The 2016 Acura MDX gains an array of updates, new nine-speed auto that is 66lbs lighter

The current Acura MDX is by far one of the best luxury crossovers money can buy, especially if you like driving. It happens to be more of a driver’s car than say, the BMW X5. I know, surprising, isn’t it?

And while the current MDX is still an excellent vehicle, it appears to have gotten even better, thanks to a bucket list of updates that Acura applied to the crossover. The first major change involves the transmission.

The current setup involves a smooth, quick and fine-shifting six-speed automatic, which is perfectly ok. But those in the know would recognize that a six-speed automatic seems a bit antiquated, especially in this age of seven, eight, nine, and even ten-speed boxes. So, Acura decided to take that into consideration by replacing that six-speed box with Honda’s all-new, in-house nine-speed automatic.

But get this, thanks to some clever design and packaging, the new nine-speed automatic is 66lbs lighter than the six-speed automatic. Thanks to the extra gears, which are also now more closely spaced, acceleration and fuel economy should both get a boost as well. And because of the new transaxle, the Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive System is also brand new and 19lbs lighter than the original system.

In addition to the major drivetrain changes, the new Acura MDX gains Acura’s latest AcuraWatch safety tech, a group of active and passive safety systems originally made available on the current MDX, but also updated with better function and performance.

The 2016 Acura MDX is scheduled to be fully revealed at the 2015 Chicago Auto Show while the MDX’s lesser cousin, the 2016 Honda Pilot, also gets revealed.

Check out the press release below.

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Best Selling Acura MDX Receives Powertrain Upgrades, AcuraWatch™ and Expanded Options for 2016, Enhancing Performance, Safety and LuxuryTORRANCE, Calif. – 2/3/2015

The significantly upgraded 2016 Acura MDX, America’s best-selling three-row luxury SUV, launches next month with multiple new features and technologies, a more advanced powertrain and an expanded model range. The enhanced 2016 MDX provides even more advanced technology and exhilarating performance to complement the luxury, comfort and quietness inherent to Acura’s premium seven-passenger SUV. The 2016 Acura MDX launches at Acura dealerships nationwide on Feb. 4, with the manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) starting at $42,8651.

All 2016 MDX models will come equipped with an advanced new 9-speed automatic transmission, a push-button electronic gear selector that frees up room above the center console, and a new Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) system with a twin-clutch design that delivers enhanced torque transfer and handling capabilities. The 2016 MDX and MDX with Technology Package models can now be equipped with the AcuraWatch™ suite of advanced safety and driver-assistive technologies, which includes the first application of Road Departure Mitigation (RDM) and Rear Cross Traffic Monitor to the MDX model line. The MDX with Advance Package comes standard with AcuraWatch™.

The 2016 MDX adds numerous other luxury upgrades including a frameless rearview mirror, Siri™ Eyes Free voice recognition, an easy-entry/exit driver’s seat that moves 35 mm rearward when the driver’s door is opened and TPMS fill assist that sounds an audible alert when the driver inflates the tire to the correct pressure. Additional upgrades, depending on trim, include a Multi-View Angle Rear Camera with Dynamic Guidelines (standard on all models), a bi-directional remote engine starter, idle stop and head up warning.

Doubling the model offerings, the 2016 MDX is now available with AcuraWatch™ on all trims (standard on the Advance Package), while the Technology and Advance packages are available with or without the Rear Entertainment System (RES).

Now in its third generation, the MDX is the best-selling three-row luxury SUV of all time2. This sales history is backed up by the current generation MDX, which has received multiple awards including a KBB.com Best Buy award in the Luxury SUV/Crossover category for the 2015 model year. With the numerous enhancements made for 2016, the Acura MDX is primed to again impress customers and critics alike. Customers can view, build and price a 2016 Acura MDX at acura.com/MDX.

2016 MDX Pricing and EPA Fuel Economy Ratings
Trim MSRP1 EPA MPG3(city/highway/combined)
MDX $42,865 19/27/22
MDX with AcuraWatch™ Plus Package $44,365 19/27/22
MDX with Technology Package $47,290 19/27/22
MDX with Technology & AcuraWatch™ Plus Packages $48,490 19/27/22
MDX with Technology & Entertainment Packages $49,290 19/27/22
MDX with Technology Package, Entertainment & AcuraWatch™ Plus Packages $50,490 19/27/22
MDX with Advance & AcuraWatch™ Plus Packages $53,080 20/27/23 (with idle stop)
MDX with Advance, Entertainment & AcuraWatch™ Plus Packages $55,080 20/27/23 (with idle stop)
MDX SH-AWD $44,865 18/26/21
MDX SH-AWD with AcuraWatch™ Plus Package $46,365 18/26/21
MDX SH-AWD with Technology Package $49,290 18/26/21
MDX SH-AWD with Technology & AcuraWatch™ Plus Package $50,490 18/26/21
MDX SH-AWD with Technology & Entertainment Packages $51,290 18/26/21
MDX SH-AWD with Technology Package, Entertainment & AcuraWatch™ Plus Packages $52,490 18/26/21
MDX SH-AWD with Advance & AcuraWatch™ Plus Packages $55,080 19/26/22 (with idle stop)
MDX SH-AWD with Advance, Entertainment & AcuraWatch™ Plus Packages $57,080 19/26/22 (with idle stop)

Powertrain
The 2016 Acura MDX’s 3.5-liter, 24-valve i-VTEC direct-injected V-6 engine is mated to a 9-speed automatic transmission featuring Sequential SportShift. The new transmsission is 66 lbs. lighter than the 6-speed automatic it replaces, with more closely spaced gear ratios and 25 percent faster gear shifts that enhance acceleration performance. The weight reduction also improves front-to-rear weight distribution for better handling characteristics.

The console-mounted shift lever is replaced with a fully electronic, shift-by-wire gear selector. Park, Neutral and Drive are selected with the push of a button. Reverse is selected by pulling back on a dedicated switch. Steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters let the driver manually select gears. The low-profile gear selector also creates more “working space” in the center console area, making it more convenient to use.

The next generation of Acura’s acclaimed Super Handling All-Wheel Drive™  (SH-AWD™) utilizes a new, lighter weight (by 19 lbs.) twin-clutch rear differential. SH-AWD progressively distributes torque not only between the front and rear axles, but also between the left and right rear wheels. Using torque vectoring to create a yaw moment that helps turn the vehicle, SH-AWD enables more responsive, neutral and predictable handling characteristics while providing outstanding all-weather confidence and control. In the MDX, torque-vectoring effectiveness has been greatly enhanced, benefiting responsiveness, agility and stability.

AcuraWatch™
AcuraWatch is available as a standalone package on every 2016 MDX and is standard on the Advance Package. Certain features, including Lane Keeping Assist, Lane Departure Warning and Forward Collision Warning, are offered as standard equipment on the MDX with Technology Package. All MDX models come equipped with a Multi-View Rear Camera with Dynamic Guidelines. The AcuraWatch™ suite of variously available features – depending upon trim – includes:

  • Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) with Low-Speed Follow (LSF)
  • Collision Mitigation Braking System™ (CMBS)
  • Forward Collision Warning (FCW) (standard on Tech Package)
  • Lane Departure Warning (LDW)
  • Lane Keeping Assist System (LKAS)
  • Road Departure Mitigation (RDM)
  • Blind Spot Information (BSI) (Technology and Advance)
  • Multi-View Rear Camera with Dynamic Guidelines
  • Rear Cross Traffic Monitor  

At the heart of AcuraWatch™ is the fusion of camera and radar technology that can sense the roadway and objects within it, including other vehicles and pedestrians. This technology underpins the systems that help provide the driver with superior vision around the vehicle, can alert the driver of potential issues and, if necessary, intervene to help keep the MDX from departing a lane, departing the road, or help to avoid or mitigate the severity of a collision.

Road Departure Mitigation (RDM)
New for the 2016 Acura MDX, Road Departure Mitigation (RDM) uses a Monocular Camera (mounted on the upper portion of the windshield) to identify solid or dashed painted lane lines, Botts’ Dots and Cat Eye markers. RDM uses both steering force, via EPS, and braking force, via VSA, to help the MDX stay a detected lane.

The monocular camera can recognize lane features and identify a lane or roadway edge. If the RDM system determines that the MDX is about to leave a detected lane or roadway defined by solid lines, it will provide steering assist (primary) and, in rare occasions when steering is not sufficient, braking assist to help the driver stay on the road. If a lane only identified by dashed lines, Bott’s Dots or Cat Eye markers and the system determines that there is an unintended departure, no braking assist will be provided. Instead, the MDX will use active steering force to return to the detected lane. RDM is integrated with the Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA) system to provide moderate braking, and with the Electric Power Steering (EPS) system to provide steering input.

Multiple visual and audible warnings alert the driver when the RDM system is taking corrective action. These include a lane departure warning on the driver’s Multi Information Display (MID) along with an audible warning. RDM also has a customizable initial warning of either a steering wheel shake/vibration and/or an audible alert. This can be customized in the vehicle settings.

Rear Cross Traffic Monitor
Another new driver assistive technology included with AcuraWatch™, the Rear Cross Traffic Monitor works in conjunction with the MDX’s Blind Spot Information (BSI) radar sensors to enhance driver confidence when backing up. The system is especially useful when reversing in congested parking lots with an obstructed view from the driver’s seat.

The system utilizes a pair of blind-spot radar units located in the rear bumper corners. When Reverse is selected and an approaching vehicle is detected, arrows indicating the approaching vehicle’s direction are shown on the center display’s rear camera image. An audible warning is simultaneously emitted.4

2016 MDX Feature Upgrade Summary

Trim

New 2016 Features

MDX/ w/RES

  • 9-speed automatic transmission
  • Electronic gear selector
  • Frameless rearview mirror
  • Siri voice recognition
  • Easy Entry driver’s seat

MDX Tech/ w/RES

Changed or added from MDX:

  • Multi-View Rear camera with Cross Traffic Monitor
  • Lane Keep Assist System (LKAS) + Lane Departure Warning (LDW)
  • Forward Collision Warning (FCW), car-to-car and car-to-pedestrian

MDX Adv/ w/RES

Changed or added from MDX with Technology Package:

  • Bi-directional remote engine starter
  • Idle stop
  • Head Up Warning
  • AcuraWatch™ (components listed below)

AcuraWatch™

When added to MDX and MDX with Technology Package:

  • Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) with Low Speed Follow (LSF)

  • Forward Collision Warning (FCW), car-to-car and car-to-pedestrian

  • Collision Mitigating Braking System (CMBS), car-to-car and car-to-pedestrian

  • Lane Keeping Assist System (LKAS) + Lane Departure Warning (LDW)

  • Road Departure Mitigation (RDM)

Chris Chin

Editor-In-Chief of egmCarTech Freelance Automotive Journalist / Editor / Photographer

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