The 2019 Acura MDX A-Spec pulls off a moderately aggressive look and manages to visually convey movement while at a standstill. The unique blacked out lower front fascia, sloping roofline and body-coloured rocker panels lend it a ‘ready to go’ appearance.
It rests atop 20-inch grey wheels and lower profile tires that look capable of putting down significant power while under liberal throttle. The twin metallic exhaust tips sit slightly outboard of the tailgate and appear ready to sing the song of Acura’s venerable 3.5-litre, 290 horsepower V6 engine with gusto.
Seats with Alcantara inserts provide excellent lateral support, good lumbar bolstering and noticeably long upper leg support, all of which enhance driver comfort. Middle row seating is plush and passengers will enjoy plenty of legroom. Third row seating is functional for two people over shorter distances. Driver and passenger outward visibility is just fine from both front and mid row seats.
The Acura has power to cruise and pass at speed and is easily capable of both. Uneven surfaces that might elicit preemptive clenching from drivers in other cars are reduced to gentle rolls and subtle bumps. Overall, the MDX provides a pliant and supple ride over all but the most horribly maintained roads.
Comfort has not been gained at the expense of steering response, which remains fairly crisp and sends acceptable levels of feedback, even if it is somewhat muted, through the padded and contoured steering wheel. Road and wind noise are nominal, driving time passes quickly and it seems as though cruising could be done almost indefinitely.
This is a time-tested, comfortable and good looking crossover. But the MDX A-Spec possesses a few odd design and performance characteristics that I can’t ignore.
The infotainment system is divided between two screens mounted in the centre stack. The MDX still manages to do in two screens that which is easily accomplished elsewhere on a single display and navigating these screens and associated functionality is not intuitive. More patient drivers will likely make use (and sense) of the displays but will note that other marques in this category offer superior driver interfaces. This design needs a refresh.
Although the transmission in the MDX is push button actuated and lends an open feeling to the cockpit, it is very slow to engage. Executing multi-point parking maneuvers requires patience and a degree of trust in a unit that exhibits significant lag whilst changing direction. There is a pronounced pause once I’ve released the brake and before momentum shifts from forward to reverse, or vice-versa.
More than once I’ve put the car into reverse, looked over my shoulder and depressed the accelerator multiple times before the car will move backward. This is slightly annoying in open parking lots and downright disconcerting in enclosed garages where I have the impression that the car may roll into a post, a wall, or another car.
The MDX A-Spec is by appearance a machine spoiling for a punchy drive, but dropping the metal go pedal to the carpet isn’t nearly as satisfying as I’d like. Off the line, torque is somewhat delayed and has me wondering again about a disconnect between engine and transmission. Aggressive acceleration from any speed fills the cabin with bleating (not growling) engine noises. The paddle shifters do allow gears to be held through the rev range but I find them slow to upshift.
I’d suggest that you take a good look at this Acura if you’re looking for an attractive and comfortable upscale crossover for sedate daily driving. It won’t jump off the line in a hurry, but it will take you wherever you’d like with relative ease. But when you get there, exercise caution when parking.
2019 Acura MDX A-Spec
Base Price: $54,390
As Tested: $60,490
Drivetrain: 3.5-litre V6, 290 horsepower, 9-speed automatic transmission.
Performance: 11.4 litres per 100 km in mixed city and highway driving.
VVUZZ Recommended: A comfortable and quiet ride that looks fast, but is looking for a refresh.
Images courtesy of the author.