2016 Acura MDX drive review: Leader & follower

2016 Acura MDX review and test drive

The MDX is Acura‘s best seller for a reason

If you’re the type of vacationer who prefers his waters salty and lukewarm, the cramp-inducing chill of Michigan’s freshwater Grand Traverse bays may not suit your summer-trip fantasies.

The West Bay and adjacent Leelanau Peninsula happen to be the site of my family’s annual summer retreat, and Acura’s three-row MDX crossover handled transportation duties this year. Not just its top-seller, the MDX is also Acura’s best vehicle and a clear contender for the most livable three-row crossover on the market today. Two adults, two kids and a dog, plus a week’s worth of luggage, disappeared into our silver MDX with room to spare, and the combination of freeway and two-lanes we took netted 26 mpg average with nary a thought toward hypermiling. Power from the V6 is exceptionally smooth, and overall road manners are far sportier than crossover naysayers would like you to believe.

The wife and I aren’t screen junkies, but midway through a five-hour freeway slog, a quick showing of “Wall-E” kept our wee beasties from mutiny. It’s expensive, but Acura’s widescreen rear-entertainment system offers good picture quality, easy-to-use wireless headphones and a screen that doesn’t interfere with rear visibility.

Photo: Acura’s rear-entertainment system

We alternated between five- and seven-passenger configurations in the MDX, depending on whether the dog or the in-laws were along for the ride. Acura has chosen to fold the third row forward in two-row mode versus tumbling the seats into a rear well; the result is a spacious, covered cargo area at the very back, but also a higher load floor than in, say, a Ford Explorer. A convenient one-touch, tip-and-slide feature for the second row eased access to the rearmost seats, and the second row’s fore-aft adjustments helped configure the inside for additional storage. 

As good as the MDX is, in the end my favorite view turned out to be its front, as seen in the rearview mirror of a Ferrari 308 Quattrovalvole I volunteered to drive from a storage unit in northern Michigan to a friend’s new home in Detroit. My wife helmed the Acura while I got sun-baked and wind-battered through the open targa roof, flat-plane Ferrari V8 wailing behind my head.

Both machines have their place; the MDX’s just happens to be that of a trusted family accountant: rarely inspirational but always dependable and exactly the kind of vehicle you want following you, carrying your kids in airbag-cocooned safety, while you’re driving a vintage Italian exotic.

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