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2015 Acura MDX Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2015 Acura MDX was new.


Performance: 8.4

The 2015 Acura MDX receives praise for its powerful V6 engine, nimble handling, all-wheel drive grip and ideal ride that reviewers say is not too firm and not too soft. The MDX’s brakes are a flaw, as some test drivers say they could be stronger and the pedal feels mushy.

  • "The 2015 Acura MDX luxury SUV benefits from an improved suspension, a stiffer structure and liberal use of high-strength yet lightweight steel. The changes result in a driving experience that's more sport sedan than tall SUV, with the MDX able to round corners and respond to steering inputs in a way few SUVs can." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Acceleration is brisk, the engine note is pleasing and the crossover feels tight and sporty when tackling turns." -- Edmunds
  • Fans of the past MDX's deliberate driving characteristics - heavy, swift steering; a busy ride; a growling V-6 - will be disappointed, but I suspect most shoppers will deem the new generation an improvement." -- Cars.com (2014)

Acceleration and Power

The 2015 Acura MDX has a 3.5-liter V6 that makes 290 horsepower, as well as a six-speed automatic transmission. The front-wheel drive MDX gets an EPA-estimated 20/28 mpg city/highway, while the all-wheel drive model gets 18/27 mpg, both of which are outstanding estimates for the class.

The MDX’s V6 is plenty powerful, and test drivers like that the transmission promptly downshifts when more power is needed on the highway. However, some wish it were a little quicker to shift when the MDX is powering through a curve.

  • "As for power, the tried-and-true 3.5-liter V6 never disappoints and is barely noticeable thanks to the MDX's extremely quiet cabin." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The V6 engine is strong and fuel-efficient. It also makes a nice-sounding snarl when you plant your right foot and the revs approach redline. Having just six forward gears might seem a little behind the times for a sporting luxury crossover, but the transmission is smooth and downshifts quickly whether you're pressing the gas or using the shift paddles." -- Edmunds
  • "The standard six-speed automatic helps pick up the slack, with short lower gears, smooth upshifts and responsive highway kickdown. Downshifts could come sooner as you accelerate through a bend, and a selectable Sport mode provides just that; it even drops a gear or two on downhill stretches." -- Cars.com (2014)

Handling and Braking

Test drivers think the Acura MDX delivers an ideal ride somewhere in the middle of smooth and firm. They agree that it has nimble handling, especially in all-wheel drive models, which are also liked for the way they grip the pavement in bad weather. On the downside, some reviewers report that the MDX’s brake pedal feels mushy and wish the brakes were stronger. The 2015 MDX has a standard Integrated Dynamics System that lets you adjust the steering and throttle response using three different modes: Normal, Sport and Comfort.

  • "The MDX's ride remains luxury-car smooth, but it can now run through twists and turns with more confidence." -- AutoTrader
  • "On the highway and around town, the MDX does ride a little more firmly than some competing crossovers, but we don't think owners will find it objectionable. Overall levels of wind and road noise are very low. The true highlight, however, is how the MDX behaves when driven around turns. It turns in smartly, feels secure and imparts a sporty feel that's often absent on vehicles this size. The MDX's all-wheel-drive system provides an extra helping of athleticism as well as traction." -- Edmunds
  • "Aside from making the MDX a sure-footed traveling companion in inclement weather, the optional AWD system - dubbed ‘Super Handling All-Wheel-Drive’ by Acura - gives the big 'ute surprisingly agile dynamics with a torque-vectoring system that sends extra power to the outside rear wheel in turns." -- Left Lane News
  • "Acura's suspension setup strikes a perfect balance between the softly sprung Lexus RX and the abruptly harsh (and complex) BMW X5." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The fun ends at the brakes, which have a far spongier pedal than the 2013 MDX and also an RX and JX that Acura had on hand at the preview. Toe the brakes hard and the MDX's composure unravels as antilock braking kicks in. Whether blame goes to this year's downsized disc brakes or some other factor, the results don't inspire confidence." -- Cars.com (2014)

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