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Acura’s MDX is all about “big brother”

January 7, 2013

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I am not a fan of “big brother” vehicles. You know, the cars, trucks and SUVs that tell you to “brake now” or chirp when you go over the dots on a highway or make sure you travel at least 16 car-lengths behind the bozo in front of you. But even with all of those damning “attributes”, I still managed enjoy a few days in the seven-passenger 2012 Acura MDX, which has been greatly improved since the last time we met.

Feeling safe as houses didn’t hurt, of course, particularly with that wonderful SUV visibility way up high. The 2012 MDX Advance ENT (guess that stands for entertainment?) model – which clocks in at a rather heady $55,340 has everything a suburban SUV owner could possibly want. There’s the tech package with voice recognition navigation system, multi-view backup camera, surround sound audio system and AcuraLink communication.
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Add to that an entertainment package with rear seat DVD video, wireless headlights and heating for those rear seats as well as an advance package that brings all those “big brother” items like collision mitigation braking, E pretensioning system, adaptive cruise control and then adds things we can really use: active dampers, blind spot info, sport seats (yummy), P255/50 Michelin rubber on seven-spoke 17-inch wheels and auto-leveling HID headlights. Now this is stuff we can use…
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If you’re looking for good mileage from the near-4700-pound 2012 Acura MDX, forget about it. Mileage is 16/21 from the 21-gallon tank and I found the 3.7-liter, 300-horsepower VTEC V-6 engine appropriately thirsty. It’s also appropriately wonderful in the cargo department, going from 15 cubic feet with all three rows of seating up to a massive 103.5 cubes with the 2nd and 3rd rows folded. There was no cargo cover – what’s with that?
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I find the cabin of the MDX absolutely elegant but wonder why the temp and fuel gauges are so much smaller? And why do I have to acknowledge the trip computer each time I start the car? The clamshell opening central storage is a bit on the skimpy side but there’s cubbies throughout the cabin and even storage below the floor at the hatch back. The pair of cupholders in the central tunnel have a cover (so you can stick your cell inside?). Loved the power liftgate and the ability to control it totally with the key fob. Yes Virginia, it uses a key!

I did like the seats on the MDX with their full power operation and, once I figured out how to work all the doodads I got accustomed to them. It takes time, folks; it takes a bit too much time when you’re only driving a car for a few days. And those few days were in warm temps so the white exterior and near-white interior certainly helped keep this big boy cooler than it might have been. I’ve grown to accept the flattened V of the grille on most Acura vehicles; at least this one wasn’t as gaping as the TL – a good sign for the future.

I do like the power from this SUV – I always like power – and it way handles better than any other SUV I’ve driven in the past couple of years (and I’ve had to drive quite a few). Those are the big saving graces on this aging machine.

Acura is getting ready to unleash its next generation of MDX offerings during next week’s North American International Auto Show and I’m hoping they rely on parent company Honda’s former mantra of “making it simple.” This is model is just too much of everything  – and it shows.

By Anne Proffit

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