2006 Acura MDX review:

2006 Acura MDX

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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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