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OK, here's the deal. My wife is shopping for a new car. We have actually placed a deposit on an MDX but may not take delivery. We live in Colorado and have access to some of the most beautiful back country available (if it doesn't get closed due to fire). Anyway, I'm not sure the MDX is up to the rough country driving that we occasionally do. Yes we actually use four wheel drive. My Nissan Pathfinder, now in the hands of a seventeen year old driver, served us well, but didn't have enough power. The newer ones seem to have fixed that problem. The Jeep Grand Cherokee is probably the best alternative, but I don't want to visit the dealer every month. Here is my question. who here has acutually attempted wilderness driving with the MDX? Thanks in advance.
 

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If you are a serious off roader, I'd suggest considering the new Pathfinder or next year's 4Runner. Of course, the LandCruiser is a champ too.

The MDX will probably do well on on rutted mountain roads, but wouldn't do well crossing steams or going off piste.
 

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I've taken mine off road quite a bit, usually on medium to poor quality logging roads. It's performed admirably, I haven't gotten into anything I couldn't get out of.

Also, I recall reading (on this site, long ago), that the MDX has design features that allow it to ford up to 16-17" of water (click on my flood link below to see it in about 9").

I wouldn't use it for yahoo off-roading (I just need to get to remote places), but the X is great! And it's the sharpest 4x4 in the woods!
 

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the official word from Acura is..........

ghost said:
Also, I recall reading (on this site, long ago), that the MDX has design features that allow it to ford up to 16-17"
.........the MDX is designed to ford up to 19" (18.9 to be more specific ;) 48cm divide by 2.54) bodies of water (per the Acura Canada website under the "medium duty off-road" section)....

here's the link. Scroll down to "medium duty off road" and you'll find all the off-road abilities of the MDX described in detail

http://english.acuracanada.ca/models/mdx_benefits_description.asp#d12

I find very very very strange that the Acura-Canada website is soooo detailed in all it's specifications compared to the relatively lackluster U.S. website!!!
 

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On yet another note.......

..........look at the more specific ground clearance figures for the MDX per the Canadian website.....

it says the minimum running ground clearance (the lowest hanging part underneath the vehicle) is 181mm - or 7.12 inches

the maximum ground clearance (which is not really the correct figure, but often quoted by manufacturers to make the vehicle appear more off-road capable than it really is) is quoted as 203mm - or 8 inches

here's the link. Scroll down to "exterior dimensions"

http://english.acuracanada.ca/models/mdx_features.asp

Personally, IMHO, from a purely "ground clearance" standpoint the MDX does not live up to it's Medium duty claims. I remember reading a test (in some trucking magazine, I think) where they said some component of the MDX hit hard during an off-road drive........I'm almost convinced it was one of the suspension control arms which hang dangerously close to the ground (I've gone under an MDX and physically measured the clearance at the arms and it's about 7.6 inches from the ground and around 7.2 inches at the extreme edge)

.........So, in conclusion, I would believe the MDX is suited mainly for light duty off road applications. Consumer Reports came to a similar conclusion in their evaluation of the MDX.......Most buyers of MDXs are not going to use the MDX for anything more than light off-roading at the most, anyways.
 

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The MDX lacks a transfer case/lowrange, thus it is not really suitable for routine off-roading in the mountains. Nor is there a mechanism for dealiing with the automatic transmission when going over rocks, logs, etc. so you risk damage to the vehicle.

In the price range you are looking a Jeep Grand Cherokee, Mercedes ML, Range Rover, or Toyota Land Cruiser would fit the bill. If you go ahead with the MDX purchase, add the towing package as that at least adds coolers for the transmission.
 

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DaleB, no scratches on the Maniks - but those darn brackets do lower the clearance, particularly since potholes and ruts end up along the tire tracks. I've done a bit of plowing with them. No problem with soft ground, but you have to be careful about manik-bracket-meets-embedded-rock! :eek:

Vic, thanks for the real numbers, Acura Canada does have a nice site! Interesting that in their PR materials, Acura and all the others show their SUVs zipping along mountain and wooded trails, even though 95% of the owners probably never get off pavement.

I'm sure folks define light, medium and heavy duty differently (light would be my road during spring melt, the crummy class 5 the county uses really slicks up when there's frost underneath). The MDX does fine at what I'd call medium duty - picking over rocks, grossy uneven roads and occassional wallows. Mostly I worry about scratching the sides - I have some internal conflicts about using its capabilities vs having it look like a 40K vehicle. Will be posting from my sanitarium room soon...

But yeah, if you're going deep into off-road country, get a Land Rover (or a Cherokee & a toolkit!)
 

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ghost said:
DaleB, no scratches on the Maniks - but those darn brackets do lower the clearance, particularly since potholes and ruts end up along the tire tracks. I've done a bit of plowing with them. No problem with soft ground, but you have to be careful about manik-bracket-meets-embedded-rock! :eek:

Yeah, well if they ran the brackets horizontal and curved up to the step bars it would not be much of a problem.
But the way they have them appears to offer more structural integrity for 'stepping'. Another plus for the factory steps in that regard.
 

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MrPrescott said:
If you are a serious off roader, I'd suggest considering the new Pathfinder or next year's 4Runner. Of course, the LandCruiser is a champ too.
Or a Cherokee (if you don't mind doing without the car while it's in the shop 3 days a week) or the new Land Rover.
 

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tom21 said:
The MDX lacks a transfer case/lowrange, thus it is not really suitable for routine off-roading in the mountains. Nor is there a mechanism for dealiing with the automatic transmission when going over rocks, logs, etc. so you risk damage to the vehicle.
So if I want to off road in the 'valley' or just in the 'woods' the lack of a low range is OK?

Any what 'mechanism' is needed to 'deal' with the automatic transmission? And how? any what damage does one risk?
 

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I took my MDX to Ocotillo Wells desert a couple of weeks after I bought it. I think it performed well. I did have a couple of problem spots and ended up with some very minor damages, but it was mostly due to my lack of off-road driving experience.

I overheated the transmission for a minute or two trying to unstuck the truck from a sand dune slope. I was babying the truck and hesitate to floor the gas paddle. The engine was reving (not hard enough though) while the wheels were bogged down in the sand. This was just like stepping on the brake and gas paddles at the same time, which is bad for automatic transmission. The transmission temp warning light turned on and I had to shut down to let it cool. Then I realized what I did wrong, and I floored the gas in the second try. The truck unstuck itself pretty smoothly. I didn't have ATF cooler at that time.

The real damage occured when I was trying to catch up with my buddy who was driving a raised up old Toyota 4-runner. A hump of dirty hit the pastic apron under the engine and tore it loose. It wasn't that much of a damage really. I fixed it myself with little effort the next day. I guess the problem was the suspension of MDX is not as stiff as a real truck, and I was driving it too fast on the wash board like terrain.

Although I am not an experienced offroader at all, I'm pretty happy with my MDX's performance that day. Now I know what I need to do before my MDX can do what it is designed for.

-TL
 

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If you limit yourself to road where a sedan can go then you should be okay. As you can see from other posts, you risk over heating and damaging the transmission if you attempt to deal with getting stuck or try to go up grades.

An automatic transmission is viscious. i.e. it is not directly connected to the wheels. Thus when you try to go over a log or rock you have to increase the trottle until the wheel goes over the other side. And this is where the trouble begins. The vehicle will immediately drop to the other side of the object which can cause damage to the suspension, frame, wheel, etc. Most people are not fast enough to stop it. Vehicles that are actually designed for off-roading (with automatics) have mechanisms to allow the brakes to be applied while accelerating. For example the Range rover has a decent mode and the ML's 4ETS system goes into a special mode when the lowrange is activated. Hope that answers your questions.


ardvarkus said:


So if I want to off road in the 'valley' or just in the 'woods' the lack of a low range is OK?

Any what 'mechanism' is needed to 'deal' with the automatic transmission? And how? any what damage does one risk?
 

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Tech555 said:
If you limit yourself to road where a sedan can go then you should be okay.
Not exactly going out in a limb. I think the MDX can handle more than a sedan and be just fine. There are several reviews that indicate that the MDXs capabilities are sufficient for most, but not all, needs.
 

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Tech555: what sedans would you take on the course referenced in the second post in this thread? I can't imagine a big Buick or Ford making it through!
 

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OK, I didn't.

But I could have.

If I wanted to...


The picture doesn't do it justice, but the creek that washed out the road had 3 60+ inch culverts to handle the flow; the 7" of rain they got up north overtopped them, and dug out some pretty deep culverts on either side.

Unfortunately, the place we've been working is on the other side...
 
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