• Larry Weitzman

Review: Acura MDX A-Spec

2019 Acura MDX A-Spec, Still Best in Class, but now with competition

Words and Pictures by Larry Weitzman


This is my third go around with the third generation MDX and not much has changed except for

the addition of the A-Spec model which essentially is an appearance upgrade for the SH-AWD (Super

Handling, All Wheel Drive) for the MDX. These upgrades include bigger exhaust tips (which are too short

as you can see, they are add-ons), some trim pieces done in a black chrome and two actual handling

upgrades, bigger wheels and tires. The A-Spec gets 20X8.5 inch special “Shark Gray” alloys shod with

higher performance, huge 265/45X20 inch tires instead of either 18X8 or 20X8 inch wheels shod with

245/60 or 245/50 series rubber. Ok, enough with tires.

Acura became Honda’s luxury brand in 1986 in stand-alone stores and is still going strong after

34 years. But Honda is an enduring product going back to 1958 in which Soichiro Honda introduced the

World to the Honda Cub, a small motor scooter, that is still in production today in its basic, original form

some 60 years later and is the World’s most produced model of motor vehicle surpassing the 100 million

mark over three years ago.

MDX is a large midsize SUV at 196 inches long on a 111-inch wheelbase. And it is beamy at 78

inches. That allows for a huge track of 66 inches. Its lines are edgy, but it still has too big emblem smack

dab in the middle of its Acura signature five-sided grille. Overall, the best design feature is the Acura’s

LED head lights which turn night into day. Its window line is decent, but overall while it has some edgy

lines, it looks a bit bulbous. But don’t let that dissuade you from the MDX as everything else about the

MDX makes it a best in-class vehicle, i.e. performance, handling, ride, safety, features, interior and bang

for the buck put it at the top of the mid-size luxo class under $60,000 (these A-Spec stickers for under

$55K).

Under that wide hood resides an Acura/Honda 3.5L SOHC 24 Valve, directed injected, normally

aspirated V-6 that belts out 290 of the biggest horses the Road Beat has ever encountered at 6,200 rpm.

Torque falls into line for this size V-6 at 267 pounds of twist at 4,700 rpm. It sends that power to all four

wheels all the time (with a computer system sorting out how much torque to each wheel) via a nine-

speed torque converter auto cog-swapper. The whole unit is mounted sideways in the engine bay.

But here is where it gets interesting. MDX can run 0-60 mph in a scant 5.74 seconds. Backing

that world class performance up are 50-70 mph simulated passing runs of 2.84 and 3.82 seconds

respectively with the later run being up a 6-7 percent grade. Mind you MDX is no light weight, tipping

the scales at 4,275 pounds and it still posted world class numbers. In comparison to another AWD

midsize CUV that has a 291 hp V-6 with an eight-speed tranny and carries about 4,300 pounds, the MDX

simply smokes it as the other 291 hp CUV posted numbers of 6.97/3.49/5.30 seconds.

While the other CUV had still very good, responsive performance, it doesn’t compare to the MDX. It is not the tranny difference. What it appears to be are the size of the horses, one being average ranch horse and the MDX using Hanoverians. In reality the MDX’s 290 hp feels more like 340 hp. However, that other CUV, an

entirely new entry into the large midsize CUV market is the equal overall (on balance) to the Acura at a

lesser price. It’s named after the cliffs bordering the Pacific Ocean known as Pacific Palisades or maybe

the amusement park in New Jersey made famous by the Freddy Cannon song, Palisades Park. It’s twin

brother, named after a famous Colorado ski resort also equals the MDX on balance at a lesser price.

Fuel economy is about what I expected with an EPS rating of 19/25/21 mpg

city/highway/combined. Economy was virtually identical with my last test two years ago with a 70-mph

level highway two way run of 26.4 mpg. Overall, in 400 miles of driving the MDX averaged 22.4 mpg.

Those numbers are essentially identical to my prior MDX mpg numbers. Incidentally, that other CUVs

mentioned in my performance comparison, had mpg numbers of 2-4 mpg better than the MDX.

With bigger tires and wider wheels handling is even more sports sedan like. A-Spec has superbly

weighted steering, phenomenal grip and superb roll control, making it one of the best handling CUVs on

the planet and tops in its class. All components are state of the art. Turning circle is a reasonably tight

38.7 feet.

Ride quality actually felt smoother and quieter for what was already an extremely smooth and

quiet vehicle. Although on the quiet side, the V-6 has some nice exhaust tuning almost imitating a V-8

and never becoming obtrusive., There is no wind, road or tire noise.

Safety is all-in, down to the lane keep assist function. Four-wheel discs are strong and as

mentioned before, the auto dimming headlights are fab. Getting up to speed on its use did take a couple

of days.

A-Specs also get a beautiful and sublimely comfortable Alcantara interior is done in a dark

charcoal suede center bounded by red leather trim. Real luxury, real comfort. Instrumentation is

complete with a big speedo and tach flanking the sophisticated info/trip computer. As with all Acura’s,

materials are of superb quality. The center stack gets two screens, one for NAV and the other for the

sound systems and climate. There are no mice to complicate its use, but getting up to speed did take a

couple of days.

Cargo capacity is about average, but fuel capacity is large at 19.5 gallons.

MDX starts for an FWD unit at $45,395 including the delivery ($995) from its East Liberty, Ohio

assembly plant. AWD adds $2,000 to the price plus about an mpg. The A-Spec will add $8,500 to that

number but it comes with oodles of additions, but it will perform, ride and handle essentially identically.

That number for the A-Spec is $55,895. My tester had a $400 premium paint package bringing the total

price of admission to $56,295. In its class, Acura is still one of the two best. I’m just not a lover of its

looks.




Specifications

Price: S44,050 (MDX FWD) to $58,500 plus $975 for the boat

Engine: 3.5L SOHC, 24 valve, direct injected V-6 290 hp@ 6,200 rpm

267 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4,700 rpm


Transmission: Nine-Speed torque converter automatic


Configuration: Transverse mounted front engine/FWD/AWD

Dimensions:

Wheelbase 111.0 inches

Length 196.2 inches

Width 77.2 inches

Height 67.4 inches

Ground clearance 7.3 inches

Track 66.3 inches

Weight 4,275 pounds

Weight Distribution (f/r) 57/43 percent

Fuel capacity 19.5 gallons

Passenger volume 132.7 cubic feet

Cargo volume behind third row seat 15.0 cubic feet

Wheels 20X8.5-inch alloys

Tires 265/45X20

Turning circle 38.7 feet


Performance

0-60 mph 5.74 seconds

50-70 mph 2.84 seconds

50-70 mph uphill (6-7 percent) 3.82 seconds

Top Speed Probably way too fast for me.

Fuel economy EPA rated at 19/25/21 mpg city/highway/combined. Expect 22-23 mpg in rural country,

suburban driving. 27 mpg on the highway at legal speeds.

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