2017 Acura MDX vs. Mother Nature
As I Began My Pilgrimage to the Motor City, I Looked at the Acura MDX and Asked If It Was Ready to Rock?
She didn’t respond, so I took that as a yes.
You know that feeling you get when you receive jury duty correspondence in the mail? The fear that takes over your body due to the unknown? Will they call you, will they not call you, will you fake your own death to get out of it? That’s the same feeling I get when it’s time to head north for the Detroit auto show.
Mother Nature likes to be a little nasty sometimes, and she typically dumps stupid amounts of snow on the road the day before the show. As in, the-day-I-have-to-drive-four-hours-to-Detroit. That being said, I’ve learned from my mistakes, and now I try to schedule specific press vehicles that could make my adventure easier, or the very least—safer.
2017 Acura MDX
At first sight the MDX looked much better than when I saw it at the 2016 New York Auto Show, especially the grille. The MDX has always had a “distinctive” front-end look. Whether it was the old-school Acura “blade,” or the new design, they’ve always managed to be unique.
This particular model featured a beautiful White Diamond Pearl exterior, and black leather interior with brown wood accents. The pearlescent color did an excellent job at highlighting the MDX’s design queues, which are rather athletic. The sharp front-end looks like it means business, and the rear-end follow suit, though none of it is exaggerated.
After checking out the goodies, it was time to admire my traveling sanctuary. The place where I’d spend close to 10 hours, if nothing went wrong. Because unfortunately a lot can go wrong while driving around Indiana and Michigan in January. And then, for a moment, I couldn’t figure out what was what?
What was cool and high-tech on the outside, turned confusing and cluttered in the inside. A small digital display worthy of a Nintendo DS sat between the speedo and tach, and two completely separate LCD screens adorned the center console. Lastly, buttons, knobs and a joystick filled every gap available. It was a mess. But, I was assured there was a logic to such madness.
I started by loading up my gear into the trunk, as 43.4 cubic feet of cargo room seemed more than ample for my one lonely suitcase. Even with the third row up, the MDX offers 15.8 cubic feet of cargo room, which is plenty for grocery runs, umbrella strollers, etc. Given the extra room I had, I threw in my snow boots, a towing rope, and some other emergency stuff. Like I said, you never know!
Immediately after settling in, I started setting up my SIRIUS XM radio presets. That’s when the double screen setup started to make sense. It allowed me to always have my music on the bottom screen, while the top screen navigated me to my destination.
Once on the road, the Acura MDX felt extremely smooth, and it absorbed the pothole-infested Michigan highways with ease. This was particularly surprising, given the 20-inch optional wheels. If only the Honda Pilot could ride as smooth, it’d be perfect! Despite claiming to have only 290 horsepower, the 3.5 liter V6 feels like it’s got many, many more. The same can be said about the 267 lb-ft of torque.
After knocking out my first hundred or so miles, the Game Boy-like display read 21.6 mpg. That’s a 4.4 mpg deficit according to the EPA estimate.
Super Handling All-Wheel Drive, Baby!
Unlike the two previous years, my drive to Detroit was snow-free, ice-free, and crazy-free. Good times! But it was my second day in Motown that Mother Nature realized she was taking it too easy on us, and dumped a few inches of snow overnight.
Upon the frigid sight, I utilized the Acura MDX’s remote start, which features a blinking light on the key fob to confirm your command (genius!). And by the time I hopped in, my seat was warm, my steering wheel was warm, and the entire cabin was nice and toasty. I backed out of my spot with ease, and headed downtown.
I’m not kidding when I say that the MDX wasn’t faced by the snow. I don’t mean that it did okay, I mean that it behaved like the roads were freaking dry. It never lost traction, it never snapped, it simply carried on. For full disclosure, it was equipped with all-season tires, and not winter tires.
Super Handling All-Wheel Drive delivered.
In the end, I grew to appreciate the $58,500 MDX for what it was—a sleek, capable, and very, very, very technologically-advanced machine. While the double screen setup never really won me over, I understood the reason why—perhaps it just takes time. In addition, the Adaptive Cruise Control was twitchy and never felt “confident.”
On the other hand, the supposedly 290 horsepower engine is a masterpiece, and so is the steering and transmission. Overall, the 2017 Acura MDX is one of the most under-estimated SUVs in the market. If Acura fixed a few tweaks, it could be one of the best-driving three-row SUVs ever.
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