If you’re in the market for a midsize SUV and you’re the type that can’t make a decision, you’re in trouble. The segment includes more than 20 models. Acura, a carmaker that otherwise trails behind in virtually every segment it competes in, is on top of its game with the MDX, the most popular model on the roster of Honda’s luxury brand.
With just over 5,600 units sold in Canada last year, it occupies a prominent position in its segment behind the Lexus RX, Mercedes GLE and BMW X5 and virtually even with the Cadillac XT5. The INFINITI QX60 without being way behind displays more discreet sales.
The MDX is Acura's star player, the only model able to compete sales-wise with other top members of its category. It enjoys an excellent reputation and offers comfort, driving pleasure, efficiency and fuel economy all in one package.
It also benefits from a few updates for 2019, for example an A-Spec package that brings with it larger wheels and tires along with a more aggressive front fascia, body-colour side sills, bigger exhaust systems and more.
This MDX A-Spec also features sport seats in red or black leather with black Alcantara inserts, a thicker steering wheel with paddle shifters and glossy black exhaust tips. Total output from under hood doesn’t change, but you have yourself an MDX with sportier appeal.
Among the other minor changes, the seats are now 12-way power adjustable (instead of 10). The MDX can now be equipped with the Acura Adaptive Shock Absorber System, and in an attempt to correct the recurring problem with the 9-speed transmission wherein it never reaches the 9th gear, Acura reprogrammed the unit to start in second speed.
Gasoline or hybrid
You still have the choice of two powertrains for 2019. The 3.5L, 290-hp V6 gas engine remains the basic offering with that reworked 9-speed transmission and the highly efficient SH-AWD system, which divides torque between the front and rear wheels and from left to right.
A Sport Hybrid version with 3.0L V6, coupled with a trio of electric motors and a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission, remains the premium choice. In addition to more than reasonable fuel consumption, the Sport Hybrid also boasts more power with 325 hp and all-wheel drive.
Standard equipment includes intelligent cruise control with low-speed tracking, lane-keeping assistance, lane departure warning, autonomous emergency braking and forward collision warning. Upgrading brings a heated steering wheel, fold-down, sliding second-row seat, electric tailgate, remote starter and push-button start and remote entry.
A reassuring drive
It’s on the road that you discover the true nature of the MDX. The SUV offers comfort, a quiet ride, exceptional handling and more-than-reasonable fuel consumption all wrapped in exemplary reliability. That’s right, an SUV that’s a pleasure to drive.
Some SUVs are more sport than utilitarian – think the BMW X5, Mercedes GLE 63 AMG and Porsche Cayenne; others are more utility-focused, for example the Lexus RX, the Lincoln Navigator and… the INFINITI QX60. You have to actually consider this Nissan Pathfinder writ-premium as an alternative to a minivan. The QX60 shares its platform and powertrain with the Pathfinder, by the way…
The changes for 2019 are modest. There’s a new Luxury version, blind spot and collision warning with pedestrian detection and automatic braking in all versions. Also new is a package of high-end options and a ProAssist package that includes Lane Departure Warning, Blind Spot monitoring, and Automatic High Beam.
The Pure version features 18-inch wheels, electric heated front seats, second-row sliding seats, a rear door release horn and InTouch multimedia system, among others.
The Luxury model adds a 13-speaker Bose audio system, driver's seat memory, tilt-back side mirrors, driver's seat lumbar support, heated steering wheel and remote starter, as well as roof bars.
The Limited version features interior contrasting stitching, piano black trim, leather-trimmed steering wheel and console, black headliner, quilted and perforated stone-coloured leather seats and dark-finish 20-inch wheels.
Under the hood, you still have the 3.5L V6 developing 295 hp and 270 lb-ft of torque with the ever-present CVT transmission. In Canada, all QX60 models come standard with all-wheel drive.
While the space available to occupants is generous, the driving experience is more likely to disappoint. The steering wheel is uninspired and lifeless, the suspension a little soft and body roll is relatively substantial. You’ll have to accept going in that driving pleasure is on a par with that of a minivan, in other words pretty low in the proverbial 1-to-10 scale.
Acura MDX advantages
Since its introduction in 2001, Acura has demonstrated that the MDX is very reliable, plus it offers excellent resale value. It also delivers a far better ride than the QX60.
INFINITI QX60 advantages
For its part, the QX60 offers more space for the family with a third row of seats, a better layout inside and a more attractive look.
In terms of pricing and the amount of technology you get for it, the two models are at par. Both also benefits from an efficient all-wheel drive, with a slight advantage to Acura, and both can tow 5,000 lb with the proper equipment.
Looking at the big picture, the victory goes to the MDX as it outpaces the QX60 in almost every chapter, except for interior space. The Acura is sporty, comfortable, quiet and it offers a more efficient all-wheel drive system, and though Nissan likes to tout the fuel economy delivered by its CVT, Acura gets the same numbers with its 9-speed gearbox.
We liked less
High price (hybrid)
We liked less
Too much like a Pathfinder
|....||2019 Acura MDX||2019 INFINITI QX60|
|Fuel Economy (city)||12.7L/100 km||12.5L/100 km|
|Fuel Economy (city)||9.1L/100 km||9.0L/100 km|
|Fuel Tank||74 litres||74 litres|
|Output||290 hp||295 hp|
|Torque||267 lb-ft||270 lb-ft|
|Cylinders||6 cylinders||6 cylinders|
|Displacement||3.5 litres||3.5 litres|
|Cargo space||447 l, 1 277 l||2268 kg|
|Towing capacity||2,268 kg||2,268 kg|
|Length||4917 mm||4988 mm|
|Width||1975 mm||1960 mm|
|Height||1716 mm||1722 mm|
|Wheelbase||2820 mm||2900 mm|
|Warranty||4 yrs/80,000 km||4 yrs/100,000 km|
|Prices||$54,390 to $69,990||$55,795 to $65,295|