Acura’s MDX crossover is packed with comfort, luxury, and tech features at prices significantly lower than comparable Volvo, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz models. After the 2017 model year’s design refresh and addition of a new hybrid drivetrain, there are no substantive changes to the 2018 Acura MDX. The midsize, three-row MDX is the larger of Acura’s two crossover models — the other is the RDX, which is scheduled to launch a new generation in 2019.
Acura, the luxury brand of Honda Motor Company, packs each MDX trim with luxury, comfort, and a higher-than-usual assortment of standard safety and driver-assistance tech. Choosing an MDX model is extraordinarily simple compared to other crossovers: Pick an engine and drivetrain from three possibilities, thenchoose at most two of three available option packages, and the big decisions are over. Finally, select your colors and accessories, and you’re good to go. We further break down the differences between the three MDX versions further below.
Acura MDX models have one of two V6 engines. Both motors have 24-valve, SOHC i-VTEC valvetrains with drive-by-wire throttles and 100,000 mile tune-up intervals. Each engine is also paired with a 9-speed automatic with paddle shifters, or 7-speed DCT with paddle shifters. Premium unleaded 91 octane gasoline is recommended for both engines.
The MDX FWD and AWD models’ 3.5-liter V6 pumps out 290 horsepower at 6,200 rpm and 267 pound-feet of torque at 4,700 rpm. Environmental Protection Agency fuel ratings differ with the FWD and AWD models and also depending upon the presence of Acura’s Idle Stop technology, part of the Advance option package.
A FWD MDX without Idle Stop is EPA-rated to average 19 mpg in city driving, 27 mpg on the highway, and 22 mpg combined. With Idle Stop, the ratings are 20 mpg city, 27 mpg highway, and 23 mpg combined.
AWD MDX models take a slight fuel economy hit. Without Idle Stop, the AWD MDX rating average is 18 mpg city, 26 mpg highway, and 21 mpg combined. With Idle Stop, the average is 16 mpg city, 26 mpg on the highway, and 22 mpg combined.
The MDX Sport Hybrid combines a 3.0-liter V6 making 257 hp at 6,300 rpm and 218 lb-ft of torque at 5,000 rpm with three electric motors powered by lithium-ion batteries. The front engine electric motor generates the equivalent of 47 hp at 3,000 rpm and 109 lb-ft of torque at 500 to 2,000 rpm. Dual rear electric motors are each good for 36 hp at 4,000 RPM and 54 lb-ft of torque at 0 to 2,000 rpm. The combined system is rated at 321 horsepower and 289 lb-ft of torque.
The EPA rating for the MDX Sport Hybrid is 26 mpg city, 27 mpg highway, and 27 mpg combined. Sport Hybrid MDX’s don’t have an Idle Stop option.
All 2018 MDX models have collision-mitigation braking, lane-keeping assistance, and adaptive cruise control with low speed follow. Low speed follow maintains a desired distance from the vehicle in front at speeds under the set speed. Rearview cameras and automatic high-beam headlamp adjustment are also standard.
Two option packages add assistance features among other upgrades. The Technology Package includes blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alerts and rain-sensing front windshield wipers. The Advance Package, which is a superset of the Technology Package, adds front and rear parking sensors and a surround-view camera system.
The MDX Sport Hybrid model is available only with either the Technology Package or the Advance Package. The table below of standard and optional safety features for each MDX configuration reflects those in the Technology Package for the hybrid.
|Passive safety/driver assist features||2018 MDX FWD||2018 MDX SH-AWD||2018 MDX Sport Hybrid|
|Rearview camera with backup assist gridlines||Standard||Standard||Standard|
|Blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert||Optional||Optional||Standard|
|Adaptive cruise control with low speed follow||Standard||Standard||Standard|
|Auto high-beam headlamp||Standard||Standard||Standard|
|Lane-keeping assist, lane-keeping alert||Standard||Standard||Standard|
|Rain-sensing front wipers||Optional||Optional||Standard|
|Parking assistance front and rear||Optional||Optional||Optional|
|Collision mitigation braking||Standard||Standard||Standard|
The MDX standard feature set is deep and wide. All versions have antilock braking systems with electronic brake distribution, emergency brake assist, and hill start assist. High-performance tires on 18-inch wheels are standard for MDX FWD and AWD models without option packages. Otherwise, the crossovers ride on 20-inch wheels.
Every MDX has LED headlights and taillights, power moonroofs, power tailgates, leather seats with power-adjustable and heated front seats, keyless entry with push-button start, tri-zone automatic climate control, four USB ports and three 12-volt power outlets, and active sound control.
The standard infotainment setup with an 8-inch color display includes the Acura Premium Audio System with eight speakers, a CD/MP3/WMA compatible disc player, Bluetooth streaming audio support, and SiriusXM Satellite Radio with advanced features. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support are both new for 2018. Other features include a compass, Homelink transmitter, a maintenance reminder system, and a multi-information display.
MDX handling tech for all models includes road departure mitigation, vehicle stability assistant with traction control and motion adaptive steering, and trailer stability assistance (for the AWD gas model only).
MDX option packages
Rather than offer a bewildering array of feature upgrades and options, Acura has three option packages: Technology, Advance, and Entertainment.
The Technology Package, a $4,400 option, bundles integrated navigation, HD Radio, and voice recognition for navigation, audio, climate control, and Bluetooth hands-free operation. The package also includes remote engine start, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alerts, 20-inch wheels, rain-sensing wipers, and power folding side mirrors with puddle lights.
Adding to or replacing features in the Technology Package, the $10,400 Advance Package bumps up comfort, convenience, and safety with perforated Milano leather seating and trim with contrast stitching and piping, natural wood trim, and second-row captain’s chairs with a center console (no console if you also order the Entertainment package).
Other Advance Package features include a heated steering wheel, surround-view camera system, LED fog lights, the Idle Stop system that saves a bit of gas, heated and ventilated rear seats, auto-dimming side mirrors, and front and rear parking sensors.
You can’t order an MDX with both the Technology and Advance Packages for the same car because the Advance Package is a superset that encompasses the less expensive option.
You cannot order the $2,000 Entertainment Package without ordering either the Technology Package or the Advance Package, and the exact features differ depending on the other package included. The Entertainment bundle includes a DVD rear entertainment system with a 9-inch 800×600 full VGA screen (a 16.2-inch screen with the Advance Package). Also on the list are seven-passenger seating with second-row heated outboard seats, two wireless headphone sets, and second-row sunshades.
2018 MDX trim levels
With the MDX’s wide range of standard features and shared option packages, there’s little difference between the two gasoline power-only models other than front-wheel drive on the MDX FWD and the MDX SH-AWD’s all-wheel drive. Acura differentiates the Sport Hybrid trim bit more than the other two, but not by much.
So, other than colors and accessories, choosing a 2018 Acura MDX trim starts with the engine. If you want the hybrid model, then you also get AWD. If you are fine with the gas-only engine, decide on FWD or AWD. Pick one or two of the available option packages, and that’s it. The MDX FWD starts at $44,200, and the SH-AWD starts at $46,200. Two grand gets you better traction with a 1-mpg penalty.
The MDX Sport Hybrid starts at $51,960 with the Technology Package. You cannot buy the Sport Hybrid without the Technology Package or the Advance Package. Also, the Entertainment Package is not available with the Sport Hybrid trim.
And that’s it. The least expensive trim starting price is the MFX FWD with no option package for $44,200. The most expensive model is the MDX Sport Hybrid for $58,000 with the Advance Package.
|Trim||2018 MDX FWD||2018 MDX SH-AWD||2018 MDX Sport Hybrid|
|Base price 4×2||$44,200||Not applicable||Not applicable|
|Base price 4×4||Not applicable||$46,200||$51,960 (includes Technology Package)|
|Base engine||3.5-liter V6||3.5-liter V6||3.0-liter V6 plus 3 electric motors|
|Base horsepower||290 hp @ 6,200 RPM||290 hp @ 6,200 RPM||321 hp|
|Base torque||257 lb-ft @ 4,700 RPM||257 lb-ft @ 4,700 RPM||289 lb-ft|
|Transmission||9-speed shiftable automatic||9-speed shiftable automatic||7-speed DCT|
|Fuel||Premium unleaded 91 octane||Premium unleaded 91 octane||Premium unleaded 91 octane|
|Fuel capacity||19.5 gallons||19.5 gallons||19.4 gallons|
|Fuel economy without Idle Stop||19 city/27 highway/22 combined||18 city/26 highway/21 combined||26 city/27 highway/27 combined|
|Fuel economy with Idle Stop||20 city/27 highway/23 combined||16 city/26 highway/22 combined||Not applicable|
|Body style||4-door SUV||4-door SUV||4-door SUV|
|Storage behind 3rd-row seats||14.9 cu ft||14.9 cu ft||14.9 cu ft|
|Storage behind 2nd-row seats||38.4 cu ft||38.4 cu ft||38.4 cu ft|
|Storage behind 1st-row seats||68.4 cu ft||68.4 cu ft||68.4 cu ft|
|Max Towing capacity 4×2||3,500 pounds||Not applicable||Not applicable|
|Max Towing capacity 4×4||Not applicable||5,000 pounds||Towing not recommended|
|Seat upholstery||Leather||Leather||Perforated Leather|
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