2004 Acura MDX Review


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THE AUTO PAGE
By JOHN HEILIG

SPECIFICATIONS

MODEL: Acura MDX
ENGINE: 3.5-liter V6
HORSEPOWER/TORQUE: 260 hp @ 5,750 rpm/250 lb-ft @ 3,500-5,000 rpm
TRANSMISSION: 5-speed automatic
WHEELBASE: 106.3 in.
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT: 188.5 x 77.0 x 68.7 in.
STICKER PRICE: $42,500

Of course the Acura MDX is fun to drive. There's plenty of power from the 3.5-liter V6, there's excellent handling from the four-wheel independent suspension, there's comfortable seating for five, with additional third-row seating for two or three more, and there's traditional Acura luxury.

But, despite the protests of my grandson who said Poppy's car was more fun to be in because of the DVD player that popped out of the ceiling, the Acura MDX is almost as much fun to drive backward as it is to drive forward.

Shift the five-speed automatic transmission into reverse and a lot of things happen. The right outside mirror dips to give you a view of the ground on the right side of the vehicle to let you know how close you are to curbs or the edge of the driveway.

The display in the middle of the dash switches from giving directions or audio information to a television view of what's directly behind you. There's a "lipstick" camera mounted just to the right of the license plate that gives an excellent idea of how far you are from anything that's behind you. There's no longer any excuse for "New York" parking by sound with this accessory.

Since I have a reputation for running into garage doors when I back into the driveway, something like this could pay for itself in a short time. And since I also have grandchildren who like to run around, it's great to know they're not right behind the MDX.

Of course, driving the MDX forward is the most fun. Under the hood is a 260 hp 3.5-liter V6 engine that did all that was asked of it. We filled the MDX with golfers and golf bags and there was no diminution of power with a full load of golfers and bags. If we had to carry two more passengers, we could have accommodated them by folding up the rear seats. Luggage volume is reduced from 49.6 cubic feet with the third row seats flat to 14.8 cubic feet with the seats up, so I don't think we could have accommodated all the golf bags, too.

During the week we had the MDX we also had to transport a carpet to and from the store. For this little chore, I folded down the second row seats as well, providing a total of 81.5 cubic feet of storage. More importantly, I had plenty of room to carry the eight-foot long carpet inside the MDX.

The navigation system is excellent. My street is in the memory, even though it's a small street in a small town. And there was no need to install extra DVD discs to get extra range.

The screen comes on with the standard warning that it can be distracting to the driver. If you don't push the button that says you read the warning, the screen goes dark.

Often times, it isn't necessary to have the navigation system on all the time, and by automatically turning dark, it's a potential annoyance that isn't there.

The MDX had an excellent sound system that consisted of an AM/FM radio, cassette and CD players, with an in-dash six CD changer. The DVD player that's in the ceiling for rear-seat passengers is fed by a player that's mounted just under the audio system.

Acura's MDX doesn't get as much ink as many of its competitors, yet it has always been a serious player in the compact luxury sport utility market. At $42,500, it's planted firmly in the middle of the price part of the segment as well.

2003 The Auto Page Syndicate

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