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Heels on Wheels : 2013 Acura MDX Review

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2013 Acura MDX

By Katrina Ramser
San Francisco Bureau
The Auto Channel

The mid-to-large size crossover Acura MDX is a deft blend of style, space and safety, a go-to luxury crossover that doesn’t scream pretentiousness or proves to be too cumbersome for everyday family driving. It offers a pop-up third row to accompany up to seven, comprehensive technology and a responsive V6 engine.

I drove a 2013 Acura MDX with the standard 300-horsepower 3.7-liter VTEC V6 engine mated to the six-speed Sequential SportShift automatic transmission and Super Handling All-Wheel Drive. Aside of the above powertrain configuration, an entry-level Acura MDX offers as standard equipment: ten-way power driver’s seat and eight-way passenger; front heated seats; leather upholstery; rearview camera display in rearview mirror; tri-zone climate control; Bluetooth; and an eight-speaker audio system. Total price here starts at $43,280. My test drive came fully loaded with all of Acura’s technology, performance and entertainment packages adding: Milano premium leather upholstery; eight-inch navigation display; upgraded audio system with surround sound and XM Radio; rear DVD entertainment system; cooling front seats; nineteen-inch wheels; and extensive safety technology like a Collision Mitigation Braking System, Blind spot information in side mirrors; Active Damper System sport suspension. Total vehicle price tops out at $54,805.

The main rival to the Acura MDX has long been the Lexus RX350, but extends to other high-performing luxury utility vehicles like the Buick Enclave, Infiniti FX37 and Volvo XC90. Not much has changed for this model year, but Honda recently unveiled the 2014 Acura MDX prototype emphasizing the redesign’s more aerodynamic sculpting and alluding to gains in fuel efficiency.


Stylish But Comfortable Results: Acura’s options are presented in limited and simple packages, with the tech-based one offering a comprehensive navigation system featuring an eight-inch display accessible through an interface dial or voice control. This knob showcases in quick time the myriad of choices from traffic updates and map sizes to route choices and music. Also, soft-touch premium Milano leather upholstery comes with this choice and a ten-speaker sound system. Three-setting heated front seats, second-row heated seats with climate controls, and a rear DVD entertainment system are striking options. Overall the cabin is lush, quite and enveloping.

Reliability & Safety Factor: The 2103 Acura MDX is a Top Safety Pick with The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gives the four-wheel drive vehicle an overall 4-Star rating.

Cost Issues: A base MDX starts at $43,280 with my test drive (complete with the Technology and Entertainment Packages and a few other add-ons like a Blind Spot Monitor) coming in at around $50k. The Lexus RX 350 offers slightly lower comparable prices.

Activity & Performance Ability: Performance with the MDX’s 3.7-liter engine remains highly responsive and engaging, with the premium cabin preserved in soundless incubation. This crossover navigates with confidence into tight parking spots, aided by excellent steering characteristics, with no rear visibility issues thanks to its well-engineered designing (right now to the lifted seat construction).

The Green Concern: Fuel economy for the Acura MDX’s 3.7-liter engine currently earns 16-mpg city and 21-mpg highway for a combined 18 miles-per-gallon, while the Lexus RX350’s mildly smaller 3.5-liter with 270 horsepower gets 18-city and 26-highway for a combined 21 miles-per-gallon. The 2014 model will feature a direct-injection 3.5-liter V6 engine aimed to lower these numbers.

Long has the Acura MDX been a favorite entry-level luxury crossover with me, always serving up an enticing combination of style, technology and performance. Yet the 2014 overshadows the 2013 model year as better fuel economy numbers are anticipated thanks to an upcoming aerodynamic redesign and all-new direct-injection 3.5-liter V6 engine.

2013 Katrina Ramser