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2008 Acura MDX Review and Driving Impressions

Wednesday December 26th, 2007 at 11:1212 AM
Posted by: twain

2008 Acura MDX
By Twain Mein

Pros:

  • An SUV that handles well
  • Every electronic gadget you could imagine
  • Luxurious interior
  • Real 3rd row seating

Cons:

  • Modest acceleration
  • Mediocre gas mileage
  • Electronics overload

Introduction

This is the upgrade to the very popular mid/full-sized SUV, the Acura MDX. This SUV slots between the Toyota Highlander and Chevrolet Tahoe in size and offers 3rd row seating. Equipped with lots of features, 300 horsepower, and bold new styling, its no mystery why the MDX is already Acura’s best selling model.


Driving Impressions

The expression “it’s the Swiss Army knife of (fill in category here)” is a bit trite. But in this instance, the Acura MDX is truly the Swiss Army knife of all things automotive. It’s got EVERYTHING. 4wd, unique suspension, room for seven passengers, 5,000 lb towing capacity, and every imaginable electronic feature including Bluetooth® cell phone integration, GPS, DVD player for the kids, rear view camera, XM satellite radio, and tire inflation monitoring. Whew!

Acura navigation system Acura MDX rear seat DVD entertainment Acura MDX power lift gate

Build

The fit and finish is typical Honda-excellent. Doors were solid; paint was “deep” and lustrous. Interior was a little gimmicky (long dash with separate binnacle for mph) but the instrumentation and controls had a luxurious feel.

Interior Comfort and Ergonomics

Leather seats, with easy to use controls, smelled great and had fabulous bolstering. Rear seat room is spacious and allows easy access to babies in baby seats and plenty of room for chauffeured adults. Drop down DVD monitors with 2 wireless headphones allow silent entertainment for young passengers. However, controlling all the gadgetry requires a steep learning curve. For instance, I couldn’t figure out how to sync my cell phone with the wireless Bluetooth® — despite the fact that the owner’s manual dedicates TWENTY EIGHT pages to syncing cell phones with the integrated Bluetooth® system. An additional 12 pages are dedicated to figuring out the rest of the controls of the multi-info display. Perhaps Acura should consult with Apple to figure out how to simplify these electronic gee-gaws.

Acura MDX front seating area Acura MDX rear cargo area

One disappointment is cargo capacity. Last year’s model offered 50 cubic feet of storage behind the second row (3rd row folded). This year it’s down to 43. Still large, but not as good as it was. Parents with young kids truly need more space to haul groceries and home improvement projects from Lowes.

Performance

With 300 horsepower on tap, the MDX accelerates 0-60 in around 8 seconds. However, off the line, in city traffic, it is a bit sluggish as it needs to muster 4,600+ pounds. While at highway speeds it accelerates readily between 50 and 70. Gas mileage is advertised at 17/22; my lead-footedness returned 15mpg over 200 miles–reasonable for a 4600 pound SUV but still something to consider as we head toward $4/gallon.

Acura MDX 300-hp 3.7L V6

Handling

This is a tall and large auto. Despite that, selecting the “sport” mode reduces body lean and handling is quite responsive. Acura uses electro-magnetic shocks that dampen each corner of the car in response to driver input. This creates a slightly alarming feel as the corner that receives the load seems to tighten down abruptly. This can create a slight pogo-ing feel as the outside weighted edge “bites down”—it feels slightly hypersensitive. But once adjusted, it settles down quickly. It’s an interesting solution to defying the laws of gravity.

2008 Acura MDX

Styling

The 2007/8 model retains very little of the past model’s styling. The past model was distinctive and angular. This year it looks like a tiger shark—rounded and smooth but still aggressive. It’s not great looking but still muscular and appealing. I didn’t love it but it grew on me.

Value

At $47,000 with the technology and sport package, it’s not cheap but offers a lot of content for the money. Its closest competitors are likely the Audi Q7 and Chevrolet Tahoe. The Tahoe would cost about the same similarly equipped and the Audi would be $10k more. A more dowdy Honda Odyssey, fully loaded, is about $7000 less expensive.

2008 Acura MDX

Conclusion

This is a very capable, well-rounded vehicle that offers a lot for a family of 4 or more. Both Mom and Dad should appreciate its features, practicality, and performance. The biggest drawback is its overly complex multi-function controls. Overall, the MDX has a very nice blend of capabilities.

Build

Interior

Performance

Handling

Styling

Value

Overall

Rating

4.5

4.5

4.0

4.0

3.5

4.5

4/B

Who should buy it ?

If you have kids or need to haul 4+ people and gear, but still want a vehicle that offers reasonably good handling, the MDX is tough to beat. It is a great alternative to a minivan especially if you need some sportiness in your driving patterns.

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2008 Acura MDX Photo Gallery

Acura MDX

2008 Acura MDX Specs

AcuraThe official website of Acura – www.acura.com

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