Acura MDX 2008

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Acura MDX 2008 Acura MDX SUV

The first-generation Acura MDX arrived at a time when most luxury SUVs still featured body-on-frame construction and the term “crossover” was but a glimmer in some marketer’s eye. At the same time, the midsize MDX bettered other car-based luxury SUVs by offering a standard third row of seats that folded neatly into the cargo floor. It also made no qualms about being a dedicated on-road SUV with a clever all-wheel-drive system designed for tackling inclement weather rather than canyon trails. Though we thought it lacked a little in terms of personality and prestige, the original Acura MDX nonetheless became a favorite among families looking for a comfortable and upscale seven-passenger vehicle.

For the second-generation MDX, Acura maintained the family-friendly packaging but spiced up the recipe with styling, performance and handling enhancements. Most significantly, this model has a more powerful V6 and a new all-wheel-drive system called Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD). Improvements were also made to the interior, where materials and technology were upgraded to bring the MDX in line with the rest of Acura’s high-tech lineup.

New or used, the Acura MDX is one of our top recommendations. In areas that are most important for the midsize luxury SUV segment, including comfort, versatility and refinement, the MDX excels. And with the second-generation model, Acura has created an exciting driver’s SUV that can easily be mentioned in the same sentence as BMW’s new X5 or the Porsche Cayenne.

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The Acura MDX has been completely redesigned for 2007. As before, there is only one trim level available with several different packages. Standard niceties include leather seating, a sunroof, a tilt/telescoping steering wheel, satellite radio and Bluetooth phone connectivity. Technology, Sport and Entertainment option packages include such items as active damping suspension, Acura’s excellent voice-activated navigation system with real-time traffic reporting, a power tailgate, a 10-speaker surround-sound audio system and a rear-seat DVD entertainment system.

The new Acura MDX comes with a 300-horsepower 3.7-liter V6 and a five-speed automatic transmission. Also standard is Acura’s “Super-Handling” All-Wheel-Drive system (SH-AWD). Besides improving traction in bad weather, SH-AWD is capable of transferring up to 100 percent of power to one wheel depending on conditions. Specifically, it allows the outer rear wheel to accelerate more quickly through a turn to give the MDX greater handling ability.

The MDX’s aggressive new exterior has drawn love-it-or-hate-it responses: particularly its shieldlike metallic grille that looks as if it could be wielded by a Spartan in battle. Nevertheless, at 78.5 inches from shoulder to shoulder, the midsize MDX sits on a wide track, giving it an athletic, hunkered-down appearance that conveys its sporting character.

The interior has been spruced up with more wood, improved materials, a more driver-focused design and the latest high-tech features Acura has to offer. With a 60/40-split middle row and folding 50/50-split, fold-flat third row, the MDX offers a versatile rear compartment for passengers and cargo. The rearmost row has decent room for children or smaller adults, but it isn’t as roomy as those in GM’s new large crossover SUVs or the Mazda CX-9, and should be considered mostly for occasional use. When the third-row seats are folded flat, cargo capacity swells to 43 cubic feet. Drop the second row as well and there’s a max of 84 cubic feet.

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In road tests, we were surprised by the MDX’s nimbleness and generally sporty nature. If you’re looking for a tire-smoking SUV, the MDX’s 0-60-mph time of 8.1 seconds will hardly set your heart a-flutter. But its mix of sport sedan handling and crossover utility certainly makes it one of the best luxury SUVs around.

The Acura MDX was an all-new model in 2001, sharing a unibody platform with the second-generation Honda Odyssey and the first-generation Honda Pilot. It came standard with a 240-hp, 3.5-liter V6 and an all-wheel-drive system that automatically transferred powered front and back for optimal grip. Three rows of seats were standard in this seven-passenger midsize SUV, and as with all Acuras, there was a high level of standard equipment. A touring package added an upgraded stereo, roof racks and dual power front seats. A navigation system was a stand-alone option, but later became its own dedicated package with things like a rearview camera and voice command technology included.

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In 2003, power was boosted by 20 horses. The chassis was also strengthened, the suspension retuned and the brakes upgraded. The aforementioned rearview camera and a DVD entertainment system became available. Power was upgraded again in 2004 to 265 hp, while the exterior and interior received a midlife freshening. Upgraded electronic features and improved materials brought the MDX’s level of luxury closer to Acura’s newer products. Meanwhile, side curtain airbags and a tire-pressure monitor increased the MDX’s already impressive safety credentials. The 2005 model year saw the addition of standard satellite radio, available Bluetooth on Touring models and an upgraded navigation system. In 2006, new SAE horsepower testing procedures dropped output to 253, but real-world performance did not change.

At the time, our reviewers commented favorably about the MDX’s seven-passenger capacity, top crash test scores and affordable price. Downsides included a below-average tow rating, ho-hum interior materials and a perceived lack of prestige compared to more elegant rivals like the BMW X5 and Lexus RX. Overall, though, the original Acura MDX is a smart used or certified pre-owned purchase. Keep in mind that later models have higher levels of luxury features and power. Also keep in mind that the first-generation Honda Pilot offers roughly the same package as the Acura. Though less luxurious, it featured slightly more interior room (giving it eight-passenger capacity) and could be similarly equipped for a lower price.

Scribbled on July 20th 2007 in Acura, Acura MDX
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