- Fast Facts
SUNSET, S.C. — We’re cruising on curvy U.S. 178 out of the Smoky Mountains, beating a snaky path between Horse Mountain and Rich Mountain, and pointing toward the Greenburg-Spartanburg airport.
A drizzling mist generated from low-slung clouds coats the pavement ahead of us, setting up potentially dangerous driving conditions with unseen slippery spots which can spin a tire and send a lesser vehicle flying toward disaster in an unplanned rendezvous with a ditch.
That’s not the way our cushy vehicle plays it, however, due to the sticky four-wheeling agility of Acura’s unconventional crossover utility vehicle, the 2012 MDX rigged with the spry wheel control of Acura’s Super-Handling All-Wheel-Drive equipment and a computer-managed vehicle stability control system to check lateral wheel slippage.
The SH-AWD device can disburse the powertrain’s considerable torque not only to wheels fore and aft but the left or right ones too. It’s always engaged and enables the vehicle to maneuver on wet or dry pavement with the uncanny agility of a wily sports car.
Acura’s system goes further than AWD controls on other vehicles because it can automatically increase the rotation speed of an outboard rear wheel during quick and hard cornering maneuvers. Boosting the rear wheel’s rotation speed ends up decreasing the cornering load on the car’s front wheels, which thwarts the tendency of AWD equipment to understeer and ultimately enhances total tire grip.
It allows the MDX to carve precise turns on a slippery road like U.S. 178 and run circles around some size-wise CUV competitors.
And there’s plenty of power at play with the overachiever MDX, due to a forceful V6 engine aboard. The aluminum V6 displaces 3.7 liters with single overhead camshaft, four valves for every cylinder and a drive-by-wire throttle plus Honda’s remarkable VTEC (variable valve timing and lift electronic control) valvetrain technology to precisely manage engine breathing and combustion in order to maximize power and disperse torque across a broad band.
The six-pack delivers 300 hp at 6300 rpm with 270 lb-ft of torque at 4500 rpm.
It links to a no-load electronic automatic transmission with six forward speeds plus sequential SportShift override for clutch-less manual shifts via hand paddles mounted on the sport-style steering wheel.
A monocoque structure for MDX is like a car’s platform melding chassis and body into a cohesive entity that’s extremely rigid. Then isolate the independent suspension system on sub-frames, add variable-power rack and pinion steering and disc brakes for all corners with ABS (anti-lock brake system) and electronic brake force distribution (EBD).
Producing an agile kind of CUV that’s easy to drive and capable of multiple uses is the big idea behind MDX. Its name drives home the multi-task nature, with the initials meaning Multi-Dimensional Cross-Trainer, in the image of a toned athlete accomplished in various sports.
Acura works it as a refined luxury vehicle with cushy appointments and fancy features, yet the three rows of flexible seats permit different uses as a workhorse hauler and the powerful engine enables the MDX to tow a trailer up to 5000 pounds.
Size-wise, the body of MDX measures up to the mid-size CUV class. Wheelbase runs to 108.3 inches long, with wheel track width coming to 67.7 inches up front and 67.5 inches in the rear.
The expansive structure of MDX creates a passenger compartment comprising 142.2 cubic feet.
Two bucket seats covered in leather occupy the front row of the cabin on either side of a floor console with 8-way power controls for each bucket.
Leather also covers second-row seats with reclining seatbacks.
Third-row seats split 50/50 are also included.
Second-row seats drop forward and third-row seatbacks fold into the floor for a quick and relatively effortless disappearing act to make room for more cargo. With all second and third seatbacks down, the vehicle ends up with a flat-floored cargo area that encompasses 83.5 cubic feet of storage space.
Acura builds the 2012 MDX in only one fully loaded trim edition yet offers add-on equipment packages.
Standard equipment on MDX ranges from a three-zone climate control system and power controls for windows and door locks and exterior mirrors to power heated front seats with memory on the driver’s side, leather seat upholstery and a leather-wrapped multi-function sport steering wheel with paddle shifters, cruise control, auto-dimming rearview mirror with integrated rearview camera, a power moonroof, power tailgate, Bluetooth connectivity and a 253-watt premium sound system with AM/FM/CD6X/MP3/WMA and 8 speakers.
MDX with Technology Package adds Milano premium leather, a navigation system with voice recognition, 60-gb hard disk, VGA 8-inch color display with 3-view rearview camera, and 410-watt ELS sound system with 10 speakers.
MDX with Advance Package brings Technology Package gear plus ventilated front seats in perforated Milano leather, 19-inch wheels capped by Michelin Latitude P255/50R19 all-season tires, a collision mitigation braking system, adaptive cruise control, blind spot information system and an active damper system.
Acura’s price points for the 2012 MDX begin at $42,930. MDX with Technology Package lists for $46,605; MDX with Advance Package goes for $52,555, or with an optional rear entertainment system tops out at $56,455.
2012 ACURA MDX CROSSOVER SUV SPECIFICATIONS
- Description: Mid-size 7-seat luxury Crossover SUV
- Model options: MDX
- Wheelbase: 108.3 inches
- Overall length: 191.6 inches
- Engine size: SOHC 3.7-L V6/VTEC
- Transmissions/speeds: Auto/6/Sequential SportShift
- Rear/front drive: AWD/SH-AWD
- Steering: Power rack and pinion
- Braking: Power 4-disc, ABS/BA/EBD/VSA/TCS
- Air bags: 2 (front), 2 (side), 6 (side curtain)
- Maximum trailer towing: 5000 pounds
- EPA mileage est. city/hwy.: 16/21 mpg