2006 Acura MDX review:

2006 Acura MDX

Pricing Unavailable
  • Trim levels Touring
  • Available Engine Gas
  • Body style SUV

Roadshow Editors' Rating

7.7 Overall
  • Cabin tech 8
  • Performance tech 7
  • Design 8

The Good The 2006 Acura MDX gets a ULEV-II emission rating, comes with Honda's useful voice-command system, and offers three-row seating with decent cargo space and a very carlike drive.

The Bad The 2006 Acura MDX's big touch-screen navigation display doesn't control other car systems or display XM Satellite Radio information.

The Bottom Line A few frustrating tech shortcomings let it down, but the 2006 Acura MDX is still a good mix of comfort and utility at its price.

2006 Acura MDX

The 2006 Acura MDX is at the end of its current product cycle, with an all-new version scheduled to debut sometime in 2007. It has aged well, with only minor face-lifts and upgrades required to keep it contending in the increasingly crowded luxury-SUV space.

The 2006 Acura MDX's roster of tech features is full, especially when outfitted with navigation and the rear-seat entertainment system, but not all of these amenities are as useful as they could be. A few simple oversights unfortunately spoil an otherwise satisfying tech experience, but on balance, it's easy to keep all passengers entertained while on the road.

The familiar Honda/Acura 3.5-liter V-6 engine provides adequate performance, along with decent fuel economy and emissions ratings. Variable torque management and stability control work to enhance driving feel and safety, and the MDX's handling is comfortably carlike both around town and at highway speeds.

At a base list price of $44,200 for the Touring edition with a rear entertainment system and navigation, the 2006 Acura MDX remains an attractive proposition. Despite its aging underpinnings, the MDX has stayed abreast of the competition in terms of tech offerings, and its continuing popularity is testament to its overall quality.

The 2006 Acura MDX makes the most of quality materials and infotainment systems in keeping its occupants comfortable. With leather surfaces on all three rows of seating and real wood accents on the center console and the doors, the luxury feel is thorough. Our test car's Touring edition adds brushed-metal trim to the console. The Touring edition also includes an eight-speaker Bose sound system with an in-dash six-CD changer and XM Satellite Radio with three months' service; Acura's HandsFreeLink for voice control over Bluetooth cell phone integration and other cabin features; rain-sensing windshield wipers; a driver-recognition memory system; an eight-way adjustable driver's seat with power lumbar support; special 17-inch alloy wheels; and a roof rack.

The rear-seat DVD entertainment system is well done, with a 7-inch fold-down screen, a fully featured dedicated remote, and a pair of wireless headphones that power themselves on when the earpieces are twisted into the listening position, turning off again when stored with their earpieces flat. Most major controls are also available on the face of the headliner-mounted unit, so the remote isn't always required.

The rear-seat DVD entertainment system will keep rear-seat passengers entertained on lengthy road trips.

The same voice-controlled navigation system we've found so agreeable in other recent Acuras and Hondas we've tested is present in the 2006 Acura MDX as well. Allowing voice input of street names makes programming destinations a breeze, and the touch screen simplifies using the system's menus. The expected view and configuration options are easy to customize, and route calculations and view updates are rapid. OnStar with one year of Safe and Sound plan coverage is included with the nav system. A universal garage-door opener is easy to program.

The 2006 Acura MDX certainly leaves little to be desired in the range of its cabin gadgets, but the way many of them fall just short of full usefulness is frustrating. The audio and rear DVD systems are the most glaring example. While the rear screen and headphones can play from any of the available front-seat sources, as well as from the audio/video inputs in the third-row armrest, the large front-seat LCD touch screen plays no part in controlling any of it. A rear-power knob at the bottom of the center stack is the front seats' main rear-system control, and worse, the lower single-line display is also the only place that XM station, song, and artist information are shown.

The center stack in the MDX lacks integration. The stereo has separate controls and displays from the navigation LCD.

This failure to fully capitalize on the main front screen extends to the rearview camera, included with the navigation system. The inclusion of these systems is always welcome in large, high-riding vehicles, but their usefulness is greatly enhanced by onscreen distance and path markers, both of which are lacking in the 2006 Acura MDX. The rain-sensing wiper system is another disappointment, with a confusing adjustable-sensitivity feature that had no discernable effect on the wipers' hesitancy to clear the view in wet conditions.

The front-seat-vs.-rear-seat-system control issues aside, these are mainly minor sticking points in a well-designed and efficiently configurable interior. The third-row seats, while suitable only for small children, do stow fully flat to the floor, and the second-row bench splits and folds 60/40 to open a vast cargo area when needed.

The 2006 Acura MDX's climate controls are well placed, and the ventilation system includes filtration for both the front and the separate rear-seat outlets. A power-tilt moonroof also helps keep fresh air circulating through the large cabin.

The 2006 Acura MDX uses the same basic 3.5-liter V-6 engine we recently tested in the Acura RL. Tuned to produce 253 horsepower and 250 pound-feet of torque in this application, the engine is nicely suited to the MDX's mixed-duty mission.

The engine uses an aluminum block and cylinder heads, with tuned exhaust manifolds that act with the VTEC variable valve timing and the lift-control system to maximize efficiency. The result is a relatively broad power band and good performance for the large MDX--while still maintaining decent EPA fuel economy ratings of 17mpg in the city and 23mpg on the highway, as well as ULEV-II emissions ratings, which are still a rarity in the full-size SUV segment.

When the going gets slippery, the MDX responds with a locking rear differential.

Getting the power to the wheels with the most available traction is left to the VTM-4 variable torque-management feature also used in the 2006 Honda Ridgeline and other four-wheel-drive Honda products. The 2006 Acura MDX remains fully front-wheel driven under normal dry conditions, with power only being routed rearward through twin electromagnetic clutches in the final rear-drive unit when the system anticipates the need.

VTM-4 also incorporates a dashboard switch to temporarily lock full rear drive for getting out of snow or mud, with power gradually sent forward once 6mph is reached and returning to normal front drive at 18mph. If the gear selector is in first, second, or reverse, drive will move progressively to the rear under 18mph until the system is switched off. Again, as with the Ridgeline, the only transmission available for the 2006 Acura MDX is a five-speed automatic.

The driving experience is very refined, in the manner of most Acuras. The seating position is SUV-high and affords excellent visibility, with the thin, slanted C- and D-pillars intruding minimally. Acceleration is adequate, and the MDX never wants for power. The drive-by-wire throttle is easy to modulate.

The 2006 Acura MDX gets five-star NHTSA crash-test ratings across the board. The driver and front passenger each get dual-stage front air bags and side-impact bags, and front and rear side curtain air bags deploy based on a rollover sensor. Brakes are ventilated discs in front and solid discs at the rear, with ABS and electronic brake distribution both standard. The ABS sensors work with VTM-4 and vehicle-stability assist to slow the vehicle in dangerous situations by selectively braking individual wheels to reduce slippage. Throttle and ignition systems are also managed when necessary to maintain the driver's intended path.

A tire-pressure-monitoring system is standard on the 2006 Acura MDX. Warning lights for this and other vehicle systems appear in the lower half of the speedometer face. A separate vehicle diagram shows which tire has lost pressure.

The 2006 Acura MDX does not require a scheduled tune-up for 105,000 miles. The warranty period is for four years/50,000 miles. Power train coverage is for six years/70,000 miles, and outer-body rust-through protection is for five years with unlimited mileage.

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