By on May 31, 2013

2014 Acura MDX Exterior, Front 3/4, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

The RDX may have supplanted the MDX as Acura’s best-selling model, but Acura hopes to put the their mid-sized crossover back on top with the all-new 2014 MDX. To show us how they plan to do that, Acura invited us to Oregon to sample the new MDX for a day around Newberg. Even without the snazzy trip it’s easy to see that regaining the Acura sales crown shouldn’t be difficult. After all, the current MDX is Acura’s second best-selling vehicle and despite being seven years old (ancient in the auto biz) the MDX is still the best-selling 7-seat luxury SUV in America and the second best-selling mid-sized SUV/crossover period. How does one redesign success? Carefully.

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Exterior

You’d be forgiven for thinking little has changed by just glancing at the MDX, and that’s the way Acura shoppers like it. That statement makes me scratch my head just a little, because the 2014 model still sports the Acura “beak,” the most controversial style decision Acura ever made. We have to keep this in perspective however: nothing about the MDX is overdone, the only reason anyone complained about the beak in the first place is that Acura is known for conservative design cues. This love for conservative, evolutionary design is why the MDX is instantly identifiable as an Acura despite riding on an all-new MDX-exclusive platform and sharing little beyond some transmission parts with the outgoing model.

Bringing the MDX’s signature shape up-to-date we have standard full-LED headlamps which (if I am not mistaken) will make the MDX the least expensive vehicle on the road with the snazzy beams. Since we only had a limited time with the car in the day I can’t say how they perform at night, but the color temperature of the lamps is a pleasing neutral color and not the harsh blue light LED lamps are known for.

2014 Acura MDX Interior, Dashboard, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

Although the 2014 looked wider to my eye, it’s lost 1.3 inches in overall width and 1.4 inches of track up front, 1.2 in the rear. Perhaps it’s the loss of 1.5 inches in height over last year that creates the illusion of width? One thing’s for sure however, the MDX is longer and looks longer, gaining 2 inches overall in length and an important 2.8 inches in wheelbase, helping out that tight third row seat.

Interior

The MDX is notable for being a mid-sized crossover with seven seats. This size difference is important to keep in mind because comparisons to the likes of the Infiniti QX56, Mercedes GL, and Lexus GX seem everywhere. The more appropriate cross-shops are the Infiniti JX35 (now the QX60), Buick Enclave, Volvo XC90 and maybe the Lincoln MKT. (If you watch the video, pardon the lack of MKT comparisons, it slipped my mind, as I’m sure it slips the minds of most luxury shoppers.)

2014 Acura MDX Interior, Third row seats, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

Acura continues to stick to their formula of traditional injection molded dashboards and plenty of convincing fake wood. I would be interested to hear your opinions on this choice, so be sure to sound off in the comment section below. While I like the look and the materials are premium in feel, it can’t match the visual impact or feel of a stitched leather/pleather dash, something that the refreshed Buick Enclave does incredibly well. The MDX continues to do have a very uniform feel with perfect seams and gaps and a consistent quality level throughout, something that Buick’s CUV continues to struggle with (the lower dash and door plastics in the Enclave are still a bit cheap.)

The MDX’s front and middle thrones still sport the Acura hallmark “Lady Gaga horny shoulders,” a design cue frequently imitated but never duplicated to the same effect. Like Lexus and Infiniti, Acura still hasn’t discovered seats that more in more than the same basic 8-10 ways as any $25,000 family sedan. Despite having only half the “ways” as BMW’s sport seats, I find the MDX’s redesigned thrones to be among the most comfortable in the segment for my body shape.

2014 Acura MDX Cargo Area, Interior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

Most of the MDX’s length increase has gone where current owners wanted it: the cargo area. That means the passenger area is smaller than last year with a drop in headroom ranging from more than an inch up front to two-tenths in the back. Legroom stays largely unchanged but Acura altered the middle seats to slide further forward/rearward allowing either more middle leg room than before or more third-row room than before (not both at the same time.) That third-row is best left to the kids or your mother-in-law, although it’s not as cramped as the Infiniti JX’s rear accommodations. Helping you get back there is a new push-button middle-seat folding mechanism that worked well but reminded me the Infiniti has middle seats that can slide forward to allow ingress while a child seat is strapped in.

The cargo area stretches by 2.75 inches from the third-row seat hinges to the tailgate and 5.88 inches from the third-row headrests to the rear glass. That’s the difference between fitting a 20-gallon cooler and 7-people in your SUV and not. There isn’t much daylight between the Infiniti or Acura and the MDX when it comes to stuffing bags behind the third row, all three beat the old XC90 by a wide margin and all hold considerably less than the Buick Enclave.

2014 Acura MDX Interior, Infotainment, Navigation LCD, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

Infotainment

Honda’s two-screen infotainment/navigation system has filtered up from the 2013 Accord to the RLX and now to the MDX as standard equipment. The logic behind the twin screens is: the lower screen is for your media devices while the upper screen is for navigation. In practice, the lower screen allows you to select sources, skip to a different album and change tracks, but in order to browse or search playlists, songs, change treble, bass, and surround processing, you have to use the upper screen and the rotary control knob. In essence this is the same software as before with a snazzy color touchscreen remote that handles some of the functions. The result is a system that could have been more elegant but the execution seems half-baked. Put it back in the oven and let me know when it’s done.

Although out time with the MDX was limited, I was able to sample my usual audio selection from my iDevice and didn’t notice too much difference between the base 8-speaker audio system, the 501-watt 10-speaker or 529-watt 11 speaker systems. They all exhibit the same balance I have come to expect from Acura: neutral with a somewhat limited range but excellent fidelity for a $42,000-$56,000 vehicle. The Logic 7 systems in the BMW are better, but they are also spendier. If you’re one of the 10 Acura customers that latched on to DVD audio, it’s time to sell those discs on Ebay, DVD-A is dead.

2014 Acura MDX Exterior, Front Grille, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

Now is as good a time as any to talk pricing. The FWD MDX starts almost a grand lower than the 2013 AWD model at $42,290 and is only available in four flavors. $46,565 adds the “Technology package” and included rainsense wipers, lane departure warning, collision warning, a color display between the dials, 19-inch wheels (not sure how that’s a tech item) and links your climate control to your GPS position. $48,565 adds on the “Entertainment package” which is a 16.2-inch wide-screen rear entertainment system that allows either a single wide picture or will display two things side-by-side. The system brings two extra speakers, a 110V power outlet, wireless headphones and HDMI in to the party. If you want lane keep assist, full-speed-range radar cruise control, remote start, auto dimming mirrors and parking sensors, you need to pony up $54,505 for the “Advance package” which cannot be had without the rear seat entertainment system for some reason. Want AWD? add $2,000 to those prices. That places the MDX in the middle of the pack with the Enclave delivering similar bang for less buck and the Acura and Infiniti very similarly priced.

Drivetrain

For 2014 Acura has swapped the 3.7L V6 for the new 3.5L “Earth Dreams” mill with direct-injection and “Variable Cylinder Management.” (VCM allows the V6 to drop to a 3-cylinder mode on the highway.) To quell vibrations, the MDX gets unique active engine mounts which generate vibrations opposite to what the engine produces to cancel them out. (Think Bose noise cancelling headphones.) Despite the DI treatment, power is down from 300HP to 290 and torque takes a small drop from 270 to 267 lb-ft as well. To counter the power loss, Acura put the MDX on a diet and 2014 sees 275lbs shed. The weight loss and improved low-end torque mean that performance is up, even with the power down.

2014 Acura MDX

Perhaps the bigger change is not the engine, but which wheels spin. For the first time since the MDX rolled onto the scene there is a FWD model. While I think this dilutes the MDX “brand” because it has been associated with AWD system since its debut, the rational can’t be dismissed: fuel economy and sunbelt sales. According to Acura’s research, the southern states love their 2WD crossovers and while the 2WD RDX compact crossover did eat into sales of the AWD model, combined RDX sales were up some 90% when they added the FWD model. Go figure. We didn’t get our chance to drive a FWD MDX, as none had made it across from the factory in Alabama, but Acura is promising a class leading 28 MPGs on the highway and 20 in the city –  one more highway MPG than the recently announced Infiniti JX35/QX60 hybrid model (25/27 MPG). When equipped with AWD, economy drops to 18/27 MPG, still a huge bump from last year’s 16/21 score.

2014 Acura MDX Exterior, LED Headlamps, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

Drive

Because the MDX has a transverse engine and a transaxle under the hood, weight balance isn’t as ideal as the Audi Q7 or BMW X5 (Acura thinks the X5 is their prime competition). Aside from the fact that Honda/Acura doesn’t have a RWD drivetrain to borrow, the benefit is improved interior packaging evident in the ginormous center console (positioned right where the X5 keeps its transmission). On the down side Acura is two-cogs shy of Audi and BMW with their revised 6-speed transaxle. Before you discount Acura, we must discuss SH-AWD.

“Super Handling All Wheel Drive” may not have been the best name for the system, but it is arguably the best AWD system you can tack onto a transverse FWD platform. The systems used by Infiniti, Lexus, Volvo, Lincoln and just about everyone out there that had an AWD system tacked onto a transaxle has no center differential. Instead the power flows from the final gearset of the transmission to the front diff and the rear diff via gears at a fixed 1:1 ratio. Between this gear arrangement and the rear diff is a clutch pack that allows the car to connect, disconnect or have a varied connection between the transmission and rear axles. When fully connected the power is split 50/50 assuming all wheels have traction.

SH-AWD also uses the same arrangement but adds a unique differential unit in the rear that does two things. First, it has a gearset to “speed up” the rear wheels so that when they are connected, they spin 1.7% faster than the fronts. Next it has a torque vectoring unit that is capable of slitting power 100:0/0:100 left to right. In a straight line, “overdriving” the rear wheels gives the MDX a more RWD feel than otherwise possible and in corners the system is capable of sending up to 70% of the power to the outside rear wheel helping the MDX’s cornering manners and masking the “plowing” tendencies normal in a front heavy car. For 2014 Acura took this a step further and uses a system to brake wheels selectively to improve neutral handling. This is beyond stability control because the system is always active rather than active only when things are going pear-shaped.

2014 Acura MDX Exterior, Rear 3/4, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

Thanks to SH-AWD, the Acura is almost the X5′s dynamic dance partner, unfortunately you can’t completely hide the MDX’s extra nose weight. Still, despite Acura’s insistence I can’t see than many X5 shoppers stopping by Acura’s lot. Instead the MDX shines against the Infiniti with a more refined and better performing drivetrain. The JX hybrid is likely to get better combined MPG numbers, but with only 250 ponies on tap and no “sporting” changes, it’s unlikely to be half a hoot, let alone a hoot and a half. Encore shoppers looking for a more premium brand and some handling cred won’t be appointed and Mercedes ML shoppers will find a better value than on the German lot.

How does that FWD model compare? You’ll have to wait for that review as Acura didn’t have any examples on hand. I can posit an opinion however: the driving dynamics will be disappointing. Remove SH-AWD and you have a front-heavy front driver just like base Buick Enclave models. I know that Acura is sure to sell lots of these, but please TTAC readers, check that AWD option box.

 

Hit it or Quit It?

Hit it

  • One more MPG on the highway than the Infiniti JX35/QX60 hybrid and the same highway economy as the RX450h.
  • Oddly enough, “Super Handling” really does describe the AWD system.

Quit it

  • I’m not sure what radar cruise and parking sensors have to do with rear seat DVD players. Why are they only sold together?
  • The two-screen infotainment system seems half-baked, put it back in the oven and let me know when it’s done.
  • Fake wood was so 1980s Oldsmobile.

 

Acura flew me to Oregon, stuffed me with poached salmon and craft beer and set me loose on the streets of Oregon for this review (but not in that order necessarily).

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80 Comments on “First Drive: 2014 Acura MDX (Video)...”


  • avatar
    CJinSD

    Fake wood isn’t as egregious as fake engine noise, but I’d rank it similarly inauthentic to fake carbon fiber or fake fender vents. Is it inescapable? I seem to recall that back when we ordered our TSX, the fake wood came with one interior color while the other had brushed aluminum, which was probably also simulated.

    Overall, this CUV sounds like a pretty good package. With prices straddling $50K, they should have applied themselves more to the styling. While it is true that my tastes are not in line with current trends in premium priced cars, it doesn’t seem like many people appreciate Acura’s styling direction of the past several years. Maybe it is time try something else.

  • avatar
    niky

    The “beak” on the newer cars doesn’t look so bad since it’s thematically tied into the design, blending with the lines of the headlights to form a continuous design feature, rather than being slapped slapdash into the middle of the fascia with no rhyme or reason.

    Still, could stand to be a little slimmer, but it’s not horrendously horrible, not any more.

  • avatar
    olddavid

    Newberg? The speed trap capital of Oregon? Where the limit goes from 50-30 in 300 feet? Why not really step up and have the test in Dundee or Grand Ronde? Besides a great old-time downtown and the drive-in, this small town is just a piss stop on the road to the beach. I would be interested to find out what prompted the premium Honda brand to this site? Could it be the house Herbert Hoover lived in? The photographer was a George Fox College alum? The Columbia River Gorge, with Simon Benson’s original privately funded highway is 60 miles to the east, with Hood River as a natural destination, and the Mt. Hood road a natural challenge for the AWD. I am certainly no longer executive material, as I find many decisions made by management baffling. I do like the roof lines and the attempted relaxation of the harsh elements of the previous model. The LED’s are ridiculous. Reminds me of half a full-width rear-view mirror from a schoolbus in 1958. They have become the modern equivalent of the vinyl roof. They aren’t sure why they need them, but everyone is doing it, right?

  • avatar

    “I’m not sure what radar cruise and parking sensors have to do with rear seat DVD players. Why are they only sold together?” Don’t you know this by now?

    “Fake wood was so 1980s Oldsmobile.” Doesn’t Honda know this by now?

    Does the BMW use fake wood?

    • 0 avatar
      Alex L. Dykes

      No, every other entry either has all-real wood (Audi, BMW, Mercedes, Infiniti, Volvo, Lincoln, Lexus) or has at least a wood trim option (the Enclave can get a real-wood wheel).

      • 0 avatar
        ponchoman49

        But then the current Acura has degenerated into a slightly fancier Honda as Buick is a fancier Chevy so I’m not surprised to see fake wood here. Higher end makes like Mercedes, BMW and a few others return the compliment and use fake leather so fake wood IMO is a non issue in a entry level luxury maker if it looks convincing enough.

        • 0 avatar
          oldfatandrich

          Was Acura ever more than a tarted-up Honda ? I think not. I learned to drive fifty years ago on my father’s new 1962 Electra 225 and nobody ever imagined comparing a Chevrolet to a Buick. The Flint cars may be the “Choice of Heaven” in China—a reference to the imperial household’s affinity for Buicks—but the brand has long since ceased to be relevant in our market.

          • 0 avatar
            needsdecaf

            Except for this car. It is perhaps the best 3 row SUV in the market, as evidenced by the sales figures as well as reviews through the years. It’s amazingly well packaged, packing much more cargo room than SUV’s many inches larger. After the 6 speed auto, it gained respectable fuel economy, definitely not great, Performance is brisk, much better than most in it’s class. And the SHAWD has to be driven to believed. It really does what it says on the box. It’s possible to stand on the throttle in the middle of the corner and have the outside rear wheel power you around INTO the apex. Not bad for a transverse FWD-biased nose heavy SUV.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      “I’m not sure what radar cruise and parking sensors have to do with rear seat DVD players.”

      I’m sure it has something to do with either the likelihood that these options will be purchased together, or factory logistics. Of course, it could also be out of greed. One thing is for sure, and that’s the fact that Honda is known for such tricks.

  • avatar
    N8iveVA

    How is it every other manufacturer gets an increase in horsepower and torque when they add DI to an engine and Honda somehow manages to get a reduction in BOTH when they added it here?

    • 0 avatar
      niky

      Not hard to lose power when you make an engine 200cc smaller.

    • 0 avatar
      Alex L. Dykes

      This was an efficiency choice. In the RLX the same engine makes 20 more HP (310) which would have been a 10HP increase. Acura claims the market was after fuel economy more than a performance increase. Acura could also have been after the 28MPG bragging rights, that sounds more likely.

      • 0 avatar
        Dan

        It’s not an efficiency choice. The engine doesn’t run at 3500 much less 6500 rpm for the window sticker treadmill.

        It’s a not stepping on the more expensive RLX choice. Same engine, ECU just backs off 300 rpm sooner.

  • avatar
    NormSV650

    If you are going to haul people and luggage the Suburban Hybrid is only one combined mpg less than the MDX. Besides there will not be any maximum towing anxiety and you shouldn’t be “sporty” when the passenger seats full.

    Otherwise a Odyssey towing a dual axle Airstream that stopped in Ohio from Minnesota on it’s way southward got allot of attention when stopping for a fuel up. I’d swear the tongue weight was double over maximum as she looked slammed like a tuner soccermom. Bad Honda V6 transmissions be damned!

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      The Burban also has an interior that felt dated seven years ago, can’t fit into most garages or many urban parking spots, and has the turning and stopping abilities of a yacht. I’d sooner drive a MDX and rent a Super Duty when I needed to tow than to suffer with a Burban every day.

  • avatar
    FJ60LandCruiser

    If I’m ever in the market for a giant luxury minivan, but can’t deal being seen driving somehting with sliding doors… this will be it.

  • avatar
    ckgs

    How is the road noise? This seems to be an unsolvable problem for Honda/Acura and was my biggest complaint with mine. Seems to be a common complaint, and they keep trying to fix it (thicker glass, active “noise cancelling”, etc.), but the TL I recently took on a test drive still howled on certain roads.

  • avatar
    Spartan

    Say what you will or may, but this is a great looking SUV.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      The outgoing MDX is one of my favorite vehicles. When I heard there would be a new one, I was excited. When I saw the cloaked tester-vehicles and their wonderful shape, I was even more exited. I was in love by the time they did the teaser concept-sketches. And then I saw the actual production car…and I wrote it off. Now that I’m seeing more pictures of it, though, and I like the shape.

      What the hell is wrong with me?

      • 0 avatar
        needsdecaf

        Nothing. It was a pretty cautious re-make, which was a bit disappointing for fans of the Gen II (2007 to 2013) MDX. Still, should be a great car but would have liked to have seen it move on a little more.

        • 0 avatar
          Kyree S. Williams

          Oh, but cautious remakes are the order of the day. Everything from the Toyota Camry to the GMC Acadia to the Rolls-Royce Phantom is playing it safe….not to mention the way that Ford’s been getting away with recycling body designs for at least the past four decades. I think the automotive industry is very bored.

  • avatar
    chrishs2000

    Very good review! Looks like a great package.

    “If you’re one of the 10 Acura customers that latched on to DVD audio, it’s time to sell those discs on Ebay, DVD-A is dead.”

    And really, isn’t this a sad commentary on the age of compressed 512kbps can-i-fit-12000-songs-on-my-phone??? As an audiophile I’ve always been a big fan of DVD-A and the fidelity/clarity of the product. Santana ‘Supernatural’ is incredilble on DVD-A in a small metal box.

    But you’re right, apparently DVD-A is dead. Check out the prices they’re getting on Amazon and Ebay. Hoarding DVD-A discs would have been an excellent investment 5 years ago!

    • 0 avatar
      IHateCars

      “As an audiophile I’ve always been a big fan of DVD-A and the fidelity/clarity of the product. Santana ‘Supernatural’ is incredilble on DVD-A in a small metal box.”

      Totally agreed! Also any of the Pink Floyd DVD-As were awesome on my ’08 TL Type S ELS system, surround was fantastic! At the time, I think it was truly one of, if not the, best OEM sound systems available at almost any price. It just sucks that DVD-A didn’t take off. After my TL-S got hit and I got rid of it, I sold all of my DVD-As for a tidy profit!

  • avatar
    danio3834

    “After all, the current MDX is Acura’s second best-selling vehicle and despite being seven years old (ancient in the auto biz) the MDX is still the best-selling 7-seat luxury SUV in America and the second best-selling mid-sized SUV/crossover period.”

    Whaaat? They must be so ambiguous and silver that they have become completely invisible to me.

  • avatar
    JD23

    Do many people actually prefer stitched leather dashboards to decent looking injection molded plastic? I see a leather covered dashboard as additional leather that has to be maintained and will likely begin to dry and crack before other portions of the interior after baking in the sun for several years.

  • avatar
    lowsodium

    Another SUV that no one will care about in a couple years.

  • avatar
    sunridge place

    Odd that you call the MDX the best selling 7 passenger luxury SUV in America. I thought FWD/AWD made this a crossover, not a SUV?

    • 0 avatar
      Alex L. Dykes

      The problem is the line between SUV and CUV has never really been firm and is blurrier than ever these days. So much so that nobody breaks out the sales so CUV/SUV luxury sales are all in the same bucket.

      • 0 avatar
        ktm_525

        Easy

        SUV: Two speed transfer case. Bonus for skid plates and recovery hooks.;
        CUV: everything else that is too tall to be considered a wagon.

        • 0 avatar
          niky

          Funnily enough, used to be, you could get a low-range transfer case on the Impreza round these parts. Sure, it had all of like five inches of ground clearance…

        • 0 avatar
          Alex L. Dykes

          Except how does a Durango which is the close brother to the Grand Cherokee now get knocked down a notch because it lacks the two speed transfer case. What about RWD single speed versions of SUVs, do they stop being SUVs?

          • 0 avatar
            ktm_525

            Does the Durango no longer have a two speed option? Classification is still easy. RWD single speed TC? You just described a proper station wagon.

            I wouldn’t describe moving from SUV to CUV as being knocked down a notch. They are just different.

          • 0 avatar
            niky

            A lot of body-on-frame full-sized truck based SUVs sold over the years were two wheel drive. Being based on a truck platform, they’re obviously not station wagons.

            -

            It’s something we argue about endlessly in classifying between SUVs and Crossovers… There is no hard and fast rule. There are off-road capable SUVs that are unibody. There are crossovers that are all-wheel drive. There are crossovers with low-range transfer cases (older Subarus). There are crossovers that have longitudinally-mounted engines (depending on whether you classify the X5 as a crossover, and SUV or an “SAV”).

        • 0 avatar
          Dan

          Awful lot of body on frame, Silverado underneath Tahoes don’t have a two speed transfer case lately.

          Most Grand Cherokees don’t either.

    • 0 avatar
      sunridge place

      Agree its blurry. What isn’t blurry is that the Enclave outsells the MDX, so the MDX isn’t really the best selling 3 row luxury crossover/SUV/whatever. Or are you calling Acura luxury and Buick not luxury?

      I guess luxury is another blurry line when Acura/Buick/Volvo etc are involved.

  • avatar
    wagic

    I like the longer rear door vs. front door look. Square-off the back to add more cargo room and I’d like to have one. Wait, I think I just described an Odyssey.

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    “standard full-LED headlamps which (if I am not mistaken) will make the MDX the least expensive vehicle on the road with the snazzy beams.”

    Prius.

  • avatar
    cheeky.monkey

    > Bringing the MDX’s signature shape up-to-date we have standard full-
    > LED headlamps which (if I am not mistaken) will make the MDX the
    > least expensive vehicle on the road with the snazzy beams.

    You are indeed mistaken — the Prius Five (MSRP $30,005) has LED headlights.

  • avatar
    akitadog

    “…the MDX is instantly identifiable as an Acura despite riding on an all-new MDX-exclusive platform…”

    Until Honda brings out the next Pilot.

  • avatar
    wmba

    So many typos and missing words, I give up.

    How does this thing ride and steer? I’ve started reading (horrors!) the Consumer Reports blogs. They say the ride is comfy yet with abrupt motions at low speeds, sometimes along with suspension noise. The numb steering is down to EPAS, presumably.

    How did you find it? Less time on infotainment and more on how the car drives in all situations would suit me in a review.

    • 0 avatar
      Alex L. Dykes

      Unlike Consumer Reports I would prefer not to comment too much on the way the car drives when you have such a limited time with the car on roads selected by the manufacturer. We will have a more detailed drive review and look at the FWD version when we can get our hands on one for a full week and drive it on the same roads we have driven the competition.

    • 0 avatar
      tresmonos

      Sadly, you will no longer enjoy the feed back, er ‘enjoyment’ of a high pressure pump / high pressure lines as EPAS is here to stay. Might I suggest you drive around heavy agricultural equipment to satisfy this need?

  • avatar
    TybeeJim

    Well, I had to read almost all of the whole dang article before you got to the real competition. This SUV clearly doesn’t come up to the standards of the Audi Q7 or even the Q5, much less the BMWs, VW Tuareg, Land Rover, et al. Ok so it has some leather and some techno stuff (which all the others have, too), but it’s simply put, it’s a large size grocery getter/mall rod. At least Audi has Quattro and a rally heritage and it doesn’t pretend to be a rock crawler. BMW leans to the “sports” side of the equation if your mommy actually drives like that. But at least they are quality vehicles without fake wood. All the rest get by with one screen for nav/infotainment. And let’s face it. if your not listening to sports, news, talk on Sirius, all you care about is what’s on your smart phone that can be streamed. Oh, and the back seat crew… when are you and the rest of the industry going to realize that it’s far less expensive to buy a couple of iPads for the kids, download some movies and let them pick what they want. At least Mercedes has a “system” for hooking up iPads for the rear seats. Bottom line, for $50 large, there are a host of better choices than this gussied up Honda.

  • avatar
    markholli

    Yawn…wake me up when Acura produces something interesting.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    The new MDX seems like it has built upon what is important…space, comfort and usability. However, it’s no longer a sophisticated, gentlemanly, sporting CUV. It’s been compromised in the name of family-friendliness. Whatever the shortcomings of the outgoing model, at least it seemed like it was more special than the next people-carrier. While the kids sat in the back smearing snacks all over each other, the driver could quietly delight in the dynamic chassis and great handling. I guess Acura is content with quiet success—because I’m sure these will sell by the masses—but I definitely think they’ve hit an all-time low in terms of excitement. So have the other Japanese companies. And some of the Germans.

    This would be a great time for the American automakers to have another renaissance and trump everyone at their own games…

    • 0 avatar
      fvfvsix

      Why should they bother? You and I aren’t the target markets for these things anymore. At this point, the illusion of dynamism is what sells to North American consumers.

  • avatar
    suspekt

    - this is probably the best looking SUV out right now. The other being the new MB GL,

    - no one ever says this, but the Honda J series V6 is the Japanese version of the legendary GM LS series V8. And this new DI V6 is the counterpart to the new DI LT V8 from GM. Both are engineering triumphs in terms of their durability and simplicity. Screw turbo 4′s!!!

    • 0 avatar
      Jacob

      Best looking SUV? Have you seen Infiniti EX and FX or at least the 2001 Acura MDX? I want to cry every time when I see the new MDX. Acura got the MDX design right originally in 2001, but it went downhill after that. The current and new MDX looks just like an another swollen soccer mom grocery-getter, this time with Acura badge and beak instead of Mercedes or Lexus badge.

      While Nissan’s V6 is a perfectly adequate engine, the Infiniti FX also gives you the choice of having a proper V8. Sorry but in my book the MDX is not even close, even though there is one MDX parked on every two blocks where I live to one FX on every other two blocks.

      • 0 avatar
        jimmyy

        I agree on the 14 MDX being one of the best looking SUVs. But, I am conservative in my politics and car styling … I also think the current Highlander is among the best looking, as the Pilot. I also find the 13 Traverse with the new Honda like grill quite attractive … I might even stop by a Chevy dealer and take a look at one … looks especially good in Gray.

        • 0 avatar
          Kyree S. Williams

          I’ve never liked the Traverse’s side-DLO profile (I prefer the Acadia or Enclave), but the ’13 facelift is definitely an improvement.

  • avatar
    kimnkk

    Great review!

    Would love to be able to get the MDX in Australia – they stopped selling them a while ago (because they sold so little compared with X5 and MLs). That being said, it would be much more interesting than the generic crowds of X5′s and ML’s we see here.

  • avatar
    jimmyy

    I would love to purchase a 14 MDX for my wife, but I will not. Why? Because the Acura dealers in Los Angeles and Boston seem to have a fix on Acura prices such that you can never get an under invoice deal. So, screw Acura. I have a 12 TL in my fleet of 6 vehicles, but only because I found a desperate dealer in 2011 in the midst of a stock market swoon who gave it to me under invoice. When I shopped that price around, I could see the anger in the eyes of other Acura dealers. I doubt that will ever happen again. I may have money from my wall street position, but I plan on keeping that money, so I will not be overpaying an Acura dealer for a vehicle. I will just wait for the 15 Pilot redesign. Some large Honda dealers sell for well under invoice. My only problem is my 12 Pilot already has 29,000 miles on it … I have a problem keeping a vehicle with more than 30,000 miles on the odo. My initial thought was the 14 Pilot would be all new, so I was going to trade the 12 in on a 14. But, I just heard the new Pilot is not due to 15 … crisis.

    • 0 avatar
      SunnyvaleCA

      Buy outside these expensive regions. I live in the Bay Area and see the same problem. I bought my car over the phone (and fax machine) from Michigan and had it shipped sight unseen to my doorstep. Just keep your purchase receipts because the sales tax you pay to the other state is deductible against California’s. You’ll also have to have your brand new car smog checked and have to show that the car is CARB compliant with the sticker affixed to the engine compartment.

  • avatar
    08Suzuki

    I wouldn’t say the fake wood is so 80s Olds. It’s more like 90s Olds.

  • avatar
    canddmeyer

    $43,000 and Nav is optional. Ridiculous overpriced vehicle. Keep it.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      That’s no different than anything else in that class. The ’11 Volkswagen Touareg–yes, it’s in the same class–had a standard navigation unit, but they made it optional for ’12. The 2014 BMW X5 will have standard navigation, but I’m sure its price has swelled accordingly…and it’s always been much more expensive than the MDX.

  • avatar
    kosmo

    Alex, can you offer up any comparisons between the new MDX and Volvo’s XC60 R-Design?

    Also — Mr. Practical here — it would be great on every vehicle like this if the rear hatch opening’s height was reported.

  • avatar
    nickoo

    Active engine mounts seems like a good idea ready to go bad. What’s going to happen when those mounts start to vibrate in phase with the engine and amplify vibration instead of damp it? It seems that with proper tuning, just using passive dampers should be good enough and avoid that risk.

    • 0 avatar
      Featherston

      I’m always curious about such technologies as well. Two obvious counterpoints to our skepticism would be EFI and VVT. I’m curious to see how direct injection and widespread use of turbos works out in the upcoming years. I’m inclined to bet on the side of technology.

      Also, I can’t help but think there’s a long-dead Packard engineer somewhere lighting a cigarette, sipping on an old fashioned, and shaking his head wryly: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zcyFjQPSqSs

      • 0 avatar
        niky

        EFI and VVT do carry maintenance issues, but at this point, replacement sensors for EFI systems and oil control valves for VVT systems are relatively cheap to replace, and older non-direct injection injectors are rather robust.

        Liquid-filled mounts and active engine mounts are still expensive and clunky and can go bad in a rather short amount of time. Not that regular mounts last all that long, but they cost a whole lot less.

        • 0 avatar
          Featherston

          @ nikey – And to further your point about cost-benefit, I know some people love to tinker with carburetors, but in my experience EFI confers a performance and efficiency improvement *and* a reliability improvement.

          With active engine mounts, however, I wonder if there’s a significant benefit. I used to drive an S-10 with an LB4. It didn’t have a balance shaft and indeed was fairly rough. *That* engine would’ve benefited from active mounts. The balance-shaft equipped V6′s I’ve driven in the past 25 years (both American and Japanese, both 90-degree and 60-degree) have been pretty smooth. I wouldn’t be inclined to strive for an incremental improvement in smoothness if it corresponded to a big cost-of-ownership penalty.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    After looking at this article several times over the past forty-eight hours, I’m starting to appreciate the exterior design, but I cannot get over the fact that Acura doesn’t seem to have tried at all with the interior design. Excitement wise, it’s worse than the outgoing model. Acura has always played second-fiddle to the chic European CUVs, and you would just think they’d have made it look more upscale and interesting. Even the Buick Enclave and Infiniti JX—which will more than likely be cross-shopped with the new MDX—do it better.

  • avatar
    corntrollio

    Alex, does the interior of the new MDX still have the questionable fit and finish that TTAC mentioned in the 2010 MDX review? Specifically, the door panels didn’t align right with the dash panels — I have noticed this on 2012 MDXs too, so it makes me think it was a problem on their production line that wasn’t fixed.

  • avatar
    LeonardoM

    >>For 2014 Acura has swapped the 3.7L V6 for the new 3.5L “Earth Dreams” mill with direct-injection and “Variable Cylinder Management.” (VCM allows the V6 to drop to a 3-cylinder mode on the highway.) To quell vibrations, the MDX gets unique active engine mounts which generate vibrations opposite to what the engine produces to cancel them out. <<

    Someone in Lincoln, Alabama and in Torrance, CA better check out if these active engine mounts are working properly. I have a 2014 MDX Basic FWD and I'm a witness that it's not the Beach Boys singing about GOOD VIBRATIONS while the car is running.

  • avatar
    DrGastro997

    I really like the Honda/Acura lineup but it still screams TRANSFORMERS! Had the pleasure to drive the new MDX and was very impressed with the SH system. Honda engineering still amazes me…


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