$34,320 - $46,125

2018 Acura MDX Performance Review

Scorecard

Performance: 8.4

The 2018 Acura MDX has a V6 engine with sufficient power for any driving situation, but its automatic transmission doesn’t always deliver well-timed shifts. The MDX impresses in terms of ride quality and handling, with a smooth and nimble feel behind the wheel. Fuel economy ratings are above average, even in models with all-wheel drive.

  • "Powerful and agile, the 2018 Acura MDX is one of the more athletic 3-row SUVs out there." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The 290-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 and optional Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive are key factors in the MDX's appeal. It's not as thrilling as some competitors, but it is effortlessly capable." -- Edmunds
  • "Stepping back and regarding the MDX as an entire package, we'd say it's easy and inviting to drive, classy enough to satisfy those addicted to premium machines, high-tech enough to indulge that tendency in many of today's driver[s]." -- USA Today (2016)

Acceleration and Power

A 290-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 engine powers the Acura MDX. It’s mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission. The engine has plenty of power for daily driving, and it accelerates quickly. However, the transmission could use some refinement; its shifts can be inconveniently timed.

The MDX gets EPA-estimated gas mileage of 20 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway, making it one of the most fuel-efficient luxury midsize SUVs you can buy. When equipped with all-wheel drive, the MDX gets 19 mpg in the city and 26 on the highway.

We cover the MDX Hybrid in a separate review.

  • The MDX's engine does a good job of propelling the crossover down the road, but there's still some work to do on that 9-speed automatic transmission – it's a little too eager to shift up into the next gear and sometimes feels notchy in an unpleasant way. A quick drive down the block will have you in fifth gear before you know it, and when you ask for more acceleration to merge with traffic, the transmission has to kick down a few gears to answer the call. It does so quickly, but calls more attention to itself than we'd like. Since the MDX uses a combination of sophisticated electronics, including throttle-by-wire and electronic shifting control, Acura should be able to smooth out this performance with software tweaks." -- Autotrader
  • Although low-end torque is not this V6's strong suit, the nine-speed transmission does a great job of keeping the revs high at full sail. The MDX hits 60 mph in 6.5 seconds. That's respectable, though some rival SUVs with turbocharged or supercharged six-cylinders are quicker still." -- Edmunds
  • "The Acura's big V6 is more than strong enough for most buyers and its 9-speed automatic transmission is responsive and smooth. Acceleration is quick enough to be thrilling, and there's plenty of passing power. This is a big vehicle, but it never feels like an oversized land yacht." -- Kelley Blue Book

Handling and Braking

Front-wheel drive and Acura's Integrated Dynamics System, which lets you adjust the power steering's responsiveness, are standard in the MDX. You can get all-wheel drive (or as Acura calls it, SH-AWD) for more grip on slick roads or to make the MDX's already lithe handling even sharper around turns. There are also three driving modes that let you tailor the MDX’s dynamics to suit your driving style.

The MDX is lighter than most competitors, and it doesn’t feel as big as it is when you’re driving. Handling will impress you, as this Acura can take corners at speed without too much body roll or instability. Ride quality stands out too, and most road imperfections are absorbed without fuss.

  • "Its handling is exceptional. Its ability to turn corners will make you smile, especially models with Acura's Super Handling All-Wheel Drive system. The new Acura MDX is also comfortable and luxurious. It rides well. Around town its suspension filters out just enough of the road's surface and it doesn't crash over potholes. Visibility is excellent, the steering is light and the MDX is easy to park." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "With a curb weight of just over two tons (4,001 lbs), the MDX is a big vehicle, but it's still the lightest in its class thanks to the extensive use of aluminum, magnesium and high-strength steel in its structure. It handles well through the curves but shines in a straight line, where it floats along the road in serene silence and smoothness." -- Autotrader
  • "Should you elect to hustle this three-row luxury crossover along a winding road, it'll hold up decently for its size with light and direct steering, even in front-drive trim. With SH-AWD and its torque-vectoring capabilities, the MDX turns and carves through corners like a much smaller vehicle. It's a neat sensation that feels a little like magic." -- Edmunds (2017)

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