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Great, responsive car. Terrible interface.

Edmunds.com logo Edmunds.com 7/27/2015 G. Adams

Before buying, I test drove a 2016 Pilot EX-L and a 2015 MDX. In my opinion, the MDX felt more agile and responsive than the Pilot, and I preferred the MDX's interior and exterior styling over the Pilot. The Good:Car handles incredibly well. Accelerates, turns, and brakes superbly. If you're looking for a three-row SUV, I can't think of anything that would come even close to the same level of performance and value, except perhaps a Pilot. The only other option I considered was the Volvo XC90, but it would cost around 25-30% more, and although I greatly prefer the Volvo's interior and user interface, my friends with Volvos have had issues with reliability. Audi Q7 also looks great, but again price and reliability issues steered me away. So, from a price-performance-reliability standard, the MDX is very hard to beat. I took the MDX on a curvy, secluded mountain highway, and it was truly the most thrilling drive I've ever had. I'm happy with the car.The Bad:The user interface is disgraceful. Acura's worst yet, and that's saying something. Even though the dealer set up the car for my wife and me, my wife's first solo drive in the car had her near tears because of the maddening user interface. For instance, getting the car to accept her phone's bluetooth connection instead of mine was crazy complex, and you have to go through two entirely separate menus if you want to transfer both the phone operations and the phone's media (e.g., Pandora) from one source to another. Even everyday tasks like turning on the seat's heaters, adjusting the A/C, or tinkering with the audio settings (e.g., fade/balance) all take multiple levels of menus, requiring too much of the driver's focus and attention. I sorely miss when I could do any of those things with a single gesture (flip a switch! turn a dial!) without having to take my eyes off the road. Now, I have to find the 1 cm square on the display panel that takes me to the menu to adjust the fan. Then the menu changes, and I have to navigate my hand to the "+" and "-" icons. Even when I know what to do -- which isn't often the case, because the menu system is poorly laid out -- my eyes leave the road for what'd I guess to be about three seconds... just to adjust the fan! Speaking of user interfaces, the displays in the car are terrible. Just plain old washed out and "fuzzy." I'm wondering if Acura got a deal on surplus parts from circa 2001. Backup camera quality feels like it's made from Soviet-era parts, and the touchpad was probably made from leftover Microsoft Zune panels. Resolution and clarity are shameful. Other annoyances:The glove compartment light apparently only comes on if the headlights are on. I, personally, tend to open the glove compartment when the engine is off, and even if it's light outside, the back of my glove compartment is still pretty dark.The chrome trim used all over the center stack reflects the sun like a mirror, creating an annoying and blinding distraction. My wife and I each experienced this independently, so I don't think I'm being nit-picky. Look for a recall on this in future months, where your dealer installs non-reflective stickers over the chrome trim to solve this safety issue. ;-) With Acura's button-based transmission system, it seems impossible to park the car, turn off the engine, and keep the radio on. There's a ridiculous "car wash" mode that lets you turn off the car and keep it in neutral, but good luck remembering the proper sequence of brake, button, and transmission to put it in this mode, and I'm still not sure how practical this mode is anyway. Suspension is... bumpy if not jarring. Too much hard plastic.Acura dealer mentioned crazy expensive parts when trying to upsell on warranty. Do headlights really cost $1,100!?Notes on AcuraWatch Plus:AcuraWatch plus is a suite of features like adaptive cruise control and lane keep assist. Unfortunately, it does not include blind spot monitoring. I had great hopes for both adaptive cruise and lane keep assist, but neither seem quite ready for prime time. Adaptive cruise is a little too slow to react, especially when speeding back up either when the car in front accelerates or when you change lanes to go around a slower car. Lane keep assist is at times too aggressive while at other times too oblivious of the car's drifting across lanes. It also seems to continually "test" if the driver is actively steering by subtly turning the wheel slightly back and forth. After a couple of hours of driving, my arms and shoulders were sore from subconsciously fighting these small, constant tugs on the steering wheel. On the other hand, I have had at least one successful driving experience where I let the car do most of the steering while I barely assisted. That was kind of fun, but I don't foresee those opportunities arising often, due to typical traffic and road conditions.Overall: Great car, terrible tech.

Average Rating : 5

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