The Acura MDX is a mid-sized luxury crossover-SUV that’s best known for taking the boredom out of the everyday three-row family hauler. Far more than just a luxury upfit for the Honda Pilot, with its Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) and the new well-outfitted A-Spec package, the MDX is one fun drive.
The 2019 Acura MDX A-Spec package slots above the Technology package trim, which comes with 20-inch wheels, remote engine start, navigation, 10-speaker premium audio system, auto wipers, and a host of other luxury and convenience items. The A-Spec adds to that with wider wheels and tires for better traction and handling, blacked-out exterior trim, a thicker steering wheel for a more robust drive feel, and ventilated front seats.
This takes the 3.5-liter V6 (290 horsepower and 267 pound-feet) and its nine-speed automatic transmission into new realms of performance. The engine and transmission remain the same, but the added stability of the bigger tires and the fast-paced feel of the upgraded packaging for the MDX A-Spec mean that the crossover just feels better on the road.
We were also surprised at the way the sport suspension in the 2019 Acura MDX does with the larger wheels. Normally, bigger wheels mean more noise in the cabin and a harsher ride. With the A-Spec, though, the wider tires added more air to the cushion and the chassis absorbs the added bumps of the larger wheels very well. Making for a smooth ride. Smooth, but sporty and dynamic we noted.
Key to the handling characteristics of the Acura MDX A-Spec is the inclusion of the SH-AWD system. Without it, we doubt that the big crossover-SUV would have the same kind of dynamic appeal in the corners or confident power-to-the-pavement felt when the gas pedal is pressed. It takes about 7 seconds for the MDX to reach 60 mph from a standstill, but the timing feels faster than that thanks to the muscular way the engine pushes power into the transmission and that transmission’s quick shifts.
It’s easy to forget just how big, roomy, and bulky the 2019 Acura MDX is when you’re driving it. Especially if you have customized the drive dynamic (via driving modes) and the steering feel (via separate steering mode settings). Putting the big SUV into Comfort mode for the highway, for example, while leaving the steering on Sport means that the MDX absorbs the road and stays quiet most of the time during the drive, but still has the dynamic feedback and energetic steering of a smaller sport ride.
But in most driving situations, the simple way the 2019 MDX handles itself will be seamless and largely unnoticed. It’s when sporty driving, harsh weather, or unusual road conditions (i.e. dirt instead of pavement) are under tire that the MDX A-Spec and its SH-AWD system really shine. The torque vectoring between axles and tires is exceedingly well done in the big MDX, on par with the excellent (and smaller) RDX. Vehicle dynamics do come into play, of course, with the bulkier MDX requiring more work to finesse in tough situations, but it proved itself a very balanced and astute drive.
With seating for up to 7, comfortable seating and excellent sound control in the cabin, plus a fun driving appeal, the 2019 Acura MDX A-Spec is definitely a top choice in the luxury three-row crossover arena. The big MDX offers a great mix of utility and dynamism that we’ve fallen in love with.