Acura MDX News
The dynamically styled, 7-passenger 2013 Acura MDX has been named the "Best Luxury 3-Row Midsize SUV for the Money" by U.S. News & World Report in its 2013 Best Cars for the Money awards.
The Acura MDX has long been recognized as a benchmark vehicle in its class, combining outstanding performance and fuel efficiency with a spacious and versatile cabin, refined luxury appointments, and advanced Acura-exclusive technologies such as Super Handling All-Wheel Drive™ (SH-AWD®), Acura/ELS Surround Premium audio, Acura Collision Mitigation Braking System™ (CMBS™), Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), and blind spot information system (BSI).
"The Acura MDX continues to serve as the benchmark vehicle in its class and this award is evidence of that," said Mike Accavitti, vice president of national marketing operations. "We can't wait to launch the next-generation 2014 Acura MDX later this year. The all-new luxury performance SUV will advance on the current MDX's already great dynamic performance, while improving fuel economy and luxury comfort."
The "Best Cars for the Money" methodology combines quality and value data into a composite score. Within each of 21 award categories, the vehicle with the highest score is named the "Best Car for the Money" in that category. Quality is measured by the overall score a vehicle achieved in the U.S. News car rankings at the time the awards are published. The rankings, updated monthly at Best Car, Truck and SUV rankings and reviews from U.S. News | U.S. News Best Cars, compare cars on the basis of safety, reliability and a consensus of industry experts' opinions. Value is measured by a combination of a vehicle's 5-year total cost of ownership and the average price paid for the vehicle at the time the awards are published.
The 2013 MDX is powered by a 300-horsepower, all-aluminum, 3.7-liter VTEC® V-6 engine mated to a Sequential SportShift 6-speed automatic transmission and Acura's torque vectoring Super Handling All-Wheel Drive system. The MDX, featuring Acura's Advanced Compatibility Engineering™ (ACE™) body structure, achieves a top 5-star U.S. government safety rating, and a TOP SAFEY PICK rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
Acura offers a full line of technologically advanced performance luxury vehicles through a network of 272 dealers within the United States. The Acura lineup features 7 distinctive models including the TL performance luxury sedan, the TSX Sport Wagon and sedan, the ILX compact luxury sedan, the RDX luxury crossover SUV, the MDX luxury sport utility vehicle, the ZDX four-door sports coupe, and the all-new Acura RLX flagship sedan, launching in March 2013.
For More Information
Additional media information including detailed features, pricing and high-resolution photography of the Acura model line is available at Acura Media Newsroom - Headlines. Consumer information is available at Acura.com ? Official Home of Acura Cars and SUVs.
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*MSRP excluding tax, license, registration, vehicle options and destination charge of $895.00. Dealer prices may vary.
**Based on 2013 EPA mileage ratings. Use for comparison purposes only. Your actual mileage will vary depending on how you drive and maintain your vehicle.
Acura pulled an infamous Porsche move with its all-new MDX: It doesn't look very different than the outgoing model despite being a significant redesign. Under the skin, it's got an all-new lighter platform and fresh engine. Now riding on a longer-wheelbase chassis, the extra length allowed Acura to squeeze more room from the inside with added dimensions helping 3rd-row passengers.
Accessing the 3rd row only requires the press of a button to automatically slide the 2nd row forward — a standard feature on all MDXs. Stepping into the 3d row is easier with an additional 3 inches of width from the rear-door opening and a drop of 2 inches from the step-in height, but it isn't as painless as in other 3-row SUVs, like the 2014 Toyota Highlander we just checked out. Against luxury SUVs like the Infiniti JX and Audi Q7, the MDX should be even more competitive with the added dimensions.
Once seated in the 3rd row, headroom was tight for my 6-foot frame. Acura added 3rd-row legroom that's most notable when the 2nd row is slid completely rearward; the sliding 2nd row leaves enough room for 3rd-row passenger's legs. Behind the 3rd row, the MDX's cargo area is larger and includes a new under-floor storage space.
Up front, 1 of the most notable changes is the center stack; its number of buttons has been cut from 41 to 9. While we'll reserve final judgment until we're on the road using the system, our initial impressions from the auto-show floor are that the controls are well-thought-out and easy to use despite the severe loss of physical buttons. Like other Acura models, there always seemed to be a confusing array of buttons inside the MDX.
Front occupants also benefit from a massive storage area between the front seats with multiple layers to stash items. There's a coin tray up top, and when lifted, it reveals a deep bin separated by another divider that folds away to show the full storage bin; the latter is capable of fitting a laptop, a pair of iPads or a purse, according to Acura.
The current MDX is no slouch as far as interior quality, and buyers should be happy that the 2014 appears similar to the old version.
I don't see myself buying an Acura ever again. I love my 1st gen TSX, but thats where it ends.
Comparatively, the Q50 (G37) and the IS/GS are far nicer both looks and interior wise.
I hope Acura polishes up the TL/TLX or whatever because theyre falling way behind.
The 2014 Acura MDX trades visceral driving fun for family-friendly refinement, which should appeal to most shoppers for the 7-seat luxury SUV.
Now in its 3rd generation, the MDX faces a new competitor in the Infiniti JX, which wasn't around when the previous generation arrived. Other options include the BMW X5, Buick Enclave, Audi Q7 and, if you can do without the 3rd row, the ever-popular Lexus RX.
Like many Acura cars, the MDX comes in 1 well-equipped base trim, though there are several option packages that essentially serve as trim levels: Technology, Technology with Entertainment and Advance with Entertainment. For 2014, front-wheel drive becomes available with all packages; previously all-wheel drive was standard. At a media preview in Portland, Ore., I drove a number of the all-wheel-drive MDX SUVs with Technology and Advance packages alongside its predecessor and several competitors.
The outgoing MDX's bumper inlets sat high enough to give a mustachioed expression. Its successor has shaved, thankfully, but styling otherwise stays put. The biggest shift is the headlights, which adopt standard LEDs for a sort of reptilian appearance. In back, the MDX loses its exposed tailpipes for chrome-ringed reflectors and a concealed single pipe. Yawn.
18-inch alloy wheels are standard, and 19s are optional. Citing research that showed nobody wanted a bigger MDX, Acura added just 2 inches to the overall length while reducing height and width by 1.5 inches and 1.3 inches, respectively. The resulting profile is the most wagonlike of the MDX's 3 generations.
Less Defined, More Refined
Fans of the past MDX's deliberate driving characteristics — heavy, swift steering; a busy ride; a growling V-6 — will be disappointed, but I suspect most shoppers will deem the new generation an improvement. A direct-injection 3.5-liter V-6 replaces the 2013's port-injected 3.7-liter V-6, and it provides stout oomph despite shedding a bit of power. The smaller 6 makes 290 horsepower — down 10 hp from last year, with torque down a tad too — but Acura also shaved nearly 300 pounds' curb weight in all-wheel-drive models.
The standard 6-speed automatic helps pick up the slack, with short lower gears, smooth upshifts and responsive highway kickdown. Downshifts could come sooner as you accelerate through a bend, and a selectable Sport mode provides just that; it even drops a gear or 2 on downhill stretches.
Acura's Super Handling All-Wheel Drive actively sends power to the rear or outside wheels to improve handling. Hammer it on a corner and the MDX swings its tail wide before the standard electronic stability system — or a shrieking spouse — reins you in. You'll earn forgiveness at the pump: Thanks to the weight loss, the all-wheel-drive MDX achieves an impressive 18/27/21 mpg city/highway/combined, which is up 3 mpg combined over the previous generation. Front-drive MDXs save 230 pounds for a class-leading 20/28/23 mpg. Acura recommends premium fuel for maximum performance; some competitors require it, but others, like the Enclave and RX, make full power on the cheap gas.
The fun ends at the brakes, which have a far spongier pedal than the 2013 MDX and also an RX and JX that Acura had on hand at the preview. Toe the brakes hard and the MDX's composure unravels as antilock braking kicks in. Whether blame goes to this year's downsized disc brakes or some other factor, the results don't inspire confidence.
Gone is the old MDX's busy, nervous ride; its successor isolates bumpy roads and handles broken pavement well, even as Acura ditched last year's adaptive suspension option. The new MDX is quieter, too; it's closer to the Lexus RX and Infiniti JX than the old MDX's sometimes noisy cabin. Such is how the MDX behaves: less fun, more overall refinement.
Acura replaced last year's hydraulic steering with more efficient electric power steering, which trades some feedback for much lighter effort at low speeds. I suspect SUV shoppers will accept the tradeoff, which puts the MDX in line with other SUVs. A new Integrated Dynamics system alters various systems — among them accelerator response and power-steering assist — to Comfort, Normal and Sport settings. Even Sport has more power-steering assist than the past MDX, but Comfort and Normal feel a bit too buoyant on the highway. Like most steering "programs," this is a gimmick. I'd take a speed-sensitive automatic progression among the 3 assist levels any day.
Cabin quality impresses, with less faux-wood trim — past MDX SUVs killed a lot of plastic trees — and real metal inlays in place of the outgoing painted plastic. With 2 screens (1 touch-sensitive, the other operated via knob) controlling most of the dashboard action, the MDX cut last year's button hodgepodge by more than half. It's refreshing, but some of the often-used controls, like heated seats, are in a submenu.
The front seats afford good adjustment range; I'm 6 feet tall and sat a few inches ahead of the farthest-back position. New for 2014, the 2nd row has push-button, walk-in access to the 3rd row. It also slides nearly 6 inches forward and back, but adults in the 3rd row will need anyone in the 2nd row to slide all the way forward — a position that makes 2nd-row legroom snug. Both rows sit low to the floor, despite an abundance of headroom in the 2nd row; Acura could have positioned the seats a bit higher, and I wish they had.
A traditional DVD entertainment system is optional, but so is an upgraded system similar to that in the Odyssey minivan from Acura's parent, Honda. Complete with auxiliary and HDMI inputs, it has a 16.2-inch widescreen that can split the display and show videos from 2 separate sources simultaneously.
Safety, Features & Pricing
The MDX has yet to be crash-tested. Standard safety features include 7 airbags plus the required antilock brakes and electronic stability system. All-wheel-drive models incorporate a trailer-sway assistant, which uses the electronic stability system's lateral sensors to intuit trailer sway and smooth things out, to complement the MDX's 5,000-pound towing capacity. Safety options include blind spot, lane departure and 2 forward collision warning systems — a simpler 1 warns of an impending collision, or a more advanced system that applies automatic braking.
The front-wheel-drive MDX starts at $43,185, including the destination charge. That's about $1,000 less than the outgoing MDX, which had standard all-wheel drive. All-wheel drive adds $2,000, effectively raising the price of the new MDX by $1,000 for those who want all-wheel drive. Acura says you get a lot of new features for that — among them keyless access with push-button start, LED headlights and a sliding 2nd row. Other standard features include 18-inch wheels, leather upholstery, heated power seats, a backup camera, a moonroof, a power liftgate and a USB/iPod compatible stereo with Bluetooth phone connectivity and audio streaming.
Navigation, various safety options, rain-sensing wipers, 19-inch wheels and ELS premium audio with HD Radio go into the Technology Package, which Acura expects to account for more than half of all MDX sales. Entertainment and Advance packages add regular or widescreen rear entertainment systems, 2nd-row window shades, adaptive cruise control, heated 2nd-row seats and upgraded leather with ventilated front seats. The MDX tops around $57,500, or nearly $2,000 more than the 2013 model's price with all the factory options.
MDX in the Market
The MDX has battled the Enclave for top sales among 3-row luxury crossovers for the past 5 years, but Acura says most MDX shoppers don't compare the 2. I recommend they do, given Buick's updates for 2013. Then there's the 2-row Lexus RX that trounced all luxury SUVs for those 5 years and then some.
The MDX won't reach RX popularity with this redesign. Can it reclaim the No. 2 spot? We'll see. But Acura hits broad family appeal with this redesign, with impressive fuel efficiency to boot. At minimum, the MDX has solidified its podium sales finish, and I suspect it will get the silver medal for years to come.
2014 Acura MDX Review
A Good Luxury CrossOver Gets Even Better
The mid-size luxury crossover market is an interesting place. With high sales and high profits, every manufacturer has an entry here fighting for a piece of the pie. Like a pack of peacocks waving their feathers, each vehicle struts around claiming to be the class leader in luxury, refinement, efficiency or sportiness. But Acura has always taken a slightly different approach. The MDX has always been about combining a healthy dose of each key quality while maintaining great value.
FAST FACTSAnd for Acura it’s worked. Nearly 51,000 of these 3-row crossovers were sold last year. That’s close to 20,000 more than Acura’s next best selling product, the TL, making the MDX Acura’s bread and butter. But now it is time for a complete redesign, and to say it’s important for Acura to get this right would be an understatement.
LIGHTER AND MORE EFFICIENT
All new from the ground up, the MDX features a lighter platform despite being roughly the same size. By stripping out 275 lbs. compared to the 2013 MDX, Acura has been able to downsize the engine for improved efficiency. Replacing last year’s 3.7-liter V6 is a direct injection version of Honda’s new Earth Dreams 3.5-liter V6 with variable cylinder management. With 290 hp and 267 lb-ft of torque, the new unit is down 10 hp compared to last year, but Acura claims it’s just as quick in a straight line.
We can’t really argue with them. The engine is very responsive on the road and the MDX, when unloaded, never feels lacking in power. Step hard on the throttle and the engine awakens with a nice growl. A bit intrusive for some, perhaps, we quite like it.
A 6-speed automatic continues to be the only transmission choice, but thanks to the reduced weight and smaller engine, fuel efficiency improves dramatically with 18 mpg city and 27 mpg highway for all-wheel drive (AWD) models. That’s up 2 mpg in the city and 6 mpg on the highway compared to last year’s model.
NOW AVAILABLE WITH FRONT-WHEEL DRIVE
For the 1st time ever, the MDX will also be offered in a more affordable, even more fuel-efficient front-wheel drive version. Expect 20 mpg city and 28 mpg highway for the 2-wheel drive edition. Acura is offering this new 2-wheel drive model due to customer demand since there are many places in the US that don’t need it, and where customers prefer the reduced weight and efficiency of front-wheel drive.
Acura has tuned the MDX’s suspension on the Nürburgring and thanks in part to lighter weight and better aerodynamics, claim it is eight seconds quicker than the old model; good news if your trip to soccer practice is on a race track.
Another key contributor to the MDX’s sportiness is the available Super-Handling all-wheel drive system (SH-AWD). This technology uses torque vectoring that applies more power to the outside rear wheel when cornering to help rotate the MDX. On top of that, it will individually brake the inside rear wheel when off throttle to help the MDX better manage corners as well.
The aggressiveness in which the SH-AWD system performs, as well as steering effort and throttle response, can all be adjusted through the Integrated Dynamic System (IDS). It can be cycled through 3 modes, Sport, Normal and Comfort, to suit the mood of the driver. Unlike some similar systems, there is a noticeable difference between the modes. Put it in sport, and the MDX will attack corners better than any 3-row crossover I have driven before. Fair to say, not only does the MDX retain its sporty flair, but it is the most dynamic version yet.
Besides reducing weight and keeping the vehicle engaging, Acura also put a lot of effort in making the new MDX quiet inside with technologies like Active Noise Control, which uses the car’s speakers to muffle the noise your ears hear. Regardless, on the coarse side roads surrounding Portland, OR our MDX didn’t seem all that quiet, though that may have more to do with the environment than the vehicle itself.
EASIER TO ACCESS 3RD ROW
Inside, a lot of focus has been paid to the functionality and passenger comfort of the 2014 MDX. The 3rd row seats are much easier to get into now thanks to a 2-inch lower step-in height and 3-inch wider entryway. There is a 1-Touch Walk-In feature where, with the single press of a button, the middle row outside seats will slide and forward. The 3rd row offers between 28.1-inches and 31.6-inches of legroom (slightly more than the Infiniti JX), and despite also having more headroom than the JX it’s still lacking for average sized adults. Behind the 3rd row there is 15.8 cu-ft of storage space that can expand all the way to 90.0 cu-ft with the 2nd and 3rd row of seats folded down.
Compared to the 2013 model, Acura has reduced the number of buttons in the center stack from 41 to just 9. It looks much cleaner and more modern, but by reducing the number of buttons we feel the MDX has given up a bit of its old simple functionality. Between the front seats there is a massive center console that Acura claims can hold a purse, laptop case, or 2 iPads. Regardless of what is put in there, it is a sizable bin that should prove handy to future customers.
FULLY LOADED LUXURY
Being a proper luxury crossover, the MDX is stuffed full of features like the ELS Studio audio system, AcuraLink, a 9-inch (or massive 16.2-inch) entertainment screen for rear passengers, Multi-Angle Rearview Camera, Lane Keeping Assist System, Adaptive Cruise Control, Blind Spot Information and Collision Mitigation Braking.
On the outside, the 2014 MDX receives new styling that is evolutionary at best, and although many may not be able to tell the new model apart from the old 1 at 1st glance, it should be instantly recognizable as an MDX. Acura calls the new look of the MDX ‘Executive Aero Sculpture’ and say it is 17 % more aerodynamic – again, helping to hit those fuel economy targets.
The biggest changes to the familiar front end are the addition of the Jewel Eye LED headlights, similar to those on the new RLX, and a revision to the much lamented Acura beak. In fact, it really isn’t a beak anymore, but more of a large silver band that contains the Acura logo. The side of the new MDX carries a more pronounced rear window pinch and a pair of new wheels in either 18-inch or 19-inch sizes.
Keeping the MDX close to its roots and not dramatically changing that much may seem like a bit of a copout by Acura. But why change something that has been a resounding hit with customers? The MDX has always been something a little different in the luxury crossover segment. It is more minivan than the likes of the BMW X5 or Mercedes-Benz ML, but far more luxurious and sporty than any minivan. Now, however, there is a new kid in town, the Infiniti JX, which seems to have studied hard at the school of MDX.
To keep ahead of this new rival, and all the old ones, the MDX needs to continue being, as Acura puts it, ‘a great blend of strengths’. This means being near the top of the class in luxury, sportiness, utility and comfort while retaining its value proposition. After a brief drive around Oregon, it appears Acura has succeeded by improving the MDX’s few weaknesses, without ruining what has made it so popular in the 1st place.
C & d
Blockbuster sequels are all about 1-upmanship—more explosions mean more popcorn sales. Luxury-car makers generally follow Hollywood’s lead, with horsepower standing in for special effects. So when Acura introduced a redesigned but less powerful MDX, we were puzzled. Then it said the 3-row SUV would, for the 1st time, be available in a dumbed-down, front-wheel-drive model. The whole thing sounded like The Expendables 3 rewritten as a Katherine Heigl romantic comedy.
Acura didn’t have a front-drive MDX at our preview, but a few hours behind the wheel of the 4-wheel-drive 2014 MDX convinced us that we needn’t have worried.
The old MDX had 300 horsepower that bellowed, “Prepare for glory!” like so many Spartan warriors in a Gerard Butler movie that, while critically panned, has lately developed a cult following. Anyway. That 3.7-liter V-6 has been supplanted by a version of the 3.5-liter V-6 from the RLX sedan. Here it’s rated at 290 horsepower and 267 pound-feet of torque and still mounted transversely. With variable valve timing and lift (a.k.a. VTEC), direct injection, and cylinder deactivation, the new V-6 screams efficiency nearly as loudly, helping the MDX’s EPA-combined rating jump from 18 mpg to 21, with highway fuel economy hitting 27 even with 4-wheel drive.
A new platform makes its debut here, developed just for the MDX (at least for now). Cutting ties with the rest of Honda’s light trucks, which had shared an architecture with the Odyssey minivan, helped the MDX drop 275 pounds compared with the old model. The body-in-white saw 123 pounds trimmed thanks to the increased use of high-strength steel. A new rear-suspension design also netted a 26-pound weight savings. The diet means that the MDX’s power-to-weight ratio actually improves despite the reduced output of the smaller engine.
The carryover 6-speed automatic isn’t great. Whether in sport mode or through the steering-wheel-mounted paddles, shifts aren’t as quick as those executed by state-of-the-art 7- or 8-speed automatics offered by German competitors. Acura replaced the old MDX’s dual exhausts with a new single pipe hiding behind the rear bumper, a disappearing act that mirrors what happened to most of the noisiness of the old MDX. Better sealing and insulation and thicker acoustic glass quiet the cabin enough that you’ll be able to hear the kids whispering insults to each other in the 3rd row, at least up until 4950 rpm. That’s the threshold where VTEC kicks in for a 1850-rpm howl to the redline.
Both the middle and rear seats now fold flat, and 1-touch 3rd-row access means kids can climb aboard unassisted. Pressing either of 2 buttons—1 on the back of the seat or 1 on the side, both lit at night—slides the 2nd row all the way forward on tracks that permit fore-aft adjustment. 2 optional DVD screens, 1 of which is able to display 2 programs side by side, make the MDX a veritable multiplex.
Appointments in the MDX have been upgraded throughout, with more leather and nicer metal and wood accents, though the materials are still entry-luxury grade. The RLX makes a cameo in the cabin, too, donating optional safety features such as lane-departure warning and adaptive cruise, which can decelerate to zero in stop-and-go traffic and start back up again.
As in the RLX, a haptic touch screen sits just below the main infotainment screen. This is Acura’s attempt to clean up the dashboard-by-Boeing look of the old MDX, with its dial controller and dozens of buttons. It’s an improvement, but the digital buttons aren’t any more logically deployed than the real ones were.
A wheelbase that grows by 2.7 inches helps improve the ride quality, while the 2 extra inches in length add additional cargo capacity. The new model sits an inch closer to the ground, nominally reducing its off-road capabilities, and Acura also shrunk the MDX more than an inch in width to make it easier to park. It does tighten up the passenger compartment, though it’s still comfortably roomy. The new dimensions hurt weight distribution a bit, with front bias up 2 percent to 58.
You’d never know it, however, thanks to Acura’s Super Handling All-Wheel Drive. This is still the MDX’s signature feature, and a new calibration in sport mode sends even more torque to the outside rear wheel, speeding directional changes so much that you’ll have to dial back your normal steering inputs. Selecting sport on the MDX’s Integrated Dynamics System (IDS) also sharpens throttle response and adds heft to the wheel. Steering is quicker than in the old model, and weighting is as good, regardless of the switch from hydraulic to electric assist.
Acura swapped out the old model’s rear multilink suspension for a more compact setup with coil-over shocks. Its subframe has extra bracing and more substantial body mounts. Damping is firm, and body motions are controlled well enough to provide encouragement while still serving as reminders that you’re in a 4350-pound vehicle. The brake feel improves with more immediate bite and better modulation. Acura’s Agile Handling Assist appears here, as in the RLX, using the brakes during initial turn-in to help induce rotation. Combined with the SH-AWD, the 2 types of torque vectoring work seamlessly to help the new MDX banish understeer when driven hard.
And drive hard you shall, because the new MDX remains among the sportiest and most dynamic 3-row SUVs extant. Sure, there will be customers lining up for the front-drive, minivan-surrogate model. They will be the same ones who will lock the IDS setting into “comfort,” boosting the steering assist and erasing any feel. Regardless of this concession to the audience, Acura still regards the MDX as a vehicle worthy of carrying the tag line “From the producers of the NSX.” And we’re inclined to agree.
2014 Acura MDX is More Fuel Efficient and Drive Oriented than Ever
To say Acura has a lot riding on the success of its new 2014 MDX crossover is like saying winter driving in Canada can be a bit challenging. Last year, almost 1-3rd of new vehicles sold by Honda’s luxury brand were of the 3-row MDX. But with an all-new, larger-yet-lighter platform, a new engine and a host of new safety, luxury and infotainment features, Acura is hoping its 3rd-generation MDX will be as popular — or even more so — than ever before.
The all-wheel-drive, 7-seat Acura certainly has its work cut out for it. Automakers have figured out that large, luxury crossovers can be very profitable, to the point where the MDX has more competition than ever before. On top of traditional, semi-luxury brand mid-sized rivals like the Buick Enclave, Mazda CX-9, Lincoln MKT, Volvo XC90 and Infiniti JX, the Acura can also be considered as an alternative to much pricier crossovers, like the Audi Q7 and BMW X5.
As before, a V6 gas engine powers all 2014 MDX models. Instead of offering a diesel or gas-electric hybrid option for better fuel economy, Acura has reduced engine displacement in its gas 6-cylinder from 3.7-litres to 3.5L and added direct injection. Horsepower only drops from 300 to 290 and pound-feet of torque from 270 to 267. However, combined with what Acura says is a loss of 131 kilograms in curb weight (from a 2013 model that was already 1 of the lightest in its class), an 18% improvement in aerodynamic efficiency, and variable cylinder management (where the engine can run on either 3 or 6-cylinders) the 2014 MDX’s estimated fuel economy numbers are a “best-in-class” 11.2 L/100 km in the city and 7.7 on the highway — a big improvement over the 2013 model’s 13.2 and 9.6 ratings.
Inside, Acura designers focused on making the new MDX’s cabin more functional for both the pilot and passengers. The crossover’s much criticized “wall of buttons” centre dash design has been cleaned up dramatically. Acura’s so-called “jog dial” controller has been retained, but there is now a pair of central digital displays, reducing the button count from 41 to 9. Fit and finish has also improved.
The added value of having a 3rd-row of seating is mitigated if owners can’t get passengers back there easily enough. So Acura has lowered the 2014 MDX’s rear door step-in height, made the entry wider and added a new feature that automatically folds and slides the 2nd-row seats to their forward-most position with a push of a button. As well, cargo space behind the 3rd row has been lengthened by 150 millimetres.
Many mid-sized luxury crossover buyers are graduating from smaller sport sedans. So a family hauler than could also be driven with some verve when called upon was 1 of the more outstanding qualities of the last-generation MDX. Here at the 2014 version’s media launch, Jim Keller, chief engineer for the MDX, says despite the emphasis on more room and interior functionality, the 2014 MDX is even more rewarding from the driver’s seat. And after a morning of spirited, 2-lane driving in a topline 2014 MDX Elite, I can confirm his optimism.
With an all-new, multi-link rear and updated front suspension, the longer 2014 MDX is just as nimble and easy to place in corners as the last model — much more fun than any of the aforementioned semi-luxury brand rivals, and darn near close to the pricier German offerings. The Acura’s standard all-wheel-drive system keeps its active rear engine-torque-vectoring feature, but this year adds brake-torque-vectoring as well for improved initial turn-in. I also found the new MDX’s electronic steering natural and accurate, with less torque steer than before.
With its new Integrated Dynamic System (IDS), you can also tailor the 2014 MDX’s steering effort, throttle response, all-wheel-drive system and engine sound. And the IDS settings can be paired to a corresponding key fob for 2 different driver profiles.
For when you’re using the new MDX as a family hauler or luxury sedan, it can also be serenely quiet and cosseting. There’s a lot less noise, vibration and harshness than the outgoing mode, and while the Acura’s ride is firm, it’s never jarring over rough pavement.
For drivers not paying attention, the new Acura introduces a host of e-nannies (Lane Keeping Assist System, Adaptive Cruise Control with Low-Speed Follow, Blind Spot Information, and Collision Mitigation Braking System). In addition, a newly optional Surround View Camera System lets drivers have a 360-degree view of the exterior of the vehicle when parking, and it’s a Canadian-market exclusive.
When the 4-model 2014 MDX lineup goes on sale this July, pricing will range from $49,990 for the base version all the way to $65,990 for the fully loaded (remote engine start, surround camera, “ultra-wide” rear DVD, heated and ventilated front seats, heated windshield and steering wheel, all the new e-nannies, plus more) Elite model. 2 other Navigation ($54,690) and Tech ($59,990) models will be priced in between. That’s above most of the aforementioned semi-luxury brand rivals, but nearly $10,000 less than a Q7 or X5.
Despite the lack of a hybrid or diesel powertrain, you can’t argue with the gains in fuel economy Acura has bestowed on its new 2014 MDX. Throw in a roomier, more functional and luxurious cabin, new safety technologies and an even better driving experience, and the new Acura crossover should appeal to an even broader audience.
The importance of crossovers and SUVs in the premium segment cannot be overstated. The category represents 1 of the biggest sales slices for luxury brands, both worldwide, and especially in the U.S. market. The RX is Lexus' perennial best-seller, and the MDX was Acura's best-selling model in 2012, and along with its little brother RDX, is the brand's 2nd-best seller for the 1st quarter of 2013. To say a lot was riding on the 2014 Acura MDX is an understatement. It was imperative that the brand not screw up 1 of its top star players.
The 2014 MDX is no slap some LEDs on it and call it a day refresh. Engine, chassis, powertrain and dimensions were all re-thought from a clean-sheet standpoint, with particular focus given to areas that current MDX owners singled out for improvement. But the changes made to please the faithful will likely expand its appeal to general luxury SUV buyers. But far more dramatic than the styling changes is the change in the behind-the-wheel character between the new and old model.
It's instantly recognizable as an MDX, but side-by-side with the old model, the differences are manifold and significant. Length is up by 2 inches, but the 2014 model is 1.3 inches narrower, based on owner feedback of the previous-generation model being cumbersome to park. Like the RLX sedan, the MDX gets standard Jewel Eye LED headlights, which besides looking super high-tech and premium, cast a brighter light closer to daylight. Overall, the lines of the new MDX look like a slightly larger version of the RDX, which is not a bad thing.
Being a 3-row model, 3rd-row access was a major focus area for the 3rd-generation model, and a 2.8 inch longer wheelbase makes a big difference in 3rd-row access. In addition to the larger rear door opening, more clearly-marked 2nd-row seat controls make folding them forward more intuitive. Knowing that the 2nd row would be getting more regular use than the 3rd row, Acura gave the 2nd-row seats 5 recline positions, and 5.9 inches of fore and aft seat travel. Also aiding 3rd-row passenger and/or cargo room is a redesigned multilink rear suspension.
The 2014 MDX is far more advanced from a technological and engineering standpoint than its predecessor, but unlike some other models and brands that become increasingly isolated and synthetic with each successive generation, the new MDX shows a renewed focus and emphasis on performance and driving dynamics. But the most remarkable accomplishment with the new model is that overall refinement was not lost, but actually enhanced with the sharper focus on performance.
Under the hood, last year's port-injected 3.7-liter engine makes way for a 290-hp 3.5-liter direct-injected Earth Dreams V-6 engine. On-paper, the downsized GDI engine makes 10 less hp and 3 lb-ft less torque than its predecessor, but you wouldn't know it from behind the wheel. With an 8-percent improvement in torque below 2750 rpm, as well as a 275 lighter weight model-for-model, the 2014 MDX feels much livelier than its predecessor from behind the wheel, with sharper throttle response, and noticeably improved low-end torque. But the biggest coup for the new Earth Dreams V-6 is the huge improvement in fuel economy, with the new model getting 6 mpg better highway fuel economy, and a 17-percent improvement in combined fuel economy for the all-wheel drive model, from 16/21 to 18/27. New for 2014 is a front-wheel-drive model that gets an even better 20 city and 28 highway. Aiding the V-6 in its efficient operation is a 16-percent reduction in drag coefficient, cylinder deactivation (Variable Cylinder Management in Acura-speak) and a 19 percent reduction in rolling resistance.
On the all-important yardstick of dynamic performance, the Nürburgring, the 2014 MDX completed a lap of the Nordschieife a significant 8 seconds faster than its predecessor.
At 4297 lb, the 2014 MDX is no lightweight, but that's still 275 lb lighter than its forebear, thanks to 64 percent of the new structure consisting of high-strength steel, aluminum or magnesium. Acura is especially proud of the 1-piece hot-stamped front door ring, which is expected to give the 2014 MDX the coveted IIHS Top Safety Pick+ rating, which includes the small overlap test. Acura engineers proudly boast that the front door could still be opened by the exterior door handle even after grueling crash testing.
Driving the 2013 and 2014 models back-to-back, before even starting the engine, the improvement in cabin materials and design is immediately apparent. The last-generation model had all the expected amenities, but they were presented in a somewhat chunky, angular package. The overall theme of the 2014 model's interior is a leaner, more detailed, more refined presentation. Telling of the attention to detail given to the interior is that the bottom half of the dash is padded, a relative rarity even on luxury-brand models, which usually have a padded upper dash, but frequently cheap out with a hard plastic lower dash.
Although Acura has gotten some blow-back on its On Demand Multi-Use Display (ODMD) in the RLX sedan, after a brief orientation, we found the operation in the MDX to be relatively intuitive. A return of the touchscreen in the 3rd-generation model was again based on owner feedback that gave the last-generation model's non-touchscreen control interface mixed reviews. Acura points out the number of physical buttons on the console has been reduced from 41 to 9. As in some other cutting-edge cabin interfaces, such as some versions of MyFord touch, we're not exactly sure if the radical reduction in actual buttons necessarily results in improved ergonomics, but the result is certainly a much cleaner appearance.
So it's well-established that the "new" MDX is truly all-new. But what's it like to drive? For a 4300-lb SUV, surprisingly fun. The direct-injected 3.5 provides ample power at any speed, and eagerly swings the tach needle to the redline with an enthusiastic growl, and an appropriately healthy shove into the seatback. Acura is confidently predicting a half-second improvement in 0-60 performance. Considering the last-generation MDX we tested dispatched the benchmark on-ramp sprint in just 6.8 seconds, it's safe to say the 2014 model is probably capable of sub-7-second runs. The MDX felt comfortable and composed on twisty 2-lanes, with the 9-percent quicker steering ratio of the 2014 model giving it a more nimble feel than its predecessor.
Pricing on the 2014 MDX spans more than $10,000, with the entry-level front-drive MDX starting at $43,185, including $895 destination charge. The top-line all-wheel-drive Advance model with Entertainment Package ringing the register to the tune of $57,400. The bread-and-butter Technology Package goes for $47,460 in front-drive, and $49,460 with all-wheel-drive. The Technology package includes navigation, 19-inch wheels, forward collision and lane departure warning, and GPS-linked climate control. Typical of Acura and Honda products, there are few a la carte options, with running boards, mud guards, backup sensors, and an engine block heater being the handful of note. Most options are bundled in 1 of the 4 packages.
If you're a current MDX owner and are looking for an upgrade, or looking at some of the MDX's competition, like the Infiniti JX, Lexus RX or even the BMW X5, the 2014 MDX combines the driving dynamics the German brands are generally known for, with the quality and value synonymous with Honda and Acura. Whether your purchase criteria are more practical or performance-oriented, the MDX skillfully covers both areas with quantitative improvements in comfort, practicality and economy, while still delivering a satisfying behind-the-wheel experience.
2014 Acura MDX
Growing Up or Selling Out?
Published: 05/31/2013 - by Mike Magrath, Features Editor
When we left the office for the rainy, Sasquatch-filled wilds of Oregon to drive the 2014 Acura MDX, a co-worker yelled, "Text me if they've ruined the steering!"
A few hours later, over the pitter-patter of dime-size raindrops and through a mouthful of locally sourced meat, a single, 30-something friend says, "I hope they didn't ruin the MDX. It was so good to drive."
This neophobia is common and expected for a new iteration of a sports car, or sport sedan or sport compact, but is unheard of for a 3-row crossover.
Thanks to its direct and communicative steering, willing engine and user-friendly package, the current-generation (2007-present) Acura MDX is a fan favorite in a crowded segment. To stay relevant, the MDX had to tighten up its game.
Did Acura repeat its magic with the 2014 MDX?
Weaker. Lighter. Faster. Better?
MDX aficionados will tell you that the current CUV rides on a unibody platform shared with the 2013 Honda Pilot and last-gen Odyssey. They'll tell you that the engine is a 3.7-liter V6 that makes 300 horsepower that powers all 4 wheels via a 6-speed automatic transmission.
MDX aficionados will tell you very different things about the 2014 Acura MDX.
1st, the platform is no longer shared with a decade-old SUV. For 2014, the MDX gets its own unique chassis that has been developed from the ground up for use in a luxury crossover. The vehicle's body is 59 percent high-strength materials (a further 5 percent consists of magnesium and aluminum) compared with 25 percent on the outgoing model. It's also 123 pounds lighter.
But it wasn't just the body that lost weight. Acura ditched 44 pounds from the seats, 7.5 pounds from the steering hanger beam, 10 pounds from the HVAC unit and 41 pounds from various suspension bits. Total weight loss is a Biggest Loser finale shocker of 275 pounds.
In order to bump the fuel efficiency up even further, Acura replaced the 300-horse 3.7-liter V6 with a 290-hp, direct-injection 3.5-liter V6. It will also offer a front-wheel-drive-only version for those who don't need all-weather capability. It will return EPA ratings of 20 city/28 highway mpg and a combined rating of 23 mpg. The SH-AWD version returns 18/27/21.
Acura says the new V6 is good for 8 percent more low-end torque and that it gets to 60 half a second faster than the outgoing model. As we weren't allowed to bring our testing equipment to the Pacific Northwest to verify, we won't dispute this claim, but will say that the MDX simply doesn't feel as fast as it used to.
Part of this is intentional on Acura's part. The old car had that cool, naturally aspirated Honda intake sound, especially higher in the rev range. Unfortunately, MDX buyers complained about the noise and often tailored their driving to avoid the fun part of the tach, which led to complaints about the MDX being slow. Acura added sound-dampening material and an intake tube covered in tumorous tuning dongles so it now sounds like nothing at all. It's silent in normal operating ranges and barely hums near its redline.
The Steering Hasn't Been Ruined
While the average MDX driver might not notice that the steering ratio is now 9 percent quicker, they're certainly going to notice the new, lower-effort steering. Not only is the steering lighter in tight, low-speed situations (another owner suggestion) but it is far more confident on the open road. Comparing the '14 MDX back-to-back with a 2013 Acura, the new model has far less bump steer and is less twitchy off-center.
The new electrically assisted system doesn't have the feel or feedback of the old hydraulic system, nor is it as naturally precise. Acura intends to appease the fans of the "old" MDX by offering an Integrated Dynamics System (IDS) that tightens up the steering when set to Sport mode. Sport also quickens the throttle response, makes SH-AWD's active torque vectoring more aggressive and pumps in more noise via the Active Noise Control system. This mode adds the perception of driving pleasure without any actual tactile improvement. The steering is heavy for heavy's sake and the throttle is touchy without adding any speed. We didn't much care for it.
Like the steering, the suspension has been modified to coddle well-to-do owners and their families. The ride is quiet, well isolated and less busy than before. Amplitude Reactive Dampers replace monotube dampers up front and offer variable damping rates without complex electrical or magnetorheological components.
While the ride is excellent in most situations, large undulations can cause some unseemly bounciness and the MDX gets that slightly disconnected feeling when these happen at freeway speeds. In a world without the Infiniti JX35 and BMW X5, we wouldn't give this behavior a 2nd thought on a 3-row CUV.
Comfort for 5. Space for 7
While the 2014 Acura MDX dropped some of its youthful, Honda-esque exuberance, we doubt many buyers will actually mind. Partially because buyers of 7-passenger CUVs rarely consider at-limit steering feedback, and partially because the interior of the 2014 Acura MDX is a truly special place to spend time.
From the tight diameter and perfect thickness of the wheel to the simple gauges and easy-to-use shifter, it's clear that Acura still knows how to make a driver-focused car, even if it's a crossover. The 1 exception is the lack of adjustability for the front seats. They have the most basic adjustments and lumbar support with no vertical adjustability. No thigh support. No adjustable bolstering. You either fit in these seats or you don't. Once again, if the X5 didn't exist, these would be OK.
But the MDX is about more than a good driver interface. The current vehicle's center stack has something like 43,000 buttons. The new 1 has fewer than 20, with hard buttons for controlling temperature, navigation, phone and a knob for volume. This means that everything else, including fan speed, is buried in the 7-inch touchscreen and requires at least 2 button presses for activation. Navigation duties are handled by an 8-inch screen mounted above the smaller screen.
Of course, the MDX is about more than just the driver. Rear-seat passengers are treated to a leg-crossing amount of legroom. And if they have no respect for 3rd-row passengers, the 2nd row slides back for even more space. 2 adults would be comfortable in back and 3 would be cozy. Regardless of how many bodies you put in back, the loaded MDX will keep them comfy with rear-seat climate control, heated seats and a huge entertainment screen that can play 2 things simultaneously thanks to split-viewing technology. The 3rd row isn't so lucky.
Like all 3rd rows, the 1 in the MDX isn't specifically built for 6-foot-tall adult males, and the result is a sort of vertical version of yoga's Happy Baby pose. We'd have no problems tossing kids back there. Or friends who refuse to chip in for gas. The good news is that getting in and out of these seats is about as easy as it can be without 2nd-row captain's chairs.
How Loaded Can You Go?
When it goes on sale in July of 2013, the new Acura MDX will be available in 4 trims and all feature the same 3.5-liter V6 and 6-speed automatic transmission.
With a starting price of $43,185 the base MDX with front-wheel drive comes fairly loaded with keyless entry, push-button start, jewel-eye LED headlights, touchscreen display, IDS, USB input (there's only 1 available regardless of trim), heated seats, i-MID display and a wide-view rear camera. There are 3 models above this, each getting progressively more luxurious and more technologically advanced.
1 step up is the $47,460 MDX Technology, which is the model Acura predicts will be the volume seller. Acura adds blind-spot monitors, 19-inch wheels, lane departure warning, forward collision warning, color TFT display with navigation, rain-sensing wipers and GPS-linked HVAC (3D solar sensing determines the position of the sun relative to the front passengers and adjusts airflow accordingly).
For $49,460, the Tech Entertainment package adds a DVD rear entertainment system, heated rear seats and a 150-watt power inverter. This is just 1 step off of the top-tier, $55,400 Advanced Entertainment, which is what we drove, albeit with SH-AWD. This model gets adaptive cruise control, collision mitigation braking, premium leather seats, passenger seat lumbar, a 12-speaker 546-watt Studio Audio system (which may be worth the price of admission alone) and front and rear parking sensors.
Opting for Acura's SH-AWD will add $2,000 to the price of each trim, giving the car we drove a sticker price of $57,400.
Narrow Track, Broad Appeal
Acura played it very safe with the 2014 MDX. Even the exterior, which is longer and narrower, looks unmistakably similar to the previous model. Acura has nipped, tucked and refined a successful vehicle into what it hopes will be a superlative vehicle.
Working off of market feedback, Acura determined that MDX customers wanted higher-quality materials, simpler controls, lower-effort steering, a quieter ride and optional front-wheel drive. Acura rectified these complaints with laser focus. The needs of the many trumped the wants of a few.
The 2014 Acura MDX is a little softer, sure, but it's refined, eminently usable and a far more complete SUV than the car it replaces. Acura didn't ruin the MDX. It let it grow up.
2014 Acura MDX Test Drive
By losing weight and gaining miles per gallon, Acura's crossover inches closer to the top of the class.
On-Sale Date: July
Base Price: $43,185 – 45,185
Competitors: BMW X3, Lexus RX350, Audi Q7, Infiniti JX35
Powertrains: 3.5-liter V-66, 290 hp, 267 lb-ft; 6-speed automatic, FWD or AWD
EPA Fuel Economy (city/hwy): 20/28 (FWD), 18/27 (AWD)
What's New: The new MDX might appear to be a smoother, less muscular version of last year's model. But behind those potent "Jewel Eye" headlamps, this is a radically improved crossover.
Just how important is the new MDX to both Acura and parent company Honda? For the very 1st time, this 3rd-generation Acura MDX is the 1st vehicle to come from Honda's entirely new light truck architecture (a grouping of parts that will be shared with a future Honda Pilot, Ridgeline, and probably the Odyssey). That means Large Project Leader Jim Keller could prioritize the chassis of the MDX for the MDX 1st.
1 of the biggest breakthroughs came in material efficiencies, which led to some serious weight loss. The car is down a whopping 275 pounds over the 2013 model, and the MDX was already 1 of the lightest 7-passenger SUVs on the market. Opt for the new front-drive model and you'll save another 200 pounds. Much of the savings is a result of increased use the high-strength steels, as well as aluminum (hood) and magnesium (cross car dash beam). The unibody structure is a full 123 pounds lighter than the old car's.
It is this slim-down that makes up for slightly lower power and torque numbers from the new V-6. The outgoing MDX's 3.7-liter V6 makes 300 hp and 270 lb-ft of torque. The new 3.5-liter V-6, shared with the RLX puts out 290 hp and 267 lb-ft of torque in the MDX, and now comes with cylinder deactivation to improve fuel economy. Whether you select front wheel drive or the SH-AWD (largely the same system as before), the power flows through a 6-speed automatic transmission.
Although the MDX is lighter, it's also slightly longer and rides on a wheelbase stretched by 2.8 inches. That modest growth creates improved legroom for those exiled to the last row. Before, you'd have 28.7 inches to fold your knees into your chest. The 2014 model offers 3 inches more, enough to make that last row tolerable for real adults (for short trips at least). Cargo room behind that 3rd row expands, too, up by a cubic foot to 15.8. When folded, the rearmost seats stow completely flat, unlike in the current MDX.
A more compact and lighter multilink rear suspension replaces the outgoing trailing arm setup to provide a lower floor inside for 3rd row access. The suspension has fewer connection points to the frame and the loads are better managed to quell road noise. Up front is a strut suspension with revised geometry to negate torque steer and a new electronic power steering (EPS) system. In addition to the SH-AWD's mechanical torque vectoring across the rear axle, the new MDX uses a brake-based system to help stabilize handling in off-throttle situations too.
Tech Tidbit: The switch to EPS not only provided a slight fuel economy improvement but also allowed engineers to tailor the steering effort to the driver's preference. The Integrated Dynamics System offers 3 distinct steering effort levels: Comfort, Normal and Sport. Sport mode also boosts the engine note (through the audio speakers, thanks to the tech developed for the active noise cancelling system used for cylinder deactivation), sharpens the electronic throttle, and makes the AWD system torque vector across the rear axle more aggressively. These driving system preferences, along with the normal seat and mirror position and radio presets, are now saved to individual key fobs. When a family member takes the car, the fob will set the MDX to his or her unique preferences. All cars should have this level of personalization.
Driving Character: On the inside, the MDX has the same smart split-screen system as Acura's new flagship RLX. That means you get the quick-responding haptic touchscreen in addition to the main big, beautiful navigation screen. The design reduces the number of buttons from 41 to just 9. But a crossover needs more than fancy screens. The center console is huge, able to swallow a good-sized briefcase. And it's covered by a sliding wood cover that's downright chic.
Yes, the new MDX makes 10 fewer ponies than the old 1, but you'll never notice. It feels quicker. And the fact that it delivers 6 more mpg on the freeway in a sprightlier package is impressive.
The outgoing Acura MDX never seemed particularly overweight from behind the wheel. Its handling was sharp, its steering was communicative, and its power was ample. This new 1, however, makes the old 1 feel like its BMI is in the danger zone. Grab the wheel of the 2014 MDX, bend it through a set of switchbacks, and feel the weight loss. The Acura is lighter on its feet and planted through the corners. And yet here is a crossover that delivers near Lexus-like ride quality and quietness. It sucks up big bumps better than ever before.
The old MDX's busy ride is history. This new 1 is more serene without losing the fun. It's still 1 of the most responsive crossovers on the market. If your drive home includes a run up a rigorous mountain road, the Acura MDX should be on your shopping list.
Favorite Detail: Accessing the 3rd row seats in some crossovers usually requires throwing multiple levers, and perhaps a few yoga moves too. Not so in the new MDX. Engineers developed a simple electronic push button that will tumble and slide the seat forward. The button is even illuminated for night use. And with 6 inches of total travel, the 2nd seat not only slides forward enough to crawl back to the 3rd row but also provides enough legroom for a 6-footer.
Driver's Grievance: The sheetmetal of the new MDX strikes us as just a smoothed-over version of the old 1. Yes, it's been tuned in the wind tunnel to deliver the better aero performance. But why does it have to look so bland compared to the muscular, aggressive 1 it's replacing?
Bottom Line: Although it would take a real comparison test to prove the mettle of the new MDX, our impression is that this crossover has edged its way close to the head of the class. And unlike many luxury vehicles, you don't have to buy the top–of-the-line model to get the good stuff. Most of what you'd want comes on the Tech Package that bumps the sticker to $49,460.
The new MDX also scores the top "Good" in the IIHS's new small overlap test (which mimics hitting an object with the corner of the car). For as a vehicle primarily intended as a family transportation vessel, that's comforting.
Acura Makes MDX Longer, Adds FWD Model
Controls are Simpler; Cabin is Quieter
Honda says current Acura MDX owners asked for simpler controls, a lighter steering touch, a quieter interior with higher quality materials and better 3rd-row access.
A front-wheel-drive version would be nice, too.
For the 2014 redesign, which goes on sale in July, American Honda's luxury brand says it has done all that, while stretching the wheelbase by nearly 3 inches, adding 2 inches in overall length and narrowing the MDX by 1.3 inches.
The basics: The MDX 7-seat crossover is the lead platform vehicle for the next generation of Honda light trucks, including the Honda Pilot and Odyssey.
The 3.5-liter, 290-hp V-6, mated to a 6-speed automatic, gets 20/28 mpg in front-wheel-drive setup and 18/27 mpg with all-wheel drive.
The rear suspension design has changed from a trailing-arm setup to a multilink design with amplitude reactive dampers and hydraulic subframe bushings. In addition to improving packaging, the suspension design change also allows the 2nd-row step-in height to be lowered by 2 inches.
For the 2014 MDX, Acura shaved 123 pounds from the body in white, 26 pounds from the rear suspension, 44 pounds from the seats, 15 pounds from the subframes and 10 pounds from the climate control systems.
The Super Handling All-Wheel Drive unit still shifts power from 90-10 to 30-70 front/rear bias, as well as full emphasis on either the left or right side. The system also now uses the brakes for torque control when entering a corner, then transitions to engine throttle torque vectoring when exiting the corner.
The old hydraulic steering system has been replaced with an electronic power-steering rack, with a thicker steering shaft that has reduced friction and a quicker turning ratio.
Notable features: Acura shaved 123 pounds from the body in white, 26 pounds from the rear suspension, 44 pounds from the seats, 15 pounds from the subframes and 10 pounds from the climate control systems. The MDX now weighs 1,046 pounds less than an Audi Q7.
Nearly 60 percent of the car is high-strength steel, as Acura chose not to use expensive and exotic materials such as aluminum. The front door structure is a 1-piece, hot-stamped frame. Most other crossovers' frames use separate pieces that are hot-stamped and then welded together.
Answering a customer complaint, the 41 buttons in the center console were reduced to 9, thanks to a touch-screen and scroll-wheel setup.
The 2nd-row seats have 6 inches of travel, with a 3rd-row access button on the side and back of the seat. The 2nd- and 3rd-row seats fold flat, rather than undulating as in the old MDX.
Acura beefed up the noise, vibration and harshness countermeasures, using 28-volt active engine mounts, as well as noise cancellation and active sound control acoustics in the cabin. The sealing in pillars, floor and doors was increased. Acoustic glass is standard.
What Acura says: Despite the lower horsepower, the 2014 MDX is 8 seconds faster around the Nurburgring circuit than its predecessor. "We don't use it for PR purposes," said Jim Keller, MDX large project leader. "We don't use it for advertising. It's just another test track for us."
Compromises and shortcomings: The 3rd row is still really only habitable for children. The "normal" suspension setting is too softly sprung. Some of the interior materials still feel a bit plasticky compared with the European brands.
In a nod to customer complaints, the 41 buttons in the center console of the MDX were reduced to 9, thanks to a touch-screen and scroll-wheel setup.
The market: The Acura MDX 7-passenger crossover was the brand's volume leading vehicle in 2012, outselling the Mercedes-Benz M class and BMW X5. The fwd model will shave $990 off the old awd model's starting base price and be $2,000 less than the 2014 awd model. This is the 1st time the MDX will be built at Honda's plant in Lincoln, Ala.
The skinny: Acura believes the MDX can go toe-to-toe with the M class and the X5. Acura has chosen to beef up the list of standard features, although at an increase of $1,010 in the base awd model's price compared with the outgoing model.
The next MDX
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