Is this what a bad one would look like? I noticed this when rotating tires. I wasn't sure if that was an additional dust boot over the bushing and could wait, or if it was the actual bushing and should be addressed now.
I maybe have a hint of vibration in high load situations. But I really don't feel play in the steering wheel when stopped yet. But I figure that would be more of a tie rod issue.
Yep... that's the bushing, and very common on a high-mileage (or heck, nearly 20 year old...) MDX. Don't bother trying to have someone rebuild your lower control arms - just get new ones, which will include new ball joints. They're not difficult to swap, though you DO (!!!!!) need to get an alignment after you change the LCAs. Also, buy "legit" brand arms so you don't have problems 10,000 miles from now.
I just did a quick check on rockauto - the "easy way" to go, and to keep it high-quality is to get the Moog (great company) "front end kit" which includes both LCAs, and both inner and outer tie rods. That way, you've replaced the stuff that's likely to wear out anyway, and won't have to worry about it for the duration of your ownership. Heck, spring for a pair of new struts (along with new strut bearings) and you're going to be amazed how much like a new car it feels like.
The Moog LCAs are about $83 each, so it's really not all that much money to do everything at once. And, that means only one alignment (as opposed to two or more if you just replace the tie rods as they wear out).
I've finally got far enough along with my other projects that I ordered this kit and will install it in the next couple of weekends. I read the thread about all the various ways to simplify installing the LCAs, and think I have a handle on that. Is there a clearly better way to do all of the work in order, as far as should I -
Replace the LCAs first, then the tie rod ends.
Replace tie rod ends first, and then LCAs
Remove one LCA, replace tie rod ends that side, then install new LCA, and go to other side?
IIRC, I dropped the LCAs to get more room, and then did the tie rods, then installed the LCAs... The only glitch I remember was that the inner tie rod tool I bought didn't work, and had to go to the local Autozone and buy a cheapo "U-bolt version" and use it.