Made in Canada: 2010 Acura MDX and 2010 Lexus RX 350 car test drives made in canada luxury cars long term auto tests lexus auto articles acura
2010 Acura MDX. Click image to enlarge
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Acura Canada
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2010 Acura MDX
By Paul Williams

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2010 Acura MDX
2010 Lexus RX 350

The Canadian-built Acura MDX is the most popular vehicle in Acura’s model line-up. So popular in fact, that MDX sales were up about 17 per cent in 2009, which overall was one of the worst sales years in recent memory for the Canadian automotive industry.

So what is it about the MDX that people like so much? I’ve always felt that initially it’s the looks. The MDX is crisply designed and looks solid and expensive. It has a presence on the road, and over the years Acura has wisely evolved the design, without making radical changes to it.

It’s also the price. Acura has always tried to offer a luxury alternative that’s several thousand dollars below equivalent models from competing manufacturers. Starting at $51,990 (plus $1,895 freight/pre-delivery inspection) even the base MDX offers a lot of value.

Made in Canada: 2010 Acura MDX and 2010 Lexus RX 350 car test drives made in canada luxury cars long term auto tests lexus auto articles acura
Made in Canada: 2010 Acura MDX and 2010 Lexus RX 350 car test drives made in canada luxury cars long term auto tests lexus auto articles acura
2010 Acura MDX. Click image to enlarge

The 2010 model gets a “refreshed” exterior that includes a new grille and front fascia, revised hood, new side sills new rear fascia, revised taillights and new trim. The interior receives new gauges and a thicker steering wheel, but overall it’s the same winning MDX formula.

Under the hood, a revised 3.7-litre V6 engine makes 300 horsepower and 270 foot-pounds of torque. It’s mated to a new six-speed automatic transmission that has paddle shifters if you’re feeling sporty. But if your needs are more practical, the MDX will tow 5,000 pounds (trailer stability assist is standard).

The MDX can be purchased in base, Technology and Elite trim levels, all featuring Acura’s Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD). The distinguishing characteristic of SH-AWD is its ability to shift torque between the rear wheels as well as from front-to-rear. This “torque vectoring” system provides the MDX with enhanced stability when cornering on all road surfaces (snowy, icy, dry, wet).   

This is a seven-passenger vehicle, with a third row of seats that fold flat into the floor when not required. The second row also folds, but not quite flat, and that does consume some cargo space. With both rear rows down, there’s sufficient room to handle normal household requirements, although overall cargo space is reduced vertically by the third-row seats. There is access to additional storage space below the cargo floor, via a hinged panel.

This year, a power liftgate is standard. It’s a feature that you may not think you need, but after living with one for a while, you soon come to appreciate the extra practicality.

All of the expected amenities are present, even in the base $51,900 model that we are driving (Palladium Metallic with Taupe interior). Standard features include automatic climate control, express up/down power window for the driver, heated mirrors, heated seats, driver’s memory seating, trip computer, satellite radio, six-disc CD changerBluetooth “HandsFree Link,” power tilt and telescoping steering, backup camera, auto dimming mirror, leather seating surfaces, headlight washer system, fog lights, High Intensity Discharge low-beam headlights, moonroof, tinted glass, wood trim.

Made in Canada: 2010 Acura MDX and 2010 Lexus RX 350 car test drives made in canada luxury cars long term auto tests lexus auto articles acura
Made in Canada: 2010 Acura MDX and 2010 Lexus RX 350 car test drives made in canada luxury cars long term auto tests lexus auto articles acura
2010 Acura MDX. Click image to enlarge

It’s a long list, but as mentioned above, the Technology and Elite trim levels offer more. The $5,300 Technology package (includes navigation, rear entertainment, premium leather, premium audio) and $10,000 Elite package (Technology plus 19-inch wheels, collision mitigating system, active damper system, blind spot information system, roof rails, climate controlled front seats, adaptive cruise control) ramp up the luxury quotient, but our test vehicle, which has neither package, certainly doesn’t feel down-market.

The driving experience in the MDX is really quite sporty for a mid-sized SUV (even though it’s quite a large “mid-size” vehicle). The steering feels light and the brakes are sure. The ride is on the firm side, contributing to the overall agility of the vehicle.

On slippery, icy roads, the MDX feels very secure, easily managing slush and snow-covered roads. Heating and defrosting is very effective, with the MDX warming up quickly, even on very cold days. That said, the weather here has turned unseasonably warm, producing dry roads and pleasant temperatures. The MDX ride on smooth surfaces is calm and controlled, although it can become rather bouncy on uneven pavement.

Inside, the cabin is very quiet, with controls that are easy to understand and use. The Bluetooth HandsFree system is easy to set up, responding to your command of “pair phone” with straightforward instructions in natural language. The process of pairing my iPhone took 30 seconds.

Made in Canada: 2010 Acura MDX and 2010 Lexus RX 350 car test drives made in canada luxury cars long term auto tests lexus auto articles acura
2010 Acura MDX. Click image to enlarge

Fuel estimates for this vehicle are 13.2/9.6 L/100 km, city/highway. My mostly “around town” driving is returning 13.1 L/100 km based on the MDX trip computer. I feel this is very good for a vehicle of this type and size, although the MDX does require premium fuel.

So far, all comments that I have received about the MDX are positive. People like its looks (and have said so), and they are especially impressed by the interior finish and design. 

My only complaints are that the outside rear-view mirrors seem rather small, and the taupe leather interior, attractive as it is, easily scuffs and marks. Also, some of the external gloss trim has scuffed, possibly because of a car wash. The MDX seems anything but fragile, but the scuffing is a shame.

A final observation is that the third row seating is rather a challenge to access (although it’s likely that only children will clamber back there). If you don’t need a seven-passenger vehicle, though, it’s too bad you can’t delete that third row. It would boost cargo space.