It was hard to follow a trio of silver Lexus RXs on the freeway -- as I did this morning -- without wondering what on earth could be going through their driver's minds. Whatever it was though, my suggestion would be they quickly see a doctor. Outbreaks of mass automotive repetition like this on our highways need to be nipped in the bud.
Fortunately, there's a treatment for the particular strain I witnessed -- medically referred to as Silver Lexus Crossover Syndrome, I think -- and that's Acura's latest MDX. First of all, the MDX is never, ever, seen in groups of three (let alone two, come to think of it). And while the Acura is a bit pricier than the RX (by about eight percent, comparing AWD base versions), for it you're rewarded with a handles-like-no-other-crossover experience, made better for 2010 by a fairly comprehensive sprucing.
What's spruced most of all is an all-new 3.7-liter V-6 engine featuring a higher compression ratio and a bigger throttle body girded by a stronger crankshaft and connecting rods, a more rigid block, and better cooling. On paper, all this revamping appears to be kind of puzzling, as its maximum power is not only identical to its predecessor's (both offering 300 horses from 3.7 liters), but the new engine's torque actually decreases 5 pound-feet, to 270. The riddle's answer is that the new engine's peak power is at 300 more rpm while its maximum torque appears at 500 fewer revs. In other words, it's tremendously more flexible. It also gets better mileage, by 1 mpg both in the city and on the highway.
Magnifying the MDX's flexibility even further is a new six-speed automatic (replacing the previous five-speeder) that Acura claims to be the most advanced transmission it's ever built. Notably, gears one through 5 are tightly spaced so you're never caught flat-footed, while sixth is a tall, relaxed-cruising cog. And among its various coolnesses are paddle-shifts, grade logic, consultation with the lateral-g level before shifting, hill-start assist, two shift modes, and a transmission cooler.
In addition to Acura's remarkable SH-AWD (Super-Handling All Wheel Drive), which can vector the rear wheel's lateral torque split (and aided by stiffer trailing arm mounts) a new, topline Advanced Entertainment Package offers available 19-inch wheels and magneto-rheological dampers to make the MDX one sweet-handling crossover. Oh, and its new fascia and other visual revisions, should also make the 2010 MDX little easier to remember too, come trade-in time for my numerous RX-driving freeway companions.