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Acura MDX

2016 Acura MDX

Base Price: $42,865
Price as Tested: $57,080

Faced with the over-under dual display screens in the Acura MDX dash’s center when slipping behind the wheel, there’s no denying that you are probably awash in technology – whether you want to be or not.

Acura is showcasing a number of tech bits with the 2016 MDX. At the top of the list is AcuraWatch Plus that adds about $1,5002016 Acura MDX to MDX’s $42,865 entry-level base price. This groups a number of safety technologies – a couple new to MDX for 2016 – into one big package. Included are Lane Departure Warning with Lane Keeping Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control with Low-Speed Follow, Road Departure Mitigation, Forward Collision Warning (More expensive grades include automatic braking), Blind Spot Warning, Rear Cross Traffic Monitor and Multi-View Rear Camera. You can pick up lane-departure warning, blind-spot monitoring and forward collision warning without the automatic braking by simply spending another $4,425 for the next model up the grade ladder: MDX Technology.

Because of Acura’s (and parent company Honda’s, for that matter) pricing strategy, listing versions with various option packages as distinct and separate trim levels, there are very limited factory options among, what are in essence, 16 different grades of MDX when you toss all-wheel drive into the mix. Apparently Honda and Acura marketers are convinced it simplifies the buying process. I remain skeptical.

My test Acura was the $57,080 top-of-the-line MDX AWD with Advance and Entertainment packages.

In the cage-match free-for-all that the luxury seven-passenger crossover arena has become, the MDX stands tough against competition that includes BMW X5, Infiniti Q60 and the completely redesigned Volvo XC90, among a hoard of others. Checking all the boxes, MDX offers engaging styling, a nicely crafted interior, loads of technology, lots of standard convenience equipment, and a relatively fuel-efficient and satisfying-to-drive V6.

2016 Acura MDXAlthough Acura is a luxury brand, there is something about its products making them feel less ponderous and lighter on their feet than most luxury rivals. From behind the wheel, they seem more like sprinters than plodding, long-distance runners. Agile and athletic, they instantly respond to the slightest input from the helm and feel stable in the corners. The MDX doesn’t stray from this formula.

Under the hood is a 290-horsepower 3.5-liter V6. Handing engine output off to the front or all four wheels is a new driver-shiftable nine-speed automatic transmission. The new nine-speed offers closer gear ratios translating into quicker shifts. Acura saved a little room in the center console by introducing a push-button, electronic shifting scheme. It requires a bit of getting used to, but shifts smoothly and efficiently.

In addition to the transmission upgrade, Acura improved the 2016 MDX Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) system with twin clutches and enhanced torque transfer. This adds a sense of security when cornering.

MDX grades featuring the $10,215 Advance Package offer engine automatic stop-start technology that increases government-estimated city mileage by 1 mpg. For all other FWD versions the numbers are 19 mpg city, 27 highway and 22 combined. AWD-model mileage is 18 mpg city, 26 highway and 21 combined.

Putting a foot into the accelerator is rewarded with a satisfying surge in power. MDX has plenty of get up and go. More than just 2016 Acura MDXa pretty face, the FWD MDX can tow as much as 3,500 pounds. When appropriately equipped, versions with AWD increase that pulling power to 5,000 pounds.

Sufficiently roomy, the cabin is quiet and well appointed. Its three rows of seats accommodate up to seven. Controls are close at hand, and the gauges easy to see and interpret. Adding to MDX’s contemporary, high-tech vibe are the push-button controls replacing the standard shifter, and the gobs of info displayed in the main gauge cluster. A power rear liftgate is standard on every MDX.

Even the base MDX is dressed to boost its luxury creds. Standard are leather seating, tri-zone automatic climate control, power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, power sunroof, rearview camera, Bluetooth connectivity and an eight-speaker audio system with iPod interface.

By the time you reach the epitome of grades, like my test MDX, you add 110V power outlet, navigation system, a rear-seat entertainment system, rain-sensing wipers and a 10-speaker surround-sound audio system, among other goodies.

It has competitors that do some things better than MDX, but overall, it more than holds its own among seven-passenger crossovers.