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Acura MDX
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Overall: When it comes to combining luxury and utility, the MDX is Acura’s ace in the hole. Continual improvement of the breed keeps in on buyers’ radar.

Drivetrain: The ol’ reliable 3.5-liter V6 hauls the mail; a nine-speed automatic transmission replaces the previous six-speed shifter.

The MDX was all new for the 2014 model year, but that hasn’t stopped progress. For 2016 Acura has swapped out the six-speed automatic transmission for a nine-speed unit. It’s 66 pounds lighter and delivers faster shifts (by 25 percent). The nine-speed surprisingly has no positive impact on fuel economy that remains at 19 mpg in the city and 27 on the highway (20/27 with idle-stop engine-shut-off system). Acura has also done away with the traditional floor shifter and replaced it with a series of electronically controlled rocker switches and buttons. Park, Neutral and Drive are engaged by pressing individual buttons while shifting into reverse involves pulling back on a rocker switch. The result is a de-cluttered floor console and improved access to the storage compartment beneath the control stack. Acura has made its collision-avoiding AcuraWatch system available across all trim levels, including the base model. Among the many features is adaptive cruise control with low-speed follow that maintains a safe distance from the vehicle in front, while collision-mitigating braking will bring the MDX to a full stop, if necessary, to avoid a crash. Also included is road-departure mitigation that helps keep you in your lane as well as from heading off the road entirely. Blind spot monitoring and cross-traffic alerts also help keep you safe when surrounded by traffic and act as your eyes when backing up. AcuraWatch also adds a multi-view rear backup camera with directional lines to help when reversing into tight spot. Unchanged is the MDX’s 3.5-liter V6 that produces 290 horsepower and 267 pound-feet of torque. Among the options are a navigation system, premium audio package, rear-seat entertainment screen and a GPS-linked climate control that varies the cabin temp according to the sun’s position.