2015 Acura MDX – Shifting Focus to Efficiency [Review]

2015 Acura MDX

Luxury manufacturers are in a race to wow customers with the latest technology. The 2015 Acura MDX is no different. This three-row luxury crossover is Acura’s best selling vehicle and one of the performance standouts in the segment. When equipped with the latest Advance package, it can also almost drive itself on the highway. Can it still keep the competitors at bay?

STATS Starting Retail Price As Tested Price HP / Lb-Ft
2015 Acura MDX $44,565 $57,675 290 / 267
EPA Rating MPG As Tested MPG Curb Lbs
Rating: LEASE IT!
18 / 27 / 21 NA 4,332

2015, acura, mdx, specs, engineThe fourth generation of the MDX turns its eye on efficiency. The 3.7L V6 from the previous car is gone and is now replaced by a 3.5L V6 good for 290 hp and 267 lb-ft of torque. This is 10 horsepower less than before. The 6-speed automatic is still doing the shifting. The motor sounds like a proper performance V6 under hard acceleration from the driver’s seat and from the outside. The difference can be seen once you consider the economy. It’s EPA rated at 18 MPG city, 27 MPG highway, and 21 MPG combined. I managed a surprisingly good 23.2 average after a week of mixed driving. I also managed close to 400 miles on a single tank of fuel.

2015, acura, mdx, interior, dash, steering, idsThe MDX has three distinct driving modes, controlled via the Integrated Dynamics System (IDS). You can select Comfort, Normal, and Sport using the button near the gear shifter. There is a very noticeable difference in steering feel. Combine it with the “Sport” setting on the transmission and the MDX transforms from a relaxed mall cruiser into a machine eager for twisty back-roads. It’s not quiet as aggressive as the last generation, but it would still give a crossover like the BMW X5 a run for its money.

The sport mode makes the steering heavier and more direct, and the transmission is ready for the task and can be controlled via steering wheel mounted paddles. The “Super-Handlig” AWD is still there and helps to pull you out of corners. Then again, the MDX can also lull you with the ultra quiet cabin, compliant suspension, and very smooth gear shifts in “Comfort” mode.

2015, acura, mdx, lkas, lane, keepSpeaking of lulling… The tester was equipped with the Advanced package that include Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) and Lane Keep Assist System (LKAS). The ACC systems is good at detecting vehicles ahead and will also work in crawl mode when you stuck in traffic. However, its brake and accelerator application is a little abrupt. It also insists on keeping a relatively large gap to the vehicle is front, even when set to the smallest following distance.

The LKAS brings the MDX ever closer to autonomous driving future. Do not expect this Acura to drive all on its own, but this system is a step towards auto-pilot driving. It does precisely what the name suggests. It’s capable of applying steering inputs to keep the MDX in the middle of its lane at speed of 45-90 mph. It’s meant for highway or interstate driving, but can also work on a suburban street or boulevard where you can legally go 45 mph or above. It can recognize dashed or solid lines; a concrete curb will also do the trick. There is a graphic in the gauge cluster that tells you the status of the system. You can also set the lane departure waring system to beep if the car leave the lane.

2015_acura_mdx_side_doorsNaturally, if the road markings are faint or non-existent, if you are in a middle of an intersection, or if you are in any other area where the lane is not well defined – the system will relinquish control to the driver. Driver’s attention is still required at all times. If you take your hands off the wheel, as you may be tempted to do. The system will remind you to take the wheel by blinking a red graphic and disengaging every 15 seconds.

The LKAS will help you if you temporarily take your eyes off the highway to grab something from the glovebox or to quickly assist your child behind you. However, it is not meant to take over your driving task.

2015_acura_mdx_third_rowThe new sleek look and lower roof-line of the fourth generation MDX takes away third-row headroom. The second row does slide and recline, but I was barely able to climb in and fit in the way back. I am a little over 6’2”. I had to bend my neck to the side and my knees were nearly in my chest. The MDX is better suited to carry children or small adults in the third row.


Starting MSRP MPG city / hwy Hp / Lb-Ft
2015 Acura MDX $44,565 18 / 27 290 / 267
2015 Audi Q7 $47,700 16 / 22 280 / 295
2015 BMW X5 $53,200 18 / 27 300 / 300
2015 Infiniti QX60 $43,500 19 / 26 265 / 248
2015 Land Rover LR4 $50,400 14 / 19 340 / 332
2015 Lincoln MKT $43,210 17 / 25 303 / 278
2015 Volvo XC90 $39,700 16 / 25 240 / 236

On the TFLcar scale of:

  • Buy it!
  • Lease it!
  • Rent it!
  • … or Forget it!

I give the 2015 Acura MDX a Lease It! The updated MDX gets sleeker styling and improved fuel economy. It’s packed full of latest technology and it’s still a competent handler. However, the lower roofline cuts down on usable interior space for passengers and cargo. I found the adaptive cruise control system to be a little jerky in its operation, which is a small complaint for an otherwise clever vehicle. It’s good in every area, but at $57,675 it did not win me over all the way for a Buy It! rating. I was left wanting some more room and more masculine appearance and performance punch.

Andre Smirnov
Andre Smirnov

Andre Smirnov is a life-long automotive enthusiast, writer, reporter, and software engineer. He has been writing and reporting at TFL since 2011.