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Don Adair's Seat Time

Acura aims to make me happy

I’m never going to own a large crossover — i.e., one with three rows — but if I did, it would be Acura’s MDX.

The MDX rides well, though it’s not the least bit sporty. It’s strong and handsome, though not at all flashy. It’s comfortable and quiet, though a bit old-school in certain ways.

To wit: Unless I’m misreading the spec sheet, that spiffy, new 2013 MDX you’re eyeing isn’t available with such a commonplace feature as keyless entry and ignition.

This isn’t a huge surprise. Acura is Honda’s up-market division and Honda’s strong suit is engineering. They’re less interested in key-fob transponders than in the greasy bits down below. When they do engage ones and zeros, it's generally in an effort to tackle a pressing need, not whether I can open the car without taking the keys out of my pocket.

Many buyers value Honda's go-slow approach — it tends to reduce failures and increase resale value, though I’m certain it costs the company sales.

There is one piece of Acura tech I’m particularly fond of. Its Super Handling All-Wheel-Drive (SH-AWD) system — is simply the best of the breed. I've never driven a more surefooted car in the snow.

A new, 2014 MDX is coming in 2013 and there are rumors afloat that Acura will drop SH-AWD for a lesser system, presumably in an effort to reduce the price of the MDX.

I’m not a prospective owner, so my vote doesn’t count for much. Still, I look forward to my annual winter test, simply because it’s so much fun to drive a capable rig in ugly conditions. Plus, largely because of SH-AWD It’s a car I never hesitate to recommend.

Let's just say I have an interest.

Today, I reached out to Chuck Shifsky in Acura’s PR office, asking for the official line on the SH-AWD question.

“Bad rumor,” he wrote. “We’ll share more on 14 MDX next week in Detroit.”

I won’t be at the Detroit Auto Show next week, but I’ll look forward to getting the lowdown — and when there’s more to tell, I’ll pass it along.


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