The 2020 Acura MDX may be one of the most reliable, most luxurious and most well-rounded mid-size luxury SUVs ever built. This 3-row premium crossover has a well-earned reputation for low maintenance costs and high resale values. In between these two points resides an excellent value, with a price that undercuts almost all its European and Japanese competition. The MDX provides plenty of interior room, a comfortable ride and excellent driving dynamics. Attractive styling and competitive pricing only add to the MDX’s allure, as does its standard set of driver-safety-assist systems. Alongside the standard gasoline version is the MDX Sport Hybrid, a gas/electric motor powered hybrid offering superior traction and fuel economy (reviewed separately).
What’s New for 2020?
The 2020 Acura MDX carries over with no changes of note. See the 2020 Acura MDX models for sale near you
What We Like
- Exterior design refinements add modern sharpness
- Available second-row captain’s chairs add an executive flair and make third-row access simple
- Standard level of technology is comprehensive and can be pushed even further with Technology and Advance packages
What We Don’t
- Despite improvements to its exterior, the MDX can still get lost in a crowd of similar crossovers
- Only one powertrain choice
- Smallish third-row seat
- While better, the infotainment setup still needs work
Non-hybrid MDX models come with the same 3.5-liter direct gasoline injection engine rated at 290 horsepower and 267 lb-ft of torque. A 9-speed automatic transmission is standard. Front-wheel-drive (FWD) models are rated to achieve 20 miles per gallon in the city, 27 mpg on the highway and 23 mpg in combined driving. Selecting available Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) ($2,000 extra) results in fuel economy figures of 19 mpg city/26 mpg hwy/22 mpg combined.
Power for the MDX Sport Hybrid is provided by a 3.0-liter V6 engine and a 3-motor electric hybrid system that make a combined 321 horsepower and 289 lb-ft of torque. The 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission has a built-in 47-hp electric motor, with two additional 36-hp motors located in the rear inboard-mounted Twin Motor Unit (for a combined output of 72 hp). The MDX Sport Hybrid is fitted with idle stop/start technology that shuts down the gasoline engine when the vehicle comes to a stop. The SH-AWD is standard, and the fuel economy is an impressive 26 miles per gallon in the city and 27 mpg on the highway, with a combined 27 mpg rating.
Standard Features & Options
There is just one trim level of the MDX but two powerplants — four options packages can be added to the non-hybrid MDX and two for the sport hybrid.
The base MDX ($45,395, FWD; $47,395, SH-AWD) includes a 3.5-liter V6 with 9-speed automatic transmission, full LED lighting, acoustic windshield and front side-windows, roof rails, a moonroof, a Smart Entry Keyless Access System with front door and rear tailgate access, a "diamond pentagon" front grille, 18-in aluminum-alloy wheels, three rows of seating, a 50/50-split third row, a 60/40-split second row with One-Touch Walk-In and Extended Slide, a dual-screen center stack, leather seating surfaces, power windows and door locks, an autodimming rearview mirror, a multiview rearview camera, push-button start/stop, tri-zone automatic climate control, hill-start assist, heated power front bucket seats (10-way driver/8-way passenger) with 4-way power lumbar support, cruise control, an electronic tilt-and-telescopic steering column, Idle Stop, AcuraLink with Aha mobile interface, Bluetooth, Pandora and SMS text interfaces, Siri Eyes Free, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a 7-in On Demand Multi-Use Display (ODMD 2.0), an Acura 8-speaker audio system with 432-watt amplifier, a single-disc CD player and an AM/FM/SiriusXM radio.
The Technology package ($5,000) includes GPS-linked climate control, 20-in aluminum-alloy wheels, rain-sensing windshield wipers, power-folding side mirrors with LED puddle lights, remote engine start, an Acura Navigation System with an 8-in color display, a color multi-information display with turn-by-turn guidance, rear-door Smart Key entry, a blind spot monitoring system with rear cross-traffic alert, an Acura/ELS Studio Premium Audio System with 10 speakers, HD Radio and Song By Voice, a voice recognition system for navigation, audio, climate control and Bluetooth and email compatibility.
The Advance package ($6,750; requires Technology package) adds perforated leather with contrast stitching and piping, heated and ventilated front seats, second-row heated captain’s chairs, a second-row center console, natural wood accents, a heated steering wheel, second-row manual sunshades, two third-row USB charge ports, LED fog lights, autodimming side mirrors, front and rear parking sensors and a surround-view camera.
The Entertainment package ($2,000; requires either Technology or Advance package) includes second-row bench seating (captain’s chairs with Technology package), a 9-in VGA screen and 11 speakers (with Technology package), a 16.2-in VGA screen and a 12th speaker (with Advance package), two wireless headphones, removable ceiling-mounted remote control.
The A-Spec package ($3,500; requires Technology package) adds a unique sculpted front end, Dark Jewel integrated LED headlights and fog lights, wider 20-in wheels in Shark Grey, Alcantara-trimmed sport seats, an A-Spec-specific steering wheel and interior embellishments, a black headliner, heated and ventilated front seats and SH-AWD.
The MDX Sport Hybrid with Technology Package ($53,895) includes the 3-motor hybrid system, SH-AWD, AcuraWatch (collision-mitigation braking, lane-keeping assist, road-departure mitigation and adaptive cruise control), the Active Damper System, full LED lighting, an acoustic windshield and front side windows, a power moonroof, Smart Entry Keyless Access, 50/50-split third-row seating, second-row 60/40-split-bench seating with One-Touch Walk-In and Extended Slide, leather seating surfaces, a multiview rearview camera, push-button start/stop, tri-zone automatic climate control, hill-start assist, 10-way heated power front seats, adaptive cruise control, a power tilt-and-telescopic steering column, GPS-linked climate control, 20-in aluminum-alloy wheels, rain-sensing windshield wipers, power-folding side mirrors with LED puddle lights, remote engine start, the Acura Navigation System with an 8-in color display, a blind spot monitoring system with rear cross-traffic alert, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and the Acura/ELS Studio Premium Audio System with 10 speakers.
The MDX Sport Hybrid with Advance Package ($60,645) adds perforated leather with contrast stitching and piping, heated and ventilated front seats, second-row heated captain’s chairs, a second-row center console, a heated steering wheel, second-row manual sunshades, two third-row USB charge ports, LED fog lights, auto-dimming side mirrors, front and rear parking sensors and a surround-view camera.
Each MDX comes equipped with the AcuraWatch suite of safety features, which includes lane-keeping assist, collision-mitigation braking, adaptive cruise control and road-departure mitigation. The MDX also gets vehicle stability control, antilock brakes with brake assist, LATCH connections, tire pressure monitoring and seven airbags. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gives the MDX a 5-star overall rating, and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) rated the model Good in all categories and Superior in the crash avoidance and mitigation tests. IIHS also named the MDX a Top Safety Pick.
Behind the Wheel
With a curb weight of just over two tons (4,001 pounds), the MDX is a big vehicle, but it’s still the lightest in its class thanks to the extensive use of aluminum, magnesium and high-strength steel in its structure. It handles well through the curves but shines in a straight line, where it floats along the road in serene silence and smoothness. Both driver and passenger accommodations are comfortable, well-padded and roomy. The MDX’s engine does a good job of propelling the crossover down the road, and revision last year to the 9-speed automatic transmission have banished its tendency for eager upshifting into the next gear and what was a sometimes notchy feel. A quick drive down the block will have you in fifth gear before you know it, and when you ask for more acceleration to merge with traffic, the transmission does so quickly.
Compared to the non-hybrid MDX, the 2020 MDX Sport Hybrid does deliver a more exciting ride. The extra power can be felt both off the line and when performing rapid passing maneuvers. The Sport Hybrid’s Active Damping suspension is also more responsive, something we noticed as we breezed through sharp curves at a significantly higher speed than the posted limit, while feeling that we could actually go even faster.
Of course, this being Acura, maker of the NSX, the hybrid system isn’t simply a way to achieve better fuel economy. No, this system employs three electric motors. One is built into the 7-speed dual-clutch transmission and assists in launching the car from dead stops, also working to recapture energy during braking and deceleration. The other motors are neatly tucked away at the rear wheels, delivering added torque, which in combination with Acura’s electronic torque vectoring AWD setup improves cornering and stability. All this electronic wizardry is linked together via Acura’s Integrated Dynamic System, which includes settings for Comfort, Normal, Sport and — unique to the hybrid — Sport+.
So with all of this sporty goodness, you’re probably wondering if the hybrid version sacrifices ride comfort in the name of performance. With so many other luxury brands, we’ve seen it happen, but thankfully that’s not the case with the MDX Sport Hybrid. The ride is smooth and controlled, the soft leather seats are remarkably comfortable on long drives and the interior layout is both intuitive and elegant. The MDX Sport Hybrid’s ride is smooth and controlled, unflappable in the face of massive potholes and jagged pavement. The roomy interior can accommodate adults in the 6-foot range, but the third-row seat is accommodating only to children. Space behind the third-row seat is good, and folding both rows creates a level floor.
Other Cars to Consider
2020 GMC Acadia Denali — GM’s 3-row crossover offers slightly more horsepower and a few more features in a slightly smaller and nimbler package.
2020 Lexus GX — The GX offers a more rugged design with real off-road capabilities, a more powerful engine and a higher tow rating, but worse fuel economy and handling.
MDX loyalists will not be disappointed in the latest tweak to their favorite 3-row luxury crossover. We’re not sure if it will win over any converts from other brands, but the 2020 Acura MDX with the Technology package is the one to look for. It offers the most desirable features, like navigation, blind spot monitoring and premium audio, without the expensive high-end features that come with the Advance package. Whichever MDX you select, you’ll get a well-sorted, luxurious and roomy crossover that’s ready for a road trip. Find an Acura MDX for sale