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HEELS ON WHEELS: 2017 ACURA MDX REVIEW


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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 is already an outstanding crossover choice for its chiseled design and impressive power – and even more so as the all-new Sport Hybrid model is able to retains 27 miles-per-gallon combined with all-wheel drive while still offering notable performance.

I drove a 2017 Acura MDX Sport Hybrid with a 3-liter VTEC V6 engine and a direct drive electric motor able to produce 321 horsepower. My model also featured Super Handling All-Wheel Drive with Idle Stop features. Available in one trim (with three engines and optional packages), my MDX Sport Hybrid featured the following standard equipment: ten-way power driver’s seat and eight-way passenger; heated front seats; moonroof; multi-use display screen with rearview camera; push-button start; tri-zone climate control; Bluetooth; and an eight-speaker audio system; stainless steel pedal covers; and 20-inch alloy wheels. With the additional Tech Package, Advanced Package and AcuraWatch features, price was $58,000.

The main rival to the Acura MDX is the Lexus RX350, but extends to other high-performing utility vehicles such as the Lincoln MKZ, Infiniti FX37 and Volvo XC90. Aside of the new hybrid model, the MDX gets a new hood and grille design, a recently revised all-wheel drive system (last model year), and a safety suite called AcuraWatch Plus.

HEELS ON WHEELS REVIEW CRITERIA

Stylish But Comfortable Results: Inside the MDX, there is a generous feel of refinement thanks to premium materials and supportive seating arrangements for up to seven. However, spend some time with digital interface and you can see a technology upgrade is deeply needed as well as addressing some convenience issues (climate controls accessed through a touchscreen only can be very daunting). The Extended Slide feature on the second-row seats does not mean entering the third row got easier, and the space is more ideal for small children than adults. My test drive featured a Tech Package with navigation, AcuraLink communications, a premium audio system, a remote start system and Blind Spot Information; the Advanced Package with a surround-view camera, perforated leather upholstery, a heated steering wheel, parking sensors and rear door sunshades; and the AcuraWatch that added a suite of safety tech needed for a bigger vehicle like the MDX (Collison Mitigation Braking, Forward Collison Warning, Lane Keeping Assist System).

Reliability & Safety Factor: The 2017 Acura MDX is rated as a “Top Safety Pick” by The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gives the 2015 an overall 5-Star rating – as a mom it is worth it to log onto their website and look at some of the crash-test images and videos to see how the vehicle would fair in a serious accident.  

Cost Issues: A base 2017 Acura MDX starts at $44,050 with my Sport Hybrid at $58,000 with three optional packages that are needed to elevate the comfort of the vehicle. A Lincoln MKZ Reserve with the Technology and Luxury packages is $46,390. You’d be surprised how luxurious some regular brands have gotten with their top-of-the-line trims, so I would also consider a loaded Nissan Pathfinder or Toyota Highlander.   

Activity & Performance Ability: One of the main attractions for this crossover is its ability to provide outstanding road performance, and the hybrid system does not disappoint. Pedal feel is light, it tackles corners effortlessly, and is certainly smooth making this ideal for daily driving. Those 20-inch wheels are going to allow you to feel more road abrasions than usual, but overall the cabin is quite and the ride is firm. The MDX doesn’t use a traditional shifter but push buttons instead which takes some getting used to. LED headlights cast a wide brightness in dark areas.  

The Green Concern: Fuel economy is a pro with this mid-size crossover at 26-city and 27-highway for a combined 27 miles-per-gallon.

FINAL PARTING WORDS
The performance alone will sell you on the 2017 Acura MDX, and so will the gas mileage at 27 miles-per-gallon combined with the all-new Sport Hybrid model. And while the interior certainly uses high-quality material and remains functional and spacious, the usability and vividness of the infotainment technology when compared to competitors is a bit of a disappointment.  

©2017 Katrina Ramser

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