Acura MDX Tuning

"Thanks for reading my MDX tuning guide."

In Japan this 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 Nm) (2001-2002)
  • 265 hp (198 kW), 253 lbft (343 Nm) (2003-2006)

We have seen some awesome MDX tuning projects and there seems to be quite a loyal fan base of MDX owners. We see car owners wasting money on their MDX doing the wrong mods and then having to start over. Follow our hints to avoid making the common mistakes

Tuning tips and articles

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

Handling/Suspension upgrades

Handling modifications are top of many to do lists for the MDX.

Good suspension tweaks that substantially improve handling for the MDX include a couple of degrees negative camber and 1-1.5 degrees of toe in or out on the front wheels. Toe in for stability, or Toe out to improve cornering. It would also pay to improve the brakes, by adding larger discs and or higher friction pads..

We suggest that you fit performance suspension and lower the car by 23mm - 40 mm. Larger drops require arch work - especially on models already equipped with performance suspension.

Top end power should be your overall aim on the MDX with a nice fat peak torque band.

Keep the car looking standard but take off the badges creating a sleeper!

To be completely frank and honest, on the more modest 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.

Power mods.

Typically these uprated mods are usually installed by our members, decide how far you want to push your car before you get started.

Getting the right modified upgrades for your planned usage of the car is a time and money saver. Stage 3 motor sport mods just won't work well on the road hard to control in slow traffic.

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Best Engine Mods for your car

  1. Mapping - remapping provides the most advantage in terms of cost savings,  aftermarket ECUs, and piggyback ECUs are all alternatives.
  2. Fast road cams are one of the most significant mechanical changes, but they must be installed by someone who knows what they're doing and they are not always easy to source but you might find a local firm to regrind a stock camshaft.
  3. Intake and Exhaust - Note that on their own these mods will NOT ADD POWER in most cases, but they can help enhance power after other mods by removing the restriction.
  4. Upgrades to turbochargers and superchargers - forced induction is the most efficient approach to increase air supply, allowing you to burn more fuel and make more power. It is one of the most costly upgrades but provides the best gains.
  5. Head work - The goals of porting and flowing the head are to get air flowing into the engine while removing flow restrictions and turbulence.

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

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

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

You should keep as much low end torque as you can and aim to get a wide power band across the rev range rather than a narrow top end power hike.

In this article we shall give your a good starting base to the best modifications for your car, but we'd encourage you to spend some time on the site looking into the details of each type of performance modification.A fast road camshaft usually works out as one of the best NASP power mods you can do from a single upgrade to your engine.

It improves the intake and exhaust durations and increases the power if done right. Ideally you'd add other mods and finish up with a performance chip. TorqueCars would caution you not to go with a competition cam as this upsets the engines idling and general town driving characteristics.Don't forget to increase the fuelling when you are increasing the power - it makes the car more thirsty.

Using high octane petrol is another option if you find you are suffering from detonation or premature ignition on your Acura project after fitting other motorsport kits.

Uprated injectors will enable you to supply sufficient fuel to the engine. 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. Contrary to popular belief there is generally a small power gain to be had by fitting an induction kit, they only help and are recommended after you boos the engines power to the point where the standard air intake box cannot cope!

Sports exhausts can help balance the flow of gases through the engine. But if your exhaust pipe is too big, ie: it's over 2.5 inches bore, you will lose a lot of your flow rate and end up sapping power and torque.

Airflow through the head can be dramatically increased with some professional flowed (porting and polishing). These should match and be setup to take into account any other engine mods. When you tune up your MDX you will often find that the standard clutch starts to slip so get an uprated clutch. NA (naturally aspirated) engines do not achieve big power gains if you remap them, unless you have done extensive modifications. With turbocharged engines this is another story. A remapped turbowill give large power gains and take full advantage of the strength of the block. The most significant power gains for NA (naturally aspirated) engines usually involve the addition of forced induction. It is often easier to add a supercharger than it is to fit a working turbo. It is harder to map a turbo as the boost increases exponentially with rpm.

Superchargers will give a boost which is proportional to engine speed so is simpler. Decreasing the engines compression ratio will allow you to add forced induction, water injection may also help prevent detonation.

Alloy wheel upgrades.

Alloy wheels can help the brake cooling and are generally less heavy than the steel ones. Large MDX alloy wheels can decrease performance. If you get big alloy wheels you will be changing your final drive ratio.

Because of this we would advise sticking to a maximum wheel size of 18 inches, although we know some of our members have gone larger than this with no problems.

If you would like to know more, or just get some friendly advice 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.

Please help us improve these tips by sending us your feedback in the comments box below. We love hearing about our website visitors projects, especially the mods done and which work best for you on your car. Which helps us keep our guides and tips up to date helping others with their modified car projects. Your feedback and comments are used to keep this page up to date, and help improve the accuracy of these articles which are kept updated and constantly revised.

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