Acura MDX 2nd Gen ('07 to present) Towing

drr98drr98 Member Posts: 80
Considering towing an ultra-light (~2500lb) travel trailer.

Anyone using their MDX to tow out there?

If so, what are you towing, and how is it working out?


  • JBaumgartJBaumgart Member Posts: 890
    I tow my 3,400 lb. fishing boat pretty regularly, and the MDX does a fine job with it. Feels very stable and it accelerates just fine.
  • wwestwwest Member Posts: 10,706
    Given that the MDX drivetrain, ALL SUV SH-AWD systems, are quite obviously already being overstressed I would not advise towing ANYTHING unless the SH-AWD system is fully disabled.
  • upstatedocupstatedoc Member Posts: 710
    You can't disable the SH-AWD system on the MDX. The MDX is rated for towing by Acura, plenty of people do it.
  • wwestwwest Member Posts: 10,706
    "..plenty of people do it.."

    Yes, any PLENTY of people are obviously having drive train component failures as a result. The MDX drive train is already being put under undue stress and thus overheating as a result of it automatically going into "4WD" mode on highly tractive surfaces and adding a towing load will only serve to accelerate the failures.

    "..You can't disable the SH-AWD system on the MDX.."

    I don't own one so I can't say for sure but the first things I would try is pull the rear drive clutch(es) fuse or unplug the connections. And yes, and error code would probably result but who cares if the drive train then lasts for 100,000 plus miles.

    Personally I would put a switch in so the rear drive capability could be engaged as needed.

    Has everyone noticed that while the MDX was switched over to the SH-AWD system the Ridgeline still uses the VTM-4 system? Ridgeline as a PU requires a more ROBUST F/awd system..? Was the switchover the result of too many early MDX drive train component failures under the more robust VTM-4 system...?
  • drr98drr98 Member Posts: 80
    Thanks for the helpful response. We live near the mountains and would be pulling this load up to between 5-10k ft. Has any of your towing been alpine?
  • goomba1goomba1 Member Posts: 20
    I just bought a used '08 MDX Tech with factory hitch and used it to pull an ~3,000 lb pop-up tent trailer. It was awesome. For the previous 5 years I had used an '01 Sienna, which needed a weight-distributing hitch to transfer weight to the front wheels (FWD vehicle) and to reduce swaying at highway speed. The MDX specifies NOT to use a weight distributing hitch, and with just a regular hitch I had no problems at all towing at 70 mph. The back end of the MDX was not noticably low, and although I did not measure the tongue weight I am guessing it was ~10% (300 lb). All I did in the past to accomodate the extra stress of towing through the mountains was use synthetic oil and change the transmission fluid as recommended (15,000 miles for the Sienna). For the MDX I will also change the differential fluid regularly and report back in a year or two how its all going. (Incidentally I had the Toyota 3.0L engine with reported engine sludge vulnerability, but even stressing the engine over the years with towing I just used synthetic oil and cleaned the PCV valve every couple years -- never had a problem with the engine ... sensors are another story. I am not worried about the reported Honda transmission problems --but will definitely report in if I ever do have a problem). Happy towing!
  • wwestwwest Member Posts: 10,706
    Were I you I would find a way to disable the rear drive except at times of need, adverse roadbed conditions. MDX driveline component stress and heating due to pre-emptive rear drive engagement even on the most highly tractive roadbed surface is already bad enough let alone the added stress/heat of towing.
  • drr98drr98 Member Posts: 80
    Thanks for the helpful reply 'friend1'.

    May I ask how much you payed for your '08 Tech?

    Is your towing mostly flat or mountains?
  • goomba1goomba1 Member Posts: 20
    OK, I had two weeks of camping this summer and pulled my ~3,000lb trailer (plus 600lbs of passengers, plus bikes) through the fabulous Rocky Mountains with my '08 MDX Tech/factory tow package. No Problems -- Acura's claim that the SH-AWD system controls trailer sway is true, as I never experienced any (I drive 60-70mph while towing). I followed the instructions in the Owners Manual and made sure not to use the overdrive gear going uphill (using the manual shift) -- I think that is probably ***very*** important to prevent problems in the future. A couple of notes: last year I changed the differential fluid at 45k (it was clean and smelled fine, but it is cheap to change anyway to be safe), and this year will hit 60k and change the transmission fluid. Highway milage: 24mpg with just me in the vehicle, 22mpg going on a family trip, and more like 17mpg towing the trailer (15mpg through a mountainous section).
    I'll update again in a year -- unless I experience any of the reported Honda/Acura tranny problems in which case I would post ASAP!
  • drr98drr98 Member Posts: 80
    Sounds fun. We went in a different direction...a new '11 RDX. No towing capacity with the RDX.

    Ha, its a hotrod inline four minivan with a turbo and a liftkit.

    We are thinking a small motor home (22') will be next.
  • goomba1goomba1 Member Posts: 20
    A little over 1 year later update with only a couple of weekends worth of towing last summer: I did change the transmission fluid change at ~60k miles (to Acura synthetic), transmission on my '08 MDX Tech is still fine at somewhere over 75,000 miles.
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