Drive to Five Review: 2017 Acura MDX Advance; Canyon Lake Legend Meet

Odometer (Legend):  548,850


Odometer (MDX):  1,817


Last Thursday at Bashas’ supermarket in uptown Phoenix, I put the newest Acura MDX to the test doing what it does best!  I made all the soccer moms jealous with every family’s dream ride:  a three-row SUV that brings the comforts of home into a grocery-getter that’s surprisingly fun to drive.


This striking $57k top-line model brings in all the bells and whistles, including some new-this-year amenities for second-row passengers:  heated seats and captain chairs.  The kids never had it so good!



Prior MDX write-ups are here.  I’ve been lucky to get my mitts on a couple prior iterations of this fine people-mover:

Now in its third generation, this 2017 model is the ‘refreshed’ version of the bodystyle that debuted in 2014.  This latest version wears Acura’s refreshed front end with a grille devoid of the “shield” we’d become familiar with since 2009.  Instead, the styling is now derived from Acura’s Precision Concept and is pentagonal in shape.  Continuing rearward, the design is clean and carried over from prior iterations.  The wheels are 20″ in diameter and a handsome design.  Bling bling!


The MDX gives me a “they’ve thought of everything” feeling.  The lights on underside of the sideview mirrors turn on as you approach the vehicle at night to illuminate the ground below.  The liftgate is powered electronically.  And the auto start/stop feature (a fuel-savings enhancement to shut off the motor temporarily at idle when stopped) can be triggered by the level of brake pedal pressure applied.  It took me a couple of minutes to figure that one out, but I fell in love with it when I did.



Bottom line:  this is the most technologically-advanced MDX ever, and it has to be:  the three-row luxury SUV segment in which it dwells is extremely competitive.  And clearly Acura is doing something right:  The MDX is the brand’s top-selling vehicle, moving over 5,000 units in October 2016 (up 23% over the prior September).


My test vehicle was a White Diamond Pearl All-Wheel-Drive “Advance” model with Tech, Advance, and AcuraWatch packages.  Basically, “fully loaded.”  The driver seat is 10-way adjustable.  The climate control system has 3 zones.  Everything is push-button or even hands-free.  If you can’t get comfortable driving this MDX, you’re a lost cause.  I had my fair share of fun with it during my 7 days of cruising around in it.  The MDX is the king of the urban jungle.  I noticed that for being a larger vehicle it’s still easy to navigate in crowded city streets and still has great visibility.


It’s easy to see why SUVs have such a stronghold on modern families.  It was nice to have the higher step-in height, and I loved being able to reach straight out the driver side window to swipe my badge and get into my office’s parking garage (as opposed to being in the ILX and having to reach upward to reach the sensor).  Similarly, ATMs are so much more convenient when they’re right at arm level.  I could get used to that!


Power delivery in the MDX is smooth and predictable with the 290-horsepower, 3.5-liter engine and 9-speed automatic transmission.  For having so many gears, I found the MDX to do surprisingly little gear-hunting.  It is decisive and determined to understand its driver.  While my travels didn’t take me off the beaten path, based on my prior experience with putting a third-gen MDX through its dirt-road paces, I would proclaim this SUV just as comfortable on-road as off-road.  Versatility is the name of the game.


Is there room in my garage for an MDX right now?  Absolutely.  Do I have a need for one?  Not at all.  Which isn’t to say it would come in handy from time to time.  As a single 34-year-old, I may not fit the target buyer market for this vehicle.  For those who do, it hits an absolute bullseye.

Many thanks to Acura for letting me behind the wheel!




Few other fun pieces of news below from the past week or so.

1979 Honda Accord from The Simpsons – Thanks, Tim, for sending this to me.  Love it.

MDX at night


My friend Daniel stopped by in his 2012 Acura TL, bringing the Acura count at my place to 8.


I put up some new posters at the house including three nice, framed 24×36 prints.


Battery replacement for both Legends!  Both were 4+ years old.  Thanks Autozone.


On Saturday morning, I met up with some Legend owners for a cruise to Tortilla Flat near Apache Junction in eastern Mesa, Arizona.  We cruised up Highway 88 through the Tonto National Forest.


Left to right:  Gabe, Leon, Tyson


Leon’s interior on his 127,000-mile 1994 LS coupe in Pearl White is really nice.


Gabe’s car looks great too considering it is 24 years old and has 257,000 miles.


Great scenery all around!


Group shot


Headed back toward civilization, but stopping at the shores of Canyon Lake for a pic.


15 Responses to “Drive to Five Review: 2017 Acura MDX Advance; Canyon Lake Legend Meet”

  1. Cool review! I’m not the target audience for the MDX either, but it seems like a winner. And I MUCH prefer that new grille design.

    Anything big planned for the Legend coupe for 550,000?

    • Agreed on the new front-end treatment. No plans for 550k but I’m thinking I need to do something special. At my current rate it will still take me a bit of time to get there!

  2. Nice to see Acura still sends you new vehicles even though your fully devoted to the vintage models. Perhaps they secretly believe you’ll cave one day and move up?

    Regarxing the MDX I was hoping to read your views on the controversial 9-speed shift selector as many have criticized it’s interface complexity. Also hoped to hear your thoughts on the SH-AWD system.

    BTW reading an SUV review with a Simpsons reference made me think of an unrelated Simpsons vehicle episode:

    Sorry Acura I couldn’t resist… 😉

    • Oh no. I’m going to have the “Canyonero” jingle in my head for the entire remainder of my workday. What have you done!? Haha, thanks for sharing that. As for the MDX tech talk – SH-AWD has always been a high point for Acura engineering. I took my last MDX test vehicle on a pretty aggressive off-road loop from Bloody Basin Road on I-17 all the way into Carefree, including some ultra steep side roads. It was confident and competent.

      I had no gripes with the 9-speed automatic but I didn’t care much for its push-button switchgear. I like old fashioned levers. For example, I went to move the MDX out of the driveway at one point and the vehicle kept kicking me out of Reverse and back into Park just because the door was slightly ajar. I was barely going to be moving at idle speed, but it still felt necessary to keep me from going anywhere.

  3. I love the new MDX! Acura of Langley has always treated me like gold. Whenever I bring one of my cars in for service, they make sure I have the newest top of the line models available as loaners, it’s just good business. You’re right Tyson, even I can get comfortable in one of these 🙂

  4. That MDX is super nice!

  5. I wonder if that paint is the same as Premium White Pearl I have on my 2005 TSX. The name is slightly different.

  6. Great review as always Tyson! I very much enjoyed reading about the MDX. Keep up the good work.

    How’s the ILX holding up? You haven’t been going on trips in it.

    • I know! The ILX has hardly been driven in recent weeks. And my work commute is super short. Plus this coming weekend I’m flying to Orlando for 3 days so none of the cars are going anywhere. It’s doing well though! Still not quite 185k. Maybe 200 by springtime.

  7. Sure was a nice 3 mile commute to the office to deliver it back – packs quite the punch for grocery getter. Great review and highlights! Though I think it still looks outta place in your garage.

    • The MDX was best described by our friend Justin as “an Uber driver’s dream car.” Sounds about right. But it would take a lot of Ubering to offset that $57k pricetag.

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