- Pros: powerful V6 engine, high-quality interior, versatile cargo space, reputation for reliability
- Cons: disappointing fuel efficiency, requires premium gas
If you’re in the market for a midsize three-row SUV with plenty of hustle, a quality interior, and a good reliability record, the 2013 Acura MDX should be on your radar. Its standard 3.7-liter V6 delivers 300 horsepower, which is brawny even by today’s standards. And its premium cabin rivals that of more established European competitors. It also enjoys the solid reliability record you’d expect from a Honda-engineered product.
However, the 2013 MDX has its drawbacks. First off, that punchy V6 will cost you at the pump. You can expect about 16 miles per gallon in city driving and only around 21 miles per gallon on the highway. To make matters worse, the MDX requires premium fuel, which adds to the running costs. But if you value performance, it may be worth it.
- Final year of the MDX’s second generation (2007-2013)
- No significant changes for 2013
- Available in a single trim with optional packages
The 2013 Acura MDX represents the final year of the model’s second generation, which debuted in 2007. As such, it didn’t see any notable changes for the year.
Acura sold the seven-seater in a single base trim, which comes handsomely equipped with xenon headlights, leather upholstery, and a sunroof, among other amenities. The Technology package adds navigation, premium audio, and other upgrades, while examples with the Advance package come fully loaded.
Under the hood, the 2013 MDX employs a 3.7-liter V6 engine. A six-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive (AWD) both come standard.
- Swift acceleration from the 300-horsepower V6
- Athletic handling, but the ride can be firm
- 5,000-pound towing capacity
Slide into the 2013 Acura MDX driver’s seat, and you’ll quickly realize this is an SUV built with performance in mind. Its 3.7-liter V6 serves up 300 horsepower and 270 lb-ft of torque, hustling the MDX to 60 mph in about seven seconds, respectable for a three-row family hauler. The six-speed automatic transmission clicks off smooth shifts, making it a joy to drive around town and on the highway.
Handling is also a strong suit, especially compared to other vehicles in its class. But some may find the ride a bit on the harsh side. For a cushier ride, look for examples equipped with the Advance package, which adds adaptive dampers with a comfort setting.
While the MDX is not intended as an off-road warrior, its standard AWD system (dubbed Super Handling All-Wheel Drive) adds confidence when driving in less-than-ideal conditions. For those interested in towing, the Acura provides a solid capacity of 5,000 pounds. Ppting for the multi-view reverse camera (bundled with the Technology package) makes hitching a trailer a snap.
- EPA-rated at 16 mpg city and 21 mpg highway
- No hybrid version
- Requires premium gas
Let’s be clear: If you’re looking for a fuel-efficient SUV, the 2013 Acura MDX shouldn’t be your first choice. Its standard V6 engine is rated by the EPA at 16 miles per gallon in the city and 21 miles per gallon on the highway, figures which are generally confirmed by the real-world experiences of owners. Those numbers lag the more fuel-efficient rivals in the midsize three-row segment, some of which offer a hybrid option.
To make matters worse, each time you fill the MDX up, you’ll have to spring for premium fuel, which is required. The trade-off, of course, is that the MDX offers a more dynamic driving experience than many of its competitors. If you can stomach the fuel costs, you get an SUV that delivers satisfying performance.
Interior and Features
- High-quality leather and soft-touch materials
- Seats up to seven across three rows
- No Apple CarPlay or Android Auto integration
When you step into the cabin of the 2013 Acura MDX, one of the first things you’ll notice is its premium feel. Leather upholstery, soft-touch materials, and thoughtfully designed controls set the stage for a comfortable journey. It’s not quite Mercedes-Benz quality, but it’s still quite good. Seating for seven is standard, spread across three rows. The front and second-row seats are both accommodating and supportive, but the third row is best suited for children. Cargo space is generous, especially with the third row folded flat.
The 2013 MDX boasts a long list of standard features, including heated and power-adjustable front seats, three-zone automatic climate control, a sunroof, and a 253-watt stereo with a six-disc CD changer. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration is lacking, so you’ll have to rely on Bluetooth for smartphone connectivity.
Opting for the Technology package adds higher-end leather upholstery, premium surround-sound audio, and an upgraded 8-inch infotainment display with navigation and a multi-view reverse camera. The top-of-the-line Advance package further includes a sport steering wheel and ventilated front seats. Other notable options include a rear entertainment package and a heated second row.
- Standard equipment includes antilock brakes and an array of airbags
- Active safety features offered with the Advance package
- 2013 IIHS Top Safety Pick
The 2013 Acura MDX comes with numerous standard safety features, including antilock brakes, stability and traction control, and a full complement of airbags, including front-side and side-curtain airbags. Those looking for advanced driver-assistance systems will need to opt for examples with the Advance package. It offers a blind-spot warning system, forward collision mitigation, and adaptive cruise control — all fairly unusual for a vehicle of this age. Lane-departure warning is not available, however.
The 2013 MDX earned solid safety scores from the leading rating agencies. While the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gave it a favorable four out of five stars overall, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) named the MDX a 2013 Top Safety Pick, giving it the highest rating (“Good”) in all of its crashworthiness categories.
- Strong reputation for reliability
- Potential issues with oil consumption and the torque converter
- Ownership costs influenced by premium fuel and parts
Thanks to its Honda engineering, the 2013 Acura MDX enjoys a strong reputation for durability and longevity. That’s evident from its lack of any manufacturer recalls throughout its history, a rare achievement for a vehicle of this age. The 2013 model also enjoys a four-out-of-five-star consumer review rating on Edmunds, with some owners reporting racking up 200,000 or more miles with little more than routine maintenance.
However, there are a few areas to watch out for. One is oil consumption, which can be an issue with the 3.7-liter V6 from this era. Another is the automatic transmission’s torque converter, which can send an occasional judder through the driveline. This problem occasionally calls for the replacement of that part. If you’re considering a used 2013 MDX, having a mechanic inspect the vehicle for these or any other issues would be wise.
Also worth noting is that the MDX’s premium character can translate to higher-than-average ownership costs. Expect to pay a bit more for maintenance and parts, and remember that this SUV requires premium fuel, which will add to your long-term expenses.
Which One to Buy
Best Overall: MDX with Technology package
If you’re a family-focused buyer who needs a well-rounded SUV that can do it all, the MDX with the Technology package is your best bet. This configuration offers a blend of luxurious features like high-end leather upholstery and premium audio, along with advanced tech such as navigation and a multi-view reverse camera. It delivers worthy upgrades over the base MDX without the heftier price tag typically associated with the top-tier Advance models.
Budget Pick: Base MDX
A base model without any added packages will suffice for those looking to enjoy the MDX’s essential strengths without breaking the bank. You’ll miss out on some high-end features but still get a reliable, sporty SUV with the basic amenities.
Safety Lover’s Choice: MDX with Advance package
If you appreciate top-of-the-line active safety features, the MDX with the Advance package is the one to go for. This trim adds not only comfort-oriented amenities such as adjustable shock absorbers and ventilated front seats but also unusual-for-its-day advanced safety features like a blind-spot warning system and adaptive cruise. It may cost a bit more than the MDX’s more pedestrian offerings, but it’s the ultimate expression of what the 2013 MDX has to offer.
Photos courtesy of Acura and IIHS