Acura MDX Tuning

"Tuning guide to the most effective Acura MDX modifications."

In Japan Acura MDX was badged the Honda MDX, it is one of the most popular SUV crossover models in the world and thankfully there are plenty of aftermarket parts around for it.

The engine was a 3.5 L V6 and came in two power outputs, with a power hike coming in the 2003 refresh.

  • 240 hp (180 kW), 245 lbft (332 N⋅m) (2001-2002)
  • 265 hp (198 kW), 253 lbft (343 N⋅m) (2003-2006)

The MDX is a good car tuning project to carry out. We see people often wasting money on their MDX doing the wrong mods and then having to start over. Follow our pointers to avoid wasting your money

Tuning tips and articles

Engine tuning Transmission tuning Care care Intake & exhaust mods Improve handling Forums

A nice wide torque band and sweet spot of peak power at one third of your RPM range is optimum.

Following our tips for tuning your MDX you will attain a practical but hot car that will potentially show up bigger cars.

Sadly with smaller engine sizes you are wasting your time spending money on modifications, so if this applies to you get yourself an engine swap then apply the following mods.

Engine Tuning.

These mods modifications are usually installed by our members, decide how far you wish to go in your tuning project before you get started.

Getting the right sports parts for your planned usage of the car is vital. Stage 3 (competition) mods just don't work well on the road difficult in stop start traffic.

Stage 1 mods: Panel air filter, Alloy wheels, Suspension upgrade (drop 30-40mm), Sports exhaust, Lighter flywheel, Remap.

Stage 2 mods: Ported and polished head, Fast road cam, fuel pump upgrades, Power/Sport clutch, high flow fuel injector.

Stage 3 mods: Internal engine upgrades (pistons/head/valves), Engine balancing, Sports gearbox, Competition cam, Adding or upgrading forced induction (turbo/supercharger).

You should keep as much low end power as possible and aim for a long power band rather than a narrow top end power spike.

The whole point of our hints is to give a brief overview of modding mods and point you in the right direction, our forum is best place to go if you need more detailed advice and tips on your modified car project, the best tuning modifications and all aspects of modding cars.Fast road cams offer one of the biggest power gains for your money as far as a bolt on modified upgrades goes on a NASP engine.

It maximises the intake and exhaust durations and pushes up the power if done right. Ideally you'd add other mods and finish up with a remap. TorqueCars would caution you not to go with a motor sports profile cam as this affects the engines idling and general town driving characteristics.

You will need to ensure that the engine is not starved of fuel so will need to increase the fuelling.

Most power losses, flat spots and erratic idling after tuning parts are done can usually be traced to fuelling or timing issues.Increasing the injectors is another beneficial modification and will deliver sufficient fuel.

A fuel pump will only deliver a finite amount of fuel, so you may need to uprate this if your injectors are demanding more fuel.

Intake and Exhaust Tuning.

The next area for modification is the intake and exhaust. Air induction kits only help to increase performance if the cars air intake is restricted! Adding an induction kit to most stock engines will see NONE OF A LOW END POWER GAIN AT ALL. If you have heavily modified your engine and it's need for air INCREASES DRAMATICALLY then an induction kit is the answer and will help remove this restriction.

For most MDX engines TorqueCars would suggest you just go with a washable panel air filter. On heavily tuned engines and turbo vehicles an induction kit will help release the power providing you address the problem of needing cold air.

Sports exhausts equal out the flow of air through the engine. But if your exhaust pipe is too big, ie: over 2.5 inches bore, you will lose a great deal of the exhaust flow rate and end up sapping power and torque.

Getting the cylinder head flowed (ported and polished) will help get more air into each cylinder. This is definitely a job for a professional with a flow bench. In nearly all cases of MDX tuning your clutch will start to suffer and this should be improved - read our tips on clutches for more information. The best mods we would do for your MDX are remaps, sports camshafts and induction improvements.

Remaps offer large power gains on all turbo charged cars. On NASP engines the benefits are doubtful. However a flashed ecu on a NASP engine will help unleash the potential if you have done a lot of mods. Despite the large cost involved adding forced induction to a NASP engine will give large power gains. It is usually easier to bolt on a supercharger than it is to fit a working turbo. With a turbo the power curve is related exponentially to the engine speed making it difficult to map fuelling with.

Superchargers however will give a boost which is proportional to engine speed so is simpler. Adding forced induction will usually require a lower compression ratio or water injection.

Handling/Suspension upgrades

Handling modifications are the thing most do first for the MDX.

Setting a little negative camber on the wheels and a few degrees of toe out, will usually benefit your MDX in handling and cornering.

Drop the car by as much as 21mm - 40 mm and fit performance stiffer dampers, bigger drops will need other modifications in most instances.

Alloy wheel upgrades.

The benefits of alloys include reducing your unsprung weight and more efficient brake cooling via the extra air flow they allow. Get a good directional tread pattern tyre to improve your handling and help improve traction on your MDX. We should point out that although they can look cool on the MDX large alloys will actually decrease your performance. The larger you go the lower your acceleration will be - this to the change in your effective final drive ratio.

Although some people have fitted larger wheels without issues we would restrict ourselves to a 18 inch rim size as the maximum.

There is a more updated version of this Acura MDX Tuning article on TorqueCars.com.

For more information on Tuning your car please join us in our friendly forum where you can discuss MDX options in more detail with our MDX owners. It would also be worth reading our unbiased Acura tuning articles to get a full grasp of the benefits and drawbacks of each modification.

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