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Acura MDX Sport vs Tech. Opinions on Handling

chefjoechefjoe Posts: 3
edited March 19 in Acura
Buying a 2008...trying to decide whether to go with the sport model. Difficult to assess what long range ride comfort will be like on a short test drive. Any opinions or thoughts would be welcome. Main concern is that sport may be a little stiff ride- realize this can be disengaged, but then why buy the sport if I turn it off? Any folks with the base unhappy with too much roll in stops and turns?
Thanks for any input!


  • mvs1mvs1 Posts: 462
    My wife and I just test drove a sport and non-sport equipped model on Friday, as she looks for a replacement to her leased A4. We drove the sport first and we both asked the salesperson many questions about the differences of this option, specifically the ride and handling. He stated some of his customers cannot tell the difference while others can.

    I would recommend driving them both back to back. We did and noticed the sport to feel grounded to the road, we took the same twisting roads and the differences between the two were noticeable. I was very uncomfortable in the non-sport model. It felt like a traditional SUV, heavy, while the sport felt balanced and confident.

    We did not find the sport equipped model to be harsh in either mode. However we did not notice much difference with it engaged or off, but we also did not take the same road with this feature on/off, simply toggling between the two periodically.

    The Acura website offers details on the differences what we noticed were the suspension and the perforated seats.

    My wife is currently driving an A4, so her bias leans toward a better handling ride. She likes the MDX, and we would not purchase one without the sport option. She's still the search continues.
  • I have an '07 sport and can easily tell the difference between comfort and sport modes. You need to take an extended test drive over various terrains to see the differences. With any luck, they might let you take one for the weekend. As for engaging/disengaging the sport mode, that's the beauty of it. If you're on a smooth highway keep it sport for a more spirited ride. When on the back roads, comfort is a much better ride. My wife loves it (sarcasm) when I announce "we're going sport!"
  • dms9dms9 Posts: 137

    You don't "disengage" it, you temper it. I drive most of the time in the comfort mode, but that doesn't mean it's off. The shocks have iron filings in them. The car adjusts the stiffness of the ride to each shock separately by running current through the shock. Even in the comfort mode, its working. You notice it when you break hard and the nose doesn't dive very much, or when you take an off ramp just a little too fast and the car stays flat. If you are going to buy the NAV system anyhow, buy the sport, you will enjoy it much more. It's always on and works even better with the SHAWD. You also get some nicer finishes, some metal on the dash instead of plastic, (much) nicer leather, better tires and better rims (which are easier to clean).
  • I have the sport package on my 07 MDX, I can definitely say there is a "big" difference in the ride characteristics of sport and comfort. I always use the sport setting, particularly at highway speeds. I find the comfort setting to soft and bouncy, but the ride is similar to what you'd expect in a luxury vehicle.

    I recommend the sport package, since it's nice to have the choice.
  • Will test drive both today and see how they ride in comparison
  • rmrcrmrc Posts: 19

    I'm currently debating the same thing (SPT ENT vs. TECH ENT) for my wife. I drive a BMW 335i spt 6-sp manual trans and so I obviously prefer a sportier ride. My wife currently has a Merc R350 (avoid!!!) so I'm having trouble deciding if she'll appreciate the Sports suspension. Or, will I appreciate the sports suspension enough while I'm driving to justify the $2,000 charge. I'm thinking it's worth it but any additional feedback from both SPT and non-SPT owners would be greatly appreciated!
  • jmpage2jmpage2 Posts: 262
    While I didn't get a chance to extensively test drive both versions I did drive both the Sport and non Sport models several times before making a decision. I did notice that the sport model in sport mode had tighter turn in and felt like it could pull more lateral-G than the non sport model.

    On the other hand I still found the handling of the non sport model very very good for such a large heavy vehicle.

    We have lots of seamed concrete roadways around here and I found that the sport model pounded over them quite hard in either comfort or sport setting... this was too much like the rock hard suspension on the FX35 for my wife's comfort.

    Additionally the residual value on the sport model is not as good as the base or tech models so ultimately I crossed sport off my list for those reasons.
  • rmrcrmrc Posts: 19
    Thanks for the input. Another draw of the SPT is the always active suspension but again is it worth the extra $2k....? Well at least after a little more haggling I've secured $500 over invoice on both models. While I've driven both the SPT and non-SPT I haven't driven them back-to-back. That will change tomorrow (Saturday) morning. Hopefully a back-to-back comparison will make the decision easier.
  • upstatedocupstatedoc Posts: 710
    I chose the Sport model because I was coming from a TL and also having an "04 MDX which is rather squishy, I wanted the option of being able to switch back and forth because it was going to be my primary driver. However, things change, my wife has now comandeered it and I am back to driving the '04. :cry: I did even things out a little and got my self a "fun car" for the summer, an '08 VW GTI. ;) My opinion is if you are not going to be the primary driver and your wife doesn't care either way, save your money. Even when I was the primary driver of the '07, it was in comfort mode for 95% of the time.
  • rmrcrmrc Posts: 19
    Thank you - great feedback! I have pretty much decided the Tech Ent car is the way to go for my wife and I'll save $2,000. I will drive both tomorrow just to make sure.
  • karens2008karens2008 Posts: 26
    Thanks for your help and prompt response. I think i got a fair deal on the Tech model and was happy to be able to add the option of an auto gate. Helpful with packages and luggage, kids, etc.
  • kaabobkaabob Posts: 6
    The Sport model also comes with Auto-leveling HID

    Has anyone tried to test drive these at night to see what the big deal is? Does it follow your turns, or does it aim up or down while on an incline/decline?
  • upstatedocupstatedoc Posts: 710

    The auto-leveling feature lowers (or raises) the HID's according to cargo load. If you have a lot of stuff in the back that makes the rear-end tilt downward, the lights lower so as not to blind an oncoming vehicle. More important w/ HID's. Adaptive headlights follow your steering.
  • kaabobkaabob Posts: 6
    Oh.. thanks for the info! Seems like a feature that would benefit others on the roads (with an added price)
  • brahda808brahda808 Posts: 25
    I purchased an 08 Sport/Ent. and I can't tell the difference between comfort and sport mode. In fact, when I go over speed bumps in either mode, the rear bounces and extra time! It feels like the shocks are shot! Very embarassing. I took it in for service (not for the suspension) and got a tech. package as a loner. The suspension was much stiffer than my sport! Anyone else has the same problem? Is this how the sport is suppose to be or do I have a defect mode?
  • RdubbRdubb Posts: 1
    I have been doing a bit of mid-size SUV shopping lately and have been surprised by how reality differed from my expectations about vehicles and features based on what I read in reviews. Definitely need to check things out for yourself, back to back and at length if possible before buying vehicles like this. MDX Tech vs Sport package was one of the areas I was looking into--after seeing for myself I would side with those who think the Tech is the way to go and that the Sport package is not worth the extra money. I took them both on lengthy back to back test drives, in several types of roads and driving conditions after reading everything I could find on the web about them. I appreciate the info folks have posted, but am hoping to offer a little more in some areas here for those who have the same questions I did.

    Sport package. I do not understand this package's appeal at all--to each his/her own. Impressions of the Sport were that it rode rougher, seemed jittery, was noisier, and seemed to be artifical and like it needs more development perhaps. The perforated leather seemed to grip your clothes in an annoying manner (not a luxury type feel) and I would suggest that the auto-leveling feature of the headlights would not really do much (I thought I would prefer the low-beam headlights to aim up a little more than they do already. I wanted to like this model, but everything that distinguishes it as the Sport package seemed to be a detractor. Also, the sport wheels look just OK, but they basically look too small for what they are designed to accomplish--they'd need to be bigger like the optional 19" wheels to look sportier--the current 18" Sport wheel size seems cheesy to me (like a Kia--the Hyundai SUV wheels look better to me).

    Tech package, seemed better for several reasons. One, because of the non-perforated leather, luxurious as we expected. I think the tech wheels match the MDX best out of the "package-equipped" wheels, but the 19" optional ones would be best of all. The ride seemed more supple, more natural for an SUV, and more connected to the road than the sport--not like something was in the way of a good ride. The MDX overall seems well planted and comfortable, well balanced perhaps--not on rails or anything, of course it is an SUV. My style of driving is more basic transportation, so I am usually focused on a decent ride, good utility, visibility of the other traffic around me and not thowing my passengers and cargo around... this seemed to match the Tech package for me.

    Situationally I have been driving a 2005 Nissan Xterra, which rides a little rough regardless of road/terrain--it's ironic how similar smooth or rough road feel in this thing, nearly the same. Although it's decent transportation, especially when you need to haul stuff or go on rougher road or terrain, The ride basically jiggles, bumps and vibrates on any road--I'd never be comfortable trying to sleep as a passenger in it, it seems to gallop over undulating bumps (depending on speed), but to its credit does corner and maneuver pretty well, which is one big difference from it's slightly larger Pathfinder brand-mate. I like the Xterra handling better than the sport model MDX, but the Tech package is way better (perfect perhaps) to me. If I want to do the sports car driving thing, I borrow the wife's Audi TT, so not trying to find a truck that drives like a car.

    Also we rented an FX35 while on a recent vacation to start our car search--not enough utility for an SUV, but it had some highlights that helped us look at other brands and models. For reference we today looked at a ML500, which seems to favor a "sturdy" feel that I'd probably tire of over a short time (like it's trying too hard...or should be more refined in some areas, the things that make you start looking for your next vehicle). Also, someone above mentioned seams on concrete pounding through to the cabin--the ML500 seemed to have substantially (annoyingly) more of that characteristic than either MDX Package. Toyota Highlander seemed to behave more like a mini-van than the type of SUV I seek. I perceive overall engine power in these vehicles (FX35, Xterra, ML500 and the MDX, Highlander) to be about the same, each with a unique personality, but overall similar--I'm not swayed by the differences in pedal tip-in. I can imagine the MDX Tech as a long term "feels just right, does everything I want it to" choice. Everything else I've come across had a shortfall that kept me from pulling the trigger.

    Go see for yourself--no opinion or argument here should steer anyone's decision--but hopefully all the things folks mention give you food for thought and items to look into for your own evaluation--maybe point out the things you'll notice over time, so you can consider them up front. I believe I'll go for a Tech with Entertainment MDX, probably with the Acura 19" upgrade wheels, roof rack and footboards, which I think should all be stock in some form of package. Without them, I see more wagon and less SUV in the MDX, which may have been Acura's intent to appeal to buyers in some niche or demographic. Considering everything, I think Acura has done well with the MDX Tech package.
  • ssmintonssminton Posts: 155
    I have a 2007 MDX Sport and recently crossed the 50K mile mark. I love the car and could not imagine not having the sport suspension. The real difference comes when driving on 2-lane roads and in inclement weather. The car in the sport mode will respond much more quickly and tightly. If you are test-driving and want to feel the difference, just make a few quick side to side turns at speed both in comfort and sport... you can easily feel the difference in the way the car responds. I feel that on the much small road driving that I do, I have much more control over the car and less overcorrection while driving on unfamiliar roads.

    Keep in mind though that the sport model has a downside. The vehicle is sensitive to the lateral slope of the roadway. Thus, the car will pull a bit on the highway to both directions, depending on the slope of the roadway. This is most bothersome on new highways designed with substantial lateral drainage slopes. Still, I find the model to be superior.
  • Do you have the extra bounce when going over speed bumps in sport mode? I've drove a loaner tech package and the suspension is way stiffer than my Sport/Ent. package in sport mode. I've also driven a Sport/Ent. package loaner. It too has an extra bounce over speed bumps.
  • ssmintonssminton Posts: 155
    I do not find that I have extra bounce in sport mode more of a direct jarring. I only drive the car in sport mode when I am on extended backcountry driving or in inclement weather. Still, sometimes in the mid-winter the frost heaves get me, and I will still put the MDX in comfort when backroad driving.
  • jephyboy1jephyboy1 Posts: 13
    I just wanted to revive this discussion a bit. I've decided on buy a 2009 MDX Tech or the Sport version. I'm trying to get any thoughts on the differences between the two. As far as I know, Sport has perforated seats, different wheels, and different suspension. Is there anything else? What about thoughts on it driving? Trying to decide if the 1500 premium is worth it or not. Look forward to hearing the responses!
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