Among the most recommended luxury SUVs, the 2020 Acura MDX stands out as a reliable 3-row crossover SUV filled with luxury features and high resale value. It also shines in terms of safety, value and owner satisfaction. Although not as fancy as the Mercedes-Benz GLE, BMW X5 or Audi Q7, the MDX roughly $45,000 initial price cuts this competitor by a significant margin.
The 2020 Acura MDX is well-equipped, but it’s not without its faults. First and most importantly is its infotainment system. Functions are split between an upper display screen and a lower touchscreen display. Both are unintuitive, and it’s difficult to remember which screen the function you want to access is located. Furthermore, the interior materials don’t quite reach the quality of what appears in the more expensive rivals.
TRIM LEVEL & FEATURES
The 2020 Acura MDX is a three-row luxury SUV that seats up to seven. It’s available in four trim levels (known as packages): base model, Technology, A-Spec and Advance. The base MDX is well-equipped, while the Technology package adds a few desirable additions. The A-Spec is more of an appearance package but has some unique upgrades. The top trim Advance has all the features you want from vehicle in this class.
Standard equipment for the base trim include 18-inch wheels, LED headlights, heated mirrors, a power liftgate, a sunroof, keyless entry and ignition, power-adjustable front seats with heating, driver-seat memory settings, a power-adjustable steering wheel, leather upholstery, tri-zone automatic climate control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a dual-screen infotainment system with a 7-inch touchscreen and an eight-speaker sound system with five USB ports, satellite radio, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Safety features include forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, lane and road departure warning and mitigation, and adaptive cruise control.
The MDX Technology trim adds 20-inch wheels, automatic wipers, front and rear parking sensors, power-folding side mirrors, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, upgraded interior trim, a navigation system, a color driver information display, and a 10-speaker premium audio system with HD radio. The A-Spec trim level is similar to the Technology but has blacked-out exterior trim, wider wheels and tires, a thicker-rimmed steering wheel, faux suede seat inserts, front-seat ventilation, and unique cabin cosmetics.
The Advance requires the Technology package and adds adaptive suspension dampers, wider wheels and tires, roof rails, auto-dimming mirrors, a 360-degree parking camera, a heated steering wheel, premium leather, front-seat ventilation, heated second-row captain’s chairs, second-row sunshades, and two additional USB ports for the third row.
An Entertainment package is available for the Technology and Advance models with AWD. It add a rear entertainment system and a household-style 110-volt outlet. For the Technology package, it also comes with a 9-inch screen and 11 audio speakers. Pair it to the Advance package, and you’ll instead get a 16.2-inch screen with HDMI input and 12 audio speakers. Note that selecting the Entertainment package with the Technology trim also adds second-row sunshades and replaces the standard second-row bench seating for heated captain’s chairs.
Three-row seating for seven in the 2020 Acura MDX is fantastic, with ample room for taller adults in the front two rows and acceptable room for the average-sized adult in the third row. Access is easy and practical as it sharing the same underpinnings as the Honda Pilot. But the similarities are too many, and the MDX fails to set itself apart with materials that feel far too similar to the Honda. You’re not living in squalor, but you’re sure not enjoying five-star accommodation in the MDX’s cabin, made worse by an infuriating infotainment system and some substandard build quality with creaking trim panels and more hard plastic than should be found at this price tag.
The seats in the MDX A-Spec look properly aggressive and offer plenty of support. Aside from the busted driver’s seat, the rear-seat legroom is generous and legroom can be expanded via a sliding bench. Entering the third row is a breeze thanks to a spring-loaded entry trigger by a single button. Once in the back, the third row offers a healthy 30.9-inches of legroom, which is great for small children and acceptable for adults.
Acura offers five interior colors including Ebony (black), Parchment (beige), Espresso (brown), Graystone (grey), and a combination of red and black. Opting for the A-Spec package limits the options to Ebony or Red and we’d opt for the red. The two-tone interior might be too much for some owners but we think it jazzes up the interior nicely.
Most of the materials feel soft and the leather/suede combination on the seat looks great. However, parts of the interior do not feel any nicer they do in an equivalent Honda vehicle and we noticed squeaky trim panels on all four doors. The interior certainly doesn’t feel up to par with its $56,000 price tag.
Like the Pilot, the 2020 Acura MDX enjoys an abundance of storage space. Behind the third row of seats, there’s a maximum cargo volume of 15.8 cubic feet, which should cater to a week’s worth of grocery shopping. But the practicality expands with the third-row seats stowed out the way, unveiling 43.4 cubic feet which in turn swells to a maximum of 90.9 cubic feet with all but the front seats out of play, and with shorter occupants taking residence in the front pair of perches. These figures ensure the MDX sees off most three-row rivals who simply can’t measure up, and the second- and third-row seats fold flat with immense ease. There’s an additional storage bin beneath the main cargo hold, too, adding extra practicality.
The practicality continues throughout the cabin, with small item storage found in abundance. Large cupholders, cavernous door pockets, and a deep center console bin with flip compartment configurations are versatile and practical, catering to everything from purses and wallets to smartphones, and even tablets.
Under the hood, the 2020 Acura MDX is powered by a 3.5-liter direct-injected i-VTEC 24-valve V-6 engine rated at 290 peak horsepower and 267 lb.-ft. peak torque. Its teamed with a Sequential SportShift 9-speed automatic transmission with shift paddles located on the steering wheel. The MDX is available with efficient front wheel drive, or with Acura’s Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) system.
An engine idle start/stop feature is also standard across the lineup. Work has been done to make the restarts quicker, but you can disable this feature. Acura’s i-VTEC (intelligent Variable Valve Timing and Lift Electronic Control) for the intake valves is combined with Variable Cylinder Management (VCM) in the 2020 Acura MDX. VCM varies the working displacement of the engine to match the driving requirements. During startup, aggressive acceleration or when climbing hills — when high power output is required — the engine operates on all six cylinders. During moderate speed cruising and at low or moderate engine loads, the system operates just the front bank of three cylinders.
290 horsepower @ 6,200 rpm
267 lb-ft of torque @ 4,700 rpm
Zero to 60 mph: 6.0 sec
Zero to 100 mph: 16.5 sec
Top gear, 30-50 mph: 3.6 sec
Top gear, 50-70 mph: 4.7 sec
Standing ¼-mile: 14.7 sec @ 95 mph
Top speed (governor limited): 113 mph
Braking, 70-0 mph: 188 ft
Towing capacity: 3,500 lbs. (FWD), 5000 lbs. (AWD)
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/27 mpg (FWD), 19/26 mpg (AWD), 19/25 mpg (A-Spec)
MODEL / PACKAGE
MDX (FWD) with Technology Package
MDX (FWD) with Advance Package
MDX (SH-AWD) with Technology Package
MDX (SH-AWD) with Technology & Entertainment Packages
MDX A-Spec (SH-AWD)
MDX (SH-AWD) with Advance Package
MDX (SH-AWD) with Advance & Entertainment Packages