Tuesday, August 28, 2012

I Stand Corrected

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the Mercedes GL450 being the ultimate SUV and specifically I sort of bashed Japanese SUVs as being soft and not fun to drive. Well, I stand corrected.

I've mentioned in the past that my wife does not particularly care for German cars, maybe because her Polish grandfather was in the WWII concentration camp or maybe that she is very practical and cannot justify the price tag. In either case, I need to purchase an SUV with three rows and rather than go with a GL450 and try to convince my wife, I thought perhaps I should drive something that she'd be happy with and see if I like it too. As such, I asked the guys at eCarOne to give me a late model Japanese SUV. They gave me a 2011 Acura MDX with Technology Package. The car only had 11,000 miles and it was immaculate.

My first thought was there is no way this has three rows because it looks and feels so compact. However, as I got in the car and open all the doors and trunk, I realized this car is anything but compact. I don't know how Acura did it but they really used the space well. They kept the outside very sporty and manageable and yet they got a lot of space out of the cabin. If you pay attention to the outside of the MDX, you'll notice that the wheels are pushed all the way out to the front, back and side and this achieves two things: 1) It reduces overhangs and give the car a sporty look; and 2) It increases wheelbase and gives the car more room and a more compliant ride. This made it possible for Acura to fit three comfortable rows in this SUV in a way that allows someone who's used to driving small cars to feel very confident and comfortable driving this larger 7-passenger vehicle. Coming from a 2010 CR-V, my wife felt right at home with the MDX and this makes my life easier because I can get the SUV that she wants and at the same time it's something I too enjoy driving.

About the driving experience.... well, in a nutshell, I was pleasantly surprised by the MDX. I have to say it's the first SUV that I actually looked forward to driving. The car is a joy to drive and be in from many different aspects. The interior is luxurious in many ways, from the beautiful wood trim that wraps around you to the polished metal accents to the feel of all the controls, to the placement of everything you need. The sound system is excellent, the driving position is very comfortable and commanding, and last but not least the ride and handling are top notch. I was really surprised by this SUV and I'm rarely pleasantly surprised!

Even the braking and handling are great. Case in point, I was heading to an appointment and was traveling on the highway at about 75mph when the car in front of me suddenly stopped because he missed his exit, and I was not sure the MDX could handle an emergency lane change at this speed but I had no choice. Well, it handled it without any issues and at that point I realized that you don't have to have German engineering to have excellent handling. I truly think it's one of the best SUVs out there.

And now let's get down to brass tax.... How much? Well, this car is priced at about $38,000 and it's brand new for about $46,000. What else can you get (new or used) for that price? Well, you could get the ML450 with much higher miles or you could also get a BMW X5 with higher miles. Both would be great cars to own but I still think the MDX would be the better choice... at least for me because my wife would be the primary driver and in my opinion the MDX is much easier to drive than either the Benz or the Bimmer. Not to mention, it gets much better gas mileage.

Bottom line; the MDX is a car that I would feel completely comfortable placing my wife and kids in. If you're in the market for an SUV, I highly suggest you take a look at this one or any other MDX that eCarOne carries.

As always, good luck and happy driving.

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