The Acura MDX receives very minor changes for 2005: the HandsFreeLink telephone interface is standard on both trim levels and includes French-language capability; a six-CD system is standard on both as well; the cassette player has gone the way of the eight-track; and the fuel tank has been increased to a 77-litre capacity.

Sharing its basic platform with the Honda Odyssey minivan, the MDX features a 3.5-litre V6 with five-speed automatic transmission and comes in two trim lines.

The base MDX features all the items expected in a luxury SUV, including 17-inch alloy wheels, four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, automatic projector-beam headlights, fog lights, roof rack with crossbars, leather interior with heated, eight-way adjustable driver and passenger seats, memory control on the driver’s seat, leather-wrapped wheel, front and rear automatic climate control, six-CD Bose stereo with seven speakers and ten-inch subwoofer, power sunroof, heated mirrors with passenger-side tilt in reverse, wheel-mounted audio controls, and rain-sensing variable-intermittent wipers.

The Tech Package adds a navigation system with bilingual voice recognition and wheel-mounted controls, rear-seat DVD system with seven-inch screen and wireless headphones, and a rear-view camera that projects on the navigation screen when the vehicle is in reverse.

The MDX drives more like a big car than a small truck; its minivan roots are evident in its relatively nimble handling. It doesn’t have the towing capacity or off-road ability of truck-based SUVs, but that’s not really a problem for most buyers, who seldom use them as workhorses anyway. The MDX’s all-wheel-drive system runs in front-wheel until slippage is detected, whereupon torque is redirected to the rear wheels.

Inside, the MDX is comfortable, although hip and shoulder space isn’t quite as generous as expected, given the vehicle’s width. Second-row passengers are fine for legroom, but the small third-row seats are pretty much for smaller children only. The MDX’s third row folds flat into a raised part of the floor for impressive cargo space. The Tech Package is a pricey add-on, but the included back-up camera is extremely useful; like most SUVs, the MDX’s tailgate can hide children or pets playing behind the vehicle.

With a ride that’s more sedan than sport-utility, the MDX is a good choice for those whose off-road ventures are limited to the occasional snow-clogged roadway. The BMW X5 handles a bit better but comes with a higher price tag, as does the Mercedes-Benz ML350, which trails the MDX by 33 horsepower.

The MDX is built in Alliston, Ontario.

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