2010 Acura MDX Advance Ent review: Keeping up appearances

2010 Acura MDX Advance Ent

2010 Acura MDX Advance Ent

A funny thing happened on the way to the 2010 Acura MDX. When the “crossover”–short for crossover SUV–first appeared, the idea was to put a traditional squared-off truck-like body on an automobile platform: The Toyota Highlander, for example. People wanted an SUV but craved a car-like ride. But as the crossover became more popular, car buyers decided they didn’t need a truck after all. So then the crossing over went back the other way, with the Nissan Murano (here and here) an original practitioner. But the 2007 Acura MDX, a genuine sport-utility vehicle, followed suit. The square corners and straight lines of the first generation MDX were replaced by curves and rounded edges, becoming an SUV that looks like a crossover.

At least we think the Acura MDX is an SUV, even if it lacks the dual-range center differential that’s the traditional mark of an SUV with four-wheel drive. Four-wheel (or all-wheel if you prefer) drive is standard on the MDX, which also has Acura’s SH-AWD, or “Super Handling All-Wheel Drive”, a system that shifts power fore and aft and at the rear, side to side. It helps in slippery, snowy conditions but also provides what Dick Colliver, Acura executive Veep, called “track tuned performance.” That’s an actually  truthful statement. The Acura MDX was tested at Germany’s famed Nurburgring race track.

2010 Acura MDX Advance Ent with simulated wood trim.

The interior of the 2010 Acura MDX Advance Ent is lavishly coated with simulated wood trim. (click to enlarge)

Still, it’s an SUV because we say it is. And anyway, Acura also has the RDX, which is much more what we would call a crossover. And then there’s the Acura ZDX, which is…something that we’ll talk about another time, kids.

But the Acura MDX does most of what most sport utilities are called on to do by most MDX owners. It provides all-weather transportation with generous ground clearance and the ability to take some, though not too rigorous, off-road excursions. The driver has that “command” seating height and there’s a choice of seating (of sorts, more about which later) for up to seven or a generous helping of cargo capacity. And it’s a lot less, um, domestic than a minivan.

2010 Acura MDX Advance Ent second row seat

The 2010 Acura MDX Advance Ent second row seat is roomy, the third habitable by small children or for short times. (click to enlarge)

Now, three years on from the arrival of the second generation of the MDX, Acura has updated its premium SUV. Most apparent is the  new face, giving the MDX , like it or not, the Acura family grille. Either we’re getting used to it or there’s something about the size of the grille on the MDX that makes it less, well, controversial .

The Acura MDX’s rear sheet metal was massaged too, but it would take a side-by-side comparison to see the difference. Under the skin, however, the 2010 Acura MDX gets a new 3.7-liter engine and six-speed automatic transmission. Acura also revised the steering system and stiffened the rear trailing arm mounting. The body was stiffened and Acura says the overall NVH–noise, vibration and harshness–was reduced.

Our test 2010 Acura MDX stayed true to Acura custom by bundling packages into a bottom line price at the top. Our tester, according the window sticker was a 2010 MDX Advance Ent, but included on our MDX’s standard equipment list are a “tech package,” an “advance package” and an “entertainment package,” for an all-included price of $53,755 (plus $810 delivery). The lowest base price for an Acura MDX is $42,230. Acura also lists prices for the MDX with Technology Package, MDX with Technology and Entertainment Packages, MDX with Advance Package and MDX with Advance and Entertainment Packages.

2010 Acura MDX Advance Ent

The Acura MDX received a new engine for the 2010 model year. (click to enlarge)

The content of the packages might read like an inventory of Best Buy, except that the electronics store would run out of toys faster. The Acura MDX’s tech package, for example, includes the navigation system with real-time weather and traffic, and even GPS-linked tri-zone automatic climate control–which baffles us. Also in the package is a premium audio Acura/ELS surround-sound audio system with ten speakers and a whole alphabet of features.

The entertainment package is comprised of a power fold-down nine-inch rear screen  with wireless headsets, a 115-volt (“house current”) power outlet and–as part of the entertainment package remember, heated second row seats. Make your own jokes.