For 2006, the Acura MDX gains a new trim line, the Touring, placed between the Base and the top-line Technology Package.

Sharing its basic platform with the Honda Odyssey minivan, the MDX features a 3.5-litre V6 with five-speed automatic transmission.

The name “Base” is a misnomer on this luxury SUV; it includes four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, 17-inch alloy wheels, front and rear automatic climate control, cruise control, heated power mirrors with driver’s side memory and passenger auto tilt in reverse, power sunroof, telephone pre-wiring, wood grain console, six-CD changer with eight speakers and wheel-mounted controls, fog lights, rain-sensing wipers, automatic headlamps, roof rack with crossbars, rear washer/wiper, trailer hitch pre-wire, heated leather seats with eight-way driver and passenger power adjust and driver’s seat memory, and 50/50 split folding third-row seat.

The new Touring package adds rear entertainment system, body-colour rear spoiler, satin chrome side steps and mirror covers, all-season floor mats and body-colour side moulding.

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 rearview 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. 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 cramped third-row seats are pretty much for smaller children only. As with the Odyssey, the third row folds flat into the floor for impressive cargo space. The Technology Package is a pricey add-on, but the included backup 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.

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