- Written by Patsy Oliver
An auto review for the average driver ... Each week, The Tribune will feature a different automobile, test driven by me, the average driver. Stop by our office, 18525 West Lake Houston Parkway, if you would like to see the latest car or go for a ride! The Acura MDX is a luxury crossover ranging in base price from $39,995 to $47,795. A jewel in the crown of American Honda Motor Company's "top of the line" offerings, the MDX is sharp, angular, agile, and left me feeling a bit spoiled. I drove the model with the added sport and entertainment packages, putting it at the highest end of the MDX's price spectrum. Immediately I noticed that the handling was superb and the engine was responsive. All MDXs come with all-wheel drive and a 300 hp 3.7-liter single overhead cam V-6 engine. Some V-6 equipped crossovers that will seat seven have proven sluggish to me, but the MDX had no trouble in the passing lane. I am the average driver, so I'm no expert when it comes to engine specs and all things technical. I just drive and critique, and this V-6 was alright with me! Standard features for this top-notch MDX include a 5-speed automatic transmission with sequential sportshift, an active damper system, 4-wheel independent MacPhearson suspension, side-impact door beams, navigation with real-time traffic information, rearview backup camera, DVD system with wireless headsets, leather interior, surround sound, XM satellite radio, power driver's seat with memory, air filtration system, Bluetooth capability, power tailgate, power moonroof, fog lights, heated door mirrors with turn signals, and a load of other niceties. The ride was great for me, and my second-row passengers were happy as clams. Those in the third row, however, complained of a lack of leg and head room. There are two seat belts for the third row, but those passengers would be most comfortable if no more than five feet tall. My 5'7' daughter's head touched the roof and she said she also bumped her head on the speaker to the side. My suggestion would be to put three seat belts back there, for three small children. It would be nice to have that option. As I've said many times before, too many "techie" goodies are not for me. I don't want to read and learn, and with this one, you'll need to. I found the controls for the navigation, sound and temperature controls to be too close together, making it hazardous to adjust them while driving (trust me, you can't feel your way through these buttons). You would definitely want to get really familiar with the simpler functions that you can access from the steering wheel, such as volume and channel controls. The MDX I tested showed an EPA fuel estimate of 15 city and 20 highway miles per gallon -- not bad. It also earned five stars for front and side impact crashes, and four for rollover. This car was a very fun drive and had more than the average share of bells and whistles. I did, however, think it had the typical Honda curse of too much road noise -- if I'm spending $50K, I want quiet. I would definitely recommend a test drive for those looking for 7-passenger luxury. After all, a lot of people would be willing to sacrifice some quiet for proven dependability.