The field of luxury 3-row SUVs is surprisingly deep, without a single standout shaming the pack. But the Acura MDX might be the most surprising vehicle in the segment.
Sure, it’s high-tech. Sure, it’s comfortable. And sure, it’s fun to drive. But you expect those things from a luxury vehicle. What you don’t expect is such an approachable price. The MDX starts at $49,550. Last month, the average new car in America sold for a little over $48,000.
The MDX is an athletic and attractive luxury vehicle with three rows of seating for little more than the price of the average new car. That’s stunning.
The MDX isn’t all-new for 2023, but it might as well be. It was redesigned from the wheels up for the 2022 model year, so it needed just a few modest tweaks to keep it among the freshest options in its class.
Acura builds the MDX with a 3.5-liter V6 making 290 horsepower or a turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 making 355. Power goes through a 10-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive is standard, with Acura’s excellent Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) system available as well.
Let’s take a look inside the 2023 MDX:
Passenger Room and Comfort
Climb into the MDX, and you’ll first notice the spaciousness. Our test driver wrote, “The appeal is broad, the talent is deep, and the cabin is wide.”
Headroom and legroom measurements are typical for the class. You get more front- and third-row headroom than in a Lexus GX and more first- and second-row legroom than in a BMX X5.
But the shoulder and hip room measurements lead the class. That has a psychological effect — you feel like you can spread out in the MDX. It’s nice.
Our test driver found the driver’s seat “wonderfully comfortable and supportive.” Most trim levels get 12-way power seats with power lumbar support. Advance models, the top trim level, get 16-way adjustable seats with thigh extensions and side bolsters.
Every trim level gets heated front seats; on most, they’re ventilated, too. Even the rear outboard positions in the second row get seat heaters in the MDX Advance.
Third-row accommodations are tight for adults, but that’s to be expected with midsize SUVs. But the third row in the MDX is usable — the second row’s middle seat is removable, making it easier to access the back.
Features and Tech
The latest design trend in luxury cars is absolute minimalism. The MDX, thankfully, has rejected the idea.
Some competitors place everything from stereo settings to seat positions behind touchscreen menus. This makes simple adjustments a complex process. The MDX, however, is full of old-school buttons and switches. It’s wonderful. You don’t have to look away from the road to change the temperature.
Speaking of temperature, every trim level gets 3-zone automatic climate control. For many trim levels, it’s GPS-linked, adjusting for the sun’s angle.
That doesn’t mean it’s lacking in technology. Instead, it’s full of thoughtfully integrated technology. The driver gets a 12.3-inch digital display they can configure to show the information they prefer, and on Advance models, a head-up display projects turn-by-turn directions directly into their line of sight.
A 12.3-inch central display, still controlled with a touchpad on the center console, is a bit wonky. But Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard, as is Amazon’s Alexa Built-in. So you can accomplish many tasks with voice commands and steering wheel-mounted controls.
Acura cares about the audio experience in its cars. Buyers can choose from 9, 12, 16, or 25 speakers depending on trim level. Those last three come courtesy of Elliot Scheiner, a Grammy award-winning studio engineer, who tuned the systems to sound right from every seating position.
But the MDX doesn’t just have big technologies. Thoughtful small touches abound, like available charging ports for all three rows.
Our favorite technology, though, might be the Walk Away Close system. If you walk away from the open tailgate with the key, it’ll close itself. It’s great for those of us who have to get all the groceries in one go.
Materials and Design
Acura designers did a nice job updating the MDX’s cabin with the best new and old ideas. The central screen is placed high, so the driver can check it without looking down from the roadway. But plenty of functions get real buttons and dials — a safety feature in 2023.
Most luxury automakers have moved away from leather in base model cars in favor of simulated stuff that wears well over time but, sometimes, doesn’t feel like the real thing. Only the base model of the MDX has it, though. Every other trim level gets the real thing and is perforated for breathability.
The company also lets you get creative with it. Leather color choices include the usual black but also Azurite Blue, sharp red, and Orchid, a lovely white shade that emphasizes the spaciousness mentioned above.
Cargo Room and Flexibility
The MDX has one of the largest cargo capacities in its class. Behind the third-row seats, you get 18.1 cubic feet of space. Behind the second row, 48.4. You’ll find a cavernous 95 cubic feet with all seats folded flat.
It’s a flexible space, too. Underfloor storage cubbies hide items you don’t want to take out of the car. The cargo lid can be reversed — plastic side up for easy cleaning when hauling home plants from the garden center, carpet side up the rest of the time.
Build and price your version of the 2023 Acura MDX to see this week’s Kelley Blue Book Fair Purchase Price, 5-Year Cost to Own, and more, or check out Acura MDX models for sale near you.