They say that you get what you pay for, but savvy auto shoppers know that isn’t always the case. The 2019 Acura MDX is solid proof that affordability doesn’t necessarily mean sacrificing quality. Indeed, while some of its competitors boast ever-rising prices that are high enough to trigger an acute case of sticker shock, the Acura MDX sits comfortably at a $45,295 starting MSRP that’s only $100 more than the outgoing model. That’s great news considering the 2018 MDX was already named the best value among three-row luxury SUVs by U.S. News & World Report.

As with many Acura and Honda vehicles, the MDX is also known for its strong reliability and resale value. There wasn’t much to improve upon, but the latest model year primarily brings an aggressive new A-Spec performance trim, a more refined transmission and some tweaks to the start-stop system that now comes standard across all trims.

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Performance Specs

The 2019 Acura MDX is motivated by Honda’s venerable 3.5-liter V6 engine. Part of the company’s “Earth Dreams” platform, the trusty powerplant features advanced internal components that Honda — Acura’s parent company — says boost efficiency and power while reducing emissions. In the MDX, the V6 is tuned to produce 290 horsepower and 267 pound-feet of torque. It’s linked up to a nine-speed automatic transmission that’s been recalibrated to smooth out shifting and further boost the engine’s efficiency.

An MDX Sport Hybrid model is also available. The hybrid features a 3.0-liter V6 gasoline engine paired with electric motors at each rear wheel. Together, they produce 321 combined horsepower and 289 pound-feet of torque. Translating that power is a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox that’s built on technologies Honda first developed for their NSX supercar. The standard rear-wheel drivetrain is very capable, but the optional Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive system provides the MDX an added layer of confidence and capability.

Fuel Economy

Once known as gas-guzzling behemoths, modern SUVs have come a long way in terms of fuel economy. In the 2019 MDX, several efficiency-minded technologies help you get the most out of every drop of fuel. Honda’s “Earth Dreams” engine platform uses improved valvetrain and direct injection technologies to create greater efficiency without robbing power. Honda’s Variable Cylinder Management system further reduces fuel waste by deactivating two or three cylinders when less power is needed. This results in up to an eight percent boost in terms of efficiency.

Altogether, the base 2019 Acura MDX checks in at 20 mpg in city driving and 27 mpg on the highway. Opting for the all-wheel drivetrain drops those figures by just a single mile per gallon. The performance-oriented Acura MDX A-Spec model fares similarly, posting 19 mpg city and 25 mpg highway. Not surprisingly, the MDX Sport Hybrid offers the best efficiency. You can expect to get around 26 mpg in city conditions and 27 mpg on the open road.

Safety and Entertainment Features

As shown by its virtually flawless crash test ratings, the 2019 Acura MDX is among the safest vehicles on the road. Part of the reason for that is Honda’s Advanced Compatibility Engineering (ACE) body structure, which helps to safely absorb and deflect energy in a crash. The MDX is also equipped with a full slate of advanced active safety systems. This includes the AcuraWatch driver assist suite, blind spot monitoring, surround-view cameras, and the AcuraLink system. Best of all, many of these technologies are standard on all trim levels. You’ll also get Acura’s brilliantly bright Jewel Eye LED headlights to illuminate your path through the dark.

The MDX also boasts plenty of tech features to keep you entertained. There’s a dual-screen infotainment system, full smartphone integration, Bluetooth connectivity, a voice control system, and up to five USB ports located throughout the cabin. Siri Eyes Free integration is also included. The infotainment system was just upgraded for the 2018 model and carries over largely unchanged for 2019. If all that isn’t enough, you can also add the top-shelf Entertainment package. This stuffs the MDX with an upscale 12-speaker audio system, a 110-volt power outlet, and a rear entertainment system that adds a 16.2-inch screen with HDMI compatibility.

Comparing the Competition

Luxury SUVs are among the hottest vehicles on the road right now. Naturally, that means there are more models than ever competing for your car-shopping attention. Here’s a look at a couple of Acura’s closest rivals and how they stack up against the latest MDX offering.

2019 Audi Q7

The 2019 Audi Q7 certainly looks the part of a luxury SUV, offering a lavishly appointed interior and a quality infotainment system. However, Audi’s flagship SUV is also considerably costlier than the more practical MDX. Despite being turbocharged, its 248-horsepower four-cylinder powertrain is also lacking compared to Acura’s 290-horsepower V6. The Q7’s fuel economy also falls just shy of the MDX, coming in at 19 mpg highway and 25 mpg city. Its crash test ratings, while solid, also fail to measure up to the ultra-safe Acura SUV.

2019 Infiniti QX60

The 2019 Infiniti QX60 is a well-equipped SUV that offers a responsive and enjoyable driving experience. Its 295-horsepower V6 engine also coaxes out slightly more power than the MDX. Unfortunately, comfort can be a real issue. The QX60’s responsiveness comes at the cost of a stiffer suspension, which means the ride quality suffers compared to the smoother MDX. There are also fewer comfort adjustments available inside the cabin. Additionally, the quality engineering at Honda gives the 2019 Acura MDX an edge in terms of both efficiency and reliability.

The Bottom Line

The 2019 Acura MDX may not offer the abundance of powertrain options or the gaudy name recognition you’ll find in some competitors, but it’s hard to beat the total package Acura has put together. The MDX is a three-row luxury SUV that simply does everything well. Best of all, you won’t have to break the bank to get behind the wheel.

Pros

  • Outstanding safety ratings with tons of available active driver assists
  • Proven reliability and resale value
  • Great fuel economy across all models
  • Affordable for its class

Cons

  • Dual-screen infotainment system can be clunky
  • Slightly less seating capacity than some competitors

If you’re in need of a big, luxurious SUV that can haul up to seven people in safety and comfort, the 2019 Acura MDX is a fine choice. With a reasonable sticker price and strong fuel economy across the board, it’ll also help you save some cash in the process. Add Acura’s Super Handling All-Wheel Drive and you’ve got a plush, sporty people-mover that can get you virtually anywhere you need to go.