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2012 Acura MDX

A quick test drive should lead you out of any mid-size crossover confusion and straight into this luxury lover

By Katrina Ramser
San Francisco Bureau
The Auto Channel

The Acura MDX offers smooth and predictable driving dynamics that deliver the ultimate sense of road security – something any mother wants for her children. Yet cabin refinement and unending conveniences make it a vehicle designed for a women in need of spoiling. The attributes just build from there for a mid-size crossover that achieves the perfect combination of drivability and an overall I-don’t-want-to-ever-leave feeling.

I drove a 2012 Acura MDX powered by a 300-horsepower 3.7-liter V6 engine coupled with a six-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive. Available as one trim level (with many optional packages), the following is standard equipment: eighteen-inch wheels; heated front seats; ten-way power driver’s seat and eight-way passenger; XM Radio; Bluetooth; tri-zone climate control; an eight-speaker audio system; a power tailgate; fog lights; a sunroof; and turn indicators in side mirrors. Price begins at $43,925. My test drive had it all: the Tech Package (Milano premium leather upholstery, the eight-inch Acura navigation screen with a multi-view rear mirror), the Advance Package (a sportier suspension, ventilated front seats, blind spot information system, collision mitigation system) and the Entertainment Package (a rear DVD system). Total price topped out at $54,455.

For the 2012 model, rarely anything has changed. The main competitor is the Lexus RX 350. If you are looking for a more spacious third row, counterparts extend to the Ford Flex or Buick Enclave.


Stylish But Comfortable Results: Acura’s multimedia system does away with the hassle of too many buttons, and instead streamlines commands into a multipurpose knob that controls driving directions, music, climate and phone – anyone familiar with working a computer mouse will sync with its intuitive design. The finely stitched leather seats are firm, luxuriously comfortable and offer excellent visibility (you’ll debate if your living room furniture can deliver such qualities). The Tech Package is a vital upgrade for staying connected.

Reliability & Safety Factor: Standard safety equipment includes anti-lock brakes, an advanced airbag system that includes active front head restraints, traction control, and stability control with a stabilizing feature for trailer towing. For options, the collision mitigtaion system found on the Advance Package monitors the MDX’s following distance and uses auditory warnings to alert the driver if zoning in too close – and even automatically administers the brakes. The Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gave the Acura top scores of "Good" for occupant protection in frontal offset and side-impact crashes. With The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), it received four out of five possible stars for overall frontal crash protection.

Cost Issues: If you’re in the market, the MDX is an excellent entry-level luxury vehicle for the price -- $44k at base and around $52k with a couple optional packages.

Activity & Performance Ability: The Acura MDX’s 3.7-liter engine displays steady enthusiasm with an excellent gravitation pull that especially shines at the corners. Braking displays force with pleasant ease. Turning radius is generous without battling into tight parking spaces. I was able to experience the Advance Package’s collision mitigation system when I took my eyes off a busy street to grab something on the passenger seat. As the driver in front of me braked hard, the system stepped in or pressed in lightly with the brakes before I could while the seat belt automatically tightened up. Another nice upgrade with this aforementioned group is the Active Damper System that enhancing driving performance with “Sport” or “Comfort” modes. When properly equipped, the MDX can tow up to 5,000 pounds – it’s no sissy but a weekend recreational vehicle of choice.

The Green Concern: EPA-estimated fuel economy is 16 miles-per-gallon city and 21 highway for 18 combined – a 3.7-liter engine of this magnitude is designed to showcase power, not conservation.

It’s hard to find fault with the 2012 Acura MDX that provides benchmark performance, utility infused with style, and upgrades well worth their cost. A quick test drive should lead you out of any mid-size crossover confusion and straight into this luxury lover.

2012 Katrina Ramser