Acura is Honda’s luxury vehicle branch, and the company has been putting out elegant masterpieces in recent years. The 2023 Acura MDX is no exception, offering a luxury crossover experience that is more spacious than a compact SUV. It manages to hit all the comfort and performance metrics it needs to in its price range to carve out a solid foothold against more expensive 7-passenger SUVs.
The 2023 Acura MDX
Price and Trim Levels
The entry price for a 2023 Acura MDX is solidly in the luxury range at $49,050. The Technology package is the first step up from the basic MDX with an MSRP of $53,750. All-wheel drive versions of the MDX and Technology packages add $2,200 to the price.
Higher trim levels are all-wheel drive by default. The A-Spec at $59,450 and Advance at $63,000 both use the same drive train and engine as the AWD version of the MDX.
The Type S and Type S advance are the final forms of the MDX, putting a bigger engine onto the AWD drive train. The basic Type S starts at $67,350, and the Type S advance tacks on a bit more features for an initial $72,700 MSRP. There are only a few small additions that can be added after that, so the maximum price of an MDX should be close to the Type S Advance package plus any fees.
Performance and Efficiency
The Acura MDX has a conventional 290 horsepower, 3.5 liter V6 as its entry level engine. In the Type S and Type S Advance package levels, the engine is swapped for a 355 horsepower, 3.0L V6 turbo. The 290-hp engine hits 60 in about 6.4 seconds with an estimated top speed of 112 mph, and the 355-hp cuts the acceleration time down to around 5.6 seconds and raises the top speed to 130 mph.
The fuel economy for the standard FWD has the best fuel economy amongst the MDX variations at 19 MPG city and 26 MPG highway. AWD drops that to 19 MPG city and 25 MPG highway, and bumping the engine up to the V6 turbo cuts it further to 17 mpg city and 21 mpg highway.
All MDX models sit on a double wishbone front suspension and a multi-link rear suspension that has been praised for its spry responsiveness, especially with the added power from the Type S. The Type S and Type S Advance use an adaptive air suspension with auto leveling, while the lower trim levels use amplitude reactive dampers. Its turning radius is an acceptable 40.5 feet.
Towing capacity starts at 3,500 pounds with the standard front-wheel drive. With the all-wheel drive configuration and necessary towing gear, that capacity goes up to 5,000 pounds. Notably, you don’t need to grab the turbo 3.0L to get the full towing capacity.
The 2022 model of the Acura MDX received “Good” or “Superior” marks in all tests by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gave the MDX four stars on its frontal crash rating, five stars on its side crash rating, and did not rate its rollover safety. While not meant to cover the 2023 model, the two are similar enough that the ratings give a fair idea of the overall safety of the newer model.
Airbags are included for the front, side, side curtain, and front knee area. All MDX packages include the AcuraWatch collection of driver assistance tech features. Like other manufacturers, these systems can help avoid accidents, but they don’t take away a driver’s responsibility.
Under perfect circumstances, the sensors and algorithms in tech like the collision mitigation braking system, pedestrian detection, and road departure mitigation will steer and brake the vehicle when they detect hazardous driving or circumstances. While not standard, the low speed braking control can avoid dings and dents.
On top of the active assistive features, a few additional sensors help with driver awareness. The navigation display can give a close look behind the MDX with the standard rear camera or in every direction with the available surround-view camera on the Advance and Type S Advance.
The blind spot information system and rear cross traffic monitor keep the driver aware of potential hazards to the rear while on the highway or backing up from a driveway. The sensors can even detect road signs and show them on the digital instrument cluster.
Interior and Infotainment
The MDX truly embodies the steady transition to vehicle interiors resembling scifi starship cockpits. Nearly everything glows in a haze of light within the spacious and space-age interior of most package levels. The darker colors in the Type S interiors enhance the aesthetics, especially the ebony and black silver option for the Type S Advance.
There’s plenty of room for the whole family to enjoy the MDX. The maximum passenger space is 139.1 cubic feet, and there’s a hefty 18.1 cubic feet of cargo space in the rear – even with a full passenger manifest. Putting down the seats opens up the cargo space to a potential 95 cubic feet.
One minor but interesting design choice is how the console has a small nook for the heads-up display. While not functionally relevant, the way the display is configured doesn’t force the console to have a large, flat section. Like the rest of the MDX, it’s both elegant and futuristic.
The connectivity is strong in the MDX from the basic trim onwards. Expected standards like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, a shiny touch-screen display, a Wi-Fi hotspot, satellite radio and digital instrument cluster are all here, plus Amazon Alexa and USB ports for everybody.
The Top 3 SUVs Similar to the Acura MDX
1. Mazda CX-9, a luxury-adjacent bargain
The CX-9 is substantially cheaper than the MDX at $35,630 for its basic Sport trim, and its highest trim level costs less than the basic MDX. The discount doesn’t shave off much functionality, either. It isn’t the fastest SUV, with its less powerful 4-cylinder engine taking about 7 seconds to reach 60 mph.
Beyond that, it’s got a bigger interior with 136 cubic feet for the passengers, most of the essential tech and safety features, and better gas mileage at 20 MPG city and 26 MPG highway. If you’re looking for an entry-level luxury crossover with third-row seating, the CX-9 is a fantastic bargain worth considering.
2. The Hyundai IONIQ 5, ifeatherweight in both speed and environmental impact
The IONIQ 5 starts at a roughly 20% lower MSRP than the MDX, and adding subjectively essential features like AWD and higher trim levels still doesn’t bring it above the starting price for a MDX Type S Advanced.
The AWD drastically improves the acceleration of the IONIQ from a plodding 7.4 seconds to around 4.5 seconds on 0-to-60 tests. Opting for the AWD does drop the MPGe from a maximum of 114 to an estimated 98, but the long-range battery can still go 266 miles before needing to be recharged.
Aside from a high-tech engine, the IONIQ also has a sharp exterior with clean lines and a sleek interior with massive heads-up display panels. Like many other SUVs on the list, the IONIQ doesn’t cleanly beat the MDX. Its towing capacity is barely worth mentioning at 1,650 pounds, and it trades two seats for roughly double the normal cargo space of the MDX.
While choosing between an electric or conventional engine is still an understandably complicated and personal decision, those who live in areas with enough chargers, can manage with 5 seats, and don’t need much towing capacity should take a look at the IONIQ 5 when shopping for an SUV.
3. Jaguar F-Pace, the big cat on campus
If you want sports car speeds in an SUV body, the Jaguar F-Pace can deliver it. In the SVR trim, the SUV hits 60 in under 4 seconds. Many performance sports cars struggle to reach that level of acceleration.
Although it handily wins a race on the track, the F-Pace doesn’t have as easy of a time on the other metrics. Its towing capacity maximum is a little higher at 5,291 pounds, but it’s not an easily noticeable difference. The cargo space is an expansive 31.5 cubic feet, a number the MDX can’t reach without sacrificing its third row. It also gets a bit better gas mileage with the stock engine at 22 MPG city and 27 MPG highway.
From there, the MDX starts to strike back. The fuel economy on the SVR is only 15 MPG in the city, though it matches the Type S’s 21 MPG highway. The lower trims of the F-Pace are a bit slower with a 6.9 seconds 0-to-60 time. A slightly higher entry MSRP and a much higher maximum cost both sour the comparison further, but they also help highlight how the MDX does a good job of providing a well-rounded vehicle at a great price.
Other SUVs Similar to the Acura MDX
4. Lexus RX
A hybrid engine option gives RX buyers more flexibility with their engine’s power source than the MDX, and a hybrid may be a more acceptable option to some people than a full electric car.
The RX also has a slightly lower MSRP when comparing basic trims and a nearly equivalent high-end starting MSRP of $58,110 on the 450hL luxury. The fuel economy on the conventional engines is close to the MDX at 20 MPG city and 27 MPG highway.
Its towing capacity is alright at 3,500 pounds, but the RX quickly falls behind the MDX after that. It’s one of the slower SUVs on the list, and the miniscule cargo space feels painfully cramped on the three-row versions. There are better bargains out there, even for the environmentally conscious, but it’s not an outright bad vehicle.
Related: 15 Cars Similar to the Lexus RX
5. The finite Infiniti QX55
The QX55 is a smaller crossover with room for just 5 passengers within its 100 cubic feet of passenger volume. The smaller size allows it to have a similar speed to the lower end MDX trims while surpassing its fuel economy with 22 MPG city and 28 MPG highway.
Aside from fuel economy, the only real advantage of the QX55 is its slightly lower starting MSRP of $46,500. It’s pretty enough on the inside, but even the starting MDX is worth the small bump in cost.
6. The zippy and environmentally friendly Volvo XC40 Recharge
Keeping an eye on the electric vehicle marketplace is a good idea with the continuing improvements in performance and cost. The XC40 Recharge is a fully electric SUV that starts at a slightly higher price than the MDX but ends at the same point. Each model comes with two electric motors that propel the SUV to 60 in only 4.7 seconds. That’s not the fastest time on the list, but it’s better than most – including the MDX.
Putting aside the debate between electric and conventional engines, the XC40 has two key downsides compared to the MDX: interior volume and towing capacity. The MDX has more cargo volume on top of two extra seats, and the towing capacity of the XC40 is a measly 2,000 pounds. Since the IONIQ is slightly faster and they both have tragically low towing capacities, it won out over the XC40 for a spot in the top 3.
7. Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class
Mercedes split the GLC into two main builds as it does with many models: the basic GLC 300 SUV and the AMG GLC 43 SUV. The AMG versions are as much a premium trim for the GLC as they are a distinct vehicle, and they cost less than the Type S at $59,900 starting MSRP. The entry level GLC 300 starts several thousand below the MDX at $43,850.
Despite a lower price, the GLC gives more raw performance. The GLC 300 keeps pace with the Type S, and the GLC 43 clocks 60 mph in 4.7 seconds. The towing capacity caps out at 3,500 pounds despite the better acceleration.
The exact dimensions of the GLC’s interior aren’t given, but it has a healthy amount of shoulder and leg room for the two front and three second-row seats. Safety features are also similar to the MDX with both active and passive hazard mitigation systems.
You won’t get a fancy roof or ambient LED lighting without paying extra, but even adding them on leaves this SUV as another decent competitor to the MDX if you don’t need a third row.
8. The (barely) 7-passenger Mercedes-Benz GLB-Class
While more cramped than the MDX, a GLB with the optional third-row seating is a strong competitor. It’s cheaper than both the Acura MDX and the smaller Mercedes-Benze GLC class. The higher quality AMG version costs just $900 more than the entry price for the basic MDX.
If you need a vehicle that has both room for 7 passengers and their cargo, then the GLB falls short. Adding the third row cuts the cargo space to a dismal 5.1 cubic feet, which will struggle to fit 5 backpacks, a couple of sports bags, and a briefcase.
Otherwise, the AMG version has a faster 0 to 60 time at 5.1 seconds, though the basic version has a slower time of 6.9 seconds. Even with more power, the fuel economy stays better at 21 MPG city and 26 MPG highway thanks to its smaller size.
Overall, there are better comparative bargains on a surface level comparison, but there is something to be said for the appeal of the Mercedes-Benz brand.
The MDX has the size and styling of a full-sized luxury SUV, so it’s reasonable to compare it to the big boys. The Navigator is a massive beast of a vehicle with 172 cubic feet of passenger space and 20 feet of cargo space.
The bulk doesn’t stop it from sprinting down a track, hitting 60 mph in as little as 5.3 seconds. The interior is packed with even more tech, including rear-seat entertainment screens for agitated younglings.
Then we get to the MSRP. At a minimum of $77,635 and reaching over $106,000 on higher trims, it’s easy to spend twice as much on a Navigator as an MDX. Being a little bit slower and smaller seems worth the discount, but the Navigator is worth the cost if it’s in your budget.
10. A pal is made with the Hyundai Palisade
The Palisade brings much of what makes the MDX great in a slightly less luxurious package. It’s a seven-seater that starts at just $34,950. The towing capacity matches up with the MDX at 5,000 pounds, the cargo volume is just 0.1 cubic feet smaller, and it’s not that much slower than the lower trims of the MDX.
If you liked the Mazda CX-9 from the top 3, the Palisade fits right next to it as a budget competitor to the entry-level luxury SUVs.
11. The cozy Cadillac XT6
The XT6 is Cadillac’s 7-seat offering. Overall, it’s right in line with the MDX, but it leans slightly more towards comfort than performance.
The pricing is right in line with the MDX, costing a bit lower to start and a touch more to finish. A lack of high-performance options makes the XT6 a bit slower, especially when comparing it to the Type S. A fuel economy of 21 MPG city and 27 MPG highway plus a massive 149.9 cubic feet of passenger volume offer a more comfortable and less expensive trip.