The 2022 Acura MDX SUV’s Top Safety Pick (TSP) from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety runs counter to all the racing around done in Acura’s commercials. The MDX is the automaker’s third vehicle to receive the IIHS’s highest safety rating, along with the RDX and TLX.
One thing I’ve observed in my decade-plus covering this industry is that Honda and its luxury brand, Acura, seem to respond more quickly to criticism than most OEMs.
I note my bias here – I once owned an Accord – but I don’t think my former ownership of a used Honda is throwing me off. My observation, difficult to quantify as it admittedly is, seems correct.
Specific to Acura’s case, the luxury brand was panned earlier this decade for unflattering styling, subpar luxury accouterments for the class, and a slide in performance. Not all of this criticism was fair – a manual ILX is on my “weird cars I’d like to own but probably never will” list, because that thing was spunky – but nevertheless, Acura has seemingly addressed it, and addressed it well, in recent history.
Acura has unveiled the 2022 Acura MDX, peeling back the curtain on the latest iteration of the luxury SUV with its most dramatic redesign in 20 years. For a brand more reliant on technology, Acura’s new flagship model is daring if not somewhat fearless in its appearance.
Sporting an all-new platform and chassis, the MDX also has new sheetmetal.
The fourth-generation Acura MDX is here. Sort of.
Acura hasn’t actually launched the next MDX, but it has taken the cover off a prototype that previews the upcoming re-done crossover. There is a lot new, as we teased before, but the looks remain relatively familiar.
Crossovers don’t have to be totally boring.
Consider the 2020 Acura MDX A-Spec. It could just be another yawn-inducing luxo-box on wheels, but Acura has at least tried to imbue it with some sort of spirit.
Well, as much spirit as is possible with a 4,200-pound crossover.
Depending on your interests, “PMC” might denote a brand of ammunition. For others, it’s the nerve center of Acura performance, residing in Marysville, Ohio.
For 2020, Acura, eager to draw eyes to one of its two crossovers, has slapped the abbreviation of its Performance Manufacturing Center on the MDX, then limited availability to make those drivers feel special. Will they feel special, though?
Having first appeared back in 2000 as a 2001 model, the Acura MDX is the Ed Asner of premium midsize import crossovers and a crucial breadwinner in the brand’s utility-light portfolio. While the model’s smaller sibling, the RDX, just underwent massive changes, the MDX soldiers on into 2019 muttering, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Thus, most changes fall into the minor but meaningful category.
One thing the 2019 MDX does seek to fix is its mildly conservative persona, but only for buyers willing to take that leap.
Acura’s reputation, at least as of late, has been that of a brand that’s lost its way. With the exception of the flagship NSX, the current lineup is, generally speaking, underwhelming.
The 2019 Acura RDX could be the first step back in the right direction for the brand, or it could be a dud. At a glance, it seems that Acura has the right idea, even if it expresses the message in eye-roll-worthy marketing gobbledygook.
Twist is up over the previous model by 28 lb-ft, thanks to a standard 2.0-liter turbocharged, direct-injection four-cylinder. Gone is the previous-gen model’s 3.5-liter V6. The compact crossover’s power output now stands at 272 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque.
Acura has two big changes in store for the refreshed 2017 MDX; one up front and in your face, the other hidden beneath its mainly familiar flanks.
The automaker’s flagship luxury SUV, revealed at the New York Auto Show, drops the “silver shield” grille that has adorned the face of Acuras big and small for years, favoring a diamond pentagon mouth reminiscent of the Acura Precision concept.
Acura said the Precision signaled a new design direction for the brand, so consider this the first shield to drop.
Acura has been a brand of highs and lows for a while. The MDX has been a perennial best-seller while their large sedans have largely sat unsold. The RDX, meanwhile, has had an interesting history.
Acura’s first attempt at a 2-row crossover was ahead of its time with a 2.3L turbocharged engine producing 240 horsepower and Acura’s Super Handling AWD system capable of sending 90 percent of engine power to the rear. The ride was criticized by Motor Trend as “harsh” and folks complained about turbo lag from the segment’s only four-cylinder turbo engine.
As the segment grew, most entries used naturally aspirated 6-cylinder engines and RDX sales failed to achieve orbit. All indications were that Acura’s compact crossover was destined to be a low-volume niche player in one of the fastest growing segments. Then Acura did something unexpected.
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.
The MDX was the first luxury brand crossover to offer three rows of seating, and Acura was rewarded accordingly. For its tenth model year the second-generation MDX has received a refresh. But is there enough here to maintain Acura’s position in an increasingly crowded segment?
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- Jwee I think it is short sighted and detrimental to the brand. The company should be generous to its locked-in user base, treating them as a resource, not a revenue stream.This is what builds any good relationship, generosity to the other partner. Apple does with their products. My iPhone is 5 years old, but I keep getting the latest and greatest updates for free, which makes me feel valued as a customer and adds actual value. When it is time for a new phone, Apple past treatment towards me certainly plays into my decisions (as did BMW's - so long subscription extracting pigs, its been a great 20 years). Imagine how much good will and love (and good press) Polestar would get from their user base if they gave them all a "68 fresh horses" update overnight, for free. Brand loyalty would soar (provided their car is capable).
- ToolGuy If I had some space I would offer $800 and let the vehicle sit at my place as is. Then when anyone ever asked me, "Have you ever considered owning a VW?" I would say "Yes."
- ToolGuy In the example in the linked article an automated parking spot costs roughly 3% of the purchase price of the property. If I were buying such a property, I would likely purchase two parking spots to go with it, and I'm being completely serious.(Speaking of ownership vs. subscription, the $150 monthly maintenance fee would torque me off a lot more than the initial acquisition cost.)
- ToolGuy "which will be returned as refunds to citizens of the state" - kind of like the Alaska Permanent Fund? Make the amount high enough and I will gladly move to California to take advantage (my family came close to moving there when I was a teen, and oodles of people have moved from CA to my state, so I'm happy to return the favor).Note to California: You probably do not want me as a citizen.
- ToolGuy Nice torque figure.