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2014-2016 MDX Build Quality and Reliability - Is Acura getting worse?

neoshineoshi Member Posts: 2
edited October 2015 in Acura
So, before I got the 2016 MDX, I heard about all sorts of build quality issues with the 2014. Acura fixed a few things in the 2015, and then claimed to fix a few more in the 2016. However, a part of me feels like Acura is perhaps lacking QC altogether.

For example, the 2014-2015s had a mid row seat rattle that came from a spring that was assembled backwards in the Alabama plant. In my 2016, I have a mid row seat rattle, but likely from a poorly assembled seat track. In addition, there are all sorts of fitment issues (not all doors close flush, inconsistent gaps between panels), random material issues (e.g. had a gouge in my mid row leather, there's a deformation in the soft touch material by the start/stop button, found a disconnected tube by the accelerator pedal), and other NVH issues (tapping noise coming from mid row seats, another tapping noise from behind the infotainment). Other owners from MDXers and Acurazine seem to exhibit a random spattering of issues as well, ranging from exhausts not even being installed entirely, all sorts of trim falling off on both interior and exterior, MANY NVH issues, and random failures of electronics such as the steering column and infotainment.

In general, the brand has always been a bit behind the premium market curve a bit, with styling that doesn't convey premium, hollow feel, cheaper interior materials, and extremely poor customer relations (once you become an Acura owner, you will always get "it's normal" in response to an issue and good luck with even getting intermittent issues addressed).

Of course, now you're asking, well why did you buy the MDX then? In short, it's just about the only SUV around $50k that has good power, good enough handling, and SUPPOSED reliability (enough so that I don't need to be at the dealer ALL the time). Most drive like boats and are extremely underpowered (the MDX is also, to a small degree.. really needs ~330 ft-lbs of torque), and so short of buying a Macan, SQ5, Q5 3.0T or TDI, X3, X5, or similar that get you up to 60 in 6 seconds or less (and all have issues past 4 years), it seemed like the MDX was probably the best option. However, I'm finding my time spent at the dealer rather troubling.

Also, I know the 9 speed transmission (ZF9) has been a point of contention for many, including myself after having driven the 6 speed and 9 speed back to back. While I haven't really had any mechanical issues with the unit, I do find the low speed behavior a bit annoying and would appreciate the software fixes that ZF and Acura have been mentioning.

Lastly, the infotainment systems for Acura/Honda have always seemed quite a bit behind the curve, far from intuitive, laggy, and lacking any sort of follow-up from the brand after purchase (e.g. 3 second Bluetooth delay causes desynced audio/visual like navi directions, videos, etc. and a call into the infotainment help line gets you a "we have no plans to do anything with the infotainment system in the near future, including the bluetooth module, but we do know what you are talking about" response). Input of addresses is so cumbersome that most owners seem to stick to using Waze/Google Maps on their phones instead. Even brands like Hyundai have started to make older vehicles compatible with their newer Android Auto/Carplay updates, yet Acura looks to be ditching current owners and introducing a whole new infotainment system entirely.

So here's a few questions I have for all of you:
What are your experiences with the 3rd generation MDX?

Would you consider these issues as part of the long term reliability concerns (I've spoken to some that do not think things like NVH and electronics issues should even be considered) since you would be addressing these build quality issues potentially over a long duration (e.g. tapping noise behind my infotainment is a continuous cycle of 1) show them the noise, 2) they can't reproduce it when they drive it themselves, 3) i show them again, 4) they still can't reproduce, 5) rinse and repeat)?

While we can probably trust the MDX powertrain to keep on rolling for quite a few years past 4, is our long held impression of Acura actually incorrect? For example, a slew of 2G MDX owners are experiencing transmission failures now.

Is it just me, or are the Alabama products (MDX, Pilot, Odyssey) the worst of the Honda family?

How has your experience changed you decision about your next vehicle (e.g. leaving Acura/Honda for good vs sticking with them and hoping for better vs no issues!)?

Please keep discussions civil. I know some Honda family brand owners are quite the loyalists and my objective is not to start a war, but to gather experiences and perhaps have an Edmunds staff really look into perceived quality vs actual quality for a brand that many of us trust(ed).


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    runtenkarruntenkar Member Posts: 1
    So very disappointed in my 2015. After having the 03 for 11 years, I'm 14 months into the new one and seriously think I'll sell it soon. Nonsense stuff like windows rattling (they all say it's normal). Never had a window rattle, and I've been driving for a while. If you're parked outside during a rain storm, then it gets sunny, and open the sunroof, look out! lots of water going to pour down on you. Again, they say that is normal. Didn't happen on our 03. It drives fine, but I wish there was a car out there that's manufacturer was more into the functions of a vehicle, smooth ride, and forgo the nonsense technology. Even when we bought the car, the salesman didn't know how to change the time on the clock. You sound a bit like me, it's the default car, but if I'd known little things like this are issues that Acura defends, I wouldn't have bought it. And, can I have a real key back, please?! And, if you're driving something older now, note that oil changes for the new oil have gone up quite a lot in price.
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    mscinvamscinva Member Posts: 2
    edited December 2015
    I agree with your overall sentiment that 1) Acura quality has degraded over the years, but 2) what else is there? That's exactly why I'm driving a '16 MDX today.

    My first Acura was a '96 Integra. It was basically a better looking Civic so I paid the premium. After a Maxima and Accord I got an '08 RL. What a POS! In my opinion, that 05-08 RL was a good looking car. But it had issues from rattles, squeaky sunroof, blown speakers, water leaks, etc. I told people all the time my old '99 Accord was a better car. So yes, quality has gone downhill. By far the most frustrating car I've owned was the RL; a car Acura touts as its most premium sedan.

    So why buy another Acura? I wanted a Q7. Then drove the ML350 and liked that. I especially thought the Mercedes interior was far better and more refined than the MDX. But in the end I couldn't justify 10-15K more for a daily-driver SUV. So I've rolled the dice on another Acura.

    How's it going so far? I am glad I chose the MDX over the ML350 simply because I actually use the 3rd row about once a week. I haven't experienced any of the issues you've listed above, mine drives quietly with no rattles or sealing issues. But I absolutely hate the transmission and delay off the line. I wish I had a good old throttle cable again and it would just go when I push the pedal. Acura has gone overboard with computerizing the whole thing and there's a very noticeable and annoying delay between pushing the pedal and the car actually reacting. Finally, the Acura GPS has to be the worst in the industry.

    Will I buy another? I'm sure I will. All these problems aside, it's still better than paying 10-15K more for just another SUV brand with problems of their own. I do like the look and features in the new Pilot so that may be my next choice. Or I may flip my '16 MDX for a '17 if it offers Apple CarPlay.
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    tonka858tonka858 Member Posts: 112
    I just got a 16 and the Tranny is driving me up a wall. I drove the Jeep with the 9 speed and its better but not by much, If my wife won't take over the MDX going to give it to car max and move on.
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