2020 Acura MDX Review

The Acura MDX has been one of the company's best selling SUVs since its inception in 2000. The MDX was the first crossover SUV to have third-row seating, way before the current crossover craze that is rapidly changing the automotive landscape. Throughout the years, the MDX continues to offer great performance, technology, and quality at an affordable price for a luxury SUV. The current generation of MDX was first introduced in 2014, and received a significant refresh in 2017. Fast forward to 2020, is the MDX still competitive in the ever-crowded 3-row SUV market?

Thanks to Acura Canada, I had the chance to test drive the 2020 Acura MDX Tech for one week to find out. Below is my unbiased review.

The exterior of the 2020 MDX remains largely unchanged since its 2017 facelift. The front fascia features the distinctive Acura black diamond front grille and the Jewel Eye LED headlamps. It looks sharp and aggressive, and in my opinion, the best looking angle of the car. 

The side profile of the MDX is less attention seeking. The engineers at Honda manage to keep the car looking light on its feet by sloping down the daylight opening toward the rear. Chiseled door panels and sharp lower creases also help to reduce the visual weight of the car. The side mirrors are integrated with LED turning signal lights. In models above the Tech Trim, they are upgraded to auto-dimming power folding side mirrors. Standard MDX comes with 18” alloy wheels, but our Tech package tester comes with 20” alloy wheels.  

From the back, the MDX looks clean and sporty with dual chrome exhaust tips, a sharp integrated spoiler, and wraparound LED tail lights. Long decorative chrome trims give the rear profile a sense of width, which further enhances the sporty vibe.

Even without any updates, the 2020 MDX manages to look modern and sleek on the road. It might not draw too much attention, but the handsome exterior is befitting of its premium status.

The Interior of the 2020 Acura MDX is spacious and comfortable, but the choices of material leaves much to be desired. Acura has replaced the shift lever with electronic buttons. It gives the center console a clean look and makes the front cabin feel more spacious. The curvy deck design is unique, but too busy for my liking. Despite the handcrafted decorative wood trims and the chrome pieces, the cabin of the MDX feels slightly outdated with excessive hard plastics and cheap feeling switchgears. Some rivals at lower price points have more premium feeling interiors than the MDX. On the plus side, the leather appointed power adjustable front seats are plush and supportive. They are both heated and vented. 

Our tester comes with three seats in the second row cabin. The two seats on the sides are heated. There is no floor bump in the middle of the cabin, so it is quite comfortable sitting in the middle seat. A dedicated center vent behind the front 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 and is great when watching a movie with the overhead screen. 

Accessing the third-row cabin is relatively easy thanks to the one touch walk-in design. With the touch of a button, the second-row seats automatically fold and slide forward, making accessing the third-row a breeze. The buttons are located behind the seat rest and at the base. The one behind the seat rest allows the third row passengers to exist, and the one at the base allows easy access for shorter children. The third-row cabin space is restricted, so it is best suited for children or young adults.

I like the dual-screen infotainment system of the MDX. It consists of an 8” upper screen and a 7” On-Demand Multi-Use lower touchscreen. The lower screen can be used to control vehicle settings, cabin climates, and audio settings, while the upper screen is mainly reserved for navigation. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard.

The information display in the instrument cluster is on the smaller side. While it provides useful driving information with an easy to read layout, I am expecting more from a flagship luxury vehicle. The infotainment screen can be interacted via the dials and buttons on the left side of the steering wheel.

The MDX does provide 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 environment for those long drives. 

The 2020 Acura MDX offers the AcuraWatch suite of advanced safety and driver assist technologies. 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)
  • Tire Pressure Monitoring System
Tech Package and above also gets:
  • Blind Spot Information (BSI) system
The 2020 Acura MDX earned a 5-Star overall score from the NHTSA, and is named a Top Safety Pick by IIHS.

The 2020 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, and the transmission shifts with confidence. Putting the car in Sport mode results in sharper throttle responsible and quicker accelerations. 

The Super Handling All-Wheel Drive system of the MDX does exactly what it sounds like. It handles the road conditions superbly. I didn’t experience any tire spins and slippage even in raining driving conditions. The suspension also does an admirable job of minimizing body roll in corners, while providing a comfortable ride on bumpy roads.

The 2020 MDX is rated at 12.3L/100km, 9.2L/100km, 10.9L/100km (city/highway/combined). In reality, I achieved a 13.7L/100km average figure during my one week city test drive. 

The MDX proves to be a very practical family SUV. 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. With both the 2nd and 3rd row seats folded, the MDX is able to provide a whopping 2575L of cargo space. There is also a deep underfloor compartment, and a 12V charging port in the trunk.

Inside the cabin, options for small item storage are plentiful. Under the center console armrest is a large slide-open storage bin. The glove compartment is decently sized. All 4 doors have deep pockets and small trays on the armrests. Two additional cup holders can be found in the folding armrest of the 2nd row cabin. Third-row passengers also get their own cup holders on the sides. 

Despite the aging interior, the Acura MDX remains a solid offering in the 3-row luxury SUV segment. Its handsome exterior, capable drivetrain, and the spacious interior still makes it a great SUV for larger families. The fact that it has one of the best safety ratings further cements that statement. It is no wonder the MDX continues to be one of the best selling 3-row SUVs in North America. However, Acura mustn’t be complacent. A new crop of offerings like the Hyundai Palisade and the Kia Telluride are providing better interiors and infotainment systems at much lower price points. It is time for Acura to reinvent the MDX.

Test Vehicle
2020 Acura MDX Tech
$60,080 CAD without Freight & PDI
Modern Steel Metallic


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