2020 Acura MDX AWD A-Spec: Back in the game
The 2020 MDX A-Spec is further proof that Acura is committed to making up for takings its eye off its popular midsize crossover a few years ago.
Although always good SUV, Acura failed to see competitors sneaking up on them with sportier models. But a major 2017 refreshing remedied that slip with sharper exterior styling, a firmer suspension, more precise steering and — new this year — a nine-speed automatic transmission that provides more fluid acceleration.
Also available is the A-Spec package, which is includes exterior styling, special seat inserts, sport pedals and unique 20-inch alloy wheels. Our all-black version was especially striking, aided by the black wheels, and drove as good as it looked, bolstered by the company's excellent Super Handling All-Wheel-Drive system, or SH-AWD for short.
The 3.5-liter V6 is unchanged from previous years, pumping out a smooth 290 horsepower that provides good performance in the Normal mode but really comes to life in the Sport mode, which increases throttle response. We left it there for the entire week-long test and were pleased that it did not default back to Normal every time we turned off the engine, like most competitors. A Comfort mode is also available.
Everyone knows that consumers have abandoned minivans and are turning their backs on sedans in favor of crossover SUVs. The competition is getting fierce, with more and more companies now offering three-row models, like the MDX. In truth, the MDX is not as large as some of the newest offerings by other manufacturers, and its rear seat is smaller than many of them.
But the MDX is not as large, either, which makes it more nimble and easier to drive around town. For most small families, the MDX should be fine.
Honda created the Acura brand to compete in the luxury market, and all of its vehicles are cleverly position between the most affordable and the most expensive similar models. The 2020 MDX is good example, being more sophisticated than entry-level midsize crossovers but not out of reach for many consumers — while being almost as refined but a less expensive than the European versions.
Out 2020 Acura MDX A-Spec came with just about all the bells and whistles, including a dual-screen infotainment system, an upgraded stereo (with an increasingly hard to find CD player), high quality interior materials, and ACURAWATCH safety features like adaptive cruise control, collision mitigation braking and lane departure warning.
But even with the A-Spec package, the price was below $57,000, which is very reasonable for such a complete package. If you're in the market for luxury three-row midsize crossover, put the MDX near the top of your list, especially if you enjoy driving.
2020 Acura MDX A-Spec
Base price: $54,900
Price as tested: $56,295
Type: Midsize crossover SUV
Engine: 3.5-liter (290 hp, 267 lbs-ft)
Transmission: 9-speed automatic with paddle shifters.
Drive modes: Comfort, Normal, Sport
EPA estimated mileage: 19/25
Overall length: 196.2 inches
Curb weight: 4,032 to 4,350 pounds
Final assembly: East Liberty, Ohio
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