The Best & Worst Acura MDX Years [Models]

Our aim is to provide you with the best Acura MDX model for every generation so you save time and money by avoiding the worst Acura MDX models and going for the best Acura MDX models.

You can find out which Acura MDX generation is best to buy and which MDX generation is the worst to avoid with my ultimate guide.

Best & Worst Acura MDX Years [Models]

To help you choose the most reliable Acura MDX model year, I’ve compiled in-depth research from authoritative sources such as NHTSA, Edmunds, and Kelley Blue Book.

This detailed analysis of the pros and cons of all Acura MDX models sheds light on the changes in the 2024 MDX as well as transmission issues in the 2016 MDX.

It’s time to get started.

Acura MDX Generations

As a mid-size luxury crossover SUV, the Acura MDX was introduced into the automotive market in 2001 and quickly made its mark as a huge success. In addition to its car-like ride, the first-generation MDX’s innovative third-row seat design, and powerful V6 engine were all admired.

In order to better understand each year of the Acura MDX, let’s take a closer look at all the generations from 2001 to today’s model.

4th generation (YD9)2022 to Present
3rd generation (YD3)2014 to 2020
2nd generation (YD2)2007 to 2013
1st generation (YD1)2001 to 2006

Potential buyers must recognize the differences between generations, as these shifts can have a significant impact on their purchasing decisions and may very well decide which property they choose.

Acura MDX Best, Neutral, and Worst Years

During the process of categorizing the best and worst Acura MDX years, we consider a variety of factors. The following factors are taken into account:

  • Reliability reports (surveys) from owners
  • Maintenance costs on an annual basis
  • Rating for safety
  • The reliability score of Consumer Reports
  • Owner satisfaction score according to Consumer Reports
  • Recalls, investigations, and complaints filed with the NHTSA
  • Owner ratings on Edmunds
  • Owner ratings from JD Power
  • Owner ratings from Kelley’s Blue Book (KBB)
  • Owner ratings on VehicleHistory
  • Owner ratings on

In addition, we’ve prepared a table showing the best, neutral, and worst years for each MDX generation.

GenerationBest YearsNeutral YearsWorst Years
4th generation (YD9)202420232022
3rd generation (YD3)2018 2019 2020N/A2014 2015 2016 2017
2nd generation (YD2)2012 20132009 20112007 2008 2010
1st generation (YD1)2006 2005N/A2001 2002 2003 2004

In other words, when we talk about “Neutral Years,” it means that they were neither excelling nor underperforming. As a result, they provide both positives and negatives, allowing them to fall in the middle of the spectrum between “best” and “worst”.

It’s important to note that some factors contribute negatively to our rankings inherently. An automobile’s reliability decreases as the complaint and recall numbers from the NHTSA rise.

Taking a closer look at the MDX’s best, neutral, and worst years, let’s see how they compare.

Best & Worst Years for Acura MDX 4th Generation [2022 to present]

During the transition from the third to the fourth generation of the MDX, Acura aimed to redefine its flagship SUV.

Best & Worst Years for Acura MDX 4th Generation [2022 to present]

I would recommend putting extra caution in the 2022 MDX model regardless of their age, since there is no MDX model in this generation to specifically avoid.

2024 is one of the best years

Among the Acura MDX model years of the 4th generation, the 2024 is considered to be the best.

Several introductory issues of the fourth generation Acura MDX were resolved by 2024. There were four trim levels available: the base, Technology Package, A-Spec, and Advance Package. The engine boasted a robust 3.5-liter V6 engine mated to a 10-speed transmission.

Among the improvements are a 12.3-inch infotainment system and a 12-inch full TFT digital instrument panel, touchpad, 16-way power front seats with three memory settings, a removable center second-row seat, a removable carpet and plastic trunk floor, and more headroom and legroom than the third generation MDX.

There has also been substantial mitigation of issues surrounding the infotainment system, gearbox, and engine of the 2024 MDX, making it one of the most reliable MDX models to date.

2023 is the neutral year

A transitional year for Acura, the MDX 2023 was a model year of change.

A number of improvements were made to the 2022 version of the vehicle, particularly to refine the transmission and to improve fuel efficiency, but there were still some areas that needed to be tweaked.

While there were less complaints about the model than its predecessor, some concerns about the infotainment system and some engine issues were reported on occasion.

Despite these shortcomings, the 2023 MDX earned its place as a ‘neutral’ year due to the lack of significant upgrades.

2022 is one of the worst years

The 2022 MDX has been viewed as less reliable for a number of reasons.

There have been frequent complaints from owners of this year’s model about the Forward Collision Avoidance system, which occasionally engages intermittently, causing the vehicle to brake unexpectedly. In addition to being annoying, this posed a potential safety risk.

A number of drivers also expressed dissatisfaction with the infotainment system, which they found to be less intuitive and glitchy at times.

A number of users reported inconsistencies regarding the transmission and engine.

Despite its increased mileage, fuel efficiency remains a key concern for many modern consumers. The 2022 MDX offers only 13 mpg city and 27 mpg highway, although choosing the hybrid variant can alleviate some of these concerns.

In 2022, if price is not a concern for you, you don’t need to consider better MDX models in 2023 or 2024.

Best & Worst Years for Acura MDX 3rd Generation [2014 to 2020]

In its third generation, the Acura MDX took on a more comfortable and modern appearance while retaining its technologically advanced features.

Best & Worst Years for Acura MDX 3rd Generation [2014 to 2020]

In contrast, the Acura MDX third generation received a great deal of criticism in regards to its power train. Among all generations, the Kelley Blue Book consumer rating for this vehicle is 4 – the lowest of all.

Our classification of the Acura MDX 3rd generation includes the most reliable years as 2018, 2019, and 2020, and the Acura MDX years 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017 to avoid like the plague ”.

2018 and 2020 are the best years

It has been a great year for Acura MDX during its third generation from 2018 to 2020 as a result of lessons learned and technology refinements.

Using feedback from years of product development, these models were powered by a powerful 3.5-liter V6 engine, paired either with a 9-speed automatic transmission (2018 and 2019) or a 10-speed automatic transmission (2020), resulting in smoother shifts and improved fuel economy.

The MDX Sport Hybrid from Acura offers eco-conscious shoppers an even more fuel-efficient choice with its 3.0-liter V6, seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, and 1.3-kWh lithium-ion battery.

This model was equipped with Acura’s latest driver-assist features, such as adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assist. For the 2018 model year, the MDX was also named a Top Safety Pick by IIHS.

There were improvements to the infotainment system, and the audio system delivered a more rich, crisp sound.

A few reports of engine stalling were also reported in the 2019 MDX, resulting in recalls on the timing belt and low-pressure fuel pump. However, these were resolved promptly, so the impact was minimal.

2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 were the worst years

Can Acura MDX sell well in 2014, 2015, or 2016? That’s for sure! The reason is as follows:

MDX’s 3.5-liter V6 engine was equipped with a torque converter and transmission problems, primarily.

Models with these characteristics suffered from jerking transmissions, hesitations during gear shifts, and irregular RPM fluctuations.

Additionally, the service brakes and steering were problematic on the 2014 and 2015 MDX models. We experienced an unnerving vibration when applying the brakes and an EPS light which illuminated without reason, resulting in a sudden loss of steering assistance.

There were increased reliability issues with the 2016 Acura MDX, leading to CarSmite ratings of 3.4, Edmunds ratings of 3.2, and J.D Power ratings of 70.

The transmission problems were not the only complaint. There were also complaints about loss of acceleration, engine stalling, and transmission slippages. It is noteworthy that during this period, a recall was issued because of reduced fuel pump efficiency, which could result in vehicle stalling.

These problems were also inherited by the 2017 model, further reinforcing the notion that earlier models needed more refinement.

Best & Worst Years for Acura MDX 2nd Generation [2007 to 2013]

Introducing its second generation, the Acura MDX addresses concerns raised in its predecessor. This generation’s MDX models received higher ratings from reputable sources like Edmunds (4.6), Kelley Blue Book (4.6), and J.D Power (80) due to the relatively low number of recalls.

Best & Worst Years for Acura MDX 2nd Generation [2007 to 2013]

In this generation, the Acura MDX model years 2012 and 2013 are considered to be the best, whereas Acura MDX model years 2007, 2008, and 2010 should be avoided.

2012 and 2013 were the best years

When should you buy an Acura MDX? Find out which years were the best for the second-generation Acura MDX in 2012 and 2013.

As of 2008, the 3.7-liter 300-hp J37A1 SOHC VTEC V6 engine is the most popular engine in the market, with more horsepower and torque than its predecessor. Smoother shifts and greater fuel economy were notable characteristics of the accompanying 6-speed automatic transmission.

Throughout these years, Acura’s trim levels showcased the company’s aptitude for integrating luxury and function, including advanced navigation, premium audio, and innovative driver assistance systems.

In the previous generation, the all-wheel drive system “VTM-4” was replaced by the SH-AWD system, which stands for “Super Handling All-Wheel Drive”.

Despite this transmission, the 2012 MDX still experienced problems like shuddering and jerking transmissions.

Acura MDX 2013 further solidified this by adding incremental updates, making it one of the best models on the market.

The 2013 MDX was not as plagued by problems as the 2012 MDX, however some owners noted excessive oil consumption.

In city driving, the second-generation MDX models achieved 18 mpg, while on the highway they achieved 24 mpg.

2009 and 2011 were neutral years

As reliable years for the MDX, 2009 and 2011 did not stand out for excellence, but they also did not falter significantly.

As in past years, the V6 engine and 5-speed automatic transmission (which would be upgraded to 6-speed in subsequent years) remained the standard powertrain options.

Despite not being groundbreaking, these years offered a stable driving experience. The technological features of these models remained consistent with previous years, but some subtle improvements were made to the infotainment system and safety features.

The Bluetooth Handsfree Link (HFL) was reported to drain the battery too rapidly, among other issues.

Even so, they were not significant enough to qualify for the worst Acura MDX years of 2009 and 2011.

2007-2010 were the worst years

In terms of Acura MDX years that are least reliable, 2007, 2008, and 2010 are the worst years.

As the MDX entered its second generation in 2007, it attempted to overcome the obstacles that plagued the first generation.

It may have been more powerful, but the vehicle still suffered from a number of electrical system issues, including unexpected glitches and unexplained power outages. Many luxury SUV drivers also experienced suspension issues, compromising their driving experience.

It inherited these electrical and suspension challenges from its predecessor, despite being aesthetically similar. There was also the pesky Bluetooth Handsfree Link (HFL) issue, which quickly depleted the battery.

Although the 2010 MDX attempted to bridge to an improved model later in the decade, it suffered from a mix of past issues and potential improvements going forward.

Best & Worst Years for Acura MDX 1st Generation [2001 to 2006]

Since the MDX debuted in the early 2000s, Acura’s vision of innovative design and technology has been incorporated with luxury amenities.

Best & Worst Years for Acura MDX 1st Generation [2001 to 2006]

The best years for Acura MDX have been 2005 and 2006, whereas the worst years have been 2001, 2002, 2003, and 2004 plagued by transmission problems.


For the first-generation MDX, since there are a number of recalls and complaints, it is recommended that you do thorough research and check the vehicle’s VIN number.

2006 and 2005 were the best years

There are two MDX generations of this generation that Acura considers to be its best, and relatively more reliable.

With an improved 5-speed automatic transmission and 3.5-liter SOHC 24-valve V6 engine, the engine option remained mostly the same.

When acceleration is initiated off-the-line as well as when wheel slippage is detected, the automatic VTM-4 four-wheel drive system engages. A modest increase in power was added to the MDX engines in 2005 and 2006.

In addition to their class ranking, these years were known for their superior powertrain stability.

During Consumer Reports’ test drive, 11 mpg was found for city driving and 26 mpg for highway driving in the first-generation vehicles.

In addition to GPS-based navigation, rearview cameras, and DVD entertainment, technological advancements were seamlessly integrated.

Although VSA (Vehicle Stability Assist) has made great strides over the last decade, 2005 saw some issues with the system. As a result of intermittent automatic, minor brake applications, Acura’s intention to enhance safety was marred by recalls in the following years.

Although there were some setbacks, the consumer response was generally positive, reflected through Edmunds and Kelley Blue Book ratings and in CarSmite ratings with an average of 4.5 out of 5.

2001, 2002, 2003, and 2004 were the worst years

As for early MDX years – 2001, 2002, 2003, and 2004, these are MDX years that require extra caution and should be avoided.

Achieving an ambitious combination of luxury and performance in 2001, the MDX was hailed for its bold entry into the market. Ambition is accompanied by growing pains.

With a 3.5-liter V6 engine that produces 240 horsepower, the MDX delivers decent power, but its transmission was problematic. It was frequently reported that owners experienced unsettling vibrations, grinding, and shifting into neutral unintentionally at low speeds.

The 2002 Acura MDX had the same transmission problems as the 2001 Acura MDX, despite its similar luxury features and technology.

In addition to broken engine mounts, owners also experienced distress due to broken engine mounts. Several Honda models have been recalled, especially those with gear failure in the transmission which could cause a crash.

MDX 2003 had its own challenges despite attempting to improve the previous year’s shortcomings. The Takata AirBag issue was responsible for most of the company’s 13 NHTSA recalls.

It continued to shudder and go out of gear, despite the ghost of transmission troubles haunting it. Inefficient catalytic converters released a distressing smell of hydrogen-sulfur dioxide.

While the 2004 model was upgraded with infotainment and safety features, it was plagued by transmission problems that continued into 2005 and 2006.

Common Acura MDX Problems

It’s important to know that despite the MDX’s reputation for reliability, it has a few reliability concerns:

Common Acura MDX Problems

Acceleration issues 

Several MDX owners complained about jerky acceleration or poor acceleration in their 2016 and 2017 vehicles. As the reports state, the situation escalates once the vehicle begins to run. Software updates for the transmission control modules (TCM) had been recommended by Honda/Acura dealers.

Excessive oil consumption

There have been reports from MDX owners who are frustrated with its oil consumption. Additionally, owners may have to pay up to $6,800 to solve this problem. A service bulletin was issued by Honda because of the severity of the problem.

There was a problem with the climate control system in 2008 MDX models. Reports indicate that the leak occurred when the compression hose rubbed against the vehicle’s grounding surface.

In addition to stalling or lurching during light acceleration, MDX owners also face the problem of their vehicle lurching or stalling during acceleration. It is reported that this usually takes place between 35 and 45 mph. It is recommended that owners replace the faulty VCM rocker in order to resolve the problem.

Is The Acura MDX Worth It?

If you want a reliable SUV on the market, the Acura MDX is a great choice. The best years have some faults, but they aren’t too severe. If you want to own a vehicle at an affordable price, choose the top of the batch.

It is ideal for families or for those who want to drive alone. Your money will be well spent.

Despite its high price tag, Acura produces quality luxury vehicles. There is a lot to like about the Acura MDX.

Frequently Asked Questions: Used Acura MDX Years to Avoid

Which model years of the Acura MDX should be avoided?

It has been recommended by experts and owners alike to stay away from the 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2010, 2014, 2016, and 2017 models due to various issues, although transmission failures have been particularly notorious in earlier models.

What issues plague the 2014 and 2016 Acura MDX models?

It has been reported that the 2014 and 2016 Acura MDX models both have engine problems early in their lifecycle. The 2014 model has also been subjected to a high volume of complaints regarding a variety of defects.

Can the 2017 Acura MDX’s transmission problems lead to early failure?

Even though the 2017 Acura MDX’s transmission may not fail outright, it can give owners troubles early on, causing jerking and hesitation, which makes driving less reliable.

Which Acura MDX models are considered safe to buy used?

In general, used Acura MDX models manufactured between 2006 and 2009, 2011 to 2013, and 2015 to 2020 are considered safe to purchase, as they tend to have fewer complaints or issues that are simple to fix.

Are Acura MDXs typically reliable?

A few model years of the Acura MDX have been problematic, but the MDX generally enjoys a good reputation for reliability. Don’t assume that all MDXs are smart investments.

How much does a used Acura MDX typically cost?

Acura MDX second-hand prices vary widely due to the fact that the car has been on the market for more than 20 years. In CoPilot Price Pulse, an MDX 2008 is listed for an average price of $9,438, according to the company. More recent models, however, are significantly more expensive. Market conditions have caused a 16% premium on the 2019 MDX, which goes for $33,720.

Is the Acura MDX a good car to purchase?

Certainly, the Acura MDX is one of the best vehicles for transporting families, as well as driving with up to three rows of seats. There are, however, some MDX model years that are less reliable than others. Find out which Acura MDX model year is the most reliable before you go shopping. 


After reviewing the various generations of Acura MDXs, it is clear that the 2006, 2012, 2013, and 2018-2020 models are the best for optimal balance. There’s no doubt that 2016 is the worst MDX year to avoid.

If you had to choose a model year for the Acura MDX or for any other car, which features or issues would you consider?

Please share your insights and experiences below!

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