Although it dons the same exterior as the previous year, the 2016 Acura MDX Elite steps up its game with a new 9-speed automatic transmission. This new transmission provides seamless transitions between gears for smooth cruising and improves mileage with a gear for all occasions! I was a bit surprised that Acura didn’t just improve upon Honda’s CVT instead of creating a nine gear transmission, but thankfully the result is a success!
With plenty of power at hand for this large SUV, the 2016 Acura MDX sports a 3.5L six cylinder engine tuned for 290hp. The 9-speed transmission and the auto engine shut off both work to keep fuel consumption at a minimum with stated mileages of 12.2 L/100km in the city and 9.1 L./100km on the highway. Our 350km combined city/highway test drive fit right into range at 11.5 L/100km which is surprisingly efficient for this full size 7 seat SUV.
The 2016 Acura MDX Elite provides a smooth and quiet drive combined with state of the art handling from the Super Handling All Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) system which can divert up to 70% of the power to a specific rear wheel that has the most traction. This confidence bolstering system gives the MDX a leg up on other SUVs in wet and icy conditions. I did find however that the auto engine shut off feature made starting from a stopped position feel choppy as the engine ignition struggled to catch up to the already depressed gas pedal.
The exterior, although unchanged from the 2015 version offers a sporty design with sleek lines and curves, minimal use of chrome and nice large wheels. Subtle design cues like the hidden exhaust, sloping roofline, shark fin antenna and the futuristic five bulb headlights all add a pleasing touch to the outer design.
Stepping into the interior of the 2016 Acura MDX, passengers are surrounded by high quality materials, plush leather seating, versatility and an elegant design. The pleasing curves of the dash are enhanced by the chrome and wood grain highlights. The large dual display screens minimize the number of buttons and create a clean and straight forward look.
The 2016 Acura MDX is equipped with basically every feature that exists for a car and for the most part they are well executed. Some of my favorites which really help to enrich the driving experience are the around view camera for easy parking, push button power lift gate for easy loading and unloading, adjustable front armrest for comfortable driving, adjustable middle row seats on tracks for versatility, third row fold flat seating for additional passenger accommodations, hidden under floor storage compartment for keeping valuables out of sight and of course the heated seats and steering wheel for those colder days!
A few improvements to make things perfect would include side mirrors that automatically fold when vehicle is turned off, a skylight for the rear passengers to brighten the cabin and a better infotainment control method than the tedious knob which requires turning for some selections and clicking to the side for others. At least the touch screen provides an alternative method and also offers a vibration feedback to let you know your selection has been made. As a personal preference I would have liked to see more of the wood grain trim throughout the interior. Also, I never quite got used to the button shifting rather than using a lever.
Overall the 2016 MDX is an incredibly well thought out and executed full size SUV that is functional, versatile and comfortable. With plenty of power when needed, even with a full load of passengers and cargo and a surprisingly great fuel economy considering, the 2016 Acura MDX Elite is the perfect blend of luxury, versatility and performance.