2013 Acura MDX Elite
300 @ 6300
270 @ 4500
13.2 / 9.6
425 min / 2,364 max
If you are not a fan of the German large luxury SUVs, or just don’t want to pay the premium price tag that comes with them, there is an alternative way you can go. For quite a few years now, the Acura MDX has been a tough opponent for the Germans and is still a much better buy as it offers standard 7-seat layout and even the entry level trim is packed with high-tech gear.
It shares its platform with the Honda Pilot, but is equipped with Acura’s super handling all-wheel-drive system (SH-AWD) and comes with a very upscale looking exterior. Its massive dimensions and exterior styling, make this large SUV dominant looking on the road. It comes in three different trim levels, MDX, MDX Tech and MDX Elite, and prices start at $53,250. Our test vehicle is the 2013 MDX Elite, which comes with an elite price tag of $63,450. All editions come with SH-AWD and a 3.7lt V6 mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission. The 2013 model year update is the last for this 2nd generation MDX as in a couple of months, the all-new 3rd generation 2014 will be on sale and rumors have it, it will be much improved.
The exterior design shouts for attention, and the Acura family front grille is of course present, but on this SUV it is oversized and is the main attraction on the front. The side and rear design add to the elegant, big and heavy feel, which actually, it is.
The interior styling has started to show its age, and despite being packed with high tech gadgets, it is the Achilles’ heel of this SUV. The wood trim is insane as it covers a humongous portion of the dash, acting also as a fine sun reflector that redirects sunlight straight to your eyes. The upper part of the dash is covered with soft to the touch materials, but all the rest are hard durable plastics which in a vehicle of this price tag are not really welcome. The fit is excellent but the finish could be better at certain points. Ergonomics are a bit flimsy, as the operation of the DVD/radio/Navigation needs some practice and the i-drive style controls are horizontal (sticking out of the dash) instead of vertically placed, adjacent to the gear lever.
The front heated and ventilated seats have excellent side support and are very comfortable. The rear passengers will also enjoy their heated seats and at the same time will appreciate the decent headroom and legroom. The third row of seats is also pretty comfortable, as long as you are not taller than me (5’10). Finding your optimal driving position is easy, as adjustments are plenty for both seat and steering wheel. Visibility to the front and side is good and the rear view camera will make your life easier when backing up. The cargo area is not much with the third row of seats up (425lt), but fold them down and the trunk is already big enough for most family needs (1215lt). Fold the rear seats too and you will have created a football field (2364lt). Before you say wow, keep in mind that these figures are calculated based on the total height available, so in reality are not that crazy, but are still impressive.
There are plenty of storage compartment throughout the cabin and the front cup holders are wide enough to hold a king size pop. They have very soft stabilizers and at first you will hesitate putting something there, but in reality they are very stable.
The V6 3.7lt 24-valve SOHC VTEC® power plant is good for 300BHP and 270lb-ft of torque but has a tough job to do it as the 2013 MDX Elite weighs a whopping 2109Kg. It feels strong and capable and when pushed hard it does move the MDX decently as the first 100km/h come in 8.2 seconds. Constantly pushing it to move though has a negative effect on fuel efficiency. Drive with a green foot and in a combined circle you will average around 12.5lt/100km. Try to get sporty and you will soon find yourself averaging around 15.4lt/100km. And that is Premium unleaded we are talking about. In comfort mode, throttle response is suppressed to keep fuel figures low but thankfully, in sport mode, it is crisp and makes the vehicle feel punchy.
The 6-speed automatic transmission is very smooth and works well. It does a great job reading throttle inputs and quickly responds to serve the driver with the right gear. The paddle shifters feel a bit alien to the character of the vehicle but are always welcome as through them you can quickly override the transmission’s decisions, just in case you need to do so.
The front and rear independent adjustable suspension is missing a “normal” mode and can be set to either comfort or sport. In comfort, the steering becomes super light, throttle response is numbed up and the suspension softens up to a point that body control suffers so that the passengers can be comfy. In sport mode, things are a lot better, the steering feels great with positive feedback, the engine feels nippy due to the sharper throttle response and the suspension controls the body really well without becoming unreasonably hard. I just wish there was a third “Normal” setting that would be something in between the two.
The Super-Handling All-Wheel-Drive system combined with the sporty suspension delivers exactly what its name suggests. The MDX corners with confidence and road holding is awesome. Even if you try to push it beyond its limits the stability control will very discreetly interfere to keep you on track. Switch the stability control off and set the suspension to Sport mode and the fun begins. The MDX will not say no and is all game, as long as the rest of the family are safe at home. Apart from the fun factor though, it is a vehicle that will quickly earn your trust and safely tackle winter driving conditions with no hesitation.
The brakes have the hardest job here, as they are responsible for bringing the beast to a stop. The pedal feels light and progressive, while the brakes are effective and strong. Multiple hard stops will tire them a bit, but they put up quite a fight. From 100km/h, the 2013 MDX Elite came to a complete stop in 45m which is rather good considering its weight.
With the 2014 model being just a couple of months away, the 2013 Acura MDX could be subject to many super buying incentives which could make it an excellent buy despite the new model arrival. It is a large family oriented SUV that performs really well and could easily take upon the role of the everyday shopper. It will keep you safe and will serve you well with the reliability we‘ve come to learn from Acura.
No Normal Mode