2020 Acura MDX SH-AWD A-Spec 

The MDX three-row SUV – third generation (2014) – has been a perennial good seller for Acura.  Acura tells us that MDX has sold more than a million since its launch. By the numbers, they say, MDX is the best-selling luxury three-row SUV of all-time.

With age catching up, to strengthen its appeal Acura added their sporty A-Spec trim styling package to the MDX SH-AWD last year. 

We have not driven an Acura MDX since 2016 when we reported on the powertrain change to a 9-speed automatic transmission. In 2016, we gave MDX a pretty positive review. Regrettably, we are unable to give you a link to our 2016 review as the publication (examiner.com) shut down later that year.

Four years later, except for some specific ‘refresh’ elements along the way, the 2020 MDX SH-AWD is not much different – except for the A-Spec treatment.

With the A-Spec trim, we find the MDX SH-AWD (despite the age) still to be a decently priced, mid-range performing, three-row SUV with features and capability that meets the needs of a broad range of buyers. Good value – nice ride.


2020 Acura MDX SH-AWD A-Spec

Acura loaned us a 2020 MDX AWD A-Spec recently for a weeklong test drive in and around Austin.

Our test A-Spec came in their exclusive Apex Blue Pearl exterior paint with the exclusive Red Interior Color option.

The MSRP for the 2020 Acura MDX SH-AWD A-Spec was $54,900. The Apex Blue Pearl color was another $400.  With delivery, this MDX A-Spec was MSRP $56,295.

So, let’s take a look at the 2020 MDX SH-AWD A-Spec.

A-Spec Styling Features

A-Spec exclusive exterior styling elements include Front Bumper, Front Grille Finish (Dark Chrome Surround w/Matte Graphite Diamond Mesh), Rear Lower Bumper Dual Oval Exhaust Finishers, Dark Chrome Internal Taillights, Piano Black Tailgate Spoiler, Dark Chrome Tailgate Garnish, Piano Black Window Trim, Body Color Door Handles and LED Fog Lights.

The distinctive A-Spec wheels are 20 x 8.5-inch Aluminum Alloy.  They feature Shark Gray Split 5-spoke design – mounted with 265/45 R20 High Performance All-Season tires.

Other elements include the awesome Jewel Eye LED Headlights, Power Tailgate, Power Moonroof with Tilt Feature, Heated Power Door Mirrors, Keyless Access with Smart Entry, LED Tail Lights, Rain Sensing Wipers and LED Puddle Lighting.


MDX SH-AWD A-Spec is powered by a 3.5L V6 w/Variable Cylinder Management,  delivering 290 horsepower and 267 lb.-ft. of torque.  It is mated to a 9-speed Automatic Transmission equipped with Sequential SportShift Paddle Shifters.

The MDX A-Spec comes AWD only equipped with the Acura Super Handling AWD (SH-AWD) system. The SH-AWD features True Torque Vectoring for positive traction in all conditions. 

In addition, the Acura 3-mode Integrated Dynamics System (IDS) enables the driver to choose Comfort, Normal or Sport settings to match their driving style.

Curb weight for the MDX A-Spec is 4,275 pounds on a 111-inch wheelbase. With the V6 and 9-speed automatic, the MDX is well powered for a three-row SUV.

The fuel economy for the MDX A-Spec SH-AWD is 19/25/21 mpg   City/Highway/Combined.   

And it tows too – when properly equipped – up to 5,000 pounds.                                                                                                                                

Interior Features

The A-Spec interior treatment on the MDX also spiced up the interior ambiance with a number of styling elements.

The cabin led with the optional Red A-Spec styled Ventilated Sport Seats w/Perforated Milano Leather and Alcantara Inserts, Contrast Stitching and Patterned Gloss Black interior trims.

Other A-Spec features included Aluminum Sport Pedals, A-Spec Steering Wheel, Ebony Headliner, Red Ambient Cabin Lighting and Red Instrument Panel Illumination.

Functional elements included 12-way power seats front, 60/40 spilt second row seating w/heated out board position and 50/50-fold down third row.

Also included were On-Demand Multi-Use Touchscreen, Color Driver Multi-Information Center Display w/Turn-by-Turn Guidance, Push-Button Start, Remote Engine Start, Push-Button Electronic Gear Shifter, Tri-zone Climate Control and Second-Row Side Sunshades.

The cargo space in the MDX A-Spec offers a moderate 15 cubic feet behind third row, 38.4 cubic feet w/third row down and 68.4 cubic feet with the second row down.

Infotainment and Technology

Our Acura A-Spec was fitted out with the Acura Tech package of infotainment features.

They included the Acura ELS Studio Premium Audio w/10-speakers, Acura Navigation w/3D View and Voice Recognition, AcuraLink Realtime Traffic, Siri Eyes Free, HD Radio and AcuraLink Communications (hint: have Amazon packages delivered into your Acura)

Basic MDX elements included SiriusXM, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, Bluetooth Handsfree and Streaming Audio, USB Audio Interface, MP3 Auxiliary Input and multiple USB Data and Charge Ports and Speed Sensitive Volume Adjustment.

Safety and Driver Assist

The 2020 Acura MDX AWD A-Spec is equipped with the AcuraWatch suite of advanced safety and driver-assistance technologies.  Features include Adaptive Cruise Control w/Low Speed Follow, Collision Mitigation Braking, Lane Keeping Assist, Lane Departure Warning and Road Departure Mitigation.

Other safety features included Vehicle Stability Assist w/Traction Assist and Motion Adaptive Steering, ABS Brake System w/Electronic Brake Force Distribution and Brake Assist, Tire Pressure Monitoring, Blind Spot Information and Rear Cross Traffic Monitor.

Additional driver assist elements were a Multi-View Rear Camera, Front and Rear Parking Sensors, Hill Start Assist, Electronic Parking Brake w/Brake Hold, Rain Sensing Wipers and Auto-On/Off Headlights w/Auto High Beam.

Acura MDX for 2020

According to recent industry ratings, the Acura MDX holds up pretty well.  The 2020 MDX has been honored by Consumer Guide as a ‘2020 Best Buy’ and as a ‘2020 Best Family Car’ by Parents Magazine.  In addition, it has received a KBB best ‘5-Year Cost to Own’ designation in the luxury category.

Learn more about all of the 2020 Acura MDX models both SH-AWD and FWD models plus the MDX Sport Hybrid SH-AWD HERE.     

Final Thought

Acura has added the A-Spec styling upgrade to several of their vehicles. They are all pretty much alike in their approach.  But from a performance perspective, they vary based on the platform, features and functional elements of that vehicle.

A prime example is the 2020 MDX A-Spec compared to its two-row sibling, the 2020 RDX A-Spec.

As noted, the MDX is running a platform last revised in 2014 and updated with the 9-speed automatic in 2016. 

The RDX A-Spec is all new last year.  New platform, new powertrain, new technology and so on. 

Setting aside the $10,000 price delta factor – MDX more than RDX – the RDX easily runs circles around the older MDX. 

If you do not need three-rows – most people who buy them do not use them – save the $10,000 and buy the RDX.  We would.

Read our report on the 2020 Acura RDX A-Spec HERE.


  • Model:                                        MDX
  • Trim:                                           A-SPEC
  • Class:                                          SUV (3-Row)
  • Segment:                                   Luxury SUV
  • Seating:                                      7
  • MSRP:                                         $54,900
  • As Tested:                                  $56,295
  • Powertrain:                               3.5L V6
  • Horsepower:                            290 @ 6200 rpm             
  • Torque:                                      267 lb.-ft. @ 4700 rpm
  • Transmission:                            9-speed w/Sequential SportShift & Paddle Shifter
  • Drive System:                           Acura SH-AWD
  • Drive Modes:                            Comfort, Normal, Sport
  • Wheels:                                      20-inch Alloy
  • Towing Capacity                       5,000 pounds
  • Fuel Economy                           19/25/21 mpg City/Highway/Combined
  • Fuel Tank                                   19.5 gal (Premium gas)
  • Range                                         400 Miles Highway