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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I just bought my first MDX end of last year- 2014 with AWD, no special upgrade packages, 75K miles. Car body and interior was in excellent shape, former leased vehicle. Clean Carfax report. Only 1 FOB key came with it, and I think it's missing some other stuff that I will ask about. I did some research before I bought, so I was aware of possible transmission issues, and unfortunately I was not spared (more below).

I had owned two first gen Honda Pilots before this MDX, and I have to say I am overall disappointed that Honda seems to have gone backwards in their quality with regards to the transmission. Both of my previous Honda Pilots has strong transmissions and shifted flawlessly under all circumstances. My first one had 240K miles and I had a hitch on it to pull a boat, and even after all those years that tranny would keep up as fast as I would drive it and never had clunking or uneven shifts. Those were solid built cars. I'm talking no skips, pauses, lurching, noises, etc. when upshifting under acceleration.

My 2014 MDX definitely has uneven and noticeable shifting issues at low speeds. At some low speed ranges, it's like the transmission is trying to decide what gear to select and it keeps rapidly going back and forth, and I can see the RPM change up and down while this is happening. And decelerating at low speeds coming to a stop, the transmission sometimes seems to strain to find a comfortable gear and feels like the car is dragging an anchor sometimes. At higher speeds, which I admit is what I usually drive, everything seems ok with the drivetrain. Also I am not very impressed with the overall power- again comparing to my previous Honda Pilot from 2005, which has 245 HP, this 2014 I think is rated at 290 HP, and it does accelerate nice- it seems to behave better when driving faster which is fine with me. But it doesn't seem to have 45 more HP when I drive it , especially when accelerating. Maybe Honda peaked back with the first gen Pilot and should have left well enough alone??

There are also some general usability design decisions that seem again to be worse now than what my old Pilot had. For example:
  • the sun visors don't have a slide-out extender when the sunset is real low and blinding you when you drive- who decided to remove that feature for the MDX?
  • The inside cabin lights, there does not seem to be a "master switch" on the dash to just turn them all on or off.
  • So am I correct, to get to the battery terminals, I have to remove that whole front plastic panel under the hood? WTF? Am I the only MDX owner who cares about that?
  • The glove compartment size is much smaller in the MDX vs. the Pilot. The center console space is nice, but I can't lock that
  • There are no ceiling handles for the 3rd row seats, and the ones for the 2nd row flip up, which is annoying when your hands are full and you are trying to hang your dry clean clothes or something else to hang in the back. The pilot had fixed handles in the roof interior which was a much better design.
- The driver side light when the door opens does not face outward, it shines down, which to me is a safety issue if I'm pulled on the side of the road for some reason. I think one of my first self projects is replacing all those door lights with an LED set anyway, they are all too dim
- The rear storage space is not as large/wide as the Honda Pilot, I noticed this when I tried to put my large sized umbrella in the new MDX, it does not fit!
- The whole dash console for settings and stuff is not intuitive at all. At least Honda allowed a physical volume button, but other stuff like seat warmers, etc.- why can't I just click on a switch to turn those on and off instead of going through multiple screen buttons to select? And I had to YouTube a lot of stuff to figure basic stuff out, like resetting the trip odometer, and pre-setting radio stations is not an easy task for a new owner either. I work with software but I find the MDX screen interface not easy at all.

It's not like the whole MDX is a disaster. The car overall looks nice both on the inside and outside. It handles better and brakes much better than my old Pilot, but then again I'm comparing a 2005 car to a 2014 car. I do get better gas mileage- computer average is showing 21-22 MPG after several tanks. I need to calculate that myself to confirm doing it the old school method, but still better than 18MPG for a full sized SUV. I am really really glad I can fill this MDX with just regular gasoline- I have not noticed any adverse affects from using regular vs premium gas. (and for those that might say this might be why the power does not seem strong compared to my old car, for my old Pilot I only used regular unleaded and not premium so apples-to-apples comparison). Tire indicator shows PSI for each tire which is nice. The keyless FOB entry is nice, but I had to go to YouTube also to learn the difference between unlocking & locking. I get a backup camera video now, but no audio sensor to let me know when I am too close to something.

If there are any cool MDX features I am missing that a new owner might find useful, feel free to post a follow up and let me know!

My next steps are to put a hitch on it and get a 2nd FOB for backup- all my cars I keep 2 sets of keys. I think I am missing some factory stuff that the previous owner did not include. Should this car have a cargo net in the back? And also did MDX's come with a rear mat, or do you have to purchase that separately?

So I have this car now as my daily driver, and I'm hoping it will last a while. It is kind of disappointing that Honda has regressed with respect to some features and quality, especially with something so basic and critical as the drivetrain system. I will see how the MDX tranny holds up when towing my boat, and if acceptable I will keep this car awhile. I was hoping by getting the 6-speed transmission I could avoid reported issues with the 2015 and 2016 models that has the 9AT, but turns out even that one has issues too. I guess like others who have reported here, I will just live with the transmission. I don't know if I would yet recommend a MDX to someone to buy- I'll see how things look when I reach 100K miles.
 

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It is kind of disappointing that Honda has regressed with respect to some features and quality, especially with something so basic and critical as the drivetrain system.
I agree about regressing, honestly my 2002 Odyssey had a better interior quality fit and finish than my 2007 Ody or my 2017 MDX. But the 2002 had to have a new transmission installed at $47K, Honda replaced. I like the newer features of the MDX but I don't know if the interior will last as well as the 2002 Ody. But we are down to 1 child elementary school (1 in college and 1 who is dating and working all the time in high school). so I am thinking the MDX will take less of a beating.

The 2017 MDX transmission so far is flawless (but i've only had it for a few months), it's probably one of my favorite things about the MDX. I hope I can get 100K out of it...
 

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The interior light control is overhead near the sunroof controls.

There is a TSB for trans software update and fluid flush. It’s no charge till 80k miles. I would have that done and see if it helps the shifting. Shifting on ours degrades after 22k miles between fluid changes.

Ours also tows great. Only complaint about towing is that the rear end squats and causes the headlights to blind oncoming drivers at night.

Neat thing about those seat heater controls is that the remote start turns them on automatically in the winter. Speaking of which if you add on the factory remote start it includes two new fobs so you’ll then have three (although you’d still only have the one metal emergency key).
 

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Very happy with my '14. Towed a 4800 Lb. trailer about 10K miles, many of which were in the Rocky Mtns, with no problems. Used the factory trans cooler kit. It gets a regular ATF change every year. Costs about $35 to do it myself.



At slower speeds the trans shifts too soon and the engine lugs. The VCM also makes the drive train jerk. I lock the trans in 3rd and 4th gear between 25 and 45 mph, and it is quite smooth.

There is no lack of power if you use premium fuel and put your foot in it.
 

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  • the sun visors don't have a slide-out extender when the sunset is real low and blinding you when you drive- who decided to remove that feature for the MDX?
- The whole dash console for settings and stuff is not intuitive at all. At least Honda allowed a physical volume button, but other stuff like seat warmers, etc.- why can't I just click on a switch to turn those on and off instead of going through multiple screen buttons to select? And I had to YouTube a lot of stuff to figure basic stuff out, like resetting the trip odometer, and pre-setting radio stations is not an easy task for a new owner either. I work with software but I find the MDX screen interface not easy at all.

If there are any cool MDX features I am missing that a new owner might find useful, feel free to post a follow up and let me know!

My next steps are to put a hitch on it and get a 2nd FOB for backup- all my cars I keep 2 sets of keys. I think I am missing some factory stuff that the previous owner did not include. Should this car have a cargo net in the back? And also did MDX's come with a rear mat, or do you have to purchase that separately?

I have this year's mdx, no slide out sun visor either but don't miss it because my previous car didn't have it. No cargo net or mat as well. I purchased both. For the cargo net installation, you'll need to find & drill two holes in the liner.

The mix of touchscreen & hardware buttons for climate control are horrendous. It's like engineers either over thought it or didn't think of how people actually use it. Why isn't the fan speed a hardware nob for something people use so frequently than auto.

Minor annoyances but drives great though.
 

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I almost never use the fan speed. I just leave it all in auto. It frustrates me when people don’t know how to use the features in their car. Friends had a toyota for 3 years before i showed them that they could lock the car with the outside door handle. Since the area was ribbed instead of a big black button, they didn’t know what it did.
 

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I almost never use the fan speed. I just leave it all in auto. It frustrates me when people don’t know how to use the features in their car. Friends had a toyota for 3 years before i showed them that they could lock the car with the outside door handle. Since the area was ribbed instead of a big black button, they didn’t know what it did.
It frustrates me when car manufacturers poorly design vehicle interfaces and features and then wonder why customers don't know how to use the features in their car.
 

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It frustrates me when car manufacturers poorly design vehicle interfaces and features and then wonder why customers don't know how to use the features in their car.
Can’t really say that about the comfort access on the Toyota. The auto button on the MDX seems pretty self explanatory to me.
 

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I am really really glad I can fill this MDX with just regular gasoline- I have not noticed any adverse affects from using regular vs premium gas. (and for those that might say this might be why the power does not seem strong compared to my old car, for my old Pilot I only used regular unleaded and not premium so apples-to-apples comparison).
That's not apples-to-apples at all. The Pilot engine was lower compression and not tuned for premium fuel. The 2005 Pilot was rated 255hp on regular fuel (per Edmunds specs). The MDX is rated 290hp on premium fuel, otherwise it will adjust timing and reduce power. The owners manual clearly states that using less than 91 octane fuel will result in decreased engine performance. I've never seen Acura publish what that difference amounts to, but other manufacturers do and in those models it's worked out to about a 10% reduction. If that's consistent for the Acura engine, your MDX is only putting out in the low 260's.
 

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The interior light control is overhead near the sunroof controls.

There is a TSB for trans software update and fluid flush. It’s no charge till 80k miles. I would have that done and see if it helps the shifting. Shifting on ours degrades after 22k miles between fluid changes.

Ours also tows great. Only complaint about towing is that the rear end squats and causes the headlights to blind oncoming drivers at night.

Neat thing about those seat heater controls is that the remote start turns them on automatically in the winter. Speaking of which if you add on the factory remote start it includes two new fobs so you’ll then have three (although you’d still only have the one metal emergency key).
Thanks- just found this. I'm glad Honda kept this feature, it's real handy to force all the interior lights on and off sometimes. I prefer having that switch easier to access on the driver side dash vs center ceiling but still works.
 

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That's not apples-to-apples at all. The Pilot engine was lower compression and not tuned for premium fuel. The 2005 Pilot was rated 255hp on regular fuel (per Edmunds specs). The MDX is rated 290hp on premium fuel, otherwise it will adjust timing and reduce power. The owners manual clearly states that using less than 91 octane fuel will result in decreased engine performance. I've never seen Acura publish what that difference amounts to, but other manufacturers do and in those models it's worked out to about a 10% reduction. If that's consistent for the Acura engine, your MDX is only putting out in the low 260's.
Well this just makes the 3rd Gen MDX look that much worse because then it appears the actual engine power difference between a 3rd Gen MDX and a 15 year old Pilot when running regular unleaded is very little. Regardless of the technical details, just driving the two vehicles I noticed very quickly the MDX was not that much powerful in HP compared to the first gen Pilot. I assume the paltry engine power increase also goes the same for the 1st Gen MDX which was designed off the same power plant & drivetrain as the 1st Gen Pilot.
 

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Well this just makes the 3rd Gen MDX look that much worse because then it appears the actual engine power difference between a 3rd Gen MDX and a 15 year old Pilot when running regular unleaded is very little. Regardless of the technical details, just driving the two vehicles I noticed very quickly the MDX was not that much powerful in HP compared to the first gen Pilot. I assume the paltry engine power increase also goes the same for the 1st Gen MDX which was designed off the same power plant & drivetrain as the 1st Gen Pilot.
1st gen MDX/Pilot engines were only 10hp apart on output. The Acura engine was a bit more refined but actual performance wasn't much different. The biggest performance gap was 2nd gen when the MDX received a bigger (3.7L) engine that was 300hp vs the Pilot's 250hp. The MDX required premium for those years. For the 3rd gen they made premium optional for those that don't care as much about performance. While these differences may not be that significant in day-to-day driving, if you were really pushing the Acura hard (and using premium fuel), it would prove significantly faster than your old Pilot. Instrumented acceleration tests put them about 2 seconds apart to 60.

They may not have made huge jumps in HP over the years, but they have increased fuel economy by 3-7mpg while improving performance.
 

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I had a first gen Pilot as well. The difference in perceived power was one of the first things I noticed when it came to driving my 2015. Sure, the rated HP difference was about 40HP or so, but there were other differences in the overall vehicle designs that made the MDX feel noticeably quicker. I believe my MDX is more or less the same weight as the first Gen pilot. The extra gear in the MDX also makes a difference when it comes to accelerating. The MDX seems to have less drag as well, as I feel like it can coast much longer than the Pilot. When driving the Pilot, it always felt like I was pulling an anchor behind it. Getting my MDX up to a certain speed, in comparison, felt much more relaxed and effortless. Without getting too deep into the regular vs. premium gas discussion, I will mention that I do use premium fuel in the MDX.

And yes, as mentioned there is a noticeable difference in fuel economy as well. I'd have to be very conscientious of my driving and have perfect conditions in order to get the Pilot's gas mileage to match what the MDX gets in normal everyday driving.
 

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If you got the base model, you won’t hear any beeping when backing up, as this is a feature only available in the Advance package up to 2018 (I think? Maybe ‘17) and tech package thereafter.

Does not come with a cargo net, and as mentioned, you have to drill into your interior to add it.

The best feature IMO is walk-away auto-lock, but I have no idea what year that was added and which packages it’s included in. Check through the MID settings, as you’ll never have to wonder whether you locked your car again!
FYI - depending on whether the previous owner used garbage low octane gas, you may experience a gumming of your throttle body around 100k miles (symptom is complete shut-off while driving and inability to start back up). The best solution is prevention by pre-emptively and exclusively using top tier premium fuel (Chevron is best IMO), but it may be too late for you already.
 

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If you got the base model, you won’t hear any beeping when backing up, as this is a feature only available in the Advance package up to 2018 (I think? Maybe ‘17) and tech package thereafter.

Does not come with a cargo net, and as mentioned, you have to drill into your interior to add it.

The best feature IMO is walk-away auto-lock, but I have no idea what year that was added and which packages it’s included in. Check through the MID settings, as you’ll never have to wonder whether you locked your car again!
FYI - depending on whether the previous owner used garbage low octane gas, you may experience a gumming of your throttle body around 100k miles (symptom is complete shut-off while driving and inability to start back up). The best solution is prevention by pre-emptively and exclusively using top tier premium fuel (Chevron is best IMO), but it may be too late for you already.
I don’t use walk away auto lock. No interest in locking the car in my garage. If I can’t remember to lock the car, I have bigger issues. Besides,I can check the mirrors or the app.
 

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The 3 best features are the ACC in stop and go traffic. Rear cross traffic alert and blind spot detection.
 

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The lane departure feature is great for long trips. Works pretty well around bends & curves, keeps the car centered with minimal ping ponging. I use walkway auto lock all the time, never have to reach for the key fob. Haven't used acc in stop go traffic yet though.

The one thing I definitely noticed on long trips was less fatigue at end of trip.
 

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If I can’t remember to lock the car, I have bigger issues. Besides,I can check the mirrors or the app.
Must be nice to be a pillar of cognitive health. As pirate mentioned, walk-away auto-lock also prevents you from having to reach in your pocket to press lock when you go anywhere else in the world that isn’t your garage. I have all of the motorized features turned off to save motors and battery, so looking at the mirrors wouldn’t work for me, especially when I’m already in my office at work and wondering if I locked the car.
 

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I don’t use walk away auto lock. No interest in locking the car in my garage. If I can’t remember to lock the car, I have bigger issues. Besides,I can check the mirrors or the app.
Is that the Acura Link app? Doesn't it require a subscription to get more options?
 
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