The Acura MDX has been a best seller for the brand, and since the turn of the millenium, when it was first introduced, it has won people over with its seven seat versatility and easy driving style.
Of course, it’s nice to buy a brand new model, but not everyone can afford that. And with Acura’s reputation for reliability – it is a subsidiary of Honda, after all – the MDX is a machine that will give you plenty of years of service.
But with three generations to choose from, which was the best version to buy?
The 2015 model with the Technology pack is the best value for money, with better comfort, reduced road noise, easier entry to the third row and a smaller engine with plenty of power and better fuel economy.
Here’s why the 2015 model is the best MDX to buy. Firstly, it had the benefit of working out the niggles from the new model introduced in 2014. This is true of any updated model – the first year of production usually throws up a few issues, and by the second year of production those have been ironed out.
The 2014 model itself was a huge improvement over the second generation, produced from 2007 to 2013. The second gen had quite good handling and was fairly sporty, but for a three row SUV whose main purpose in life was to carry around the family, throwing it into corners wasn’t the goal.
Instead, it was meant to ferry people around in comfort, which is why the third generation went a bit softer and a bit bigger. The suspension was tuned to be more compliant, more supple, and it rode a lot better.
Another benefit of a slightly softer ride is the reduced road noise. It’s the same reason why sports cars are loud on the road – stiff suspension transfers more noise into the cabin. And slightly smaller wheels also helps, unlike today’s models where anything above 20-inches seems to be the norm.
Under the bonnet, the 3.7 litre V6 found in the second-gen MDX was replaced by a smaller, more efficient 3.5 litre V6. Both engines were naturally aspirated petrol motors, and while the larger motor is one of the most powerful ever found in an Acura (save for the NSX, of course), the 3.5-litre engine shaved 200cc of capacity but nearly matched the larger engine for power and torque.
In case you’re wondering, the newer model made 290hp, compared with 300hp for the 2013 model.
However, the biggest improvement was in fuel economy. The newer 3.5-litre returned 20mpg around town, compared with 16mpg for the larger motor. That’s nothing to be sneezed at.
The boost in economy is also thanks to Acura’s six speed automatic which had been recalibrated to shift more smoothly and keep the engine in its torque band.
Another clever little feature in the 2015 Acura MDX was the second row. Instead of having to lift a lever and then heave it up or forward, the third generation introduced a button, which allowed a single movement of tilt and slide.
This makes it super easy for anyone to allow access to the third row, especially kids. Imagine the scenario: You have your hands full of shopping but the kids want to get into the back row to start reading or playing on their iPad.
You can simply walk to the back and get them to press the button so they can get in themselves while you load in the shopping bags. Then, when they’re in, you’re able to put the second row back. Clever thinking, right there.
As you can see from the video above, the infotainment system is also modern enough so that you don’t feel like you’ve been left in the dark ages (like the previous generation MDX). That said, it does take a little while to get used to, but there are several videos like this one on the Acura YouTube channel, so it’s worth going through them to get familiar with the system.
You’ll also notice that we recommended finding the 2015 model that comes with the Technology Pack. The reason is this includes blind spot monitoring, a better infotainment screen and a few other luxuries that you’d expect from an Acura.
The materials employed in the cabin appear to all be quite durable, which means even as a second-hand vehicle, it will still have many more miles to give.
It’s for these reasons that we feel the 2015 model of the MDX is one of the best you can buy. It may not be brand new, but it has all the mod-cons that you’d expect from a new SUV, but without the price tag to match.