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Acura MDX
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Overall
MDX makes a strong case for the best near-lux tall wagon going; unchanged since new model debuted for the 2014 model year.

Drivetrain
Front-wheel-drive is a relatively new thing for the MDX and all-wheel-drive remains an option; 290-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 and six-speed automatic standard; fuel economy a high point.

The seven-passenger MDX has long been a popular choice when it comes to car talk around the white-collar water cooler. But the third generation, which debuted for the 2014 model year, shares nothing with its predecessor and broke new ground in content, technology and fuel efficiency. The shape and familial shield-type grille are dead giveaways as to the MDX’s origins. But a slightly lower roofline, a three-inch stretch between the front and rear wheels and a two-inch gain in overall length makes it appear larger than the tape measure suggests. The MDX conveys a strong sense of luxury, especially with its “Jewel Eye” headlights that have become the signature styling item for the Acura brand. Although cargo volume was slightly reduced, functionality improved with added length behind the third-row seat. There’s also a flatter load floor when both rear rows are folded. Button clutter on the redesigned dashboard and control panel is reduced to nine from 41 as the rest are now incorporated into a console-mounted dial plus a touch-screen display for the audio, communications and climate-control systems. The current MDX provides a supple ride and lighter steering, which is a real departure from previous versions. But it drives like an upscale wagon should, and is in no way bouncy or sloppy over rough surfaces. Acura claims the more aerodynamic body structure weighs 123 pounds less and, combined with other measures, contributes to a total 275-pound weight trimming (for comparison, the Audi Q7 is heavier by nearly 1,000 pounds). A 290-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 carries over with a fuel-economy rating of 18 mpg in the city and 27 on the highway, bettering the previous 16/21 marks. The numbers improve to 20/28 for front-wheel-drive MDX.