2019 Acura MDX A-Spec Brings ‘Sportattude’ to the Best Selling SUV in America

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2019 Acura MDX A-Spec Logo

 

 

As promised back in 2016, Acura now offers the NSX inspired A-Spec trim package throughout their entire premium car and SUV lineup, and with that comes what we refer to as Sportattude.  Cool enough, but is A Spec packaging too edgy for 2019 Acura MDX, the best selling 3-row premium SUV in America?

Owners like Acura MDX for its uptrim 3-row premium SUV comfort. While not as large or opulent as some German or domestic heavy hitters, Acura MDX is long the best selling 3-row SUV in North America. At first look 2019 MDX lives up to its ancestry. In the leather and wood accented Advance or Touring trim level, it is a quiet pleasure to drive and ride.

Featuring active electronic accident avoidance, driver assist technology, and one of the last remaining V6 engine drivetrain in the segment, standard equipped with SH-AWD, (smart handling all wheel drive) Acura’s latest Precision Performance NSX inspired 3-row masterpiece is a measurable purchase or lease value. So why go A-Spec?

I do appreciate the eye-candy NSX super car inspired A-Spec trim packaging gleaned from the track inspired body language of NSX and TLX. And, while A-Spec may be a bit of a styling stretch for returning MDX buyers, Acura believes that a younger demographic is ready to embrace MDX — it’s good to have options.

2019 Acura MDX A-Spec body design promises road performance

Last month The Advanced Car spent a week behind the wheel of 2019 Acura RDX A Spec 2-row SUV, impressive is an understatement. While the RDX is completely reinvented for 2019, MDX is not — but then again must it be? Can a 3-row SUV be sporty?

That depends on what you’re looking for in SUV performance. Keeping 2019 Acura MDX A-Spec in perspective, this midsize 3-row SUV offers a fully loaded, tech-rich drive and ride environment with more than adequate engine performance, and an outstanding real time torque vectoring all-wheel-drive platform, for well under $60,000, the competition does not. Note: Sport + works in this MDX.

Yet, when compared to the reinvented turbocharged SH-AWD RDX, MDX comes across a bit anemic in drive dynamics, and a bit outdated on the Tech side of the equation. We’d to see a turbocharged engine option come down the line for MDX. Perhaps it will.

2019 Acura MDX A-Spec handling dynamic

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Acura MDX A-Spec captures the imagination

With or without A-Spec packaging MDX is a 3-row SUV, not a sport sedan, and handles accordingly –through the sweeps like a well suspended SUV. We also find MDX A-Spec, regardless of drive mode, to be a bit bouncy and stiff when driven anywhere but on a freshly paved highway.

I believe that with a bit of suspension fine tuning Acura engineering could improve MDX ride quality while optimizing overall handling and reduced body roll. However, like all 3-row SUVs, MDX does settle into a pleasant ride with added weight and cargo.

When compared to Acura’s new generation turbocharged 2.0 Liter 4 cylinder gasoline engine, the time tested MDX 3.5 Liter V6 lacks torque in the mid range; although I do appreciate the deep exhaust tone broadcast through 4 inch chrome dual exhaust, it’s old-school cool.

Power adjusted fabric and leather covered A-Spec seating is a bit too firm

As much as our team loves the red leather and black fabric clad A-Spec seating look, frankly, they’re painfully stiff. The newly designed, Recaro inspired bucket fails our initial seat test when compared to past MDX leather surface seats, and several of the competitors in the premium SUV segment. But then again, seat comfort is a personal measurement. I recommend an extended test drive before purchase.

Granted, our 2019 Acura MDX SH-AWD A-Spec shows a mere 1150 miles on the Odometer. So, the seat surfaces may loosen up a bit, or they may not. This is Honda’s premium SUV lineup and, at this price point, the seats should be perfect.

Damned if we don’t find Acura’s antiquated 2 screen center-stack still featured in MDX

We’re not sure where to go with this factoid. The Advanced Car crew recently spent some quality seat time behind the wheel of 2019 Acura RDX. Granted, RDX is the first car in Acura’s precision engineered lineup to feature the maker’s slant on a smart touch-pad mouse-like interface, similar to Lexus, BMW and other premium car makers.

However, we found Acura’s version to be a bit more intuitive, precise, and thoroughly enjoyed the single screen driver to car interface color static touchscreen. You won’t find this setup in MDX, not yet anyway.

No worries, what’s in place works well, and we do appreciate the large manual dial select drive modes and SH-AWD available in MDX A-Spec, as well as the slightly edgy NSX inspired body and cabin styling.

Also of note is Acura’s premium sound system, multiple available charging ports, and wireless hands-free connectivity for phone and entertainment — all very premium.

Dollars for Donuts 2019 Acura MDX A-Spec remains an attractive lease or purchase value when price and feature compared against the leading sellers in midsize 3-row SUV segment.

The captivating looker that is 2019 Acura MDX A-Spec comes to market rather fully loaded. For 2019 MDX is standard equipped with AcuraWatch ™, the maker’s state of the auto art active safety and driver assist technology.

The safety side of MDX begins with a less than subtle reminder to buckle up. MDX will not engage drive prior to acknowledging that the driver is wearing a seat belt. Also, back-up camera, cross traffic alert, and auto braking collision avoidance is standard — Lane Keep Assist, adaptive cruise control and more.

Acura MDX A-Spec Presents

Your inner audiophile will enjoy the Acura ELS studio quality sound delivered through 10 strategically placed speakers. Driver controls for all functions, including cruise control and entertainment, are easily accessed from one of the best smart wheel setups in the segment.

Navigation, system settings and entertainment are also accessed and controlled from the center stack integrated twin screen command module. Front row occupants will enjoy ample center bin storage and arm rests for convenience and comfort.

Cabin climate is adjusted and controlled separately for driver, front passenger, and second row occupants. Visibility is good to the front from row two, with ample leg,head and shoulder room for 3 adults. A 3rd row is available, although more suited for children, pets and luggage.

2019 Acura MDX A-Spec pricing and technical bullet points.

MSRP: $54,800 plus all applicable fees.

Engine: 3.5 Liter aluminum block and heads, SOHC 24-Valve, direct injected i-VTEC V6.

Horsepower: 290 @ 6200 RPM.

Torque: 267 @ 4700 RPM.

Transmission: 9 speed automatic featuring sequential steering wheel mounted paddle shifting and radial dial 4 drive mode select. * Comfort, Normal, Sport, Sport+.

Fuel Economy: 19 city/25 highway/ 21 MPG combined.

Recommended Fuel: 91 + octane unleaded premium gasoline.

Emissions rating: ULEV 125  * PPM.

Suspension: MacPherson Strut front, and multi-link rear suspension.

Steering: Electronic power assist.

Brakes: 12.6” ventilated front/ 13“ solid rear.

Size class: Midsize 3-row premium SUV.

Curb Weight: 4275 Lb.

 

Find complete trim options and specifications here.

 

A closing thought or two

Overall, the 2019 MDX A-Spec is a credit to the Acura line, offering versatility and comfort in a very attractive package. For the dollar spent 2019 Acura MDX A-Spec may be the greatest value in the segment. I recommend drive comparing this NSX inspired 3 row against Audi, BMW, and Volvo XC60.

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