Reviews

2015 Acura MDX Walk Around


Acura MDX was completey redesigned for the 2014 model year. The overhang in front was reduced a bit, making the nose look a bit stubby but good. We wish there were less chrome in the grille, but that big silver delta-wing-like band is the Acura cache. It just seems like big chrome grilles are so Seventies.

The nose has been carved between the grille, to slope down from each side to the bumper. It works well, to give definition to the bumper, which on so many cars is flat and ugly for being shapeless. (When we say bumper, we really mean the plastic cover that hides the steel bumper underneath.)

The front fascia openings under the grille are tidy, and the LED headlamps, five bulbs in each, are sleekly designed. Acura calls them Jewel Eyes. They are super bright; night vision is superb in the MDX. Maybe not quite like daylight as Acura suggests, but way excellent, extending the beam by 75 feet and safety by who knows, maybe 75 years.

The sides don’t have fancy styling, and the rear looks like any other SUV, with a small spoiler on the roof. Since so few designs actually score when they try to make distinctive sides and rear ends on SUV styles, clean and simple might be just fine.

Interior

The soft interior materials are of a high quality, as should be expected in any car with this price. They’ve always been good with Acura. Premium Milano leather is standard for the first two rows, while satin and simulated wood-grain trim accents the cabin. The steering wheel is stitched leather.

The instrumentation is well laid out, and the information display between the speedometer and tach is shaded and easy to read, although there’s too much information squeezed on one little screen. The gauges are beautifully backlit with LED lighting, while LED lamps with programmable brightness are used on the center console and front foot wells.

The center stack is busy, with a big screen recessed under an eave that shades the screen but doesn’t complement the dashboard lines, and seems to put the navigation map far away. But we might be design nitpicking, here; most people probably won’t notice. There is a huge deep bin in the center console, underneath a sliding armrest. It can easily hold a purse and tablet computer, maybe both. Big SUVs and pickup trucks have center consoles like this, but not many luxury crossovers.

There are just nine buttons on the center stack, which sounds like an improvement from 41 buttons with the previous generation, but not so with the touch-screen radio controls. Our notes are detailed, about what and how didn’t work, tuning the radio, mostly because the button you need does not exist. All we wanted to do was tune to XM channel 30. We looked at, considered, and tried every option there was, over a period of too many miles on the freeway: Presets, More, Shortcuts, Audio Source, non-intuitive single and double arrows (non-intuitive, defined: single arrow jumps many stations at a time, because it’s for presets, while double arrow moves up one station). We pressed them all, we did a couple total circles. We saw Religion, Canadian, and Elvis stations. We finally got there, working around the dysfunction; we pressed the single arrow until it got near channel 30, then pressed the double arrow over and over again (11 times), inching it upwards. Once there, we decided to stay on XM 30 for the rest of our trip. Yes, it is true that if you own the MDX, you will either read the manual or figure out how to do Presets for your favorite stations. So fine, if you own the MDX and only you drive it, you presumably, eventually, won’t have the problems we did. But if anyone else drives it and tries to tune the radio they may have difficulty or be distracted. That’s why we find it ironic, and a bit infuriating, that every time you turn on the car you see this message: “The driver is responsible for the safe operation of this vehicle.”

We’d also like to reply to the voice command. Get the cotton out of your ears. The lady can’t understand plain English. We tried and tried, didn’t do anything wrong, and not one time did she get it right. Another journalist was with us, and she wouldn’t listen to him either.

The front seats are roomy and could use more bolstering, especially with a car that boasts Super Handling. The A-pillar gets in the way of forward and downward visibility.

All three rows of seats are lower than before, to improve ingress and egress. The driver will want to raise the seat to get that command-of-the-road position of a big SUV. A long wheelbase and compact rear suspension allow wide as well as low entry to the rear seats. It’s a relative delight to get in and out. The second-row seatbacks have five reclining positions and six inches of travel to make for maximum legroom and comfortable snoozes on road trips. The second row flops down with a touch of one button located in three places, making it easy to reach the third row. Acura calls it One-Touch-Walk-In, and it is.

Cargo space is vast, 90.0 cubic feet, with both rows folded easily flat. With the seats up there’s 15.8 cubic feet, as much as a large sedan trunk. There’s a cargo lid with room for things you might want to hide, and it flops open 180 degrees with the third row seat folded, to provide maximum utility.

The cabin is extremely quiet with tons of foam in the roof pillars and insulating materials under and behind the second and third rows. The glass is a sandwich of tempered glass around sound insulation. You know you’re in a luxury car when you’re in the back seat of the MDX.

**Based on current year EPA mileage ratings. Use for comparison purposes only. Your actual mileage will vary, depending on how you drive and maintain your vehicle, driving conditions, battery pack age/condition (hybrid models only) and other factors.

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