Here in the desert, our use for all-wheel drive is about as necessary as an in dash CD player. Yet, when worked called upon on us to head up to the mountains during a theatrical record snow storm, we sure were glad to have it. Thing is, while we do love our 4×4’s, rock crawling through the desert mountains splashing through the muddy lake beds – the importance of all-wheel drive became ever so clear when trekking up a steep hill, during what we Arizonians will call a blizzard. What better vehicle to be in than the Acura MDX.
Known for its super-handling all-wheel drive system, the MDX carries one of the better all-wheel drive platforms next to the Volvo XC90 in its price range. Standard across the board, the 3.5-liter V-6 produces a reasonable amount of power, distributing 290-horsepower and 267lb-ft of torque through all four wheels. In the sake of fuel economy, the MDX responds like a front-wheel drive system with over 60-percent of the power being transferred to the front wheels. However, when the road gets dicey, the power starts to shuffle around developing evenly distributed power flow to all four-wheels. When one slips power gets cut to the wheel and deviated to the three that still gain traction. The infrastructure isn’t new science; however, it is clever engineering and because of it, while other vehicles couldn’t quite make up the snow covered icy mountain the MDX concurred – even surpassing a beloved German competitor that shall remain nameless but let’s just say its all-wheel drive and summer tires weren’t quite up to pare. At a $2000 option, the SHAWD proved its value over the course of 100 snowy miles
New to the MDX line up, the A SPEC name makes an appearance bringing alongside its infamous Apex Blue paint and sporty red leather interior. A standard MDX starts out at $46,300 – to get into the A-Spec, one must upgrade to the $5000 Technology Package that incorporates a huge variety of features from its Navigation, the incredible ELS Audio system, Blind Spot Monitoring, and much more. It’s then we can package on the $3500 A-Spec Package that bring in that unique spunky flair that sizzles the MDX’s lifestyle with 20-inch dark graphite wheels, sportier designed front and rear bumpers, aggressive dual-tipped exhaust, Alcantara trimmed interior, and much more premium energetic details.
From the outside, the MDX A-Spec looks the part of the new aged Dad Wagon. It’s got the flair, its chic, has personality and charisma. It’s more than just the average soccer mom crossover found outside Rebecca’s house for the annual book club meeting. Inside, while the A-Spec can be options up with Red leather seats, ours featured black on black that presented a dark handsome affair. The seats were comfortable, supportive, and with room for 7, Dad can car pool his buddies to poker night, while mom hosts Wine Wednesday for the ladies. Acura has made getting the third-row a synch to get in, with sliding second-row seats, just about anyone can fit in the back row.
Unfortunately, the A-Spec doesn’t enhance its performance attributes. Let that not fool, however. With a 9-speed automatic, the MDX is no slouch when it comes to hurrying to the basketball game. Slipping on its big-boy britches, the MDX will pull out 0-60 in roughly six seconds. Switch the drive mode modular in to Sport Mode and start using the stainless steel steering wheel paddle shifters and the MDX rises to an energetic level of spirited driving. If only its thick, leather wrapped steering wheel provided a little more enthusiasm in its motions. Whether under extreme road conditions or just the daily jaunt to the office, the MDX A-Spec rides comfortably well. The chassis soaks up most of the harsh impacts while comprising with the coarse bits. Seeing an average of 20 mpg combined on regualar fuel, our MDX came just a hair short the EPA rated combined 21 mpg.
Unfortunately, our experience with the infotainment system and lack of user friendliness showcased a different agenda. Using a two-screen set up its fine – we’re starting to see it develop in multiple products; however, its inconsistency in screen quality, font, and layout is a bit disappointing. The functionality we found difficulty to use on the go with interfaces such as the heated and cooled seats provided unwanted activity – if we turned on the heated driver seat, it would turn on the passenger seat as well if someone was sitting there and when they went to turn it off, it would accidentally turn on the drivers ventilated seat. In 2018, Acura incorporated Apple CarPlay and Android Auto for easier use of our mobile device and on-the-go connectivity giving the in-dash CD player a questionable existence.
Despite its flaws in the infotainment department, the MDX A-Spec delivers exactly what we expected from a luxury family crossover. Its sportier talent and muscular physique won us over long before its super-handling all-wheel drive on that snowy mountain – that was just a bonus.
To illuminate just how advance Acura’s Super Handling All-Wheel Drive is, check out this video they released celebrating the anniversary of SH-AWD.
Model: 2019 ACURA MDX A SPEC
Starting Price: $44,300
As Tested: $55,200 (w/ TECH & A SPEC PACKAGES)
Engine: 3.5-LITER V-6 i-VTEC
Horsepower/Torque: 290-HORSEPOWER / 267LB-FT TORQUE
Transmission: 9-SPEED AUTOMATIC
Fuel Economy: EPA RATED: 19-CITY / 25-HWY / 21-COMBINED
(AS TESTED: 20.0 MPG COMBINED)
Fuel Range: 420 MILES
0-60 MPH: ±6.0 SECONDS