2014 Acura MDX
By Frank S. Washington
ROCHESTER, Mich., – Acura held a brief ride and drive at the Great Oaks Brook Country club here to debut the 2014 MDX, the company’s three-row seven passenger crossover utility.
In the spin was some unusual candor on the part of Acura. The company relied on the observations of current owners to address the current MDX’s shortcomings. There is nothing new about that; automakers do it all the time. But they don’t usually tell about those shortcomings. Not so this time.
Owners thought the overall package of the old MDX was good, so was performance. Last year Acura had given the MDX its SH-AWD, super handling all-wheel-drive system, and it remains on the new MDX.
Not only can SH-AWD send 70 percent of the vehicle’s torque to the front or rear wheels, power can be put to the individual rear wheels. While cornering, the outer rear wheel can be per powered up to five percent faster than the front wheels with all of the rear torque going to that wheel. It enhances handling.
The new MDX is also 1.3-inches narrower and 275 pounds lighter. The former helps handling and both aid in fuel efficiency. Owners also told Acura that a two-wheel-drive version of the MDX was needed for places like the Southeast and the West Coast where all-wheel-drive is not needed.
In two-wheel-drive, the MDX gets 20 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway. For the all-wheel-drive model, it gets 18 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway.
A new direct injected V6 that made 290 horsepower and 267 pound-feet of power provided oomph. On a 65 mile round trip, the 2014 MDX displayed plenty of power, the vehicle was really quiet and the suspension had really been improved.
Handling was crisp, the 2014 MDX stayed relatively flat in some swooping curves taken at speed and the new suspension isolated driver and passenger from the bumps in the road and the noise that went with them. Owners had said that in the old MDX there was too much wind and road noise, they also said the ride was a little harsh and that it took too much effort to steer the vehicle.
The new MDX was 2-inches longer overall and it had a 2.8 inch longer wheelbase. It was 1.5 inches lower and the rear step in height was 1.8-inches lower. Owners had also complained about the difficulty of getting in the third row.
Not only is the new model lower, there was a push button on the second row seat that tilted the seat back and slid the seat forward for easier access to the third row. Still, the third row seemed more for kids, smaller ones, than for adults.
Owners told Acura that the MDX’s materials should be improved and the controls should be simplified. The interior of 2014 MDX was a quantum leap forward, the materials were top notch, there were soft touch points on the dash and the vehicle had the ambience of a quality build.
The seats were really comfortable. They had tall backs and they had plenty of lower lumbar support. The new MDX had push button start, as owners had requested, it also had been outfitted with remote start and parking sensors.
And in a major break from the past, Acura replaced the center stack and its 41 buttons with a new nine-button control center. The 2014 MDX was equipped with jewel eye LED headlights and LED taillights.
The rear seat entertainment system includes a16.2 inch screen that folds out of the headliner that can show two different films simultaneously. And the key fob including remote start works at up to 100 yards.
A TFT control screen with knob mouse replaced all the buttons but it is not intuitive. Buyers should spend an hour or more sitting in a driveway or somewhere else with the owner’s manual in hand familiarizing themselves with all the equipment the 2014 MDX has including the live concierge and internet streaming using a smartphone.
The 2014 Acura MDX goes on sale this summer. There are four trim levels. For the two-wheel-drive model, prices range from $43,185 to $55,400 and from $45,185 to $57,400 for the all-wheel-drive model.
Frank S. Washington is editor of AboutThatCar.com.