Thursday, October 9, 2014

For Real Housewives | Acura MDX review

In the week I drove the new Acura MDX I struggled to put my finger on it. It’s so very different in principle than the previous generation. The old one was a hard edged hard core sports crossover. Famously tuned on the Nurburgring, with Super Handling All Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) and sharp creased S.H.I.E.D styling, it was certainly aggressive. Especially for a 7 seat family CUV.
But this new one is different. It’s lower, longer and narrower, to make it cut through the air much more cleanly. The forms are softer now too. There are no bulging wheel arches and chiseled grills. It reminds me of the old MDX, just more grown up.
It caters to its market much better. And while I was driving this one, I couldn’t figure out who that was. But on a day out shopping through our many ugly strip malls I saw an MDX like the one I was testing parked in front of Bowring.

In case you don’t know, Bowring “is a source for beautiful and affordable items for your home”. Knick-knacks basically, they sell knick-knacks. I realized that the person who would buy this crossover was the same person who frequents kitschy decor stores. You know who I mean, a well aged woman who has a stylish haircut and an assertively patterned dress. She's still up on fashion, and settles only for the finer things in life. I shall call her Mrs. Bowring.

Mrs. Bowring would like the new MDX very much. She would like the Jewel Eye LED headlights shimmering in the night. She would love the genuine Olive Ash wood trim in the Elite model, and the supple leather seats. Which are more flexible now, thanks to one touch access which make it easier for her grandchildren to enter the third row and a sliding second row for her teenage stepchildren.

Driving quickly is not of any interest for Mrs. Bowring. And so she doesn’t care that the engine is smaller, down 200cc to 3.5 litres. It means less power, down to 290 hp. But all she’ll do is put the 6-speed automatic in “D” and go shopping.

What will matter is that Acura engineers designed a whole new chassis in the name of efficiency. They smartly used a combination of high strength steel, aluminum and magnesium to shave 151 kg of the weight of the car. The changes worked because according to our government this 3-row crossover consumes 11.2 L/100km in the city and 7.2 L/100km on the highway. That’s down 2 L/100km respectively compared to the previous model. And that’s nothing to shake a stick at, especially considering that I averaged about 11 L/100km when I had it. That’ll make Mrs. Bowring happy as she’ll have a little more money left to buy hurricanes, whatever they are.

Only her step-children, in an act of rebellion, will know that the MDX can still handle. SH-AWD is still standard on canadian models, helping push the tires around a corner. They hold on quite well too with the help of the stiffer chassis. And the steering is nicely weighted depending on what setting you chose on the Integrated Dynamic System (IDS). Of course they chose “sport” to show off to their friends.

Mrs. Bowring on the other hand will appreciate the remarkable quiet on the highway. And how the radar guided cruise control, and Lane Keep Assist allow her to try and figure out the newfangled touch-screen come knob infotainment system, which has a really smart automatic climate control. Oh, and she will love the standard heated steering wheel. I did too. Perhaps best of all is the huge centre console which will hold just about any purse of any brand.

She will not be phased at all at the $66,142 price tag for the Elite, because she easily drops $800 on the South Hill Mirrored Chest and another $250 on a Champagne Leaf Platter. Of course, the MDX can be had for as little as $52,142. That model will not suffice for Mrs. Bowring, for she settles for the very best.

And in a way that is what the MDX is, a fantastic luxury crossover. In the three-row luxury crossover segment the MDX stands among little company. The Germans cost significantly more, leaving only Infiniti QX60 as it's real competition. I liked it, it felt refined and comfortable. In Canada, the MDX is Acura's most popular car. And because this one caters to its market so well, that fact shouldn't change.

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