Comfort, style serve Acura MDX

The 2020 Acura MDX luxury crossover is in its 20th year of production.  (Bud Wells photos)

The first-gen Acura MDX (2001-2006) quickly became recognized as one of the most comfortable of midsize three-row luxury crossovers.

For the 2020 MDX, luxurious comfort remains the byword. Over the past 15 or so years, while the overall length of the MDX has been increased by 8 inches, the overall structure of the Acura has shed 250 pounds and estimated fuel mileage has risen to 19 city and 25 highway from the first gen’s  estimate of 15 and 21.

Horsepower for its 3.5-liter V-6 engine has reached 290, 50 more than the original.

The Mercedes GLE is a competitor of the Acura MDX.

Acura continues into the ‘20s with sleek design and high-tech features for the MDX (multi-dimensional luxury). Among its competitors, most of which are priced higher than the Acura, are Mercedes-Benz GLE, Audi Q7, BMW X5, Lexus RX350, Lincoln Nautilus, Infiniti QX60, Volvo XC90 and Cadillac XT5.

We enjoyed a pleasant ride with good handling while guiding the MDX to Denver and back in falling snow. The next day, with 2 to 3 inches of snow on the ground and some slick spots, the big Acura performed with excellent grip. Acura’s SH-AWD (super-handling) system sends up to 90 percent of torque to the front wheels in normal cruising; as much as 50 to 70 percent can be directed to the rear wheels as needed for improved traction, and added split can be divided between the rear wheels.

Good, steady performance is supplied by the MDX’s 3.5-liter V-6 engine and 9-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters. Tow capacity is 5,000 pounds. Acura for several years has used an odd-looking, electronic push-button shifter, in which the driver pushes down a lever for Park, pulls back on another for Reverse, pushes for neutral and makes contact with a circle button for Drive.

Overall fuel-mileage average for the MDX was 21.8 miles per gallon, reduced some by cold-weather warmups and driving in the snow. The crossover rides on Continental 265/45R20 tires.

The Acura MDX AWD A-Spec carried a sticker price of $56,295, including remote engine start, power moonroof, navigation, Bluetooth/CarPlay/ Android Auto and safety features – adaptive cruise, lane-keeping assist and collision mitigation braking.

Sport seats of red leather and black alcantra inserts are attractive; the second-row seats may be folded with push of a button. Cargo space behind the third row of seats is only 15 cubic feet; fold the seats and that expands to 38.

The MDX review model lacked a heated steering wheel. To gain that comfort, the optional Advance package could be added at several thousand bucks extra. Besides a warm steering wheel, the package also adds heated rear seats, middle-row captain’s chairs, leather-wrapped steering wheel and a surround-view camera system.

The MDX is assembled at a Honda factory at East Liberty, Ohio.