2016 Acura MDX Gets Nine-Speed Auto and New Tech Packages
Extra Driver-Assist Features Available, More Efficient Transmission Standard
America’s bestselling luxury seven-seater is getting a little bit nicer, with updates announced for the 2016 Acura MDX crossover. Headlining the changes is a new nine-speed automatic transmission, mated to the carryover 3.5L V-6 producing 290 hp and 267 lb-ft of torque. The new transmission comes standard on all 2016 MDXs and is operated by an electronic selector rather than a traditional gearshift.
Acura says the transmission selects gears 25 percent faster than the gearbox it replaces, and with closer gear ratios, we’d expect the new MDX to outperform its predecessor by a slim margin. Additionally, the company claims that the electronic selector creates more “working space” in the center console, but it’s still located in the same position is the current model’s gearshift. We think that’s a bit of a missed opportunity: placing the gear selector on the instrument panel (as on the Lincoln MKC and Ram pickup) would have opened up space in the center console for additional storage.
Amazingly, the nine-speed auto is lighter than the six-speed in this year’s MDX by 66 pounds, improving both performance and efficiency. Additionally, the optional Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) system is lighter by 19 pounds as well. Cutting weight from a vehicle’s drivetrain can have a dramatic effect on its responsiveness, so this Acura should maintain its reputation as a sporty, fun SUV.
Other improvements to the 2016 MDX include newly available driver-assistance features. AcuraWatch, a standalone package available for all MDX models, includes adaptive cruise control, pre-collision braking, lane-departure warning, lane-keeping assistance, and road-departure prevention. Additionally, pairing AcuraWatch with the Technology Package nets the MDX’s new owner blind spot monitoring and forward collision warning, and AcuraWatch, with all of its associated features, come standard on the Advance Package.
Acura is including other minor upgrades in the new MDX, including an easy-entry driver seat that slides rearward a few inches when the door is opened, Siri Eyes Free voice recognition, a neat frameless rear-view mirror, and a tire-pressure assist system to help the driver maintain correct air pressure. When filling the tires at a service station or the like, the MDX will sound an audible notification when the tires are inflated to their correct pressure, helping prevent overinflation.
Interestingly, no styling changes were made, but we don’t really think changes are necessary. The MDX is still a sharp, fresh SUV, and we think Acura’s design language works very well on the seven-seater’s bigger canvas.
Pricing for the 2016 MDX starts at $42,865 (plus $920 for destination charges). That base price is $100 more than its 2015 counterpart. A top-spec MDX SH-AWD with Advance, Entertainment, and AcuraWatch Plus Packages starts at $57,080, which, again, is $100 more than a comparable 2015 model. Considering the powertrain updates and new features, that premium seems thoroughly reasonable, and it significantly undercuts its German competition. Acura claims the MDX is the bestselling three-row luxury SUV ever, and we don’t think these updates will jeopardize that title.