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Discussion Starter #1
I have 2018 MDX with around 9,000 miles on it. We have the Tech Package so we have the larger wheels but no Active Dampening.

I have recently become agitated in the rough ride with this vehicle. We live in New York City and so there are plenty of lousy roads. We often drive on roads with raised/lowered sewer caps and other sorts of undulations.

If one side of the vehicle drives over a sewer-cover, for example, the car will reverberate side to side pretty jarringly, once for the front tire and once for the back tire.

When we drive on roads that may appear smooth but may have slight raises or lowers, we can definitely feel the ups and downs and (very often in NYC) side to side motion. Sometimes it feels quite severe even when we can't visibly see a pot-hole.

We upgraded to the MDX from a 17 Year old Corolla - I know that the Corolla is a very small car but it had awful handling and ride quality and when we first got the MDX we felt it was better. I recently had a rental car and felt that the ride was much smoother than the MDX and it surprised me; we feel that the MDX is a luxury vehicle and aren't sure if this what we should expect from it? I've read that the Subaru Ascent is excellent over bumps and wonder if it could in fact surpass the MDX in this way.

I've tried various configurations of air pressure in the tires, never swaying far from the 35psi recommendation (but trying perhaps 34 psi or 36/37 psi).

The most frustrating aspect of the ride is the side to side roughness. This is exacerbated when braking or going slowly down the city streets. Maybe we were stupid to think that a larger and heavier car would be better in the city?

My question is - Are there any ways of objectively knowing if there is something wrong with the car, or is it just possible that the "newness" of the car is wearing off so I am nit-picking. Is there anything that can be done if I don't like the ride quality (other than getting rid of the car) - For example, would the Active Dampening System help and is that available after-market?

Thank you for your help!

James
 

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A 2002 Corolla to a new MDX...what did you hit the lotto!? I'm joking...but that is quite a leap.

You could ask the dealer to let you take another one out for a drive, but I suspect you'll see its the same. This generation of the MDX has an unrefined ride (in my subjective opinion). The 2nd gen sport we had was soooo much more fun to drive; handled great, sounded great, and the active dampers made the ride superb. I hope the 4th gen recaptures these elements.

I don't think there is anything practical that can be done to meaningfully change the ride. Active dampers, if possible, would be VERY expensive. Different tires could possibly make a difference, albeit minor.
 

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Welcome to the world of Sexy Low Profile Tires. In the days of 75 and 70 series tires, the sidewalls did a lot of the work in absorbing road roughness. When you get into 55 and 60 series tires, a lot of that is lost.
 

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we feel that the MDX is a luxury vehicle and aren't sure if this what we should expect from it?
You should expect what you experienced when you test drove the vehicle. The term 'luxury' has nothing at all to do with the ride - it has to do with the leather, soft touch surfaces, power liftgate, and the like. Every vehicle is tuned for a particular niche and the MDX's niche is leaning towards the sportier side in acceleration and handling, which is why I bought it in the first place. There's generally some trade-off between handling and ride in most vehicles. A firmer suspension will handle corners better but be somewhat harsher over bumps.

If you didn't test drive the vehicle under the conditions you normally experience and are complaining about now, i.e. the potholed NYC streets, then you exposed yourself to buying a vehicle that might not meet what your priority areas are such as a cushy ride.

If you think you did an adequate test drive to the point where you think something's changed in the ride quality of the vehicle then something could have gone awry such as a blown or loose shock, although with a loose one you'd generally hear it knocking around. There could also be a damaged or failed steering component such as a damaged bushing. But these are pretty unlikely in a vehicle with such low mileage as yours. Worn tires can have some effect as well but your tires are practically new. Over-inflated tires will increase the harshness so I'd avoid inflating to over 35psi (cold) but I wouldn't go lower either since that can cause abnormal wear and handling issues and if too low could cause dangerous blowouts (as in the Explorer exploding tire debacle some time ago).

Are there any ways of objectively knowing if there is something wrong with the car, or is it just possible that the "newness" of the car is wearing off so I am nit-picking.
The best way to objectively determine this is to get another MDX very similar to yours and drive it on the exact same streets in the exact same way and compare the ride with yours. Sometimes you can do this via a dealership with a loaner vehicle, especially if you can find streets near the dealership that cause you to notice the issue, or if you happen to know someone else with a similar MDX maybe they'd let you drive it on the streets of concern.

But, from what you've written, this may just be a case of false expectations and not a good match of the vehicle you bought to the attributes you're looking for and you'll just need to be more thorough and careful in your next vehicle purchase. There's no perfect vehicle that's all things to all people hence why there are so many makes and models produced and consumed so it's important to find a reasonable match based on the top priorities of the attributes you're looking for.

btw - throwing a little weight in the back will usually soften up a ride albeit at a minor (perhaps not really noticed) MPG penalty. You could try that as an experiment by putting some weight, like a 50 pound sandbag, on each side of the back near what would be fairly over the rear axle. If you do this make sure they're tied down well so they don't fly around and whack you if you're in an accident.
 

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the ride you experience is what most of us get. There are days when it doesn't bother me too much and there are other days just hitting a small 1" bump in the road throws my head and torso violently around the car. I love the MDX but because of the ride will NEVER buy another Honda. The ride is as severe as the CJ7 I used to own that I sold because of the damage the bouncing around did to my back and neck. In fact there are days I have to take pain pills after riding in the MDX. You'll find that adding the weight of the factory hitch and running the tires 3 psi lower (dealer recommended) the ride will improve enough to be tolerable. Just tolerable and not comfortable on bumpy streets. There are hundreds of posts like this here. We have had this on both a 14 and 15 Sh-awd with stock profile tires. My 92 and 95 Legends were a very comfortable ride, the 05 RL was stiffer than the MDX but regardless this is my last. The newer engineers at Honda don't understand the market and that is why other manufacturers have increased market share. No one wants a stiff neck except a 30 year old who thinks they are in an F1 car. I used to support off road racing - they glide over bumps compared to an MDX. That said, IMHO the MDX is a truck and not a car even though it is marketed as a high end car/SUV, & that is why it rides like an old pickup. They would have to reduce the payload to get a smoother ride.
 

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We had a 14 tech and now a 17 hybrid advance. I’ve never been in a pickup,so I don’t know about that. I have never had a back problem in this car. If you think it’s gotten worse,by all means have it checked out at a dealer. It’s certainly not going to have a ride like an old Lincoln town car. The 20 inch low profile tires take care of that.
 

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The 20 inch wheels and skinny tires are whats killing your ride. Find a set of 18 inch wheels with the same size tires. Tires will be greatly improved.
 

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I recently had a rental car and felt that the ride was much smoother than the MDX and it surprised me; we feel that the MDX is a luxury vehicle and aren't sure if this what we should expect from it? I've read that the Subaru Ascent is excellent over bumps and wonder if it could in fact surpass the MDX in this way.

Well James, your first mistake was to consider the MDX a "luxury vehicle" - it is not, under any definition of that term. More to the point, a vehicle need not be classified as a luxury vehicle in order to have a compliant suspension that soaks up road irregularities rather than jitter bug and loosen your eye teeth. The Subaru you referred to is one such example on the "non-luxury" end of the scale; the Range Rover is a classic example on the luxury end.


The principal problem with the MDX's handling of potholes and the like is that, historically, Honda never made Noise, Vibration and Harshness (NVH) an over-riding concern in their suspension designs, even in their so-called "premium" Acura division products. (For example, the freeway road noise from my 2nd Gen. MDX is deafening, even with brand new "quiet" tires.) While Honda/Acura has made some progress on the NVH front with recent adaptive suspension MDX 3rd Gen. models, the only Acura I know of that even came close to suspension standouts like most BMW vehicles was my 1991 Acura Legend. Now that was a quality "near-luxury" automobile! Unfortunately, that year is often regarded as "peak Acura" and Honda/Acura seemed to have lost their way thereafter from an NVH standpoint.


IMHO, the only realistic way to rectify the issue you have with your MDX's handling is either to upgrade to a very recent year Advance model with its adaptive suspension and hope those improvements are "close enough", or move on to a non-Honda SUV, such as the Audi Q7 or the BMW X5 (either new or as a CPO). Both of these latter vehicles soak up pavement irregularities without sacrificing control, and are quiet as a tomb. While I have not yet tested one (they go on sale next month), if the seven passenger Lincoln Aviator's adaptive suspension is anywhere close to that of its Navigator sibling, it will be a winner as well. Messing around with your MDX's tire pressure adjustments or switching to a higher profile tire is not a recipe for success; it just poking around at the margins of this problem, and will not result in the compliant ride you are looking for. Good luck.
 

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Well James, your first mistake was to consider the MDX a "luxury vehicle" - it is not, under any definition of that term. More to the point, a vehicle need not be classified as a luxury vehicle in order to have a compliant suspension that soaks up road irregularities rather than jitter bug and loosen your eye teeth. The Subaru you referred to is one such example on the "non-luxury" end of the scale; the Range Rover is a classic example on the luxury end.


The principal problem with the MDX's handling of potholes and the like is that, historically, Honda never made Noise, Vibration and Harshness (NVH) an over-riding concern in their suspension designs, even in their so-called "premium" Acura division products. (For example, the freeway road noise from my 2nd Gen. MDX is deafening, even with brand new "quiet" tires.) While Honda/Acura has made some progress on the NVH front with recent adaptive suspension MDX 3rd Gen. models, the only Acura I know of that even came close to suspension standouts like most BMW vehicles was my 1991 Acura Legend. Now that was a quality "near-luxury" automobile! Unfortunately, that year is often regarded as "peak Acura" and Honda/Acura seemed to have lost their way thereafter from an NVH standpoint.


IMHO, the only realistic way to rectify the issue you have with your MDX's handling is either to upgrade to a very recent year Advance model with its adaptive suspension and hope those improvements are "close enough", or move on to a non-Honda SUV, such as the Audi Q7 or the BMW X5 (either new or as a CPO). Both of these latter vehicles soak up pavement irregularities without sacrificing control, and are quiet as a tomb. While I have not yet tested one (they go on sale next month), if the seven passenger Lincoln Aviator's adaptive suspension is anywhere close to that of its Navigator sibling, it will be a winner as well. Messing around with your MDX's tire pressure adjustments or switching to a higher profile tire is not a recipe for success; it just poking around at the margins of this problem, and will not result in the compliant ride you are looking for. Good luck.

In a nutshell that is my problem too. My 92 and 95 Legends were very comfortable and reasonably quiet. I made a bad assumption that the MDX would be that way too. I didn't pay enough attention on the road test - and frankly it is not a good comparison because on the road test we had 3 full adults in the car and when I drive it is usually 1 person. I do know enough about suspensions from my racing days that load had a lot to do with what spring rate is chosen. Reduce the load in a MDX and a lighter spring rate could be used. That is why adding the trailer hitch helps a lot with ride. And 32 psi on a 245/55/19 103H helps too. It is right at 90% on the ETRTO tables at GVWR <=65mph non-freeway driving. (essentially gives 10% safety margin on a reasonably new tire.)


32 PSI Tire Pressure Calc based on ETRTO Tables
For Daily Driver <= 65 mph
Michelin 245/55/19 103H 8” wide rim
Load 103, H=130 MPH
Curb 4270 lb / GVRW 5368 lb
At GVRW 58%/42% = 1556 lb/1106 lb single tire
32 PSI = 2.2 bar = 790 kg = max 1741 lbs single tire
Which is 90% of ETRTO max using ETRTO Calc/tables
Use 35/35 PSI for any high-speed long trips
 

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Acura is not a luxury brand, no matter how it is trying to position itself. I call it "half-luxury". Which is, in its turn, justified by reliability, a quality that German luxury brands do not have these days.

Yes, if you are driving roads as horrible as are in New York or, God forbid, dreadful Toronto roads, to feel comfortable you are either going to need a proper German air suspension, or an older American car with double wishbone suspension.

A car with MacPherson front suspension is never going to be as comfortable on bar pavement.
 

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For example, the freeway road noise from my 2nd Gen. MDX is deafening, even with brand new "quiet" tires.
This has nothing to do with the suspension design. The road noise in the second gen comes from the tires through a complete absence of any insulation in wheel wells, poor sound insulation in the doors as well as single layer windshield and front door glass. They've resolved it in the third gen very well, it is very quiet.

You can get a much quieter interior in the second gen by simply applying sound deadening in the wheel wells (most important) and at least front doors.
 

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This has nothing to do with the suspension design. The road noise in the second gen comes from the tires through a complete absence of any insulation in wheel wells, poor sound insulation in the doors as well as single layer windshield and front door glass. They've resolved it in the third gen very well, it is very quiet.

You can get a much quieter interior in the second gen by simply applying sound deadening in the wheel wells (most important) and at least front doors.

Thanks for clarifying that the annoying road noise I get is not a suspension design issue, and that Honda engineers finally got the memo to correct this glaring flaw in the 3rd Gen MDX. For me, given the 3rd Gen's suspension quirks, the jury's still out on whether a 3rd Gen. MDX Advance with adaptive suspension is worth the $55K - $60K TrueCar says most dealers are getting for that trim level.


Since road noise is clearly a "Noise" issue, as in NVH, I can tell you it is at odds with what Honda/Acura was selling to potential customers as a "premium vehicle" when I bought my 2009 Tech. As essentially a gussied up Honda costing nearly $46K in 2009 dollars, I expected more then and now. More to the point today, however, I'm not inclined to spend additional significant sums to upgrade a vehicle worth about $8K to dampen the "built-in" road noise to the extent I that can actually hear the radio at freeway speeds. If you infer from the foregoing that I do not consider the latest MDX generation an attractive "near luxury" value proposition, you are correct.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
I appreciate all of your thoughtful replies. The suggestion on the Audi or BMW - I realize that these cars are often compared but they are 20k more expensive than an MDX. I'm more concerned if less expensive Ascents or Highlanders beat the ride quality.

I was concerned about the larger tires on the Tech package, but it's not an option to keep the smaller wheels. Is this something that can be changed after market, maybe when my tires are finally worn out we can make an adjustment?

Appreciate all the fodder about the car here. I'm no car buff so find it all interesting. The comment about the upgrade from Corolla to Acura - It's the difference between first car bought while in college versus 17 years later with a wife and two kids :grin:
 

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I appreciate all of your thoughtful replies. The suggestion on the Audi or BMW - I realize that these cars are often compared but they are 20k more expensive than an MDX. I'm more concerned if less expensive Ascents or Highlanders beat the ride quality.

I was concerned about the larger tires on the Tech package, but it's not an option to keep the smaller wheels. Is this something that can be changed after market, maybe when my tires are finally worn out we can make an adjustment?

Appreciate all the fodder about the car here. I'm no car buff so find it all interesting. The comment about the upgrade from Corolla to Acura - It's the difference between first car bought while in college versus 17 years later with a wife and two kids :grin:
Unfortunately, if you have 20" wheels, it's not as simple as just picking a different tire. Sure, different tires have different characteristics with some having a softer ride, but if you dig into the specs on the outside diameter of the 245/50-18 vs the 245/50-20 tires you will find the outside diameter is virtually identical, only .1" difference. So if the outside diameter is the same with 2" difference in wheel diameter that difference is made up in the sidewall so the 20" wheel/tire combo simply has less cushion to soften those bumps. As suggested, consider making a switch to 18" wheels or even 17". As long as the bolt pattern and off-set are correct you simply select a tire size that gives you the proper outside diameter and you are good to go with no impact to speedometer accuracy, etc.
 

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You guys might find this hard to believe, but when I once got a loaner base model 17 MDX, while my 17 Advance was in for something, the ride was not that much different with the 18's. Yeah, a slight improvement, but not nearly as much as I thought I'd see. What really makes a difference is running tire pressure at 31 cold. But it is so close to the warning trip point, that it just isn't worth it. But it REALLY made a nice difference. I'm not happy with the rough ride either, but it's the crudeness of the ride that just plain angers me. Harshness and suspension noise easily enters the passenger compartment. Not nearly enough suspension isolation. Rides like a Hyundai Santa Fe from 12 years ago. If I lived below the Mason-Dixon line, I'd probably be satisfied, as roads are better in the South, but here in Eastern Pa, it is a "punishing" ride. Someone's gonna tell me I should have detected this when I test drove prior to purchasing, but I was trying to absorb so many things, that the ride issue just didn't come up until I bought, and started using every day. The other day I was at a Chevy dealer where I'm good friends with management, and they tossed me the fob for a new Blazer ($49k) and it rode so freakin' nice!! I thought it handled very well also. But I don't drive the Norbrudgen either!! <grin>
 

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The other day I was at a Chevy dealer where I'm good friends with management, and they tossed me the fob for a new Blazer ($49k) and it rode so freakin' nice!! I thought it handled very well also. But I don't drive the Norbrudgen either!! <grin>

Thanks for your Blazer report, which reinforces the point I was trying to make in response to the OP. Even though I mentioned the Q7 and X5 as great examples of vehicles with compliant handling, the fact is there are many "non-luxury" brands out there in the MDX - Tech price range that easily surpass the handling characteristics of the latest Honda/Acura SUVs, especially if said Honda/Acura SUVs are not equipped with an adaptive suspension.


I'm still waiting to see what the 4th Gen. MDX has to offer handling-wise, but probably will not consider any trim level that does not feature an adaptive suspension. Apart from any resulting post-purchase buyer's remorse at paying nearly $60K for a non-compliant ride, I would not want to open myself up to the foreseeable comments on this site that I should have known better after taking a 10 minute "get acquainted" demo ride from the dealer.
 

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just to throw this in. Jeep had the same issue with the CJ7. When it was sprung with a towing package it was a very harsh ride similar to my 14 and 15 MDX. The way they got around it was to offer a ride quality package that did not have the rating for towing GVWR etc, and all that was required was a lighter spring rate. Acura made A-spec stiffer spring packages on some cars for people who wanted a bone jaring ride. They could just as easily made a lighter spring package for those who want a luxury ride and are willing to forgo higher GVWR and heavy towing in lieu of a comfortable ride. Changing the shock dampening in an adaptive ride model will never offset what a lighter spring rate would have done.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Thanks to everybody for your insightful feedback!

I noticed I enjoy the ride of my MDX much more when it is packed with people or luggage. I'd like to explore perhaps putting weights or sandbags into the trunk storage area to weigh the car down and help with the suspension. I fail to see how this would introduce any downsides since it shouldn't be different weight than when my tank is full of my kids are grown, but am wondering if anybody has any insights to keep in mind. Once I took 7 people to a Yankee game and thought it was the best drive I ever had. I wouldn't add a thousand pounds but maybe 150 as if a grown adult was in the back seat at all times. I would remove this weight when the car will be genuinely heavier such as for long distance vacations.

Regarding the posts about my not noticing this while test driving - There are very few car dealers in Manhattan and thus it is not possible to test drive on those roads. I've never once been able to test drive a car except with the sales person in the passenger seat and dictating where to go, so I'd like to understand where folks are able to really spend a lot of time with the vehicle premarket. Somebody mentioned that I have buyers remorse over spending 55k on something - yikes, my MDX Tech new was only 45k all in and I do not have buyers remorse. The car purchase has many variables and this conversation is just about 1 variable. Perhaps if I did buy the Ascent I wouldn't notice the suspension but would be over at the Subaru forum asking questions about something else.
 

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Thanks to everybody for your insightful feedback!

I noticed I enjoy the ride of my MDX much more when it is packed with people or luggage. I'd like to explore perhaps putting weights or sandbags into the trunk storage area to weigh the car down and help with the suspension. I fail to see how this would introduce any downsides since it shouldn't be different weight than when my tank is full of my kids are grown, but am wondering if anybody has any insights to keep in mind. Once I took 7 people to a Yankee game and thought it was the best drive I ever had. I wouldn't add a thousand pounds but maybe 150 as if a grown adult was in the back seat at all times. I would remove this weight when the car will be genuinely heavier such as for long distance vacations.

Regarding the posts about my not noticing this while test driving - There are very few car dealers in Manhattan and thus it is not possible to test drive on those roads. I've never once been able to test drive a car except with the sales person in the passenger seat and dictating where to go, so I'd like to understand where folks are able to really spend a lot of time with the vehicle premarket. Somebody mentioned that I have buyers remorse over spending 55k on something - yikes, my MDX Tech new was only 45k all in and I do not have buyers remorse. The car purchase has many variables and this conversation is just about 1 variable. Perhaps if I did buy the Ascent I wouldn't notice the suspension but would be over at the Subaru forum asking questions about something else.
I was thinking you are having a buyer's remorse as well. But I am trying to look at your perspective as well. Perhaps, you were expecting too much from what you have purchased.

I have an 18 MDX Tech Hybrid, and the initial impression was the most cushy ride I have ever experienced from a Honda car. It was, until my nth time passing by NYC. Made me realized how ugly the roads are in that city. I remember driving a Lincoln Navigator once several years back. The ride was so comfy until I drove around Manhattan. The bumps were bone jarring experience, most especially when you hit a path hole that is wide. Until now, I can still feel how the steering wheel felt. But that was some years ago. Nothing will escape the NYC path holes. I don't like driving in that crater-filled city.

Coming from a CRV, Civic, Odyssey, Civic Si and 07 RDX, my MDX feels so comfortable by many miles. Perhaps, I have never put any expectations on my MDX. But perhaps, the suspension was way different from my other and previous vehicles.
 
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