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Adaptive Dampers becoming the norm.

Old 05-29-2018, 11:08 AM
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Adaptive Dampers becoming the norm.

I drove a 2015 Chevy SS (standard shift) with it's magnetorheologic dampers and noted that it approached the ride of my long past Phaeton that had air suspension, creating a comfortable ride in a vehicle with a wheel base short of a limousine. That ride for the SS was while set in Touring mode. The ride could be stiffened for the track, or to an intermediate level.
I made an offer on a 2014 RLX SH AWD Tech model in 2015, though my offer was turned down. I was surprised that the ride on rough roads did not impress me in that test drive. To be fair, I test drove an Audi A6 at that same dealer and found the ride no better or worse than that of the Tech SH-AWD. I have learned that Adaptive dampers were once offered with the MDX in 2010 (the last year offered) but have not been offered in the RLX SH AWD.

Maintenance costs could potentially be much higher in the vehicles with adaptive suspension, but I am asking for members of this board to comment on their experiences comparing the ride of the newer RLX SH AWD to those vehicles with adaptive suspension. The older I get, the more I like the ability to dial in a smooth highway ride without the floating of softer sprung vehicles. I want to hear the opinions as to whether adaptive suspension has reached the point of being the new standard in luxury vehicles. I do understand that some of the benefits of the Adaptive suspension will be mimicked by the the set up of the SH AWD, designed to keep the car flatter by speeding up the outside rear wheel, and slowing down the inside rear wheel. No so benefit on straight ahead rough road, I wouldn't think.

The SS i drove in 2016 was used, had a gorgeous exterior ( in my RARE opinion, apparently) , drank gas obnoxiously, and had a wind noise leak around the driver side window so severe that I dared not buy the vehicle. Now that wind noise has led to a recall, and so would have been repaired. Manual transmission SS's are now going UP in value, though, since manufacture has been discontinued. So hard to justify that car as a daily driver, though, as the gas mileage was really punitive, though it can run on regular gas like most naturally aspirated vehicles. I am not into owning a car for it's potential collector value.
My confession is that some Advance SH AWD vehicles, used, are at such a price now that it has become a value purchase. I am tempted to buy a 2016 I have had my eye on. I was lucky the dealer turned down by offer for the Tech in 2015.
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Old 05-29-2018, 01:15 PM
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True adaptive (magnetic fluid control) dampers are an amazing thing and create an experience quite unique. One of my cars has those, and I am obviously sold on the technology. The other car is a 2014 RLX PAWS - need I say more.
It has always been before a painful tradeoff to aim for 'firm and controlled' and not result in 'bone jarring road fatigue' during steady state driving. Acura RLX in 2014 sorely failed in that tradeoff.
Magnetic dampers, however, are usually operated by the controller as nearly totally 'relaxed' when in steady state driving condition, yet within milliseconds can be 'tightened up' on a wheel by wheel basis if G force, brake pressure, etc indicates more control needed. This is absolutely impossible with conventional dampers, despite the Acura marketing BS of 'adaptive dampers' in their RLX brochures.
(Some cars such as mine, have aftermarket controllers available so I can actually tune the ride to my preference - with a personal profile for tour, sport, and track. That is an even more amazing thing.)

As 2018 is rolling along, the infotainment system on all RLX's is becoming very dated, and the options available (such as adaptive dampers) are limited compared to other makes. I do believe that in the used car market, a much better value can be had for other makes.
The SH can be an exception, if the 'sport-hybrid' concept overrides all the other considerations.
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Old 05-29-2018, 05:03 PM
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Slightly off topic, but possibly relevant...

My wife's 07 MDX has adaptive dampers and we have had problems with them requiring replacement (one Acura tech suggested that the technology just wasn't suitable for our cold winters up here in Canada but I can't say for certain that the dampers were failing because of severe temperatures) . Acura stepped up and paid for the replacement even though the car was well past any warranty period. With the HUGE popularity of the MDX up here in Canada, the cost to replace all of the adaptive dampers was massive both in financial cost and damage to their reputation. This may have contributed to Acura being EXTRA cautious with launching the next generation of adaptive dampers.

That said, I have heard nothing but good things about the adaptive dampers in the new MDX Sport Hybrid, so they seem to have sorted things out and I suspect more and more Acura models will feature adaptive dampers in the near future. As others have stated, they are a wonderful solution to the "you can have a rough ride or floaty handling" dilemma that suspension designers have faced for years.
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Old 05-31-2018, 08:41 AM
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As the owner of the updated MDX with adaptive dampers, they work as advertised. The ride and handling is noticeably affected between the settings. Comfort provides the best ride at highway speeds, Normal is a good compromise for commuting between in town and highway miles, Sport tightens up suspension and steering effectively producing the ability to enjoy some spirited driving, and Sport Plus (on Hybrids) creates a beast of a machine with taught handling and massive amounts of power which bring smiles to my face every time I make that selection.

The system is so impressive, I wish Acura would have provided the system for the '18 RLX refresh. Moving into my RLX from the MDX shows me just how much more premium a sedan the RLX will be when Acura makes that move. It can't happen soon enough.
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Old 07-26-2018, 08:03 AM
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My 2010 MDX Advance’s Adaptive Dampers were replaced three times (2x front; both, driver and passenger side) and (1x rear driver side) all via Acura Care (8 year, 120,000 miles). Now that I’m out of warranty (145,000+ miles), I will most likely retrofit the MDX with base model’s conventional suspension and struts. The replacement adaptive dampers only lasted between 20,000-40,000 miles on New York roads (not pot holes, more like craters). Our roads (plus the weight of the vehicle) definitely affect the longevity of these dampers. BUT when the dampers are working, the road holding abilities of these vehicles are unbelivable for a big car.
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Old 07-26-2018, 04:12 PM
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Honestly, I don't get it why Acura/Honda offers adaptive dampers in other cars like MDX, Type R and so on but for the RLX. I got my pre-owned 2014 RLX SportHybrid beginning of this year and I was surprised how bumpy it is. I drove many Hondas before and all were much smoother than the RLX. Some months ago I changed to tires with runflat (Michelin MXM4 has runflat). The car became smoother after that but it is still very bumpy compared to others. I also don't understand why Acura doesn't offer it as an option because in BMW 5 and Audi A6 you can order adaptive damper system optional.
Hopefully the offer the damper system with the 2020 version.
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Old 07-27-2018, 01:24 PM
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Originally Posted by vtec_v6 View Post
My 2010 MDX Advanceís Adaptive Dampers were replaced three times (2x front; both, driver and passenger side) and (1x rear driver side) all via Acura Care (8 year, 120,000 miles). Now that Iím out of warranty (145,000+ miles), I will most likely retrofit the MDX with base modelís conventional suspension and struts. The replacement adaptive dampers only lasted between 20,000-40,000 miles on New York roads (not pot holes, more like craters). Our roads (plus the weight of the vehicle) definitely affect the longevity of these dampers. BUT when the dampers are working, the road holding abilities of these vehicles are unbelivable for a big car.
I have adaptive dampers on my CTS-Vs (they called it "Magneride"/magnetic ride control) and the shocks, like all shocks, are a wear item. On my two Vs, they lasted about 30-35k miles before replacement was necessary. The replacement cost was less than replacing with a dedicated coilover system. The benefit, though, wow! My CTS-Vs were the first cars I didn't have to reflexly replace the suspension in. My point in bringing this up is that the tech is not perfect yet, and it's not just an Acura issue. Longer-lasting magnetic shocks would be super-nice.
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Old 07-27-2018, 02:05 PM
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Maybe that is why Honda introduced this new type of adjustable shocks, that is not "magnetic". The Type R was the first to have these.

Hope these last a bit longer......

Last edited by pgeorg; 07-27-2018 at 02:08 PM.
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