Decently sporty family car
June 8, 2018
I didn't intend to buy this car when I first saw it but my wife said we should take a look when we were looking at a newer MDX (she has a 2011) for her. As soon as I sat in it, I was in trouble.
The seat felt perfect, the visibility was great, the controls are laid out in easy reach and it just felt right. It actually felt just like a lower to the ground MDX in a way; very familiar but surrounded by new car smell. On the test drive, I didn't want to stop. It has a surprisingly good engine sound and plenty of power. No real exhaust note to speak of from outside though. The AWD system I'm familiar with from the MDX and it's superb and I have had to use it in deep snow and ice and it was amazing.
The dual screen setup takes some getting used to but once you know where things are, it's easy. It's nice to be able to use the nav on one screen and keep your stereo controls on the other. I would like the fan speed controls on a physical button but it works well enough on the screen. The nav so far has worked well but I do miss the current speed limit signs on my old trusty standalone GPS. The stereo is decent. It gets plenty loud without distortion but it's not as clear as I would like. It sounds of course much better with a CD or high bitrate MP3 from a flash drive than SiruisXM, but I think I can live with it without feeling like I have to go get replacement speakers right away. The red interior "love lights" my wife calls them look awesome and are not intrusive at all. Bluetooth phone pairing, calling, phone book searching and saving speed dial numbers is easy and works well. In between the tach and speedo is a little screen with lots of info. You can see your next turn from the nav, see real time usage of the AWD system, average MPG, average speed, etc. It's really handy.
The headlights are excellent (and look awesome), the seat/mirror memory controls are great, the edgeless rearview mirror is beautiful. Huge, huge trunk - although the trunk light was a joke and I replaced it with an LED and I'm not sure why it isn't one to begin with since all the other lights in the car are. There's more room under the trunk floor too, some to house the air pump/goop thing but the rest is a deep pocket and a couple other shallower wells. Inside the trunk also has a nice little handle where you can close the trunk without having to get fingerprints all over the nice shiny paint.
The adaptive cruise control works great with the ability to choose how close/far from the car in front of you to follow. The lane keep works way better than expected and will actually drive around corners with your hands off the wheel until it starts barking at you to take back hold of the wheel. It has a nice gentle nudge when you start drifting off. I didn't think I would like that but I really do. It can be turned off with one button though if you don't want it. The cruise is also nice as it can be adjusted up and down in 1 MPH increments digitally. It also has a proper cancel button that I always have preferred over having to tap the brakes to disengage.
The transmission selector is strange and takes a little getting used to. After this first week I have it down without having to look at it every time. The different "Dynamic" modes are noticeably different. Eco really does get a few MPG better and doesn't feel like it takes too much performance away. The sport mode is nice and the best overall sporty mode, the sport + really brings out the raw power but it's pretty twitchy and the paddle shifters work..sort of.
The outside mirrors need a convex mirror stuck on to help visibility but are ok otherwise and I really like the black accent color on the bottom of them. The capless gas door is an interesting addition and the door doesn't seem to want to shut 100%, it gets to 98% and the rest kinda pokes out. Not worth that design change to me, just put a normal cap and make it close right. The door unlocking is cool, just place your hand on the inside of the door handle and it will unlock. Press the button on the handle to lock it. Very intuitive and quick.
The real reason for getting this car is the back seat. My kids are getting bigger and were cooking in the summer heat in my old car that didn't have rear air. These seats easily hold a full size car seat on one side and a booster seat on the other, while still offering a middle seat you can actually sit in. Good leg room behind both passenger and driver seats and I'm 6'2".
Overall I'm really happy with the car so far. While the car is bigger than I had before, it's not evident while driving it, only when parking, particularly in my narrow single garage bays at home. I'm getting better at it with practice though. I really recommend people giving this car a serious look. It really caught me by surprise.