services could be included in a warranty?

Some automakers include free scheduled maintenance for items such as oil changes, air filters and tire rotations. Some include consumables including brake pads and windshield wipers; others do not. They are typically for the first couple of years of ownership of a new car.

What does CPO mean?

A certified pre-owned or CPO car has been inspected to meet minimum quality standards and typically includes some type of warranty. While dealers and third parties certify cars, the gold standard is an automaker-certified vehicle that provides a factory-backed warranty, often extending the original coverage. Vehicles must be in excellent condition and have low miles and wear to be certified, which is why off-lease vehicles feed many CPO programs.

See also the latest CPO incentives by automaker