AWD crossovers such as Acura MDX are becoming increasingly popular for offroading, as they offer a number of advantages over traditional 4×4 trucks. For one, they tend to be more comfortable and fuel-efficient, making them ideal for weekend offroad trips and camping in the wild.
Additionally, their versatile design means that they can easily handle a variety of routine tasks. Whether you’re looking to get your feet wet in offroading or simply looking to explore the backcountry, an AWD crossover with basic upgrades such as the lift and A/T wheels is the perfect vehicle for the job.
Despite not having the classic 4WD and body on frame chassis, crossovers are still surprisingly capable on off-road terrain. This is especially true for the ones that are equipped with advanced AWD systems like the Acura MDX. It’s SH-AWD “Super Handling All-Wheel Drive” system with an active rear differential often found on high-performance cars, gives the MDX the ability to tackle pretty much any terrain, whether it be sand, dirt, or snow, as long as you have proper tires.
“Despite not having the classic 4WD and body on frame chassis, crossovers are still surprisingly capable on off-road terrain”
With its stock ground clearance of 8.2 inches, the MDX is hardly the best in class, but it can be improved with a set of suspension strut spacers. There aren’t many options available on the market for these cars, as they aren’t used for off-roading as often as the mainstream Subaru, Jeep, or Toyota models, but with some research, you can source a set to lift your MDX.
“The owner of this awesome lifted MDX utilized Thema 4×4 2” spacer all around, which allowed him to improve the overall ground clearance and mount large 33” inch tires! With this awesome Wheel & Lift setup, it’s able to clear obstacles that would stop other crossovers”
Being a Honda at its best, this SUV features super-reliable engines and excellent road manners. According to Wikipedia, it was tuned at the Nürburgring race track in Germany and is equipped with one of Honda’s most powerful engines to date. Acura MDX’s suspension is designed to handle beautifully, making it a great choice for anyone looking for an AWD crossover that rides and drives nicely.
“Being a Honda at its best, this SUV features super-reliable engines and excellent road manners”
To underline the connection with the street scene, the owner decided to install a set of legit Rays Gramlights 57DR rims in bronze finish. Even though we’re used to seeing those wrapped in skinny performance tires, they look surprisingly well dressed in massive Falken Wild Peak A/T tires which equals 33”x10” inches.
“To underline the connection with the street scene and sports car roots, the owner decided to install a set of legit Rays Gramlights 57DR rims in bronze finish”
Among the off-road/overland style upgrades are the LED light bar by Diode Dynamics and a spacious Mia Hard Shell Roof Top Tent which makes camping a lot more fun for the entire family.
Why did you choose an MDX for your project?
– We got this car for our family, the ShAWD system, and the Honda/Acura reliability. Didn’t really intend to build it as an overland/off-road rig.
What is your favorite part about this build?
– My favorite part has to be the rims. It adds that JDM culture and feel to the build where my roots to cars have started.
What was the most difficult part about putting it together?
– My HomeDepot DIY-built roof rack made out of C Struts. It was a lot of trial and error but we got it to work. The OEM roof rack wasn’t cutting it for me. I wanted a low pro rack that would hug my RTT close to the roof of the car.
Future plans for your project?
– No plans really, I’m happy with how it is. It’s breaking 250k miles right now so just maintaining it and keeping it clean.
Specs: Acura MDX Off Road Build (2nd Gen YD2)
Off Road Wheels
- Rims: Bronze Rays Gramlights 57DR
- Tires: 265/70/18 Falken Wild Peak A/T (33”x10” inches)
Exterior Mods & Accessories
- Diode Dynamics LED light bar
- Mia Hard Shell Roof Top Tent (RTT)
Acura MDX is definitely a cut above the rest when it comes to crossovers – its combination of power, handling, and luxury make it a great choice for anyone in the market for a new SUV. With some basic modifications like the lift kit and off-road wheels, you can open up the world of new possibilities in front of you and explore new places you thought were only available for the 4×4 trucks!
“With some basic modifications like the lift kit and off-road wheels, you can open up the world of new possibilities”
Watch the progress and find out more about this Acura MDX project by visiting the Instagram profile of the owner: @mrjakebiascan!
Related Parts & Mods
– Inspired by this Acura MDX build and looking to prepare your own crossover for off-road adventures? Some parts used in this build were sourced from custom shops or custom made, but our team has put together a list of similar products and accessories available online that may help you to achieve similar results:
- Dealparts Leveling Lift Kit 1.2 inch 30mm – For Acura MDX 2006-2013
- Tema4x4 Complete Lift Kit 30mm – For Acura MDX 2013-present
- Falken Wildpeak A/T3W All-Terrain – 265/70R18 Size
- YAKIMA, OffGrid Roof Cargo Basket, Medium – Universal – Attaches to Load Bars
Roof Top Tent
- Thule Tepui Foothill Low-Profile Rooftop Tent (2 Person) – Light Tent for Compact Crossovers
- DANCHEL OUTDOOR Overland Awning (5×8.2ft) – Pull-out style
- Baja Designs XL R80 – White or yellow pod lights
- Rigid Industries SR-Series PRO 30″ LED LIGHT BAR – Universal Fit
*Before ordering any part or accessory, it is recommended that you verify its fitment with a qualified professional and/or seller. We are not responsible for fitment or other issues that may arise from using the products featured on our website.
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Matt brings over a decade of automotive expertise to his role as staff writer and editor at Offroadium.com. With an enduring passion for the off-road vehicles and adventures, he is devoted to creating interesting content that equips 4x4 enthusiasts with the knowledge to improve their rigs.