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Acura MDX Sport vs Tech. Opinions on Handling

chefjoechefjoe Member Posts: 3
edited March 2014 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 Member 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 undecided...so the search continues.
  • upstatedocupstatedoc Member Posts: 710
    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 Member 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).
  • kingtroll1kingtroll1 Member Posts: 9
    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.
  • chefjoechefjoe Member Posts: 3
    Will test drive both today and see how they ride in comparison
  • rmrcrmrc Member Posts: 21

    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 Member Posts: 268
    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 Member Posts: 21
    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 Member 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 Member Posts: 21
    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 Member 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 Member 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 Member 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 Member Posts: 6
    Oh.. thanks for the info! Seems like a feature that would benefit others on the roads (with an added price)
  • brahda808brahda808 Member 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 Member 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 Member 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.
  • brahda808brahda808 Member Posts: 25
    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 Member 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 Member 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!
  • x5killerx5killer Member Posts: 368
    I can't imagine anyone getting sport ent over tech ent. with sport ent you get no nav, which is one of the most important features. even if you get a good aftermarket one its not going to be integrated with the mdx and the voice activation etc.

    if you dont need the ent (which you kind of really dont unless you have a kid or whatever cus if you are driving you aren't getting to sit in the back and watch a dvd unless you get the front screen working and really want the handy 9 volt or whatever plug in the center console with the ent)

    so id got sport tech or tech ent. i have a young child and last suv had the res dvd screen so it was a must for the new as she gets older and that keeps her happy on longer trips to watch something.

    tech and ent were neccesity. sport really isn't and just jacks up the price. i mean if you can get all 3 great but wasn't worth it for me and i even like all featurs and accessories and i like a sporty ride but even i didn't even go for the sport.

    but again if you dont need ent. then sure sport and tech, but all 3 is kind of over kill.
  • upstatedocupstatedoc Member Posts: 710
    All Sport models come with Nav.
  • x5killerx5killer Member Posts: 368
    Oh wools, stupid me. Maybe I should have got a sport + ent then. Tech + ent was cheaper though and I change the wheels to larger aftermarket ones anyway. What else does the sport even giveyou. Nothing I've seen mentionedseems worth the extra price. But I think there is more sports in stock so that could help one get a better deal to help cncel out some of the extracost of the sport.

    So sport + ent would haveeverything? Hm I should have know that before searching for tech+ ent. Either way sport + ent. Would be more though and none of the tho be the sport adds seems worth it.

    I'm moreconcerbed with what the 2010 is adding on the inside as I heard it may have a higher red and larger nav screen plus hard drive like the tl.

    I heard that though after I bought th 09 which I went ahead with because all ppl though the 2010 was the ugly new plenium grill so I didn't wantto wait for it only to hate the grip and see nothing new was added or changed for the betters but then it to be too late cus no 09's left. In the color and options I wanted since inventory is already so low.

    The spy photos only showed the grill and headlights covered so most thought it was mostly just getting the plenium grill and maybe slight headlight change which I wasn't worried about because I like the 09 Mex head and fog lights.

    But now ppl said that the tail lights may get changed and just wasn't done yet on the one in spy photos.

    But the Honda blog page which tells you the changes for each model doesn't say anything about the 2010 Mdx getting any nav screen change or hdd etc so I think it's just speculation by someone in another thread.

    And of course dealerships either don't know or claim it's not getting any major changes cus they want to sell the 09.

    I took the chance that I'm not going to like the 2010 and that I could get a better price on the 09 now
  • polarsandpolarsand Member Posts: 23
    I love reading your posts :) They make me smile each time.
  • x5killerx5killer Member Posts: 368
    lol thanks. I tend to be a bit long winded and repetitive in trying to make a clear point. and i wrote that from my phone so always some typos. some ppl sometimes get annoyed by posts like that and try to attack me so i'm glad you could actually get a laugh or a smile. I just try to be honest and realistic and type like i'm talking with real feelings.

    anyway back on topic, its kind of asilly one then if sport has the nav of the tech and talking strictly on handling of course the sport is better then the tech in that dept and apparently has everything the tech has.

    just a matter if you think the better handling and whatever other minor features the sport adds is worth the extra cost. for some it will, others not so much.

    i'm sure its real but the fact that some ppl can't even tell the difference in the ride would make me think its not super worth it and the ones that say they can tell may be all pyschological. like if you let them test drive a sport and a non sport without telling them which was which, would they know?
  • jyao888jyao888 Member Posts: 32
    Did you really check out the features at Acura.com?
    Sport package includes all Tech package plus additional performance features as well as different leather and wheels.
  • jyao888jyao888 Member Posts: 32
    Most people discuss tech vs sport and have different opinions.
    Certainly, for daily driving you may not tell the big difference.
    But I think lots of us forgot that we all like to read the rating of MDX as #1 in luxury midsize SUV (#2 ----slightly behind Lexus RX350 Hybird). Please note that the rating trim is using MDX Sport trim. Some handling features are standard as BMW X5. Correct?
  • x5killerx5killer Member Posts: 368
    Sport adds

    1.Active Damper System sport suspension
    2. Perforated Milano Premium Leather trimmed interior
    3. Textured interior trim
    4. 18-inch, 5-spoke aluminum-alloy wheels (as opposed to 18-inch, 6-spoke aluminum-alloy wheels)

    The 2 interior factors are unimportant to me and not worth paying more. the wheels seem to be just a diff spoke but otherwise the same and a non factor to me as I change them out to 22's

    the Active Damper System sport suspension would be the only thing worthwhile but not worth the increase in price.

    if i didn't need Ent. i would maybe get the sport but since i need ent then tech and ent was the way to go for me.

    the sport just doesnt' add enough to be worth. those 4 things and the only important one being the sport suspesion and its not even noticeable to most.
  • buyusedbuyused Member Posts: 11
    We have the Sport and it is an interesting bit of electronic wizardry. My work requires travel between urban and rural areas in central Ohio (home to Honda and very proud employees.)
    I really enjoy the comfort setting when the going gets bumpy; well composed and comfortable. However, it does not dispell ALL of the impact of road imperfections due to the large and WIDE tires. Nevertheless, it does great on 90% of the roads I travel: asphalt, gravel, and occasionally dirt.
    In the twisties or for spirited jaunts on long smooth stretches, the sport setting really tightens up. Pat Bedard at Car and Driver noted: "For masochists only". I wouldn't go that far, but it will feel and drive like the best sport sedans out there eliminating all but the smallest amount of body roll in tight turns.
    SH-AWD is a little tricky when pushing hard in this mode; you really have to get on it early in the turn for it to sling-shot you out. Tons of fun when you get it right and stability control should keep you out of trouble--though I have never had it kick in...yet. 15K miles and so far so good.
    We test drove the Non-Sport mode before we bought and it was plenty firm, but the sales guy indicated: "A nice blend of sport and comfort modes" I say 70% Sport. Take it from me, the choice is worth it. Acura really made a statement by requiring you to turn the Comfort mode on rather than the opposite. When we picked it up at the dealer, it was in the default Sport mode. Grandma won't like it, so don't forget to hit the button on the console when you pick her up at the airport.
    By the way, the Sport leather isn't just perforated, it is much higher quality than the Non Sport and all the Tech goodies are included. Hope this helps.
  • jyao888jyao888 Member Posts: 32
    I am very please to purchase Spt+DVD.
    It's really worth the extra 1700 for sport model.
    Also, the top of line get better deal for purchase.
    I could drive much fast and feel much safe when turning in the country roads.
    For this great interest rate, go for it.
  • zx11zx11 Member Posts: 6
    I am looking to buy a Sport/Ent. Went to a dealership this weekend to take one for a test drive and the salesman tried to steer me toward a Tech/Ent. He said they are having problems with the Sport models having a very harsh ride in the winter time (for the first 10 or 15 minutes of driving) and it was something Acura is looking to fix. I have not seen this problem mentioned on this or other forums. He only had one Sport in stock so he was probably BSing me but wanted to verify. Anyone with a Sport having this issue?
  • buyusedbuyused Member Posts: 11
    I haven't had any problems. Every car I have ever driven has driven a bit harsher in cold temperatures, but nothing special worth mentioning in the 08 Sport MDX.
  • valueguyvalueguy Member Posts: 208
    2008 Acura MDX with Sport plus Ent- 25,000 miles.

    HUGE difference in Comfort vs. Sport mode. After driving the car 25,000 miles in the regular "sport" mode I switched to "comfort" setting. The MDX went from BMW to Buick mode. Nothing wrong with a Buick but I much prefer BMW mode.

    Heck, even in sport mode my MDX is "soft" compared to my friend's 2009 X5.
    Now that is a real SPORT/ROUGH/FIRM ride. The MDX is very moderate in comparison and a real daily driver. If you want handling and a tight suspension then go SPORT. I would NOT skip this option now. No way.
  • gregmdxgregmdx Member Posts: 17
    From what I understand, there is a huge difference between sport/comfort mode. But where would a non-adjustable tech (or base) model compare. I would think it was firmer than comfort mode but softer than sport mode?

    I have a tech and like the ride. It's firm but not harsh. Handles bumps much better than my BMW 330. I do wish the rear suspension were a bit quieter, but on the whole I'm happy with the ride.
  • brahda808brahda808 Member Posts: 25
    I have the sport/ent. package on my 08 MDX. Comfort mode is softer than sport mode. Its kind of bouncy on rough roads if your going a little fast. Sport mode firms it up a little but to me it is no where close to the firmest of a true sports car. In fact, the MDX with the regular suspension is a lot more firm (i've driven the loaner when servicing my MDX).
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