2010 Acura MDX
2010 Acura MDX. Click image to enlarge

Related articles on Autos
Test Drive: 2007 Acura MDX Elite
Test Drive: 2009 Acura MDX
Made in Canada: MDX/RX
Buyer’s Guide: 2007 Acura MDX
Buyer’s Guide: 2008 Acura MDX
Buyer’s Guide: 2009 Acura MDX
Buyer’s Guide: 2010 Acura MDX

Manufacturer’s web site
Acura Canada

Join Autos’s Facebook group
Follow Autos on Twitter

Review and photos by Chris Chase

Find this vehicle in Autos’s Classified Ads

Photo Gallery:
2010 Acura MDX

With a base price of just under $52,000, Acura’s MDX mid-sized crossover is the third-most expensive model in the brand’s line-up behind the RL sedan and rakish ZDX. Yet it is also the brand’s best-seller, by far: new-vehicle buyers snapped up nearly 6,000 MDXs in 2009, which works out to more than one-third of Acura’s total sales last year, and it’s already well on its way to the same result for 2010.

Not bad for a vehicle that saw its last full redesign in 2007. That makes this the fourth year for this second-generation MDX and, predictably for a Honda product, it was due for a mid-cycle refresh. For the MDX, that meant updated styling, including the application of Acura’s controversial front-end treatment, and some less-obvious updates elsewhere.

2010 Acura MDX
2010 Acura MDX. Click image to enlarge

Mechanically, the most meaningful improvement is the replacement of last year’s five-speed automatic transmission with a six-speed, which the MDX shares with the flashier, new-for-2010 ZDX. That makes these models the only two in the Honda/Acura portfolio to move up to a six-speed auto; this, in a segment – nay, an entire industry – that began embracing six- (and seven-, and eight-) cog gearboxes years ago.

I’ve been of the opinion all along that five gears is enough, but the bigger-better-faster-more demands of the market dictate otherwise. In any event, suffice it to say that the new transmission works well enough that I didn’t notice the extra gear until I got the car home and looked at the specs.

The 3.7-litre engine is the same as the MDX has used since that 2007 redesign. Like Honda/Acura’s other V6s, it’s a gem, with good power and a great soundtrack when under the pressure of a heavy right foot. If the new transmission’s extra gear brings any direct benefit, it’s in lower rated fuel consumption. The 2010 MDX’s Natural Resources Canada numbers are 13.2/9.6 L/100 km (city/highway), compared to 13.8/10.0 in 2009. My tester returned an average of 15.3 in mostly city driving, just about matching a 2007 model I tested.

2010 Acura MDX
2010 Acura MDX
2010 Acura MDX. Click image to enlarge

Other updates to the MDX’s dirty bits include a new power steering system, stiffer rear trailing arm mounting, and a stiffer body, some of which likely contribute to a claimed reduction in noise, vibration and harshness. The MDX is a surprisingly good handler, thanks in part to Acura’s Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) system, which can apportion torque front-to-back and left-to-right, depending on conditions and what the driver asks the car to do. SH-AWD will also supply more power to the outside rear wheel in turns, which helps make for more balanced handling, particularly when accelerating through a corner.

Not many MDX drivers will push their cars enough to feel the system at work, but when subjected to the vagaries of city schlepping, the MDX is quiet, comfortable and composed, and feels well worth its $51,990 asking price, which, for 2010, includes a power tailgate and rear-view camera as standard kit. Last year, these two items were only offered as part of the $4,500 Tech Package.

The 2007 MDX I tested was fitted with the Active Damper System that’s included with the top-end Elite package. While I found that neither of the system’s two modes (comfort and sport) were “just right,” the base MDX’s suspension is pretty close, lending the car a firm ride that never gets harsh, even on some of the roughest patches of road I travel regularly. And while active suspension’s sport was more than window dressing – it actually does make the MDX feel like a sportier drive – the base setup is actually quite capable when the going gets twisty.

Connect with Autos.ca