by Larry Lark, Herald Special Sections Writer
It seems like an annual rite-of-spring to test drive Acura’s MDX.
The 2017 version of this luxury, full-size sport utility has been restyled and refreshed, making it even more desirable, if that’s possible.
My brother, an architect and project manager, noticed one of the changes within seconds. I’d been driving the MDX for more than a day, and hadn’t given it a second thought.
This model showcases a new diamond pentagon grille, first seen on Acura’s Precision Concept vehicle. The visual affect is eye-catching and stunning to those with discerning eyeballs. But my brother, ever the realist, said, “it must really be hard to keep that thing clean.”
The new Acura grille is integrated with a more sharply sculpted hood, front fascia and front fenders, coupled with new LED fog lights and restyled jewel-eye headlights, which enhance the MDX’s distinctive and sporting demeanor.
All MDXs will be equipped with AcuraWatch on all grades, making it the first luxury SUV in its class to offer these advanced safety and driver-assist technologies, including automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise lane-departure warning, lane-keeping assist and road-departure mitigation as standard features.
Lastly, a new sports hybrid powertrain model delivers the ultimate in power and control while gaining 35 horsepower and seven miles per gallon in city fuel economy compared to the previous model year.
“Upping the performance pedigree of the MDX with bold styling, our exclusive sport hybrid powertrain and the standard application of AcuraWatch technologies that many in the industry refer to as semi-autonomous, represents a major injection of Acura’s precision-crafted performance DNA,” said John Mendel, executive vice president of American Honda Motor Co., Inc. “These changes will continue to advance MDX’s competitiveness and its legacy as the best-selling three-row luxury SUV of all time.”
MDX seats seven adults with a smallish cargo area behind the third-row seats. With the flick of a finger the third-row seats fold flat, allowing golf bags, carts and whatever the imagination can conjure. If more room is needed, the second-row captain’s seats fold flat as well.
Powered by a 3.5-liter SOHC, 24-valve, direct-inject V6 engine mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission and SH-AWD (super handling all-wheel drive) system, the MDX delivers 22 miles per gallon in combined city/highway driving as rated by the EPA.
All 2017 models benefit from increased standard luxury and technology features, including an electric parking brake with automatic brake hold, auto highbeam headlights, four 2.5-amp USB charging ports.
Technology and Advance packages add bi-directional keyless remote engine start, two new 20-inch wheel and tire options, power folding side mirrors, and HD traffic. In addition to these features, Advance grades add LED fog lights, genuine Olive Ash Burl or Black Limba wood interior trim, a heated steering wheel and surround-view camera system with six selectable viewing angles.
MDX is produced at the company’s Lincoln, Ala., auto plant using domestic and globally sourced parts. In early 2017, an additional production source for MDX will be added at the East Liberty, Ohio, auto plant.
2017 ACURA MDX
BASE PRICE: $56,400
AS TESTED: $57,340
Base price includes destination charge. Vehicles are provided by the manufacturer. Prices may vary at local dealerships.