Winter driving poses a real challenge to even the most accomplished drivers. A vehicle that handles well in these conditions makes life much easier. If you own or plan to own an Acura MDX, knowing “How well does an Acura MDX drive in the snow” is crucial.
The MDX performs well in wintry conditions, provided you have installed snow tires. Owners of the FWD or the SH-AWD Acura MDX are unanimously positive regarding its performance in extreme winter conditions. Add in the MDX’s safety features, and you have a superior handling vehicle.
To answer the question posed in the article’s title, we first look at the comments of MDX owners regarding its snow handling. We will then critically analyze the car’s safety features, such as anti-lock braking, traction control, etc., and key specs, such as weight and distribution, wheelbase, and ground clearance.
Finally, we round this up by suggesting optional traction devices for further improving MDX’s snow handling.
Also read: How Many Miles Can An Acura MDX Last?
The verdict is unanimous; the MDX is a beast in the snow, especially with the optional AWD. We looked at several forums and opinion columns, and we must say that MDX owners absolutely love this car. In fact, many owners felt “thrilled” while driving MDX in snow, which says a lot about the car.
Although the MDX owners rave about its Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) capability, and the FWD MDX also gets the owner’s approval for handling, it is recommended to have snow tires. The Acura MDX is a superior handling crossover, and the following owner reviews vouch for that.
I bought my 08 X new in late 2007 as a replacement of my Honda Ridgeline. Here in middle TN we never get too much snow, but the night before last, we got the worst winter storm TN has seen in more than 20 years.
With ice accumulations of more than 1/2″ and 2″ of snow on top of that, I was forced to drive my X in this mess and questioned (in back of my mind) its capabilities in these dangerous conditions as well.
I have to say I was wrong big time about my doubts! This vehicle handled the road conditions with absolute ease. There were cars & 4×4 trucks sliding all over the road and not able to climb the hill into my neighborhood.
The X passed by other drivers as they looked on in disbelief of my vehicle’s unprecedented ability to crest the hill with little effort!
The SHAWD delivers!!! Half way up, my hubris got the best of me, and I floored the throttle with my MDX wanting more! The traction and power were superb, and I don’t recall, at any point, feeling out of control.
Feeling like a total asshole, I turned around and navigated back down the hill to offer my neighbors at the very least a lift to their house. I pulled the hill two more times that night, and I do believe I just sold more MDXs’ for the local Acura dealer!
For those of you that may be questioning the YouTube videos of the MDXs’ performance in snow and ice; and wondering just how accurate they are, well they are spot on. I’m really loving my X right about now…
Happy driving MDXers!Source
With the road conditions turning nasty on the afternoon trip home, the MDX utilized the optional Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) system that enhances handling and traction. It efficiently traveled in snowy and wet weather, giving us a feeling of total control while going over some steep mountain passes and navigating past a couple dozen semi-trucks that were in a hurry to escape any issues that might arise in the high countrySource
Got to use the SH-AWD in snow today…woo hoo…it worked flawlessly! 😎 It’s one of the main reasons I bought the MDX. Around 2″ of snow this morning…drove about 20-25mph in it. Loved how the AWD kept all four tires providing traction and how the anti-lock brakes kept it from sliding…Source
We in Chicagoland had a foot of snow yesterday, so of course I took the X out to see how it handles. One word, Awesome! Other cars and even trucks were barely moving. I was driving along no problem. The AWD really makes a difference. I hate not being able to get moving at lights, and have other…Source
Also read: 11 Common Problems Of An Acura MDX
Does Acura MDX Have Snow Tires?
Acura ships MDX with high-performance, all-weather tires in 255/55R-19 and 255/50R-20 sizes based on the trim levels. All-weather tires perform very well in conditions that are neither too hot nor too cold.
In extreme weather, the recommendation is to use specialized tires because extreme heat leads to a tire blowout, whereas extreme cold leads to tire hardening and loss of traction.
Having snow tires on your Acura MDX is highly recommended if you live in an area where winters are long and extreme and roads and highways are stacked with snow. Snow tires are manufactured with tread compounds that have the following characteristics making them suitable in deep snow, sleet, or black ice.
Why should you go with the snow tires? Well, snow tires have the following characteristics that make them suitable in heavy snow to black ice, and everything in between that winter has to offer.
Also read: The Exact Bolt Pattern Of An Acura MDX
Unlike all-weather tires, snow tires are manufactured with a soft tread rubber even in freezing temperatures. Like a gecko finding its footing on a surface as slick as glass, the soft rubber of a winter tire can find traction under the most slippery conditions.
Besides the soft rubber, snow tires are designed to have deeper tread depths and unique tread patterns. Snow tires with uni-directional treads effectively expel snow, water, ice, slush from the tire surface, thus providing the best contact with road surface compared to any other option.
In addition to unique tread patterns, snow tires have a high number of biting edges and high densities of small slits, called sipes, in their tread. These tiny slits help the driver maintain control of the vehicle by dispersing debris from underneath the tires.
The combination of softer tread, unidirectional treads, and sipes provide better control, effective braking, and improvement in overall such as acceleration and cornering. Snow tires come in two varieties; studded and non-studded, with the studded snow tires providing better performance.
If you want to buy snow tires, we advise you to use Tirerack. They have a great tool that allows you to find the perfect fit for your exact model, so you won’t have to worry about fitment issues. Furthermore, they also offer free shipping on most of their orders. Check out their store here!
The drive system or the drivetrain is one of the several considerations that one should make in choosing a vehicle. In simple terms, the drivetrain makes a vehicle move by transmitting engine force to the tires. The four different types of drivetrain are all-wheel-drive (AWD), front-wheel drive (FWD), rear-wheel drive (RWD), and 4WD (4 wheel drive), with each having advantages and disadvantages.
The Acura MDX trim levels Standard and Technology Package has options for Front Wheel Drive (FWD) and Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD). The trim levels A-Spec Package and Advanced Package have SH-AWD drivetrain, while the Entertainment Package comes in FWD option only.
The most commonly used drivetrain is FWD, in which power from the engine is transferred to the front wheels, which then essentially pulls the vehicle. With the engine’s weight essentially on the front wheels, FWD vehicles tend to have much better traction on snow, have better fuel economy, and produce less carbon dioxide emissions.
In an All-Wheel drivetrain, engine power is transferred to both the front and rear wheels. However, unlike 4WD, AWD distributes power based on the weight of each wheel. The Acura MDX uses Super Handling AWD, which uses sensors to monitor and alter power distribution according to the situation continually. With need-based power transfer to each wheel, traction and handling of the vehicle are greatly improved.
Although advancements in electronics have increased the stability of vehicles yet experts still recommend using a good set of snow tires in the winter.
The Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA) is a standard feature in all MDX. To help maintain control in spirited or emergency driving situations, the Vehicle Stability Assist™ (VSA®) with traction control and motion adaptive steering system continually monitors vehicle speed, throttle position, individual wheel speeds, steering angle, lateral g-force, and rate of change of angular velocity to detect oversteer or understeer.
The VSA system works differently in SH-AWD and FWD. In SH-AWD versions, VSA initially engages by using the SH-AWD to redirect power among the wheels to prevent instability. The next step, the initial step for front-drive models, involves reducing the engine’s torque and using the ABS to apply brakes to each wheel as needed to help stabilize the vehicle. The response in all cases is often so quick that the instability may be corrected even before the driver realizes that it is occurring.
One of the earliest safety features to be introduced in vehicles, the Anti-Lock Braking System, is now a standard feature in all cars. When emergency brakes are applied in non-ABS vehicles, more often than not, the wheels get locked, the car then skids and the driver no longer has control of the car. On the contrary, wheel sensors in ABS systems detect the onset of tire lock and repeatedly apply and release the brake, thus preventing the tires from skidding.
While braking, the weight of the vehicle shifts across its four wheels. Therefore, it is likely that during hard braking, the momentum of the vehicle will keep it moving at a faster speed than the speed at which the wheels are rotating. The result is a loss of traction between the tires and the road surface. Whereas ABS functions to prevent wheel locking under emergency braking, EBD aims to ensure the right braking force for every wheel to bring it to a complete halt.
Based on research carried out by Mercedes-Benz, 90% of drivers fail to brake with enough force when faced with an emergency. The Brake Assist feature was the result of this study. In this feature, the system continually measures and monitors the normal braking behavior of a driver. When the speed and force with which the brake pedal is pushed diverts from this pattern, the system determines that the driver is trying to execute an emergency stop. And if the brake pedal is not fully applied, the system takes over, and full brakes are applied until the anti-lock braking system (ABS) takes over to stop the wheels from locking up.
The curb weight is important because it impacts the performance and safety of the vehicle.
Lighter cars have better fuel economy, respond quicker to acceleration, and have better performance. Heavier cars are safer, provide better protection to the occupants when involved in a crash, and have better road traction.
The curb weight of FWD MDX is about 4300 lbs, while the curb weight of the SH-AWD versions is between 4503 lbs to 4565 lbs, which is a reasonably good range, neither too light nor too heavy.
A more important spec to look for when choosing a vehicle is the weight distribution on its front and rear wheels. While braking, the FWD MDX’s 40/60 distribution becomes close to 50/50, providing equal traction to all tires, allowing the car to brake evenly, which is important when road conditions are slippery, as in snow.
|2021 Models||Weight Distribution F/R|
|Entertainment Package FWD||40/60|
|Technology Package FWD||48/52|
|Technology Package SH-AWD||48/52|
|A-Spec Package SH-AWD||48/52|
|Advanced Package SH-AWD||48/52|
For SH-AWD, the weight distribution is close to 50/50 because, on braking, it shifts weight variably onto each wheel for stability.
Ground clearance is the distance between the chassis and the ground. It is an important consideration when the terrain is uneven. The unladen ground clearance of MDX is 7.3 inches which is good to know, especially when snow piles up on the roads.
The distance between the centers of the front and the rear tires is known as the Wheelbase. It is a key spec in determining the weight distribution and hence the balance and steering of the vehicle—longer wheelbase results in more stability at higher speeds. A shorter wheelbase provides faster cornering.
The wheelbase of MDX is about 114 inches which is an in-between sort of value. Neither too good nor too bad and should not be an area of concern as far as safety is concerned. If you are interested in finding out more about these or other safety features and specs of Acure MDX, take a look at its owner manual.
What Traction Device You Can Use On The Acura MDX?
The MDX has several standard features for stability and control, and it is generally considered a good handling crossover. Yet, in snow, the use of additional traction devices, such as snow tires (which we have already discussed), snowplows, and snow chains, is highly recommended. Each has its pros and cons.
Snow tires are expensive and require professionals to install and uninstall. In contrast, snow chains are relatively cheaper and easy to put on and take off but are more damaging to dry pavements and the car itself.
If you are looking to buy snow chains, please check them out here. If you are looking for snowplows, these can be found here. Having reliable traction under slippery conditions is the key to maneuvering in snow. Despite all the positive reviews about its handling, MDX owners are unanimous on the use of snow tires or snow chains.