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The Daily Drivers | By Peter Couture and Lyra Solochek, Times Staff Writers

The Daily Drivers: Acura MDX is a fun and luxurious SUV

We've both been longtime fans of Acura's MDX and a recent drive only confirms our views. The MDX is a star of the brand's lineup, and it might be one of the best all-around midsize luxury SUVs on the market.

Appearance: The MDX has a chiseled look, with slightly flared fenders and just a hint of resemblance to its smaller cousin, the Honda CR-V, in its roofline. It has Acura's signature metallic-shield grille, which we think works better on the MDX than on some of its siblings. The grille is complemented below by angled air scoops with silver accents. The wraparound headlamps give the front end a unified look. In the rear, the liftgate gets a subtle spoiler. The 19-inch alloy wheels, which are optional with the Advance Package, and the dual exhaust add even more bling.

Performance: Acura tuned the MDX on Germany's famed Nurburgring track and it shows. The 3.7-liter 300-horsepower V-6 is plenty powerful and has lively acceleration. We like the Super Handing All Wheel Drive, which Lyra knows from her own Acura RDX. The SH-AWD keeps the car planted, adjusts for driving conditions and makes for nimble handling for the 4,600-pound vehicle. Still, Peter found the steering feel to be too light. Whether in comfort or performance mode, we both found the MDX fun to drive — a quality lacking in many SUVs. In sports mode, using the paddles of the six-speed Sequential Sportshift, the transmission clicks off gear changes effortlessly and gives you more driver input. The estimated mpg isn't great: 16 city, 21 highway. Still, the 21-gallon gas tank can give you a good range.

Interior: The MDX's comfortable and well-appointed cabin is loaded with technology, which is both a blessing and a curse. A blessing because it's fairly easy to use and has highlights that include navigation with voice recognition, rear-view camera, Bluetooth, AcuraLink Communication (real-time traffic and weather) and GPS-linked climate controls. The curse is, that with all that gadgetry, the steering wheel and console are cluttered. Our quiet tester was outfitted in light taupe, which brightened the cabin and kept the plush, perforated-leather seats from getting too hot. That's perfect for the Florida sun. The dash and interior are trimmed in burl wood, faux metal and soft-touch leather and plastic. The fit and finish are, as we've come to expect from Acura, precise. The third-row seats are best-suited for kids. A nit: The AC is loud, even at low speeds. The MDX does have good cargo space — up to 83.5 cubic feet with the rear seats dow .

Our 3 favorites

Peter Couture

Driving feel: It gives you confidence behind the wheel.

Interior: The fit and finish are first-rate.

Powertrain: The new-to-MDX six-speed clicks through shifts rapidly.

Lyra Solochek

SH-AWD: You can whip through turns with sure-footed control and minimal body roll.

110-volt outlet: For electronics with regular plugs.

Plush seats: Perforated leather seats have good support for a comfortable ride.

The bottom line: The Acura MDX packs fun, practicality and luxury into a crossover SUV, which is no small feat.









2011

Acura MDX

Price: $42,930 start, $53,440 as tested

Powertrain: 3.7-liter SOHC

V-TEC V-6, 6-speed automatic with Sequential SportShift, SH-AWD, variable-assist rack-and-pinion power steering.

Horsepower: 300 at 6,300 rpm

Torque: 270 pound-feet at 4,500 rpm

Curb weight: 4,645 pounds

Dimensions

in inches:

Wheelbase, 108.3

Length, 191.6

Width, 78.5

Seats: 7

Fuel economy:

16 miles per gallon city, 21 mpg highway

Fuel type:

Premium unleaded

Safety features: ABS, airbags and curtains, rollover sensor, vehicle stability assist, electronic brake distribution, brake assist, side-impact door beam, collision mitigation braking system, blind spot warning, backup camera, adaptive cruise control, auto-leveling headlights. Website: acura.com/mdx

The Daily Drivers: Acura MDX is a fun and luxurious SUV 10/28/11 [Last modified: Friday, October 28, 2011 4:30am]
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