The 2022 Acura MDX is Acura’s newest, utterly redesigned mannequin in what’s shaping as much as be a rekindling of the Japanese luxurious model. Acura smacked us throughout the face (in a great way) with the luxurious and sporty TLX final 12 months, and now it’s making an attempt to do the identical with its three-row household crossover.
2020 noticed the MDX change into Acura’s best-selling mannequin of all time, surpassing 1 million complete gross sales. Granted, it’s been round because the flip of the century, however there’s no underselling how essential the MDX is to Acura. Lovers like ourselves are way more intrigued by the efficiency vehicles, however the MDX is the place Acura is printing its cash. Nonetheless, its money cow standing hasn’t restrained Acura from reworking the brand new MDX right into a crossover that’s likeable to each fans and the general public at massive. That’s the Acura we keep in mind and love.
The 2022 MDX rewrites its story with a brand new “gentle truck” platform that is unique to Acura … in the interim. After we requested what this platform’s future may be, an Acura spokesperson advised us that “this platform will underpin different fashions in our firm portfolio, however we’re not chatting with that right now.” Most probably, Acura is referring to the next-generation Pilot (together with the Passport and Ridgeline), contemplating that each earlier MDX has been associated to Honda’s three-row crossover.
For now, nonetheless, this new platform facilitates the MDX’s longer dash-to-axle ratio (4 inches better than earlier than), which provides it proportions much like rear-drive-based competitors from Europe and elsewhere. It additionally ends in better cabin area, higher dealing with and new applied sciences, however we have to tackle the design first.
The transformation is substantial, because the 2022 MDX is each wider and longer than its predecessor. The place there was slop and slouch earlier than, there may be none immediately. Its upright face, mesmerizing grille, large wheels and sharp lighting parts make the MDX stand out within the crossover crowd. This redesign takes the MDX from being one of many least fetching choices within the phase to standing tall as probably the most trendy. Huge styling wins haven’t all the time been simple for Acura to return by over the past 10-plus years, however chalk this one up as one other feather within the cap following the dashing new TLX.
The brand new MDX platform contributed to those beauty, nevertheless it additionally brings a splash of utility. The third row sees the most important positive aspects, as adults or teenagers are way more prone to match comfortably in the best way again. Acura added 2.4 inches of legroom and located a contact extra headroom regardless of elevating the seat backside by 2 inches. Cargo area in all seating configurations additionally goes up by minor quantities. Acura says that this additional area was opened up by switching from a coilover to a separate strut and spring rear suspension design.
The MDX could not be mechanically associated to Honda’s Odyssey, however its novel second-row seats do borrow a web page from Honda’s minivan playbook. You possibly can sit three-across (seven-person most capability), fold the middle seat down for an enormous heart console, or utterly take away the center seat to depart your self with a pair of quasi captain’s chairs. Each different competitor makes you select whether or not you need a three-person bench or two-person captain’s chairs on the dealership.
So sure, the MDX is a greater crossover for the household, however much more spectacular is what it brings to the desk for the driving force. Acura just isn’t deviating from what’s labored prior to now with the bottom engine. It’s nonetheless the three.5-liter naturally aspirated V6 that makes 290 horsepower and 267 pound-feet of torque — no 2.0-liter turbo to be discovered right here. The transmission is new, although, and it makes a considerable distinction in how this MDX drives. Acura went from a nine-speed automated to a brand new 10-speed automated, and it carried out a decrease first gear for higher efficiency. That offers this 4,500-pound crossover (with SH-AWD) much better pull off the road and at low speeds than we had been anticipating. It requires quite a lot of shifting to get the job performed (you’re on the high of third gear by 60 mph), however Acura efficiently used gearing to make the MDX really feel stronger than the numbers counsel it will be. Plus, it’s above common while you toss it into guide shifting mode, responding eagerly to inputs from the properly formed paddles.
An MDX Sort S with the three.0-liter turbocharged V6 (355 horsepower and 354 pound-feet of torque) is coming in the summertime, so in case you want extra energy, we recommend ready. Acura additionally left the door open for a return to hybrid energy on this technology of MDX, however we don’t know any particulars about it or when it may be coming.
Our largest disappointment in regards to the powertrain is the entire lack of gas economic system enchancment. It’s truly down 1 mpg within the mixed score for each front- and all-wheel drive layouts. Acura blames the automotive’s new styling for this loss in effectivity. Engineers tried their finest to claw MPGs again by way of better use of aluminum for physique components and newly built-in energetic grille shutters (reduces aerodynamic drag), nevertheless it nonetheless wasn’t sufficient to remain impartial from one technology to the following.
The place the MDX’s drive shines brightest is while you begin to push it on a twisty highway. That new platform it’s driving on is considerably stiffer than earlier than. Plus, Acura is plunging headfirst into implementing impartial double wishbone suspension design on its vehicles (most not too long ago used within the new TLX). Within the MDX’s case (and different vehicles), it improves journey high quality and supplies a bigger and extra constant tire contact patch in corners. The structural modifications contribute to a better sense of nimbleness and stability to the chassis you wouldn’t count on in a car its dimension. Hauling a three-row crossover by way of winding, hilly roads will be tiring, or simply plain awkward and uncomfortable. Within the MDX, it’s genuinely enjoyable going forwards and backwards. The boldness it instills in you to maintain making an attempt to extract extra in corners and push more durable just isn’t the norm for this phase.
The one technique to get the MDX feeling out of types is in 90-degree corners or particularly tight roundabouts the place weight turns into the dominant issue. Much less abrupt curves spotlight and play to the MDX’s power. Acura’s SH-AWD has been bloody sensible in each MDX since being launched for the second technology, and this newest model as soon as once more brings its torque-vectoring magic. As much as 70% of torque will be despatched to the rear wheels, and as much as 100% of that obtainable torque will be apportioned to both rear wheel. You possibly can bodily really feel this torque vectoring at work as you feed in an increasing number of throttle by way of corners. Each Acura with SH-AWD handles much better for it, and the MDX is not any exception — it’s effectively well worth the $2,000 improve over a front-drive mannequin, even in case you stay someplace that doesn’t expertise winter climate.
Adaptive dampers will not be obtainable like they’re within the RDX and TLX, however the mounted dampers are dialed in properly. Switching the NSX-inspired mode dial into Sport improves the variable-ratio steering with slightly extra weight (not an excessive amount of) and directs extra energy to the rear wheels. Total, the dealing with is on par or higher than a lot of the competitors, which isn’t a simple feat contemplating crossovers just like the Audi Q7, Cadillac XT6 and Lincoln Aviator are all potential alternate options. Have in mind, we haven’t even pushed the Sort S but.
Fortunately, Acura hasn’t uncared for journey high quality and usefulness within the title of efficiency. The MDX soaks up poor metropolis streets and dangerous roads with the perfect of them. It’s remarkably comfy to simply peaceably cruise round in. That V6 is unobtrusive till you step on it, and solely then it makes the typically-satisfying Honda growl. There’s a modicum of wind noise that intrudes at freeway speeds, however the cabin is usually serene.
We’re left with one large nit to select about how the MDX drives: the brakes. It’s a brand new brake system with an electrical brake booster. Acura nailed the tuning with the TLX’s brake-by-wire system — it has a stiff pedal that’s sports activities car-like in really feel. Within the MDX, the brakes have the imprecise, mushy feeling of an outdated hybrid’s poorly tuned regenerative brakes. There needs to be some center floor between these two programs that may be acceptable for a crossover however nonetheless in line with the performance-car spirit Acura goes for.
That spirit is at the very least seen inside the place Acura’s newest, NSX-inspired inside design stands in stark distinction to the outgoing MDX, which was by no means innovative by way of design or luxurious.
The brand new cabin clearly clearly shares visible DNA with the RDX and TLX designs, nevertheless it’s a extra expansive, elevated take that skews extra in direction of luxurious than sport. Supplies high quality additionally sees a big leap upmarket. Certain, a Mercedes-Benz, BMW or Audi will nonetheless outclass the MDX, however Acura isn’t very far behind anymore, and all of the German opponents are considerably costlier.
Acura guarantees that in case you see a fabric that appears like wooden or metallic, it’s real. Fancy LED ambient lighting will be custom-made with tons of various themes. The seats are each fairly (good piping and patterns within the leather-based) and cozy. Its 12.3-inch infotainment system is loaded with options, and the obtainable ELS Studio audio system will bump with the perfect of them. The MDX additionally marks Acura’s first software of a completely digital instrument cluster, and it’s an excellent one. You possibly can select between a pair base layouts for the 12.3-inch display, however these will be modified/custom-made even additional by way of the drive mode dial — every mode has its personal format. One of many two Sport mode layouts is paying homage to the S2000 with its horizontal tachometer arcing throughout the highest of the display in the identical trend as Honda’s iconic sports activities automotive.
When the Sort S finally drops this summer season, the brand new MDX lineup will likely be a formidable power. Pricing for the usual MDX begins at $47,925 and ranges as much as $61,675 for our top-of-the-line Advance. Those that need an MDX with a sportier look can go for an A-Spec (black trim, obtainable crimson leather-based) at $58,125 — it comes with a majority of the elective luxurious and tech niceties, which is why it’s almost as costly as the highest trim. Not like a lot of the upper priced competitors, Acura comes normal with almost all its driver help options, a powerful array that features each full-speed adaptive cruise and lane-centering. It’s simply one of many many objects on the listing that makes the MDX add as much as an excellent succesful household hauler that gained’t break the financial institution, or your soul, from behind the wheel.