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2007 Acura MDX

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San Francisco: The MDX, Acura’s first SUV, debuted in 2000 as a 2001 model. For 2007, it is reborn. Other than the trademark caliper logo inside the pentagonal grille, not much was carried over from the ’06.

Much like the surprisingly avant-garde designs emanating out of sister division Honda, Acura’s new cars are more aggressive, and, well, different. The first MDX fit in nicely with the truckish look of the original SUVs, but in the 21st century, we are switching rapidly to car-based crossovers, which offer most if not all of the utility of an SUV but the comfortable ride of a car.

Surprisingly free of exterior chrome, the new MDX cuts a chiseled, solid pose, with a 30 percent larger grille up front wearing an unusual aluminum-look filler panel. Is this based on the “grilles” worn on the teeth by popular

Hip Hop artists? The headlamp areas are flush mounted and widen as they cross the front fender corner and end in sharp points. Along the sides, generous wheelwell bulges tie in to the historic SUV design template, while the dropping roof and rear window line evoke crossover territory. At the rear, the carved taillamps echo the look of the headlights.

Inside, you’ll see a cockpit designed for an active driver. There’s more than a hint of BMW and Mercedes in there, too. The boldly defined gauges sit inside jutting cylinders stuffed into a binnacle that just fits inside the steering wheel’s margins. A narrow-waisted, broad-shouldered center console carries a fine array of neatly arranged buttons.

The same stylish sharpness of the outside prevails, with trim stretching from the dashboard onto the door panels with a flourish. Materials are top quality and assembly is enviable from the Alliston, Ontario, Canada plant. The door to dash panel gap seems a little excessive, the sunvisors made a noise when I moved them, and I was surprised to find a manual day/night mirror in a car with this price point. Nicest surprise: There’s a small storage cabinet in the transmission tunnel for the front seat passenger - with a sliding rolltop door.   

The new MDX features the most powerful normally aspirated engine in an SUV (crossover) in the country. You get 300 rollicking horsepower out of a 3.7-liter V6. That’s V8 power with V6 fuel economy - 17 City and 22 Highway per the EPA. I averaged 15.5 mpg for my test week.

On the environmental front, the MDX is rated as an ultra low emissions vehicle by CARB, the California Air Resources Board. The EPA’s Green Vehicle Guide gives the MDX a 7 for the Air Pollution Score and 4 for the Greenhouse Gas Score.

Acura’s engineers wanted to make sure that the ride and handling of their new baby was competitive with the performance-oriented German companies, so they tested the MDX on the legendary Nurburgring racetrack.

From my much more modest jaunts along Northern California highways and around town, the MDX was as entertaining as some sport sedans I’ve sampled.

The MDX can carry eight people. I fit my 5-foot-11 son in the third-row seat, although he reported a shortage of legroom. It should be fine for the under-10 set on longer trips. The second and third row seats fold flat for 83.5 cubic feet of cargo room.

You can upgrade an MDX with three available packages: Technology, Sport and Entertainment. The Technology package includes a killer 410-watt, 100-speaker stereo setup, a navigation system with voice recognition, and rear-view camera. The Entertainment package let’s second and third row passengers enjoy DVDs with Dolby Digital surround sound. Also, the second row seats are heated.

The Sport package contains the Technology package but adds the Active Damper System, which gives an incredibly controlled ride through many exquisite technical methods that are completely hidden from the driver. I found a “Comfort” button on the between-the-seat console that when I engaged it, it quieted things down on rough roads.

The MDX bristles with airbags and active safety features such as antilock brakes with electronic brake distribution and brake assist. These increasingly familiar safety advances let the car’s computer keep tabs and positively affect the safety and traction of the vehicle.

The MDX provides Super Handling All-Wheel Drive, abbreviated as SH-AWD on the tailgate. As driving conditions require it, the system distributes torque front to back and also side to side.

Acura MDXs start at $39,995. You can add one or more packages to get the price up to $47,795, like my Dark Cherry Pearl tester, which had the Sport and Entertainment packages. Plan on adding $670 for delivery charges, and you’re on your way.

When redesigning a favorite vehicle, a company’s got to be sure to retain the loyal buyers for upgrades while simultaneously trying to make the next generation better than the past one. I’d say, “ Mission accomplished.”  By Steve Schaefer © AutoWire.Net - San Francisco


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Byline:  Syndicated content provided by Tony Leopardo © AutoWire.Net
Column Name:  The MDX, Acura’s first SUV
Topic: The 2007 Acura MDX
Word Count:  869
Photo Caption:  The 2007 Acura MDX
Photo Credits:  Acura MDX Internet Media
Series #:  2007 - 20

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