Acura MDX Performance
Acura has opted for more sports-car-like power and handling in the 2007 MDX, courtesy of a new V6 engine and Super-Handling All Wheel Drive. "The 300-horsepower V6 engine, a hefty 19 percent more muscular than last year's model, lets you race up to highway speed or pass that truck in the right-hand lane in an instant," says U.S. News reviewer Rick Newman. But some reviewers are disappointed that the MDX doesn't offer a more powerful V8.
Acceleration and Power
The 2007 Acura MDX comes with only one engine choice: a 300-horsepower, 3.7-liter VTEC V6. The increased horsepower gives the engine more oomph than last year's model. It "makes for some underwhelming, though adequate, acceleration," says CNET. "This engine gets the MDX around all right, but it won't throw you back into the seat." However, Car and Driver says that the "MDX is quick on its Michelins ... accelerating to 60 mph in 7.3 seconds and through the quarter-mile in 15.7 seconds at 90 mph." According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the engine's fuel economy is estimated at 15 miles per gallon in the city and 20 on the highway. Premium fuel is recommended.
Some reviewers wonder why Acura isn't offering a more powerful engine in the new MDX. "Why not a V8?" MSN asks. "Because Honda -- and thus Acura -- long has believed in offering two less cylinders in its various engines, compared to rival motors. It feels that ‘extra' cylinders add weight, complexity and deliver poorer fuel economy." And maybe a V8 would be redundant. "[A] throaty bellow when punching the gas reminded me that a V8 isn't necessary," writes a reviewer for Autobytel.
However, there's some disagreement over the amount of road noise from the engine. "The MDX is a silent runner," praises Autobytel. "The engine is virtually noiseless at idle and cruise, and only makes the right kinds of sounds at full throttle. There is a little bit of wind noise around the top of the A-pillar and outside mirror, but you'd have to be going jail-time fast for it to be intrusive in any way." But the Automotive.com reviewer either has more sensitive eardrums or drove a different SUV: "Acura has to do something about its perennial road noise problem," the reviewer says, noting that driving "across the wrong kind of concrete has family conversations dissolving into shouting matches. It's worse than a Honda Civic ..." If this is an issue, buyers might consider a test drive to find out for themselves.
Acura has equipped the 2007 MDX with a five-speed transmission with Grade-Logic Control. According to the manufacturer, the control automatically kicks in "during steep hills or when accelerating through curves to avoid the gear hunting that's common to conventional automatics." Although the transmission is an automatic, it can be switched into a clutch-free manual mode. Reviewers generally like the new transmission, but The Car Connection found it less than ideally responsive when put through some hard paces on their test track, as they "couldn't convince the manumatic to downshift to first for the tightest turns."
Handling and Braking
"Handling is sharp and tight, delivering an enjoyable road experience -- though it's no sport sedan," says AutoMedia.com. Much of the improved handling is courtesy of the Acura's new Super Handling All Wheel Drive (or SH-AWD), which controls each of the four wheels separately for optimal cornering performance under varying driving conditions. To test the results, Acura drove the MDX at Germany's famed Nürburgring racetrack, and when reviewers aren't suggesting that this was a clever way for Acura engineers to have a fun time on the company expense account, they generally find the results to be worthwhile.
Automobile Magazine feels that the "old MDX's VTM-4 all-wheel-drive system was heavily biased toward medium off-road duty and ice-and-snow situations -- good for casual use, but not up to the demands of the Nürburgring." Some reviewers found the steering to be heavy. "Steering is moderately heavy," says Car and Driver. The Automotive.com reviewer seems to like that feel: "This driver is treated to steering that's ideal in speed and effort. Unlike Acura's usual quick and feathery racks, this one has heft to it."
The optional Sport Package adds Acura's Active Damper System, a computerized technology that adjusts the stiffness of the suspension on a millisecond-by-millisecond basis. When active dampers are installed, a switch on the dashboard allows drivers to choose between snappy handling and smooth sailing (or Sports mode and Comfort mode, as Acura calls them), though some reviewers find the former to be comfortable enough. "The active damper system that comes on the Sport model makes driving the MDX more fun with a flatter ride and less body roll in the corners," says New Car Test Drive. AutoMedia.com isn't quite as enthusiastic, commenting, "Despite the merits of the Sport Package, a base model without Active Damping actually felt much more familiar and predictable when tested on a racecourse, threatening fewer surprises."
Braking performance in the new MDX has been improved, and anti-lock brakes with electronic brake force distribution and brake assist are standard. Car and Driver states that braking "from 70 mph takes 177 feet, a performance in the top half of its class." Automotive.com calls the brakes "fairly reassuring ... stopping distances are no longer the hazard they were in the previous MDX." AutoWeek says that "the brakes were consistently predictable." The reviewer for The Car Connection, however, found that the brakes "heated up and developed a soft pedal following repeated hard laps."
According to the Forbes., the MDX's 5,000-pound towing capacity "perfectly fits the lifestyle of those with a horse trailer or a small boat." That's 1,500 pounds more than the previous model could tow, making the MDX "on par with many truck-based models, which are typically viewed as sturdier and more utilitarian than so-called crossover SUVs like the MDX," says