The Acura MDX and Lexus RX 300 started production in the 1990s as luxury SUVs from Japanese automakers Honda and Toyota, respectively. Back then SUVs were testing the waters and, in the years since, each carved out loyal followers as well as bigger numbers.
In its third generation since 2014, the MDX has managed to stay current with the introduction of new technologies and steady improvements inside and out.
Pros: silky smooth ride; sleek styling; generous cabin.
Cons: fussy infotainment controls; tight third row; finicky radar cruise.
New this year is an A-Spec package of cosmetic changes that make the MDX more of a standout with wider 20-inch aluminum alloys with even lower profile tires. That's just the beginning though as the exterior lineup includes restyled front fascia, larger exhaust tips and matching rocker panels. Shiny chrome is out in place of black and dark chrome for a cutting edge look.
There's more inside with A-Spec red or black leather and Alcantara inserts that are pleasing to the eye. Special treatment is also added to door sills, sport pedals, red gauges, door panel inserts, black trim and a rimmed steering wheel.
Aside from the plethora of superficial changes this year, the 2019 MDX is much the same save for the addition of front-wheel drive, suspension dampers and transmission software programming.
That's not meant as a criticism because we like the MDX for its compliant ride, powerful engine and reliability.
The MDX is propelled by a 290-horsepower V6 mated with a nine-speed transmission. A smaller 3.0-liter V6 with three electric motors powers the Sport Hybrid for combined 27 miles per gallon compared with the gasoline version at 21.
Our independent testing of the MDX AWD A-Spec from zero to 60 mph recorded a respectable 6.1 seconds, quicker than most rivals.
Acura labels its trim levels as option packages, namely Standard, Technology, Advanced and the aforementioned A-Spec. Prices range from $45,395 to around $60,000. All accommodate up to seven passengers in three rows of seating with the third row best suited for additional cargo space or for small children.
Traveling on interstate roadway, the MDX delivers a smooth ride in a hushed cabin with passing power when needed. In reality, if you do not keep a watchful eye on speed, the tendency is to overshoot the designated limit without even realizing.
Safety gear is plentiful too with adaptive cruise, collision and road departure mitigation, forward collision, lane departure warning and blind spot monitors.
We have a nit to pick with the latter's amber warning lights since they are mounted inside the car's A pillar. As such they are not as noticeable because most cars and SUVs utilize outside mirror locations where the eye is trained to look for upcoming traffic.
Apple Car and Android Auto integration is appreciated and one of the few SUVs to offer both along with driver and passenger 12-way power seats. Despite its few deficiencies you'd be hard pressed to find a better overall value.
Len Ingrassia is an independent automotive columnist. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What was reviewed
2019 Acura MDX AWD A-Spec
Engine: 3.5-liter V6 AWD, 290-horsepower, 267 lb-ft of torque.
EPA mileage: 19 city, 25 highway, 21 combined.
Assembled: Final assembly at East Liberty, Ohio, with 75 percent U. S./Canadian parts.
Crash test ratings: The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) selected the MDX as a Top Safety Pick this year and gave the model its highest rating of “Good” for small and moderate frontal offset safety, side impact, rollover protection and whiplash protection. It also rated the MDX "Superior" for its front-collision mitigation system. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) awarded the MDX a five-star overall rating, its highest score with five stars for frontal and side impact protection and four stars in rollover crash testing.
Warranty: 4-year/50,000-mile bumper to bumper; 6-year/70,000-mile drivetrain.