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Auto review: Family Thanksgiving in the 3-row Acura MDX Type S

Henry Payne, The Detroit News on

Published in Automotive News

DETROIT — Dinner in Motown, Wings game, paddle tennis, shopping, Bocce ball, dinner, snow, snow and let it snow. Just your typical jam-packed Thanksgiving weekend for the Payne family six-pack of mom, dad, two boys and their wives.

Good thing we had a three-row, six-seat SUV to negotiate it all.

This week’s test mule was a 2024 Acura MDX SH-AWD Type S, the halo model in the brand’s lineup now that the NSX supercar has been retired. Gone but not forgotten. Though the second-generation hybrid NSX didn’t achieve the critical (or sales) acclaim of the original 1989 NSX (blessed by the legendary F1 star Ayrton Senna himself), it inspired a new generation of Acura interiors.

The NSX’s unique trigger shifter ‘n’ Drive Mode dial is replicated in the MDX, and I rotated the dial to SPORT mode as we entered an S-turn in Oakland County. The V6-fired MDX has also inherited the NSX’s sporty DNA, and the mid-size ute is surprisingly nimble through the twisties. I flicked the MDX left then right, followed by generous throttle on exit onto an uphill straightaway.

“VRRROOM!” growled the 355 horses up front.

“HEEEEYY!” came the cry from the third row.

 

“Yes, yes. Just having a little fun!” I protested. “Not bad for a three-row family SUV, yes?” With that I got universal agreement, and I settled back into my primary duties: chauffeuring the family to a downtown Red Wings game.

The MDX’s red leather interior — available on all Acura models — not only matched our Wings-colored shirts and sweaters, but drew high praise from the family. Especially my son, Henry, who owns a similarly equipped Mazda3 Turbo. Red is rad and Acura makes good use of it throughout its lineup.

Picking straws for who got to sit in the third row was less popular. Competitors Mazda CX-90, Jeep Grand Cherokee L and Infiniti QX60 boast three rows that are so roomy that, at 6’5”, I can sit behind myself sitting behind myself in the last row. Impressive. Not so the MDX, where I would have to remove my legs to sit in the back. In the MDX, the third row requires planning on who sits there.

Be sure to put your smallest passenger in the back — in our case, my 5’5” wife and daughter-in-law Erica. Once seated, they felt a bit claustrophobic — which is where the MDX’s ambidextrous second-row middle seat comes to the rescue.

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