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Heels On Wheels: 2016 Acura MDX Review +VIDEO


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HEELS ON WHEELS
By Katrina Ramser
San Francisco Bureau
The Auto Channel


INTRO TO THE ACURA MDX VEHICLE
The three-row Acura MDX crossover continues its quest to remain at the top of the entry-level luxury SUV market, boasting a standard nine-speed automatic transmission and revised all-wheel drive system for the 2016 model year.

I drove a 2016 Acura MDX with the standard 290-horsepower 3.5-liter VTEC V6 engine mated to the newly standard nine-speed automatic transmission and Super Handling All-Wheel Drive with Idle Stop features. Available in one trim with optional packages, the Acura MDX offers as standard equipment: ten-way power driver’s seat and eight-way passenger; front heated seats; leather upholstery; rearview camera; tri-zone climate control; Bluetooth; and an eight-speaker audio system. Total price as described comes to $42,865, but with features can reach $57,080.

The main rival to the Acura MDX is the Lexus RX350, but extends to other high-performing luxury utility vehicles like the Buick Enclave, Infiniti FX37 and Volvo XC90. Other highlights for the 2016 Acura MDX include an optional safety suite called AcuraWatch Plus, a frameless rearview mirror and Siri Eyes Free for iPhones.

HEELS ON WHEELS REVIEW CRITERIA

Stylish But Comfortable Results: Done up in grey leather with a black dash and wood inlays, the MDX cabin has always offered a sea of refinement thanks to premium materials and supportive seating arrangements for up to seven. Cons include a few technical quirks, including the fact many climate controls can only be done through a touchscreen. The Extended Slide feature on the second-row seats does not mean entering the third row got easier (this area is best for kids). My test drive featured many available options, such as the Tech, Advanced and Entertainment Packages that included everything Acura has to offer, from the rear DVD player to the safety technology suit. This extended the price of my test drive to $58,080.

Reliability & Safety Factor: The 2016 Acura MDX has not yet been rated but the 2015 is a Top Safety Pick with The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gives the 2015 an overall 5-Star rating – up one from last model year.

Cost Issues: A base 2016 MDX starts at $42,865 with my fully loaded test drive at $57,080 – so keep in mind convenience and luxury does have an extra cost of more than $14k. Most competitors function the same way with their pricing spread. You could step down to a fully loaded Kia Sorento crossover for $45,800, as its style and refinement at this level do rival the bigger name brands.

Activity & Performance Ability: The powertrain dropped 10-horspower and moved down from a 3.7-liter to the 3.5-liter last year; but performance has only been improved with Acura's Earth Dreams Technology engine featuring a solid mix of enhancements. There is more confidence behind the wheel and choices with preferred driving modes (Comfort, Normal or Sport) to adapt to driving conditions. The nine-speed now adds the ultimate in shifting smoothness. The MDX doesn’t use a traditional shifter but buttons instead. LED headlights cast a wide brightness in dark areas.




The Green Concern: Fuel economy for the new 3.5-liter engine with all-wheel drive retains 19-mpg city and 26-mpg highway for a combined 22 miles-per-gallon – that’s another mile-per-gallon gained for the model year. This is a big step up from most competitors, plus the previous MDX engine retained 18 miles-per-gallon combined.

FINAL PARTING WORDS
If you’re looking for a three-row SUV that offers noticeable style, luxury, performance and efficiency, there really isn’t a better model on the market than the 2016 Acura MDX. If the huge cost in optional features makes your wallet shake, try looking at some fully loaded crossovers with some of the more common brands offered by Kia and Nissan.

©2015 Katrina Ramser

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