The all-new MDX is impressive as ever.
Review and photos by Tom Sedens
Pricing: 2022 Acura MDX
Base price (Elite trim): $67,405
Options: $500 Premium Colour
A/C tax: $100
Price as tested: $70,080
Acura’s venerable MDX is all-new for 2022, sitting atop a new light-truck platform and redone, inside and out.
The styling of the new MDX is radically different. It showcases a longer hood, muscular and downright aggressive sculpting and deep scalloping on the side panels and the hood, which is a work of art in and of itself. I have long been a fan of the diamond pentagon grille and it looks fantastic here as well.
LED lighting is everywhere – Acura’s nifty Jewel Eye LED headlights, LED fog lights and LED tail lights. At first glance, the grey Liquid Carbon paint seems a bit sedate, but I found it a great match for the MDX’s aggressive new styling – it helped show off the muscular creases.
Massive 20-inch rims are shod with equally massive 255/50-sized tires. Those vertical “intake” slits below the headlights are completely fake – but they do look good.
The spacious cabin is beautifully-crafted, using high-end materials ranging from stitched soft plastics to genuine wood and metal trim. One sore spot for me was the numerous gloss black trim pieces – they are immediate and frustrating dust magnets, and will show fingerprints too. The thoughtful and customizable ambient lighting is a sweet touch too.
The excellent heated steering wheel is power-adjustable in terms of tilting and telescoping and sits in front of a beautifully rendered and crisp digital dash, whose content and display the driver can customize. It also changes its own appearance and “attitude” based on the driving modes.
The perforated Milano leather seats are delightful. They’re very comfortable and very well bolstered for a large SUV, as well as being heated and ventilated.
A huge 12.3″ screen is controlled with what Acura calls their True Touchpad interface. It has a main screen, and a smaller one on the right – and uses distinct touchpad to control either of those zones, along with a few hard buttons to access main functions like Home, Back, etc. It’s not a great system, to be honest. It starts making sense slowly, but it leaves a lot to be desired. With that said, it beats Lexus’ awful touchpad interface hands-down. Next to the trackpads are a volume knob/power and a track skip buttons which provide quick access to those functions.
What I really liked was the ergonomic wrist rest behind the trackpads. First of all, it feels natural and comfortable, and secondly, it’s stunningly designed as a functional piece of art. It’s uses a solid block of metal that rises out of the console, and is capped with a stitched leather. Underneath it is a massive wireless charging mat which will accommodate basically any size of smartphone.
The system handles your phone, navigation, vehicle settings and the outstanding 16-speaker ELS Studio 3D sound system. There are speakers EVERYwhere in this thing – even above the passengers’ heads. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto work very well here.
Below the screen is the button-heavy tri-zone automatic climate control system, and overhead is a huge panoramic sunroof with a powered sunshade.
There is a ton of driver assistance technology – surround-view camera with parking sensors, adaptive cruise control with low-speed follow, forward collision warning, collision mitigation braking, lane departure warning and lane keep assist, road departure mitigation, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, traffic sign recognition and a heads-up display.
Second- and Third-Row Seats
This is a 7-seater, so you’ll find three seats across in the second row and two in the third row.
The second row, with heated outboard seats, boasts excellent seating. The seats slide fore and aft, and recline and are very comfortable. You can fold the middle seatback down to create a sort of armrest/console with cupholders and an open storage bin.
Second row passengers get manual side sunshades, an automatic climate control panel, adjustable air vents and a wealth of charging plugs – 2 USBs, a 115V household plug and a 12V port.
Getting to the third row is relatively painless – at least in terms of getting the second row seat out of the way. Using the same One-Touch buttons located on the side and the back of the second row seats, passengers can easily tilt and slide the second row seats out of the way. Now it’s still tight getting in the back as an adult, and once you’re in there, you’ll be very uncomfortable.
It’s tight and really only works for kids. Sitting behind my own second row seating position, I found my knees jammed hard against the second row and my head was touching the roof. Third row passengers have little bins/cupholders and USB charging ports on either side.
There are some huge cupholders and a smallish vertical drop-in bin on the console, a two-level bin under the armrest lid and some decent door bins.
Accessing the trunk is done with a powered and handsfree tailgate. The walk-away auto-closing feature is pretty nifty too. Behind the third row, you get a very usable 512L space. With the third row down, that grows to a substantial 1,368L and should you fold the second row down as well, it becomes a minivan-like 2,690L cargo space.
There is a large underfloor storage space as well and you get a 12V plug for accessories.
Under the Hood
The proven 3.5L V6, putting out 290 HP and 267 lb.ft of torque, sends its power through a 10-speed automatic mated to Acura’s SH-AWD (Super Handling All-Wheel-Drive) system.
Official fuel economy ratings are 12.6/9.4 L/100km (city/highway).
We ended up with a lofty 13.5 L/100 km average which isn’t great, but isn’t unexpected either. Until Acura sticks the MDX with a smaller turbocharged engine, this is the kind of mileage we will expect.
The normally-aspirated motor is great off the line – everything works together to feel quite snappy. But once you’re on the move, as delightful and creamy as this V6 is, it feels like it runs out of breath and has to work pretty hard as your speed increases. Passing on the freeway does require some time to build up momentum and these maneuvers are not immediate.
You know what I’d love to see under the hood? The 355HP turbocharged motor that will be in Acura’s insane new Type S. And hey, maybe that’s what’s next for the MDX – fingers crossed!
The transmission is activated with a push-button gear selector. Once you get used to it, it’s fine, but it’s not nearly as efficient as a stick-based system for things like multi-point parking situations. Generally speaking, the transmission is in the right gear and is quite intelligent. The gears can be selected manually using paddle shifters, however this is not particularly quick nor rewarding. This is not a sporty vehicle and it does just fine left to its own devices.
Ride quality in the MDX is outstanding – it’s smooth, comfortable and luxurious. Handling is also excellent, and it becomes sportier the harder you drive it. It will surprise you in terms of how athletic it can be in the corners.
An active suspension system using adaptive dampers is standard in every trim of the MDX. The Integrated Dynamics System allows the driver to twist the giant silver dial on the dash to choose from several driving modes – Comfort, Normal, Sport, Snow and the customizable Individual mode – the handling and comfort, steering and throttle response, shift patterns and even the (simulated) engine sound are adjusted to reflect the driver’s choice. I liked Normal the most – Comfort is a bit too relaxed and Sport was a bit edgy for everyday driving.
Visibility out of the MDX is great with a nice view of the road. The third-row headrests definitely get in the way of seeing out the back, but they can be folded down when not in use.
If you tow stuff, the MDX can be equipped to tow up to 5,000 pounds.
Honda and Acura have included remote starters on most of their vehicles now, and it’s a wonderful feature to have.
I liked the small pop-up panel on the angled centre stack that hides USB charging ports. Slick touch!
Not a lot to pick apart in the MDX – but for $70,000, you’d expect that third row to be power-folding. But it’s not. You have to reach into the trunk, pull a handle on each side of the back of the third row and fold the seats down manually. Worse yet, you have to reach far into the trunk, potentially getting yourself dirty on the bumper, to grab those same handles and pull the seats back up into position.
WAF (Wife Approval Factor) was quite high. She really liked the exterior styling and how it drove, but wasn’t a fan of the touchpad interface inside.
I’ve always been an MDX fan – it has represented Acura’s flagship SUV efforts for years, and has done a great job. It’s a smart, powerful, reliable vehicle and all that remains with the all-new 2022. I absolutely love the styling inside and out, and while it’s become a very expensive beast in top-trim, it remains competitive in the category.
There much to love with Acura’s latest MDX and it deserves a place on anyone’s shopping list when looking for luxurious 3-row SUVs. It doesn’t have the most modern powerplant anymore, but overall, it does everything really well and this SUV won’t disappoint.
Disclosure: Vehicle was provided by Acura Canada.
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