The Acura MDX occupies a somewhat unique spot in the marketplace. By offering abundant creature comfort and a seven-passenger capacity –while remaining more affordable than the more premium brands – it has become a favourite luxury SUV.
In fact, I am one of the believers; I ended up buying a fully equipped MDX Elite back in 2010.
Since its introduction in 2001, buyers of the MDX have been treated to a great long-term reliability, low maintenance costs and solid resale values. The redesigned 2014 MDX is the result of numerous improvements to every aspect while keeping its original formula intact.
The 2014 Acura MDX employs a new body structure, making it a little longer but also slightly narrower and shorter. This improves ride quality and access to the third row. Fuel economy has also been increased, thanks to a reduced weight.
Since the theme for the new MDX was incremental improvements, it’s not surprising that it doesn’t appear vastly different than the previous model. However, it doesn’t appear dated either – it looks thoroughly modern without appearing out of place in this reasonably conservative market.
Mind you, the new “jewel-eye” headlights are distinct. They were designed to recreate the colour of daylight, meaning they provide greater contrast, which lessens eye strain and should improve reaction times to potential issues on the road.
As mentioned, the MDX’s dimensions have changed slightly. The 2014 model is about five centimetres longer, allowing for more usable space behind the third row, and the lower height and skinnier waist improves urban manoeuvrability.
Inside, the emphasis was on making the MDX easier to operate. The previous model’s cluttered centre stack, with its 41 buttons, has been replaced with nine buttons and two LCD displays. Entry to the third row has been made easier thanks to new power folding second row seats.
The Acura MDX was often a good choice for buyers moving up from smaller SUVs and sedans because of its spirited driving dynamics. And even though the 2014 model is slightly longer, the new chassis is just as nimble as the outgoing model.
Acura’s Super Handling All-wheel Drive is standard, and the MDX’s new electronic power steering provides natural and accurate steering response with less torque steer than before.
As a current owner of a MDX, I especially appreciate the slightly heavier steering feel, though it is still a bit numb in comparison to its European competitors.
You will also find less noise, vibration and harshness than the previous model thanks to its more rigid body structure. The MDX’s ride is firm but never jarring.
The 2014 MDX boasts a new Integrated Dynamic System. This allows you to alter the SUV’s steering effort, throttle response, all-wheel drive settings and engine sound. While this is a welcome addition, the overall change in feel from “comfort” to “sport” was minimal.
The engine is a 3.5-litre V6; 0.2-litres less than last year. Horsepower is also down (290 from 300), as is the torque (267 ft.-lbs. from 270). However, because the new MDX is 131 kg lighter, the loss of power is unnoticeable and in fact the acceleration “feels” faster.
The new engine and weight loss also lowers the MDX’s fuel consumption. The 2013 numbers of 13.2L/100km city and 9.6L/100km highway have been dropped to 11.2 and 7.7 respectively. These are best in class for a non-hybrid SUV.
Acura’s are known for their understated, classy cabins. The 2014 MDX is no exception.
Materials are high quality, and fit and finish is excellent. Although the conservative approach lacks the passion sometimes seen in its competitors, the interior feels like something out of a SUV costing twice its price.
The infotainment system has been simplified to ease the driver’s strain.
To aid in this goal, features like a lane departure system, adaptive cruise control, blind-spot information, and a collision mitigation braking system have been made available. Acura’s reinforced ACE body structure and seven airbags should remove any remaining worries.
Driver comfort is not the only concern for Acura designers – all other passengers enjoy an increased comfort.
Adults can now easily access the third row of seats and enjoy the ride, especially in models equipped with the optional rear DVD entertainment system.
Pricing for the MDX starts at $49,990.
Standard equipment includes keyless entry and push button start, LED headlights, rearview camera, Active Noise Control sound mitigation system, heated front seats, leather seating surfaces, power rear liftgate, and a power moonroof.
Additional features available as on higher trims include blind spot information, forward collision warning, lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control, rain sensing wipers, DVD split-screen rear entertainment system, and heated rear seats.
Fuel efficiency numbers are 11.2L/100km city and 7.7L/100km highway.
The Bottom Line
The MDX impressively blends comfortable seating for seven, a good driving experience and a reasonable sticker price into an impressive package.
The improved fuel economy and more functional cabin certainly highlight this new version.
While the fuel economy is good, it could be better yet with a diesel or hybrid option. Overall, the vehicle is still conservative, and its steering feel is somewhat numb.
The 2014 Acura MDX has built upon the reputation of its predecessors and should appeal to even more customers.
Being the first mid-size luxury SUV, all other competitors will be compared to the Lexus RX. Starting at $44,950, the RX is Lexus’ best selling vehicle because of its smooth and serene, versatile cabin.
The RX only seats five but does offer a hybrid model and sport edition for interested customers.
For customers looking for a sportier driving experience, the BMW X5 has you covered. While most of its competitors have grown larger and softer, the X5 has retained it aggressive handling and stiff ride.
The X5 may please the sport enthusiast, but the $61,800 starting price may have more people considering the plenty athletic MDX. A new 2014 version is arriving soon.
Like the MDX, the Mazda CX-9 seats seven and boasts a fun driving experience.
What the CX-9 lacks in luxury, it makes up with its $33,995 base price.
© Copyright 2013