By: Candy Chung
I drove the 2019 Acura MDX A-Spec from Vancouver to Kelowna in the summer for a family road trip. The 800km or so round trip was a good way to test the MDX’s performance and capabilities over mountainous roads.
The A-Spec is mostly cosmetic upgrades such as exclusive design 20” wheels and dark exterior accents; the engine is the same across all trim levels which is a 3.5L V6 that produces 290HP and 267lb-ft of torque. This engine is mated to a 9 speed automatic. Acura’s Super-Handling AWD is standard. This combination is great for comfortable city driving but not the greatest for mountainous roads. The engine seems to be slightly under-powered and a bit slow to accelerate over mountain passes. The ride is comfortable and fairly planted with well-controlled road and cabin noise. Handling is pretty good for this category but definitely not as engaging as the all – new Acura RDX I reviewed last year.
The biggest issue with the MDX is the cabin – it doesn’t feel luxurious and the cabin design seems quite out-dated. At a starting price of $54k, it’s more expensive than the Mazda CX-9 but the Mazda feels more upscale. The Infiniti QX60’s cabin is just as dated but the Infiniti still feels more luxurious inside with more padded areas and less cheap plastic. The A-Spec exclusive Alcantara/leather sport seats are supportive and look great though.
What makes up for the dated cabin is the practicality of the MDX. The front and second rows are roomy and the third row is decent for kids and smaller adults. When you need trunk space, simply fold the third row down and you’ll be glad to see the spacious trunk. Oddly, my A-Spec tester didn’t come with buttons to fold down the third row electronically.
Safety & Features
Safety is also a strong point of the MDX. The MDX A-Spec features adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning and collision mitigation braking, blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning, lane keep assist and cross traffic alert. All of these are standard features across all trim levels except for blind spot monitoring and cross traffic alert which are not offered in the base trim.
The MDX A-Spec comes with a lot of features including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, navigation system, tri-zone climate control, ELS audio system with 10 speakers and Smart Slide 2nd-row seat with One Touch Walk-In (makes getting to the third row easier).
The MDX is still a competent contender in this category. It’s been one of the best-selling three row SUVs with a very good reputation for many years. However, it’s probably time to update that cabin and improve that engine / power delivery.