A pioneer among luxury crossovers, the Acura MDX has certainly been a success; and at times has been the brand’s top selling model. So its importance to Acura cannot be overstated. Well now it’s time for an all-new third generation MDX, and it could go one of two ways. Will the 2014 Acura MDX be more of the same, hoping to keep current customers happy? Or will Acura make drastic changes in order attract lots of new ones? Let’s find out!
The 2014 Acura MDX mid-size luxury crossover arrives on the scene with a difficult mission; improve what needs improving without changing too much; and oh yeah, give buyers something extra that they weren’t expecting and then don’t want to live without.
Well, hopefully more power wasn’t on the list of buyer wants, as it is actually down from last year to 290-horsepower thanks to a smaller direct injection 3.5-liter V6 engine from Acura’s flagship RLX. Torque output is also down slightly to 267 lb-ft. But, the devil is in the tuning details as it actually feels more powerful, and Acura claims the 0-60 time is half a second quicker.
In fact the whole MDX feels sportier than before, which is saying something as it was already among the best handling CUVs. Although at times it did feel like the SUV-ed up mini-van that it was. No more! The new MDX has a new platform no longer based on the Honda Odyssey. Wheelbase is up almost 3 inches and overall length by 2. But both height and width are less.
Despite more length, weight is actually down by 275 pounds. That aids handling, as does the all-new front strut suspension with triple-path mounting, a more compact multi-link in rear, roll control dampers, and the RDX’s brake augmented Agile Handling Assist. A new 3-mode Integrated Dynamics System helps as well. Set the selector to Sport and you’ll get more steering feedback, quicker drive-line response, and even some additional engine noise in the cabin.
A paddle shift 6-speed automatic is the only transmission and towing capacity remains at 5,000 pounds.
The exterior of the new MDX may look a little vanilla, but we think it’s a refreshing change from some of the more “out there” Acura’s of late. The front end is smoother with the RDX’s jewel-eye, buggy LED lighting, though the shield grille remains. The overall shape is more aerodynamic with a downward sloping roof that leads to a more substantial looking rear.
Wheel options range from standard 18-inch gray finish alloys to your choice of 19’s. A big change is that front-wheel drive is now standard. A bow to buyers in warmer climates who resist all-wheel drive. Fortunately, Acura’s Super Handling All-Wheel-Drive is still optional, and we highly recommend it no matter where you live since it too aids the MDX’s sporty performance.
Inside, you’ll find a little more luxury than before, and things have gotten a bit quieter. There continues to be no shortage of high tech, with items like a new On Demand Multi-Use Display, which features a touch screen with haptic feedback, and helps reduce the button overload of the previous MDX. Only 9-buttons remain but unfortunately, no knob for changing stations.
There’s AcuraLink with standard Bluetooth and text messaging along with Aha internet radio, but you’ll have to step up to the Technology Package to get navigation. A multi-angle rear view camera however, is standard.
All MDX’s are 3-row, 7-passenger with front and middle seating plenty comfortable for adult long hauls. Access through the rear doors is wider and lower, and the new One-Touch slide mechanism is the best access to the 3rd row we’ve tried yet. But, it’s still a “child only” zone back there. Either of the two available rear entertainment options can help pass the time, whether you choose the 9-inch screen or the 16-inch wide screen.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings are well up over last year at 18-City, 27-Highway, and 21-Combined with all-wheel-drive. Front drive at 20-City, 28-Highway, and 23-Combined. Premium Fuel is now recommended instead of required. With AWD, the Energy Impact Score is a good 15.7-barrels of annual oil consumption; with yearly CO2 emissions of 6.9-tons.
Pricing for the MDX has dropped slightly; starting at $43,185, but keep in mind that’s for front-wheel-drive. All-wheel-drive models start at $45,185.
The 2014 Acura MDX is a very competent redesign. Designers managed to improve it by becoming both more capable, more fuel efficient, and more accessible, without changing in ways that would turn off current owners. It may not be the most exciting luxury crossover to look at, but its appeal has never been greater.
Engine: 3.5-liter V6
Torque: 267 lb-ft.
EPA: 20 mpg city/ 28 mpg highway
Energy Impact: 15.7 barrels of oil/yr
CO2 Emissions: 6.9 tons/yr