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2009 Acura MDX

*Est. $40,990 to $47,140
Reviewed
July 2009
by ConsumerSearch

Pros
  • Strong, smooth V-6 engine
  • Sporty, agile handling
  • Luxury and high-tech features
  • Roomy, comfortable interior
  • Refined feel, quiet interior
  • Crash-test results
  • Good reliability
Cons
  • Cluttered dash layout
  • Uses premium fuel
  • Poor rear visibility
  • Difficult access to third row

The seven-passenger Acura MDX earns recommendations as one of the best midsize luxury SUVs available for the price. Reviewers report strong engine response and outstanding handling at highway speeds, nimble maneuverability for in-town driving, along with a high level of comfort in the cabin. The MDX comes with a host of luxury and high-technology features that customers have come to expect on a premium, midsize SUV. Among the many standard features are satellite radio, Bluetooth, xenon headlights and triple-zone climate control. The standard all-wheel-drive system automatically distributes power to the wheels that have the best traction.

TheCarConnection.com's Rex Roy calls the MDX "surprisingly entertaining." He explains: "Along with the responsive powertrain, the suspension keeps the body from leaning too much in corners, even though the ride is quite supple." The MDX seems to satisfy both enthusiast drivers and those looking for luxurious comfort. Nathan D. Adlen at Automobile.com says the Acura MDX's "level of smooth is right up there with ultra luxury sedans." Roy applauds the MDX's nimble handling, commenting, "The MDX can be hustled along a curvy road like a smaller, lighter vehicle."

Acceleration is strong from the standard 300-horsepower, 3.7-liter, V-6 engine, matched with a five-speed automatic. While some reviews praise the Acura midsize SUV's powerful V-6 for offering better fuel economy than the V-8 engines used by some rivals, others are disappointed by actual mileage during test driving. ConsumerGuide.com gets between 15.5 and 19 mpg, while MotherProof.com averages a dismal 12.2 mpg ("a major bummer," according to reviewer Lori Hindman). Environmental Protection Agency mileage estimates are 15 mpg city and 20 mpg highway. Premium gas is recommended, adding to the fuel bill.

Control layout is cluttered, confusing

Almost every reviewer finds the Acura MDX's interior comfortable, but they dislike the SUV's dashboard layout, which includes a multitude of buttons on the steering wheel and center stack. ConsumerGuide.com says "the vast array of similarly-sized and shaped controls is confusing." At the San Francisco Chronicle, Michael Taylor criticizes the myriad controls as "something like the dashboard of a Boeing 757."

The second and third row of seats in the Acura MDX have sufficient room for adults, many reviews report, though MotherProof.com's Hindman notes that the lower anchors and tethers for children, or Latch system, is "well-buried in the seat crease." The third row is difficult to get into as well, as the second row folds down but does not slide out of the way to further ease entry. With the seats in Acura's midsize SUV folded flat, a total of 83.5 cubic feet of cargo space is available. The Acura MDX is rated to tow up to 5,000 pounds with the proper equipment.

Some midsize luxury SUVs offer stronger performance and even better handling than the Acura MDX, but generally at higher prices, reviewers point out. Examples include the BMW X5 (*Est. $47,500 to $56,200) and Porsche Cayenne (*Est. $44,600 to $123,600). Reviews also note that the Acura MDX shares many of its components with the Honda Pilot (Est. $27,695 to $38,495), a highly rated alternative that comes with a lower price.

Research sources

Well-written summary reviews from Edmunds.com and TheCarConnection.com give a good description of the Acura MDX and its strengths and weaknesses. Automobile.com has a well-balanced road-test review that covers both interior features and driving impressions. ConsumerGuide.com and ConsumerReports.org each give their usual thorough evaluations. MotherProof.com gives a unique family perspective, as its reviewers are real moms who report what driving the vehicle with their kids is like. The San Francisco Chronicle has a good descriptive review as well. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awards the MDX its Top Safety Pick honor.

Where To Buy

Our Sources

1. Edmunds.com

Edmunds.com has an excellent summary review of the 2009 Acura MDX, which editors call a "well-balanced midsize luxury SUV with solid sporting credentials." They are pleased with the V-6 engine's fuel economy, especially when compared to competitors' V-8s.

Review: 2009 Acura MDX review, Editors of Edmunds.com

2. ConsumerReports.org

Editors of ConsumerReports.org have a good summary review of the Acura MDX with a road-test evaluation along with reliability history as compiled in large owner surveys. You must be a subscriber to read this report.

Review: Review: 2009 Acura MDX, Editors of ConsumerReports.org

3. ConsumerGuide.com

ConsumerGuide.com rates the Acura MDX as a Best Buy, and includes a road-test evaluation of four variants. Editors note that while many luxury SUVs use V-8 engines, the Acura's V-6 powertrain is smooth and strong. Test vehicles averaged between 15.5 and 19 mpg, using premium fuel.

Review: 2009 Acura MDX: Road Test, Editors of ConsumerGuide.com

4. TheCarConnection.com

TheCarConnection.com's Rex Roy provides an easy-to-read summary review of the Acura MDX based on the writer's own test driving as well as research of other published reviews.

Review: 2009 Acura MDX Bottom Line, Rex Roy

5. MotherProof.com

Written from the viewpoint of a mom with kids, this review by MotherProof.com's Lori Hindman describes the Acura MDX as "somewhat less than perfect." In mountain driving, she averages only 12.2 mpg. Access to the third row is not easy and the Latch connectors are tough to get to, she says. Still, she rates the car "excellent" for family-friendliness.

Review: Glitches Push MDX from Love It to Like It, Lori Hindman, March 30, 2009

6. San Francisco Chronicle

This thoughtful road test describes the styling, interior design and cabin features of the Acura MDX, with only a brief mention of how the vehicle is to drive. Writer Michael Taylor is one of several reviewers who criticize the button-heavy instrument panel.

Review: Acura MDX -- Hearty Hauler, Great Stereo, Michael Taylor, Jan. 16, 2009

7. Automobile.com

This road-test review praises the Acura's "velvety smooth" ride and comfortable interior, comparing it with luxury sedans. While the suspension and engine offer strong performance, pushing the "comfort" button makes a noticeable difference in softening the ride. The biggest drawback is the excess of small, hard-to-use controls on the dash and center console.

Review: 2009 Acura MDX Review, Nathan D. Adlen, Oct. 12, 2008

8. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

The best vehicles in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's independent crash tests are named Top Safety Picks by the insurance industry-backed organization. Each of the vehicles must earn a rating of "good" in frontal and side-impact crash tests plus evaluations of head restraints for protection against neck injuries in rear impacts. In addition, each winning vehicle must offer electronic stability control. The 2009 Acura MDX is one of a handful of midsize SUVs to earn this honor.

Review: Top Safety Picks, Editors of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

Midsize SUVs Runners Up:

2012 Honda Pilot Base MSRP: $28,620 to $40,970

7 picks including: FuelEconomy.gov, Edmunds.com…

2012 Volvo XC60 Base MSRP: $32,900 to $47,600

6 picks including: FuelEconomy.gov, Edmunds.com…

2012 Mazda CX-9 Base MSRP: $29,725 to $35,125

5 picks including: FuelEconomy.gov, Edmunds.com…

2013 Lexus RX350 Base MSRP: $39,310 to $40,710

5 picks including: FuelEconomy.gov, Edmunds.com…

2011 Toyota Highlander Base MSRP: $28,090 to $37,045

4 picks including: ConsumerGuide.com, FuelEconomy.gov…

2012 Land Rover LR4 Base MSRP: $48,900

4 picks including: FuelEconomy.gov, Edmunds.com…

2012 Porsche Cayenne Base MSRP: $48,200 to $107,100

4 picks including: FuelEconomy.gov, Edmunds.com…

2012 Toyota Highlander Base MSRP: $28,240 to $37,195

4 picks including: FuelEconomy.gov, Edmunds.com…

2012 Hyundai Santa Fe Base MSRP: $23,225 to $30,925

3 picks including: FuelEconomy.gov, Edmunds.com…

2012 Jeep Wrangler Base MSRP: $22,045 to $29,995

2 picks including: FuelEconomy.gov, Car and Driver…

2012 Mitsubishi Outlander Base MSRP: $22,345 to $27,895

2 picks including: FuelEconomy.gov, Edmunds.com…

2012 Toyota 4Runner Base MSRP: $31,090 to $40,630

1 pick including: FuelEconomy.gov, Edmunds.com…

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