A good, solid SUV — but the Pi­lot’s price wins

The Washington Post Sunday - - CARS - War­ren Brown war­ren.brown@wash­post.com

It has ev­ery­thing it needs, which prob­a­bly is not enough for some peo­ple.

The 2017 Acura MDX AWD Ad­vance sportu­til­ity ve­hi­cle, the sub­ject of this week’s col­umn, is nei­ther su­per-mod­ern nor ex­trav­a­gantly lux­u­ri­ous.

For ex­am­ple, it has much of the lat­est elec­tronic equip­ment, but not all of it, in­clud­ing no head-up dis­play, which uses the wind­shield to present in­for­ma­tion such as cur­rent ve­hi­cle speed in com­par­i­son with lo­cal speed lim­its. It is the an­gel at war with the devil in me, in which the an­gel is win­ning.

With head-up dis­play, there is no le­git­i­mate ex­cuse for speed­ing. All of the nec­es­sary in­for­ma­tion for proper be­hav­ior, and nec­es­sary cor­rec­tion, is right there on the wind­shield in front of you.

In one HUD-equipped ve­hi­cle, I once looked at the wind­shield and no­ticed I was go­ing 75 miles per hour in a 65-mph zone, just in time to slow down be­fore at­tract­ing the at­ten­tion of a state law en­force­ment of­fi­cer wait­ing around a curve. That was al­most two years ago. I’ve loved head-up dis­play in cars and other ve­hi­cles ever since.

The MDX Ad­vance, the top of the MDX line, which also in­cludes the Stan­dard and well-equipped Tech­nol­ogy, does have many other bless­ings. But it has none of the above­and-be­yond lux­ury feel of an Audi Q5 or Volvo XC90.

But the MDX Ad­vance is com­fort­able, sat­is­fy­ing and equipped with much of the lat­est ad­vanced elec­tronic safety equip­ment in­stalled as stan­dard equip­ment. I like that.

There is, for ex­am­ple, rear crosstraf­fic alert, which can help avert a backup col­li­sion dis­as­ter; blind-spot mon­i­tor­ing; for­ward-col­li­sion mit­i­ga­tion; and lane-de­par­ture warn­ing, among other valu­able sys­tems.

But there is noth­ing fancy or silly lux­u­ri­ous about it. That raises the ques­tion: What is the es­sen­tial dif­fer­ence be­tween the Acura MDX and its tech­no­log­i­cal twin, the Honda Pi­lot, which in­cludes the Pi­lot EX-L, Tour­ing and Elite trims?

An­swer: None, re­ally. The Pi­lot is gen­er­ally less ex­pen­sive. But like the Acura, it also is well made and well equipped. The 3.5-liter, di­rect-in­jec­tion, 24-valve V-6 en­gine (290 horse­power) that is found in all of the MDX mod­els can be had in the Honda Pi­lots, too.

Acura has been brag­ging for the past two years or so about its torquevec­tor­ing all-wheel-drive sys­tem (Su­per Han­dling All-Wheel-Drive), which does work quite well on windswept high­ways and in other in­clement weather. Does the sys­tem in the Honda Pi­lot work worse? No.

Don’t get me wrong. I like the MDX. I also like sav­ing money. I’d buy the Honda Pi­lot.

Don’t get me wrong. I like the MDX. I also like sav­ing money.


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