If I get a nose job will you love me more?
Apparently that’s what the folks at Acura were pondering when they were looking at styling options for the 2017 MDX. For years Acura used a signature grille that had a heavy beak-looking piece of brightwork. It has actually been getting smaller in recent years and for 2017 the beak disappeared completely. In its place is something significantly more traditional. I can only assume that focus groups somewhere decided that while the grille was distinctive, it wasn’t attractive. No sense in having a signature look if folks don’t like it. Personally, I like the new look (not that I was included in the focus group).
Oh, and don’t think you older MDX owners will be able to buy a new look insert. The grill has a different shape to go with the new styling.
I know that’s a lot to say about a nose job, but frankly, it’s the biggest change from last year’s model. And that’s not a bad thing. The Acura MDX is a solid choice in the upscale world of three row SUVs. Its 3.5 liter V6 delivers 290 horsepower which is perfect for a vehicle this size. Oh sure, more would always be nice, but this engine won’t leave you feeling underwhelmed when you pull away from the light. Mated to a 9-speed transmission it gives the MDX a nice smooth run up to freeway speeds. You can expect 19 MPG in town and 26 mpg on the highway with a combined total of 22 MPG.
MDX no longer has a traditional stick for changing gears, but I can’t say I’m thrilled with the replacement. It just requires too much thinking to go from park to drive to reverse. Unlike Chryslers which have a small hockey puck-looking device that you simply twist from one gear to the next, the MDX has a park button, a lever for going backwards and different buttons for drive and neutral. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not brain surgery and I’m sure owners will get used to the system. It just seems more complicated than it needs to be.
The interior is nice, but it’s not an all-out luxury car. The seats are comfortable, both front and rear. The third row isn’t huge, but that’s fairly normal for similar SUVs. If you want a third row that will truly be comfortable for an adult, you’d better go for a full-sized SUV. One nice touch is that the second row seat can slide forward just a bit so the folks way in the back can get a little more leg room.
The Acura display interface and controls are so-so. They work OK, but like the gear selector, they require too many steps to get where you’re going. I’m really hoping that the Acura engineers kick it up a notch in the next generation.
Is it enough to avoid the MDX? Hardly. In fact, for full disclosure, we own a 2014 edition which is very similar (minus the nose job). It’s my wife’s daily driver and she absolutely loves it.
Base price for the 2017 MDX is $44,050. My test car which was an all-wheel drive model equipped with the Advanced option package came in at $57,340. Compare it to cars higher up the luxury food chain and it’s a pretty solid deal.
So let’s recap. Solid three row SUV with a few minor flaws gets a nose job. Works for me.