Weidel on Wheels: MDX lives up to luxury crossover tag

Acura sport utility offers good handling, performance and comfort
By: Jeffrey Weidel
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Late winter reminders were everywhere on a weekend ski trip to Lake Tahoe: mountains painted white with snow, roads that were beaten up by harsh weather, signs of animals starting to come out of hiding, and people shedding clothing on two very sun-drenched ski days. Prepared for any weather change, but with only a hint of snow late one evening, I traveled pleasantly into the Lake Tahoe region and back thanks in part to the all-around road capability of the 2010 Acura MDX. Now in its fourth year of production by Honda’s luxury division, the all-wheel drive MDX is one of many mid-size luxury crossover sport utility vehicles that can make any drive more appealing. It provides what practically all drivers are seeking — performance, handling, convenience and comfort. The sales dilemma facing the MDX and the whole crowd in this category is contending with each other. In driving many of them over the past several years, a true favorite doesn’t immediately come to mind. The MDX has plenty of company in the Infiniti FX35, BMW X5, Buick Enclave, Porsche Cayenne, Mazda CX-9 and the Lexus RX 350, which was the forerunner in this highly competitive class. Not residing on its laurels, the MDX has a modest redesign for 2010. What some people may notice first is the adaptation of a grille that some industry folks are calling a “corporate grille” because of its commonality to other Acura models. This year’s MDX, which has three rows of seating and can accommodate seven passengers, has abandoned the standard five-speed automatic transmission and moved to a six-speed. The change provides a modest increase in both power and fuel economy, which now ranges between 16 to 21 miles per gallon. Step inside the interior and one notices a cabin that’s been attractively revamped and features a new steering wheel with paddle shifters that are standard, plus many new gauges. The optional navigational system is now more high tech and a multi-angle back-up camera is available as well. The MDX can make sure all seven passengers are feeling the love in the heat/cool department, thanks to climate controls for all three rows. The comfort doesn’t stop there. The first two rows provide an abundance of comfort and even the third row is fine for an adult on a short trip, which is typically not the case. The dash has its share of buttons, but they honestly don’t take that long to master. One safety item worth mentioning is the collision mitigating braking system. Once the driver gets accustomed to the visual warnings, it’s a wonderful tool to avoid any approaching cars that happen to get into the dreaded blind spot. And if that oncoming vehicle is still not detected, the system automatically brakes quickly to help avoid a potential accident. __________ 2010 Acura MDX Price: $42,320 Mileage estimate: 16 mpg city; 21 mpg highway Power: 3.7-liter, V-6 engine with 300 horsepower Standard features include: Heated front seats; paddle shifters; anti-lock disc brakes with brake assist; stability control with a stabilizing feature for trailer towing; collision mitigating braking system; power liftgate; sunroof; tri-zone automatic climate control; eight-way power front seats; 50/50-split-folding third-row seat; leather upholstery; eight-speaker stereo with in-dash six-CD changer, satellite radio