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So this month’s Consumers Report ranked the reliability of different car brands. I was shocked to see Acura ranked near the very bottom. It’s lower than some questionable car makers like Chrysler. Is that correct? I’ve bought several Acura’s over the years because of their great reliability ratings. My MDX is 10 years old with 100,000 miles. I’ve had virtually no problems with it. Just typical maintenance things like oil, brakes and tires. My recent purchases though were Honda and Lexus. The Honda was for my son and my wife wanted the Lexus for a change. I was ready to get her an Acura. Was she right to want a change? If so why? What is causing such a low rating.
 

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I think the number of recalls they've had has to have had a meaningful impact on their reduced ranking

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So this month’s Consumers Report ranked the reliability of different car brands. I was shocked to see Acura ranked near the very bottom. It’s lower than some questionable car makers like Chrysler. Is that correct? I’ve bought several Acura’s over the years because of their great reliability ratings. My MDX is 10 years old with 100,000 miles. I’ve had virtually no problems with it. Just typical maintenance things like oil, brakes and tires. My recent purchases though were Honda and Lexus. The Honda was for my son and my wife wanted the Lexus for a change. I was ready to get her an Acura. Was she right to want a change? If so why? What is causing such a low rating.
Did CR list the reasons for Acura being so low? I'm not a subscriber and not a big fan of their recommendations/reviews but would love to see them list actual raw data...like problems/100 owners or problems/miles driven or specific common problems.
 

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Funny, reading online reviews Acura MDX is one of the higher rates SUVs. Like everything else you need to take what you read with a grain of salt.
With all the technology I dont think any of the newer cars are as good as say 10 years ago. Heck my cheap 2007 Suzuki has been bulletproof with one exeption since we bought it new. My new Acura spent probably 45 days in the shop chasing a stupid simple gremlin. Luckily I was persistant and my great service department found and fixed the issue.
 

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I was once a subscriber to Consumer Reports years ago and they did yearly surveys. I don't know if they surveyed everyone OR just their subscribers? The questions were very generic and didn't drill down to specifics when I took the survey. Vehicle electrical issues could be anything from a faulty OEM battery to replacing the entire vehicle wiring harness; but, you wouldn't know the exact issue under electrical.

Consumer Reports was very good for stuff like house hold appliances. I still have my Whirlpool Washer/dryer they recommended for +13 years and it still work perfectly.
 

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As a proud owner of a reliable 2009 MDX, I always get a laugh when I read some Acura fanboi snark about how biased/ill-informed CR's predicted new car reliability ratings must be, particularly when said fanboi is neither a CR subscriber nor even familiar with what CR's MDX ratings were based on. CR's new car reliability ratings are derived from input by actual owners of the model's immediately previous year(s), not something cooked up by CR itself. The fact is the 3rd Gen. MDX has had significant problems throughout its life cycle, and those issues have not decreased over time as the 3rd Gen. models have matured, as QC principles and common sense would suggest they would. I can only hope Honda has learned something and Acura returns to the standard of quality it once enjoyed.

The summary of the current MDX model year woes, from the January 2020 edition of Consumer Reports magazine, lists "in-car electronics, power equipment and drive system" as its weak points, based on owner input. Now, for those wishing to do a deeper dive, it can be done by going online to Consumer Reports and searching for the "Reliability" tab of the analysis of the current year model. In the MDX's case, overall reliability is much worse than average (i.e., of the vehicles of the particular model year) for 2016 -2019. For any independent-minded reader wishing to assess the overall rating, CR lists 17 subcategories, ranging from "Engine Major" and "Engine Minor" to "Power Equipment" and "In-Car Electronics". Thus, anyone with the ability to read the subcategories and applicable model years can independently decide whether the overall reliability rating for a particular model year is justified.

Reasonable people may differ on whether a rating of a particular category, or even an overall rating, is justified. However, it should be obvious to any fair-minded person that these are not "roll your own" data cooked up by CR. It also bears noting that many of the 3rd Gen. problem areas have been echoed in posts by unhappy owners on this website. Transmission issues, anyone? Electronics? etc.
 

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I've been a CR reader on and off since the 1950's. I remember in 1958 when they rated the Buick as the best car because the Dynaflow transmission shifted less than other designs, therefore the overall driving experience was "Superior". They chose to ignore the many downsides of the design.

Nineteen fifty-eight was the last year for the Dynaflow name on Buick's automatic transmission, which was standard on the Limited and Roadmaster, and optional on other models as "Flight-Pitch Dynaflow." For 1955, Buick had added a variable-pitch stator to its torque converter to produce "Variable-Pitch Dynaflow."
Instead of being fixed, stator blade angles were varied through a mechanical linkage corresponding to throttle position. The idea was to provide extra torque to avoid a mechanical gear change. The more acute the blade angle, the greater the torque multiplication.
Flight-Pitch was a further evolution with three turbines instead of two, so as to increase torque output even more, but it was expensive to manufacture, problem-prone, and wasteful of gas.

Buick stayed with what it called "Triple Turbine automatic" only through 1959, then dropped it for cost reasons in favor of the Twin Turbine transmission. "It almost broke us," one executive exaggerated.

The 9 speed transmission problems, poor infotainment design, and the chronic under-charging electrical system in the later Gen. 3 MDX has hurt it's ratings. What they don't account for is the true severity of the problems. CR was giving great ratings to the Subaru models from 2000 up, even though there were multiple major engine problems such as leaking head gaskets, leaking oil pump, and leaking rear main seals. These were quite expensive to repair, but only got one overall demerit from CR.

CR also fails to consider normal wear items on vehicles as they age in a different category from true failures. If you look at the details of most brands, you see "Brakes" as an ever increasing problem area in the ratings with age. DUH. Vehicles usually start needing brake Maintenance work around 4 to 5 years after they are new.
 

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We have a CR subscription but take everything they say with a grain of salt. Our observation is that they are more interested in persuading you to spend money on or thru them than writing what we consider to be good articles. They don't come across to us like they did 25 years ago. We find, for our family at least, that many times they test things you can't find, and don't test things that are common everywhere. That said, Acura markets themselves as a high end brand. The people who buy an Acura expect more from their cars I think that someone who buys a domestic brand. I can get parts for an Acura for a very long time. Our Mercury Sable (same as Ford Taurus) began having parts go obsolete and unavailable 3 - 5 years after it was made. We don't see those kinds of things discussed at a site like Consumer Reports.
 

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Acura tranny do have issues it all depends on the right tech and if they are willing to fix it .
Otherwise it works as normal is common.
 

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The earlier issues with the 9AT was the main reason I wanted the MDX Sport Hybrid with the totally different powertrain. The +14 RLX sport hybrid folks seem to have pretty good luck with performance, mpgs, reliability, and battery pack life with this powertrain since 2014. The only issue I had with my info-tainment when I upgraded my iPhone to IOS 13.X.X for Carplay. That upgrade broke my Carplay for a few months until IOS 13.2.3 became available. It was nice to have the Acura navi available as a back-up when Carplay navi was down.

I've learned over the years since my first Honda back in 1991 to try and purchase after the MMC (never 1st model year unless to only plan to keep until the basic warranty runs out). Most issues are resolved and Honda (Acura) usually updates the styling, performance, and/or tech +MMC.
 

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I'd have to agree with CR. My 17 Advance has two issues that can't be fixed, but American Honda (and my Acura dealer) just can't admit these issues can't be fixed. Probably legal department prevents them from admitting they're unfixable. Both electrical gremlins. Sometimes heated seats don't work after a remote start (I have to shut car off and start it with button) and sometimes the steering wheel does not assume driving position after starting the car (I have to press driver 1 memory button, then wheel lowers and extends properly). Been in the shop MANY times and has had a LOT of parts replaced. Also one front strut replaced due to leaking in less than 10k miles, both rear noisy struts replaced at just over 10k miles, rear hatch outside open button replaced to to intermittent failure to work, front rotors replaced due to warpage at around 8k miles, and several other things. Compared to my previous Toyota Highlander Limited, which I had for over 70k miles, this car has been a nightmare. The only reason I still have it is because I refuse to take the depreciation I would encounter trading it in somewhere. First and last Acura I will buy.
 

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Per your issue 2 the wheel not dropping into position. This is a real simple fix. Tell your dealer service manager to call Salem Acura service manager. The issue is a software incompatability between the memory seat control module and the rest of the system. Takes less than an hour to fix.
 

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It seems this thread has been semi-hijacked into a CR believe or bash thread. However, the title is "Acura Reliability". As a member here since early 2016, I've read numerous posts about electronic gremlins, hardware issues, and drive train problems (like the 9 spd AT) that have negatively affected the 3rd Gen. MDX. As I said upthread, QC/QA principles and common sense would dictate that the occurrence of most of these issues would dramatically decrease over time as Honda got a handle on the reported and surfacing glitches found in the new design as it matured. IMHO, that has not happened.

As an Acura owner, I don't have any expectations of the MDX ever being a "luxury" vehicle (MBs, Land Rovers and the like have their own reliability issues). However, I do have an expectation that my "premium" vehicle will have a certain level of luxury and reliability that are not available in more modest mainstream brands. Based on my experience with Acura vehicles from the early '90s forward, it seems the reliability of the brand has been steadily heading downward, while confidence in the ability of dealers (and Honda) to solve nagging problems has diminished to the point that multiple trips to the dealer are required, or tips from one owner's service manager needs to be passed on to another owner's service manager (see Donn0128's advice above) to get a permanent fix. In other words, we are heading for the "reliability" of a Land Rover without the luxury of same! As I stated above, I will look at the 4th Gen MDX when I trade in my 09, but I fear Honda/Acura's salad days as a producer of highly desirable, highly reliable, reasonably priced premium vehicles is behind them for the reasons stated.
 

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The general problem with lower reliability in upscale models is really due to the marketing model used by manufactures. The basic vehicle models don't come with many of the features that are restricted to higher-priced brands and models. This is how a $25K basic CRV becomes a $33K Touring edition - adding more features. Each added feature is just another thing to fail, and these features are often "New Technology" that has not yet matured and become more reliable.

Want a nice simple and reliable vehicle? Buy a Honda Fit or a Toyota Corolla.

Want all the latest bells and whistles? Consider your purchase price just a down payment on the overall cost of ownership.
 

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30+ years ago there used to be really sucky vehicles and then ones that were notably better (sucky as in vehicles that would leave you waiting for a rollback to snatch you off the highway). Now days just about every vehicle available is pretty darn good on average. To make meaningful distinctions between vehicles CR has changed the metrics and vertical scale on graphs to make things more dramatic so CR fanboi's keep sending in subscription revenue. Things like 'dealer trips for service' don't tell the hole story. New technology can perform differently than our expectations and they result in a dealer trip to verify its function.

I have not read of someone being stranded by the 9 speed for instance, but lots of people complain about how it performs and that resulted in a lot of dealer trips. Does Acura deserve a beat down for the 16MY 9 speed programming, totally! But in my opinion that is something that should be noted on a test drive AND updated programming solved the issue. You don't like how the early 9 speed programming shifts? That is on you, but then that is offensive to snowflakes that don't want to take personal responsibility for their decisions, so my apologies for anyone that melted a little.
 

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You don't like how the early 9 speed programming shifts? That is on you, but then that is offensive to snowflakes that don't want to take personal responsibility for their decisions, so my apologies for anyone that melted a little.
Whoa! Someone woke up grumpy this morning! Have some snow with those corn flakes.
 

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I followed CU reliability ratings for over 50 years. Failure rates were so high that I used to base my purchase decisions on these ratings. I don’t buy cars this way anymore, unless I see some sort of glaring reliability issue. Failure rates and statistical differences are so low that any owner is likely to never experience the differences.

I like bacon. I eat bacon. Bacon is shown in numerous statistical studies to cause heath problems. Some studies show definite correlations. Others are found to be flawed. Still others are inconclusive. If we try to get a broader picture by combining studies so that we have more data to analyze, we seem to confuse the picture, as opposed to clarifying it. And we don’t really have causal explanations that would allow us to predict how my particular biology will react to bacon. So, it’s a mess, impossible to sort out. What we can say is, that the incidences of problems due to bacon seem to be so low that we cannot predict that any individual will be adversely affected. The headlines scream of red flags; the data say something quite different.

The same is true of cars, in my view. When the reliability gets to a certain point - and I think that we are there - the data are such that, even if my car scores statistically low in any or all CU categories, there is a high likelihood that I won’t ever experience the problem or problems that underlie the data. Knowing this, I now base my purchase decisions on factors other that statistical reliability data, unless of course there is some sort of glaring issue. I am aware of no glaring issues in the case of the MDX. I bought a 2015, then a 2017 hybrid, both have been great, very few problems. YMMV.
 
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