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Thread: 2010 Acura MDX

  1. #1
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    2010 Acura MDX

    I have proof that a 4WD truck is not necessarily the toughest thing going after a snowstorm.

    The day after I got an all-wheel-drive equipped Acura MDX to test drive, we got more than a foot of snow. My 4WD pick-up wasn't happy. But the AWD MDX made it down the road, no problem.

    Granted, it had better (and newer) tires than my old truck. But the fact that it handled that kind of snow without truck-type 4WD (no low-range gearing) proved to me that "light duty" AWD is probably more than enough for all but the most severe conditions - conditions few people will ever need to deal with.

    It's something to take into account...

    WHAT IT IS

    The MDX is a mid-size crossover SUV that competes in the entry-luxury segment against similar models from Lexus (RX350), Audi (Q5), BMW (X5) and Cadillac (SRX), among others. Prices start at $47,230 for the base model and top out at $53,755 for one with the Advance/Technology/Entertainment packages.

    All versions come standard with all-wheel-drive and third-row seating.

    WHAT'S NEW

    In addition to a more powerful standard V-6 and six-speed automatic transmission, the '10 MDX has an updated exterior and interior, a new hard-drive-based GPS system with music storage and a revised back-up camera with a directional view that moves with your steering angle.

    WHAT'S GOOD

    MDX's SH-AWD system is standard on all models (some competitors come standard with front-wheel-drive; AWD costs extra) and is a more sophisticated design than other AWD systems.

    Technology and gadgetry to please any sysop.

    Seven-passenger seating.

    WHAT'S NOT SO GOOD

    Costs thousands more than the very similar Lexus RX350 (base price $37,625; $39,025 with AWD) Audi Q5 ($37,350 with standard AWD) and the just-updated 2010 Cadillac SRX - which starts at $33,330.

    Not as sporty or powerful as a BMW X5 (which can be ordered with a 350 horsepower V-8 engine).

    Third row seat is for children and agile young adults only.

    Array of small buttons, switches and gadgets can be confusing.

    ENGINES & PERFORMANCE

    The MDX comes standard with a 3.7 liter, 300 hp V-6 that is one of the most powerful standard engines in a current-year crossover SUV. It is significantly more powerful, for example, than the new Cadillac SRX's standard 3 liter, 265 hp V-6, the Lexus RX350's 3.5 liter, 275 hp V-6, the Audi Q5's 3.2 liter, 270 hp V-6 and the BMW X5's standard 3 liter, 260 hp in-line six.

    It is teamed up with a new six-speed automatic and Acura's sophisticated Super Handling All-Wheel-Drive (SH-AWD), which has the ability to adjust power delivery to individual wheels, as opposed to just front to back. The result is much-improved dry-road handling as well as superb poor-weather traction (more on this below).

    Zero to 60 takes just under 8 seconds. Gas mileage is 16 city, 21 highway.

    The MDX can pull a 5,000 lb. trailer - more than the Lexus RX and Caddy SRX (3,500 lbs.) and Audi Q5 (4,400 lbs.) but less than the BMW X5 (6,000 lbs.)

    DRIVING IMPRESSIONS

    Aside from interior and cargo space, one of the chief reasons people shop crossover SUVs is their ability to deal with poor weather better than a standard car. Even front-wheel-drive models usually do pretty well because of their higher ground clearance and (usually) better/grippier tires.

    The MDX proved the worth of its SH-AWD system to me. Other reviewers have panned the system's advertised advantages as far as dry-road handling is concerned - arguing that most drivers will rarely, if ever, drive aggressively enough for it to matter or even be noticeable that the system can modulate power to each individual wheel. Maybe they're right - but in snow, it's a different story. You don't have to be driving aggressively to appreciate SH-AWD.

    If you've ever crabbed your way down a snow-slicked country road you will immediately get this. While basic AWD systems do a fine job maintaining traction in a straight line - routing power from front to rear as needed - the more involved Acura system offers superior control on not-so-straight roads, keeping the vehicle from sliding off the edge into a ditch. It does this by applying (or limiting) power to each of the four corners of the car, working with the ABS and traction control to constantly adjust the car's path as it moves.

    I did some deliberate experimenting with the system, entering corners a bit too fast for instance - and the system corrected for me and kept the MDX tracking in the right direction without my having to do much in the way of correcting anything myself through steering or throttle inputs.

    The SH-AWD is absolutely worth it - and helps justify the MDX's higher price relative to most competitors - if you have to deal with long, hard winters and want a vehicle that will make you feel secure - and get you there - in all but the worst conditions.

    But there's a downside - other than price. The MDX is heavy - 4,550 lbs. That's about 400 pounds more than the RX350 and Audi Q5 and 200 pounds more than the Caddy SRX. The BMW X5 is one of the few crossovers in this segment that weighs more (4,982 lbs.) but it makes up for this by offering an available 350 horsepower 4.8 liter V-8 (a high-torque diesel is also available).

    The MDX's higher curb weight evens out the horsepower advantage it has - on paper - compared to the standard engines in the RX, SRX, Q5 and others. Most of them are quicker, 0-60 - and feel lighter and more athletic at higher speeds.

    STYING & UTILITY

    The '10 MDX is bolder-looking than most crossovers - especially when viewed from the front, where its distinguishing feature is a large "v" grille dominated by a large brushed aluminum bar that runs across the top of the "v." This is Acura's new look (it first appeared on the new RL sedan) and its definitely distinctive.

    The interior is sport-themed (pretty much the standard look these days) with a mix of analog and digital readouts. Between the speedometer and tachometer there is a display for the SH-AWD system that shows how much power is going to each of the four wheels at ay given moment. A polished bar of rich-looking wood wraps around the cabin, from the door panels across the dash and flows into the center console - where there's a very well-designed storage cubby with a split-folding top.

    The shift lever is also located off-center (to the left, near the driver) which is smart ergonomics and also makes room for a cupholder to its right.

    A weak point is the complicated interface for the GPS, stereo and climate control. The main controller is a rotary/push knob, with many secondary buttons - several of which are small and not easy to find by feel or identify without taking your eyes off the road. The new Lexus Remote Touch system in the RX350 is much, much better. Instead of a round knob and a million little buttons to drive you to distraction, there's a simple toggle-style mouse on top of an ergonomically designed handrest pad that is shaped to fit your palm. The toggle controls a cursor on the LCD display screen; there's a click button on the left side of the pad located right where your thumb naturally falls. Just two main inputs to work - vs. two or three times that many in some of the worst systems out there.

    Acura needs to copy the Lexus system. So does every other carmaker.

    The MDX is a bit bigger than most of its competitors (some of which, like the RX350, don't offer third row seating). While the third row seats are cramped they can be used by adults if need be.

    Total cargo capacity is 84 cubic feet (15 with the third row in place). This beats the Lexus RX350 (80 cubic feet) and BMW X5 (75 cubic feet) and flat out creams the Audi Q5 (57 cubic feet) and Caddy SRX (61 cubic feet).

    QUALITY & SAFETY

    The standard AWD and the fact that it's a very sophisticated type of AWD gives the MDX a leg-up, safety-wise, over its chief rivals. After all, the vehicle that's less likely to wreck in the first place is arguably safer than others. In addition, the MDX offers a Collision Mitigating Braking System that can automatically apply the brakes if the driver doesn't react quickly enough to a developing situation, such as suddenly. stopped traffic ahead. There's also a stability control function for trailer towing.

    These are features well above and beyond what is offered or even available in competitors models - on top of the expected stuff such as front seat side-impact air bags, full-length curtain air bags, traction and stability control, ABS and so on.

    The MDX is not inexpensive, but you do get a lot for your money. And not just in terms of features and equipment. Acuras hold their value exceptionally well - and have an excellent track record for quality and reliability.

    THE BOTTOM LINE

    It may not get to 60 fastest, but it will get you there when others might not.

  2. #2
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    One of the advantages of Honda's nav system is that it will let you reprogram a destination while the vehicle is in motion. Other car makes force you to the side of the road. What about Acura?

    Chip H.

  3. #3
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chiph View Post
    One of the advantages of Honda's nav system is that it will let you reprogram a destination while the vehicle is in motion. Other car makes force you to the side of the road. What about Acura?

    Chip H.
    I have no idea!

    I never use GPS; you know I'm a technophobe...

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    Senior Member Mase's Avatar
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