The 2022 MDX is here and it’s a big deal. Why?
Well for one, it’s the best-selling luxury 3-row SUV of all-time so it’s a vehicle that affluent families definitely have on their shopping lists.
And secondly, this is Acura’s flagship model so its importance to the brand cannot be underestimated. And I’ve got some good news: with perhaps the exception of the multimedia interface, Acura has absolutely nailed it.
NSX, RDX, TLX and now MDX; the Acura reboot is nearly complete and each of these recently redesigned models belong at or near the top of their respective segments.
And though it’s seemingly not a brand with EV aspirations, Acura’s immediate future looks as bright as it’s been in a long time.
So, I’ve got a week with this range-topping MDX Advance Package in gorgeous Performance Red Pearl with standard Super Handling All-Wheel Drive, priced at $62,175. A base, front-drive MDX starts at about $48,000.
Just below this trim is a more visually assertive A-Spec Package – also standard with all-wheel drive. So this model goes full peacock, showing off everything the new MDX has to offer such as premium leather, 16-way sport seats, 27 different ambient lighting schemes replete with cool names, 20” wheels, a large and informative head-up display, a 16-speaker ELS Studio 3D premium audio system with 4 speakers in the headliner, and a surround-view camera system with a conveniently located activation button on the end of the wiper stalk.
The MDX rides atop a new, vastly more rigid platform featuring a stretched wheelbase and wider dimensions.
And though the non-turbocharged V6 power is familiar it’s now paired to a 10-speed automatic disseminating power via Acura’s ace in the hole: the quicker reacting, 4th gen torque-vectoring all-wheel drive system referred to as Super Handling.
Now, I’m not sure how many MDX shoppers actually prioritize this sort of driving fidelity but even a tenderfoot will notice the difference. On top of that, a new double-wishbone front suspension and wider tires further Acura’s high-performance narrative – one that’s clearly evident in their latest marketing efforts.
The headline-grabbing trait here is, without a doubt, how awesomely the MDX drives. So if you appreciate precise, effortless handling and a supple ride even in your family 3-row then this is definitely the one for you. Now, everyone offers all-wheel drive – no doubt – but Acura’s take on it benefits so much more than simply driving in the snow.
Super-handling is definitely an appropriate name for it. And once you realize what it can do it can be addicting. So what areas in here deserve some criticism?
Well, the lowest hanging fruit is right here with this touchpad which can be really frustrating to use.
Next, I would like to see a little more though and convenience go into configuring the rear seats; maybe some remote levers and that sort of thing that wouldn’t necessitate going back and forth to reposition the seats to make sure that everything fits the way that it should. And lastly, the MDX could use a dose of Lexus quietness. It can get a tad loud in here.
While its 290 horsepower and 267 pound-feet of torque are more than adequate, those craving big power numbers will want to wait for the upcoming MDX Type S this summer – which from what I can extrapolate from this drive will be darn impressive because this one can really get after it on a twisty road where the initial turn of the wheel is immediately rewarded with the exact change in direction you command, as the power is apportioned front to rear as well as across the axle in a perceptible manner that gives the MDX its surefooted, athletic joie de vivre.
I love the placement of the drive mode dial too, which takes control of the powertrain and suspension tuning as well as the engine’s sound enhancement which sounds darn realistic in Sport. Expect about 21mpg on premium – a tick lower than the previous model.
With the advent of new age shifters like this one, drivers might miss having a place to rest their right hand so Acura has provided this perfectly placed perch for your paw right here. And just below it is a rubberized, wireless charge pad which keeps your phone close to you and not buried behind some compartment door where you might forget it later on. And it’s ergonomically smart features like these and then some that overloaded parents are going to love about this MDX all the while being wrapped in luxury.
Now, that level of luxury is somewhat Acura-restrained meaning they don’t flaunt it like the Germans but the materials used are authentic, the overall design is user friendly and it looks really good, particularly at night with these cool lighting schemes.
But having now experienced it for a combined 3 weeks across 3 different Acuras, this non-touchscreen system is a loser for its touchpad interface. It’s distracting and cumbersome which is too bad because the layout and features are really good including cabin talk for amplifying communications to the kiddos, my personal favorite – wireless phone projection and Alexa integration. Plus, the ELS sound system is bright, dynamic and immersive.
Welcome to the kid zone back here in the 2nd row where the younger set is going to enjoy features such as slide and recline seating meaning there’s plenty of room to stretch out. And then you have the open airiness that comes with this panoramic sunroof and the fact that these seats are theater-style allowing them to see over these front headrests meaning it should mitigate motion sickness. On the cold days you’ve got heated seats, auto climate control, and of course their devices are always running low on juice so you have 2 USB ports down here, as well. There are window shades and then when you’re not using this middle street it folds down into a nifty center console.
Or, you can remove it completely for walk-in 3rd row access. Space has been boosted in all 3 rows with additional cargo capacity, accessed via a foot-activated liftgate. There’s a large underfloor storage bin and seats that manually fold flat and lock into place. But unless you slide the 2nd row forward beforehand there’s going to be some wrangling – a small inconvenience but one that some other automakers have successfully resolved with electric operation. There is one touch operation to get into the 3rd row, and even though your 6-foot and taller friends aren’t going to be the ones back here I can surmise there’s enough room for little ones but I don’t care for the way the wheel wells pinch the width so teens may balk.
As for safety and driving tech, there’s the semi-autonomous Traffic Jam Assist that’ll do some slower driving for you such as during the congested commute, next gen airbags including ones for your knees, and all of the other AcuraWatch goodies that do their best to avoid collisions. One note about the adaptive cruise control system, it doesn’t hold its set speed particularly well.
Great in the snow as well as in the curves, this MDX is a driver’s SUV with family capabilities at a smart price.
2022 ACURA MDX ADVANCE TEST DRIVE BY CAR CRITIC STEVE HAMMES | TESTDRIVENOW 2021(c)