Everyone wants luxury and special treatment in everything they own, including a three-row SUV. However, midsize luxury SUV comes at a cost. The 2018 Acura MDX starting at $45k is your low-cost ticket to the midsize luxury SUV club.
The standard Acura MDX is enough to quench your thirst for luxury with sumptuous leather and tasteful wood inlays. Standard equipment includes a power moonroof, remote linked power-operated tailgate, lane departure warning and more. The ride quality is supple, handling is delightful for a three-row SUV and interior is spacious.
The motivating power comes from a silky smooth and effortlessly powerful 3.5 L V6 (or a 3.0 L V6 and three electric motors in hybrid. That power is shuffled to the front wheel or all four wheels (with SH-AWD) via an equally smooth (but sometimes confused) 9-speed automatic. EPA fuel economy rating is average among competition but better than average in real-world usage.
2018 Acura MDX Features
The base 2018 Acura MDX starts at $44,200. And for that money, you get sumptuous leather with real wood trim, host of standard features that are only available in higher trims of the competitor and a silky smooth 3.5 L V6 engine developing 290 horsepower – considerably more than similarly priced rivals.
For comparison, the Audi Q7 starts at $49,900 with only a 2 L engine developing 252 horsepower. The XC90 starts at $46,900 and you get leatherette interior and aluminum trims. Base XC90 with real leather ($1,400) and wood trim ($400) will be in $50k range including destination. The GX460 starts at $51,855. Even then, the competitors will be almost $20k costlier against Acura for a similarly equipped trim.
For fulfilling more desires, Acura MDX with technology package is available at $4,400. Technology package gets you things like 20-Inch Wheels, Rain-Sensing windshield wipers, Acura/ELS premium audio with 10 speakers, blind spot information system and more. The entertainment package ($2000) gets you a full suite of an entertainment system for rear seat passengers. Advance package ($6,050) is top of the line.
Acura MDX Trims
$ 50,600(w/technology package)
$ 56,650(w/advance package)
Automatic LED headlights with automatic high beams
Tri-zone automatic climate control and an auto-dimming
Android Auto and Apple CarPlay
Dual-screen infotainment system (with a 7-inch touchscreen).
Remote engine start
Power-folding side mirrors
Blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert
Color driver information display
10-speaker premium audio system with HD radio.
Eight-speaker sound system with a CD player and satellite radio
Front and rear parking sensors
Automatic engine stop-start
Top-down surround-view camera system
Heated steering wheel
Sport seats with premium leather
Heated second-row captain's chairs
Second-row sunshades and two additional USB ports for the third row
Technology package/Advance package and HDMI-compatible rear-seat entertainment system with a 9- or 16.2-inch screen and one or two extra speakers for the ELS audio system.
Too many to choose from? We help you find the best trim
The SH-AWD is a must have. While the standard package is generously equipped, we recommend getting an Advance Package equipped with premium leather seats, natural wood accents, heated steering wheel, and the impressive surround view camera for $6,040. Adding entertainment package ($2000) is recommended if you have a family (and why else would you need three-row seating).
The MDX so configured will cost you $59,645 including destination. That’s still a good deal considering the amount of equipment per unit dollar. However, tick no boxes and the base Acura with FWD is still generously equipped and will cost you $45,195 including destination – tremendous value for money.
2018 Acura MDX Engine
“Powerful and agile, the 2018 Acura MDX is one of the more athletic 3-row SUVs out there. The Acura’s big V6 is more than strong enough for most buyers and its 9-speed automatic transmission is responsive and smooth.” – Kelley Blue Book
The standard engine is a 3.5 L naturally aspirated V6 developing 290 hp at 6200 rpm and 267 pounds-feet of torque at 4700 rpm. It delivers the power in a creamy fashion staying whisper quiet during regular driving. When you give it some gas, it emits a refined and purposeful sound.
The engine is mated to a smooth shifting 9-Speed automatic. However, the transmission is slow to shift in certain situations, especially in situations where you demand light accelerations. The transmission is apparently confused whether to stay in same gear or downshift.
3.5 L Premium Unleaded V-6
2.0 L Intercooled Turbo Premium Unleaded I-4
2.0 L Intercooled Turbo Regular Unleaded I-4
4.6 L Premium Unleaded V-8
290 hp @ 6200 rpm
252 hp @ 5000 rpm
316 hp @ 5700 rpm
301 hp @ 5500 rpm
267 ft-lbs. @ 4700 rpm
273 ft-lbs. @ 1600 rpm
295 ft-lbs. @ 2200 rpm
329 ft-lbs. @ 3500 RPM
(Tons/yr of CO2 Emissions @ 15K mi/year)
“Acceleration is quick enough to be thrilling, and there’s plenty of passing power.” – Kelley Blue Book
The standard Acura MDX is more than sufficiently fast taking just 6 seconds to reach 60 mph from rest. The only competitor that’s faster in the Audi Q7 taking 5.7 seconds and it’s considerably more expensive and thirsty than the Acura.
14.0 sec @ 100.2 mph
15.4 sec @ 89.3 mph
15.5 sec @ 86.1 mph
15.8 sec 88.6 mph
Ride and Handling
“Acura’s all-wheel-drive system helps it to be more agile and engaging on the road than we expect a three-row crossover to be” – CarandDriver
The Acura does not offer the fancy air suspension offered by the considerably more expensive competitors. However, its ride quality is supple within the city and on the highway. But the Acura really impresses with its handling. Although the standard FWD is pretty fun, it’s the “All-Wheel Drive” that makes you question whether you are driving a large three-row SUV.
The SH-AWD is a unique mechanical torque vectoring system. When you enter a corner, the SH-AWD sends a large portion of available torque to outside wheels making the car turn sharper. The net result is an SUV that drives better than many sedans.
“The MDX gives up some of its edge on the competition when it comes to braking. The hybrid stopped in 188 feet, exactly the same distance as the standard MDX, and we noted some decreased braking power after successive hard stops. That’s not an abysmal result, but it’s 22 feet longer than the stop we recorded in an Audi Q7, which could make a big difference in an emergency.” – CarandDriver
The Acura MDX gets 12.6-inch brake rotor in front and 13-inch brake rotor on rear wheels. The Acura takes 188 feet to stop from 70 mph – poorest in segment although not bad overall. You will also experience brake fade after repeated use. For comparison, the best performer – the Audi Q7 stopped in mere 155 feet despite weighing more thanks to its larger brakes.
Brake pads Rear(in)
The Acura MDX can tow 3500 pounds – least among the competition. The Q7 can tow almost 7000 pounds if properly equipped. The XC90 can tow a maximum of 5000 pounds if properly configured. So, don’t bring that large camper trailer. Towing motorcycles and jet skis won’t be an issue.
Acura MDX 3.5 L V6
Audi Q7 2.0L turbocharged I4 FWD
Volvo XC90 2.0L turbocharged I4 FWD
2018 Acura MDX Fuel Economy
“The MDX’s EPA fuel-economy ratings are very similar to those of the competition, but it outperformed expectations—and its rivals—in our real-world highway fuel-economy test.” – CarandDriver
This is where the Acura MDX shines and also proves that having a luxury SUV does not equate to a hole in your personal balance sheet. With 19 mpg in the city, 26 mpg on the highway and combined EPA rating of 22 mpg, it stays consistent in its value for money proposition through years of ownership. Only XC90 is more efficient with combined EPA rating of 25 mpg but with considerably lower power.
2018 Acura MDX Interior
“Fit/finish is excellent, as is front-seat comfort, but the third row is best used for kids. A pair of 2nd-row captain's chairs is available, but they decrease seating capacity to six.” – Kelley Blue Book
The Acura MDX interior gets a tasteful design and most of the surfaces are covered in soft leather – as standard. Wood trim contributes to the luxurious feel. There's plenty of standard equipment including moonroof. For 2018, the Acura, at last, gets Android Auto and Apple Carplay with a 7-Inch Touchscreen infotainment.
Seating and Comfort
The Acura MDX can end your longing for luxury with its sumptuous leather and gorgeous wood trims. The optional entertainment package takes care of rear passenger with headrest-mounted 9-inch full VGA screen, 11 speakers, rear door sunshades and more. The advance package gets you perforated leather seats and natural wood inserts. Equipment includes a heated steering wheel and LED fog lamps.
The Acura MDX can seat 7 people and in the first-class comfort. The front seats get 41.4 inches of legroom – more than the XC90 but less than the Q7 and the Lexus GX460. Shoulder and hip room are also slightly below average but it’s still very comfortable. The MDX has large size door pockets and the central console is also decently sized for the class.
“Although not the largest 3-row SUV, the 2018 Acura MDX offers comfortable people space and impressive cargo volume.” – Kelley Blue Book
The Acura MDX has 15 cubic feet of storage space – 1 cubic-feet less than unibody rivals. However, it’s still sufficient and nothing you can’t live with. The same story continues as the seats are folded. Folding third row liberates 38 cubic feet and you get 72 cubic feet of space after folding the second row. The Audi Q7 however, offers cavernous storage with the second row folded – 86 cubic feet.
All Seats Up
Third Row Folded
Second Row Folded
“This year the 2018 MDX gets an improved infotainment system with more intuitive menus and a redesigned dual-screen interface with faster response. The new system supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. ” – Kelley Blue Book
The Highlight here is that the 2018 Acura MDX gets Android Auto and Apple Carplay with a 7-inch touchscreen – at last. Elsewhere, the infotainment system is well sorted and the screen has an intuitive interface and crisp response. If your family loves music, the technology package ($4,400) gets Acura/ELS premium audio with 10 speakers.
2018 Acura MDX Exterior
“Last year’s restyle included Acura’s new, more attractive diamond-pentagon grille, as well as a new hood, front fenders and intricate headlights.” – Kelley Blue Book
The Acura MDX has an air of Japanese flair in the design. While the European competitors – Q7 and XC90 are suave, the Acura gets creases everywhere. The LED headlights are especially distinctive. The most welcome change that the beak-like chrome strip is replaced with a diamond-pattern in the radiator grille. Overall, the length does look like it’s made to accommodate 7 peoples.
Dimension and Weight
The Acura MDX is shorter than the Europeans – it hints at its in-town maneuverability. It weighs lowest among the competitors at just over 4000 pounds. The Audi Q7 weighs 4696 pounds while the old-school ladder-frame Lexus GX460 weighs a hefty 5240 pounds.
Track Width(In) F/R
2018 Acura MDX Safety
“With excellent scores from both crash-test-rating agencies and a suite of standard safety features that often cost thousands of dollars in extras, the MDX is a standout even in this safety-conscious class.” – CarandDriver
The 2018 Acura MDX gets a host of driver assistance systems like Multi-View rear camera, Lane Keeping Assist, Collision Mitigation Braking and more as standard. You have to pay for these in the competitors. However, the immensely intuitive surround view camera is only available with the advance package.
Safety features – Acura MDX
ABS And Driveline Traction Control
Dual Stage Driver And Passenger Seat-Mounted Side Airbags
Side Impact Beams
Lane Keeping Assist
Lane Departure Warning
The Acura MDX gets a 5-star rating from NHTSA the best possible 3rd party crash testing.
Frontal Crash Rating
Side Crash Rating
2018 Acura MDX Competition
Acura MDX vs Audi Q7
The Audi Q7 is one of the most well-rounded luxury SUV. It has understated but confident styling, a sharp and well-built interior that’s comfortable and spacious too and a great ride and handling. While the MDX and Q7 are close in terms of acceleration figures, the Acura is more efficient. The Acura will save you a handsome amount of money but the Q7 looks statelier.
Acura MDX vs Volvo XC90
The XC90 is the suavest SUV here (or anywhere). Its interiors will blow away your senses. However, its price tag will be hard on your balance sheet. To get a standard Acura level of equipment, you have to spend almost $20,000 more for a Volvo XC90.
Acura MDX vs Lexus GX460
The Lexus GX460 is the only Ladder-Frame SUV here and it shows. It’s slowest and least efficient here. With only a V8 engine on offer, it has the highest starting price ($51,000). However, ignore these and you get a car that can cocoon all 7-passenger in five-star comfort while crossing the Sahara desert. It comes with Lexus build quality and will probably outlast your will to drive it.
2018 Acura MDX Final Verdict
The Acura MDX occupies a peculiar position as a value-for-money luxury three-row SUV. Rather than a posh SUV from a high-end European marque, it’s a polished Japanese luxury item. You get an Acura MDX when you want luxury more for experiencing it rather than showing it – and it saves your bank balance too.
The base MDX has high-end wood, sumptuous leather, loads of equipment befitting its luxury status and a price that’s substantially less than the competitor. The smooth and powerful engine mated to a 9-Speed Automatic gives you a strong but silky shove. The 3.5 V6 delivers stellar efficiency too.
However, the Acura MDX lacks the panache of the competitors. The Q7 exudes an understated style with immense quality. Some call the XC90 the most beautiful SUV ever conceived and the interior of the XC90 will make you buy it then and there. However, all these come at a price. Also, when you want to sell your luxury SUV, the Acura will hold value stronger than the rivals.