2018 Acura MDX Review

In 2017, Acura finally came up with a unifying design language with the introduction of the 2018 MDX face-lift. It is a gorgeous design that keeps this flagship luxury SUV modern and competitive. The 2018 MDX only receives minor exterior upgrades, but Acura has re-engineered the dual-screen infotainment system to be faster and easier to navigate. It also offers the AcuraWatch suite of advanced safety and driver-assertive technologies, making the MDX truly a flagship statement.

Thanks to Acura Canada, I was loaned the 2018 Acura MDX SH-AWD for a week to test drive. Below is my unbiased review.

The front of the 2018 MDX is dominated by the same diamond pentagon front grille that has permeated to the rest of the lineup. It also features the new Jewel Eye LED headlamps and LED Daytime Running Lights. A wide lower grille highlighted by chrome trims makes the front fascia looks sporty and assertive.

The side profile is rather simple. A sharp shoulder line that runs across the side panels is the standout feature, and the 5-spoke 20" alloy wheels keep the car looking planted and proportional. The side mirrors are integrated with LED turning signal lights. In models above the Tech Trim, the side mirrors are also auto-dimming and power folding.

The back of the car is highlighted by the dual chrome exhaust tips that are embedded into the lower bumper for a seamless look. The power lift gate is decorated by the wraparound LED taillights and a long chrome trim birding the middle.

Overall, the exterior of the 2018 MDX is a simple, but sophisticated design that should appeal to more mature audiences.

The Interior of the 2018 Acura MDX is comfortable and spacious. This is especially true for the front passengers. Acura has done away with the manual shift lever, instead, a electronic button style switch panel is used. This frees up valuable space in the center console and makes the front cabin feels more open. The handcrafted decorative wood trims and the chrome highlights add to the sense of refinement. The leather appointed 10-way power driver's seat is plush with excellent lumbar support. The passenger seat is 8 way adjustable. And both seats are heated and vented.

The second-row leather seats are heated as well. There is no raised floor in the middle like some other AWD SUVs. So legroom is ample in the center cabin. A dedicated center vent behind the armrest provides tri-zone automatic climate control. Below the center vent are two USB charging ports and headphone jacks for the infotainment system. The pull-up sunshades for the middle windshields provide added privacy, which reminds me the interior of a limousine.

Accessing the third-row cabin is relatively easy thanks to the one touch walk-in configuration. Press the illuminated button, and the second-row seats automatically fold and slide forward, making accessing the third-row a breeze. The third-row cabin space is restricted, so the rear cabin is best suited for children or young adults.

The 2018 MDX gets a refreshed dual-screen user interface. There is an additional 7" touchscreen display and the system response time is now 30% faster. The On-Demand Multi-Use touchscreen can be used for controlling various vehicle settings, cabin climates, and audio settings. Keeping up with the technological trend, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are now standard. The information display in the instrument penal is on the small side, but with the addition of the Multi-Use touchscreen, the information display only needs to relay driving related stats to the driver.

The MDX provides plenty of entertainment for the rear passengers. The ultra-widescreen display is compatible with most electronics like smartphones and HDMI devices. It can also be configured into a split screen so two passengers don't have to agree with what to watch. Complete with sun shades and wireless headphones, the rear cabin of the MDX can provide a theater like atmosphere for the kids on longer rides.

Safety and Driver Assistance
The 2018 Acura MDX offers the AcuraWatch suite of advanced safety and driver assist technologies as standard. They include:
  • Collision Mitigation Braking System
  • Lane Departure Warning (LDW)
  • Forward Collision Warning (FCW)
  • Lane Keeping Assist (LKAS)
  • Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) with low-speed follow
  • Road Departure Mitigation (RDM)
The 2018 Acura MDX earned a 5-Star NCAP overall vehicle score from the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). It is expected to earn a TOP SAFETY PICK rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

The 2018 Acura MDX is powered by a 3.5L V6 that produces 290hp of horsepower and 267 lb-ft of torque. Coupled with a nine-speed automatic transmission, the engine propelled the 1940kg SUV from 0-100km in about 6.7 seconds. That is pretty quick for such a large car.

The engine is smooth and responsive, but the transmission can use a little more tuning. At lower speed with certain throttle input, the transmission seems to have difficulty determining which gear to select. The suspension on the other hand, is superb. It provides minimal body roll in corners, and a relaxing, comfortable ride regardless of road conditions. The steering is on the light side, but provides adequate feedback nonetheless.

While the button style gear switch panel frees up front cabin space, it does take some getting used to. This is more of a problem when you are in the parking lot and have to maneuver the vehicle forward and backward multiple times. I am one of those old school drivers that look through my rear window instead of the 360 surround view monitor in the center control. At times I would have to look at the switch panel to know exactly what button to press. Once your new set of muscle memories set in, it becomes less of a problem.

The 2018 MDX with the 3.5L V6 is rated at 12.6L/100km and 9.0L/100km (city/highway) for fuel economy. With my heavy foot I am only able to achieved 13.5L/100km in the city.

Cargo Space & Storage
One of benefit of purchasing a large SUV is the extra cargo space that comes with it. Behind the 3rd-row seats is 447L of cargo space. With the 3rd row seats folded down, you get a respectable 1230L of cargo space that should suits the need for most families. With both the 2nd and 3rd seats folded, the MDX is able to provide a whopping 2575L of cargo space. There is also a deep underfloor compartment for added storage.

Inside the cabin, options for small item storage are plentiful. Under the armrest of the front passenger is a large slide-open storage bin. There are cup holders and deep pockets in all 4 doors, and the thrid-row passengers also get their own cup holders on the sides. There are pockets behind the front and 2-row seats to store the wireless headphones and other personal items.

The Acura MDX is a solid offering in the 3-row luxury SUV segment. It is comfortable, quiet, and spacious. The engine is reasonably powerful, and the car handles with great confidence. I personally find the exterior to be too conservative, but Acura has its own philosophy and its own fan base with the design language. On the other hand, I am impressed with the new duel-screen infotainment system. Although the graphics are more old school, the structure and response time are both excellent. If you are shopping for a luxury 3-row SUV, the 2018 Acura MDX definitely deserves to be on the top list.

Test Vehicle
2018 Acura MDX Elite
68,390 without Destination
Crystal Black Pearl


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