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3rd Generation Acura MDX Reviews

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Old 05-31-2013, 07:36 AM   #1
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Arrow 3rd Generation Acura MDX Reviews


The 2014 Acura MDX trades visceral driving fun for family-friendly refinement, which should appeal to most shoppers for the 7-seat luxury SUV.

Now in its 3rd generation, the MDX faces a new competitor in the Infiniti JX, which wasn't around when the previous generation arrived. Other options include the BMW X5, Buick Enclave, Audi Q7 and, if you can do without the 3rd row, the ever-popular Lexus RX.

Like many Acura cars, the MDX comes in 1 well-equipped base trim, though there are several option packages that essentially serve as trim levels: Technology, Technology with Entertainment and Advance with Entertainment. For 2014, front-wheel drive becomes available with all packages; previously all-wheel drive was standard. At a media preview in Portland, Ore., I drove a number of the all-wheel-drive MDX SUVs with Technology and Advance packages alongside its predecessor and several competitors.


Cleaner, Similar

The outgoing MDX's bumper inlets sat high enough to give a mustachioed expression. Its successor has shaved, thankfully, but styling otherwise stays put. The biggest shift is the headlights, which adopt standard LEDs for a sort of reptilian appearance. In back, the MDX loses its exposed tailpipes for chrome-ringed reflectors and a concealed single pipe. Yawn.

18-inch alloy wheels are standard, and 19s are optional. Citing research that showed nobody wanted a bigger MDX, Acura added just 2 inches to the overall length while reducing height and width by 1.5 inches and 1.3 inches, respectively. The resulting profile is the most wagonlike of the MDX's 3 generations.


Less Defined, More Refined

Fans of the past MDX's deliberate driving characteristics — heavy, swift steering; a busy ride; a growling V-6 — will be disappointed, but I suspect most shoppers will deem the new generation an improvement. A direct-injection 3.5-liter V-6 replaces the 2013's port-injected 3.7-liter V-6, and it provides stout oomph despite shedding a bit of power. The smaller 6 makes 290 horsepower — down 10 hp from last year, with torque down a tad too — but Acura also shaved nearly 300 pounds' curb weight in all-wheel-drive models.

The standard 6-speed automatic helps pick up the slack, with short lower gears, smooth upshifts and responsive highway kickdown. Downshifts could come sooner as you accelerate through a bend, and a selectable Sport mode provides just that; it even drops a gear or 2 on downhill stretches.

Acura's Super Handling All-Wheel Drive actively sends power to the rear or outside wheels to improve handling. Hammer it on a corner and the MDX swings its tail wide before the standard electronic stability system — or a shrieking spouse — reins you in. You'll earn forgiveness at the pump: Thanks to the weight loss, the all-wheel-drive MDX achieves an impressive 18/27/21 mpg city/highway/combined, which is up 3 mpg combined over the previous generation. Front-drive MDXs save 230 pounds for a class-leading 20/28/23 mpg. Acura recommends premium fuel for maximum performance; some competitors require it, but others, like the Enclave and RX, make full power on the cheap gas.


The fun ends at the brakes, which have a far spongier pedal than the 2013 MDX and also an RX and JX that Acura had on hand at the preview. Toe the brakes hard and the MDX's composure unravels as antilock braking kicks in. Whether blame goes to this year's downsized disc brakes or some other factor, the results don't inspire confidence.

Gone is the old MDX's busy, nervous ride; its successor isolates bumpy roads and handles broken pavement well, even as Acura ditched last year's adaptive suspension option. The new MDX is quieter, too; it's closer to the Lexus RX and Infiniti JX than the old MDX's sometimes noisy cabin. Such is how the MDX behaves: less fun, more overall refinement.

Acura replaced last year's hydraulic steering with more efficient electric power steering, which trades some feedback for much lighter effort at low speeds. I suspect SUV shoppers will accept the tradeoff, which puts the MDX in line with other SUVs. A new Integrated Dynamics system alters various systems — among them accelerator response and power-steering assist — to Comfort, Normal and Sport settings. Even Sport has more power-steering assist than the past MDX, but Comfort and Normal feel a bit too buoyant on the highway. Like most steering "programs," this is a gimmick. I'd take a speed-sensitive automatic progression among the 3 assist levels any day.


The Inside

Cabin quality impresses, with less faux-wood trim — past MDX SUVs killed a lot of plastic trees — and real metal inlays in place of the outgoing painted plastic. With 2 screens (1 touch-sensitive, the other operated via knob) controlling most of the dashboard action, the MDX cut last year's button hodgepodge by more than half. It's refreshing, but some of the often-used controls, like heated seats, are in a submenu.

The front seats afford good adjustment range; I'm 6 feet tall and sat a few inches ahead of the farthest-back position. New for 2014, the 2nd row has push-button, walk-in access to the 3rd row. It also slides nearly 6 inches forward and back, but adults in the 3rd row will need anyone in the 2nd row to slide all the way forward — a position that makes 2nd-row legroom snug. Both rows sit low to the floor, despite an abundance of headroom in the 2nd row; Acura could have positioned the seats a bit higher, and I wish they had.

A traditional DVD entertainment system is optional, but so is an upgraded system similar to that in the Odyssey minivan from Acura's parent, Honda. Complete with auxiliary and HDMI inputs, it has a 16.2-inch widescreen that can split the display and show videos from 2 separate sources simultaneously.


Safety, Features & Pricing

The MDX has yet to be crash-tested. Standard safety features include 7 airbags plus the required antilock brakes and electronic stability system. All-wheel-drive models incorporate a trailer-sway assistant, which uses the electronic stability system's lateral sensors to intuit trailer sway and smooth things out, to complement the MDX's 5,000-pound towing capacity. Safety options include blind spot, lane departure and 2 forward collision warning systems — a simpler 1 warns of an impending collision, or a more advanced system that applies automatic braking.


The front-wheel-drive MDX starts at $43,185, including the destination charge. That's about $1,000 less than the outgoing MDX, which had standard all-wheel drive. All-wheel drive adds $2,000, effectively raising the price of the new MDX by $1,000 for those who want all-wheel drive. Acura says you get a lot of new features for that — among them keyless access with push-button start, LED headlights and a sliding 2nd row. Other standard features include 18-inch wheels, leather upholstery, heated power seats, a backup camera, a moonroof, a power liftgate and a USB/iPod compatible stereo with Bluetooth phone connectivity and audio streaming.

Navigation, various safety options, rain-sensing wipers, 19-inch wheels and ELS premium audio with HD Radio go into the Technology Package, which Acura expects to account for more than half of all MDX sales. Entertainment and Advance packages add regular or widescreen rear entertainment systems, 2nd-row window shades, adaptive cruise control, heated 2nd-row seats and upgraded leather with ventilated front seats. The MDX tops around $57,500, or nearly $2,000 more than the 2013 model's price with all the factory options.


MDX in the Market


The MDX has battled the Enclave for top sales among 3-row luxury crossovers for the past 5 years, but Acura says most MDX shoppers don't compare the 2. I recommend they do, given Buick's updates for 2013. Then there's the 2-row Lexus RX that trounced all luxury SUVs for those 5 years and then some.

The MDX won't reach RX popularity with this redesign. Can it reclaim the No. 2 spot? We'll see. But Acura hits broad family appeal with this redesign, with impressive fuel efficiency to boot. At minimum, the MDX has solidified its podium sales finish, and I suspect it will get the silver medal for years to come.

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Old 05-31-2013, 07:54 AM   #2
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2014 Acura MDX Review
A Good Luxury CrossOver Gets Even Better

The mid-size luxury crossover market is an interesting place. With high sales and high profits, every manufacturer has an entry here fighting for a piece of the pie. Like a pack of peacocks waving their feathers, each vehicle struts around claiming to be the class leader in luxury, refinement, efficiency or sportiness. But Acura has always taken a slightly different approach. The MDX has always been about combining a healthy dose of each key quality while maintaining great value.
FAST FACTS
1. Powering the 2014 MDX is a 3.5L V6 making 290 hp and 267 lb-ft of torque.

2. A choice of front-wheel drive or Super Handling all-wheel drive is available.

3. Fuel economy is rated at 18 mpg city and 27 mpg highway for AWD models while FWD versions are rated at 20 mpg city and 28 mpg highway.

4. The new MDX is 275 lbs. lighter and 17% more aerodynamic.
And for Acura it’s worked. Nearly 51,000 of these 3-row crossovers were sold last year. That’s close to 20,000 more than Acura’s next best selling product, the TL, making the MDX Acura’s bread and butter. But now it is time for a complete redesign, and to say it’s important for Acura to get this right would be an understatement.

LIGHTER AND MORE EFFICIENT

All new from the ground up, the MDX features a lighter platform despite being roughly the same size. By stripping out 275 lbs. compared to the 2013 MDX, Acura has been able to downsize the engine for improved efficiency. Replacing last year’s 3.7-liter V6 is a direct injection version of Honda’s new Earth Dreams 3.5-liter V6 with variable cylinder management. With 290 hp and 267 lb-ft of torque, the new unit is down 10 hp compared to last year, but Acura claims it’s just as quick in a straight line.


We can’t really argue with them. The engine is very responsive on the road and the MDX, when unloaded, never feels lacking in power. Step hard on the throttle and the engine awakens with a nice growl. A bit intrusive for some, perhaps, we quite like it.

A 6-speed automatic continues to be the only transmission choice, but thanks to the reduced weight and smaller engine, fuel efficiency improves dramatically with 18 mpg city and 27 mpg highway for all-wheel drive (AWD) models. That’s up 2 mpg in the city and 6 mpg on the highway compared to last year’s model.

NOW AVAILABLE WITH FRONT-WHEEL DRIVE


For the 1st time ever, the MDX will also be offered in a more affordable, even more fuel-efficient front-wheel drive version. Expect 20 mpg city and 28 mpg highway for the 2-wheel drive edition. Acura is offering this new 2-wheel drive model due to customer demand since there are many places in the US that don’t need it, and where customers prefer the reduced weight and efficiency of front-wheel drive.

Acura has tuned the MDX’s suspension on the Nürburgring and thanks in part to lighter weight and better aerodynamics, claim it is eight seconds quicker than the old model; good news if your trip to soccer practice is on a race track.

Another key contributor to the MDX’s sportiness is the available Super-Handling all-wheel drive system (SH-AWD). This technology uses torque vectoring that applies more power to the outside rear wheel when cornering to help rotate the MDX. On top of that, it will individually brake the inside rear wheel when off throttle to help the MDX better manage corners as well.

The aggressiveness in which the SH-AWD system performs, as well as steering effort and throttle response, can all be adjusted through the Integrated Dynamic System (IDS). It can be cycled through 3 modes, Sport, Normal and Comfort, to suit the mood of the driver. Unlike some similar systems, there is a noticeable difference between the modes. Put it in sport, and the MDX will attack corners better than any 3-row crossover I have driven before. Fair to say, not only does the MDX retain its sporty flair, but it is the most dynamic version yet.

Besides reducing weight and keeping the vehicle engaging, Acura also put a lot of effort in making the new MDX quiet inside with technologies like Active Noise Control, which uses the car’s speakers to muffle the noise your ears hear. Regardless, on the coarse side roads surrounding Portland, OR our MDX didn’t seem all that quiet, though that may have more to do with the environment than the vehicle itself.

EASIER TO ACCESS 3RD ROW


Inside, a lot of focus has been paid to the functionality and passenger comfort of the 2014 MDX. The 3rd row seats are much easier to get into now thanks to a 2-inch lower step-in height and 3-inch wider entryway. There is a 1-Touch Walk-In feature where, with the single press of a button, the middle row outside seats will slide and forward. The 3rd row offers between 28.1-inches and 31.6-inches of legroom (slightly more than the Infiniti JX), and despite also having more headroom than the JX it’s still lacking for average sized adults. Behind the 3rd row there is 15.8 cu-ft of storage space that can expand all the way to 90.0 cu-ft with the 2nd and 3rd row of seats folded down.


Compared to the 2013 model, Acura has reduced the number of buttons in the center stack from 41 to just 9. It looks much cleaner and more modern, but by reducing the number of buttons we feel the MDX has given up a bit of its old simple functionality. Between the front seats there is a massive center console that Acura claims can hold a purse, laptop case, or 2 iPads. Regardless of what is put in there, it is a sizable bin that should prove handy to future customers.

FULLY LOADED LUXURY


Being a proper luxury crossover, the MDX is stuffed full of features like the ELS Studio audio system, AcuraLink, a 9-inch (or massive 16.2-inch) entertainment screen for rear passengers, Multi-Angle Rearview Camera, Lane Keeping Assist System, Adaptive Cruise Control, Blind Spot Information and Collision Mitigation Braking.

On the outside, the 2014 MDX receives new styling that is evolutionary at best, and although many may not be able to tell the new model apart from the old 1 at 1st glance, it should be instantly recognizable as an MDX. Acura calls the new look of the MDX ‘Executive Aero Sculpture’ and say it is 17 % more aerodynamic – again, helping to hit those fuel economy targets.

The biggest changes to the familiar front end are the addition of the Jewel Eye LED headlights, similar to those on the new RLX, and a revision to the much lamented Acura beak. In fact, it really isn’t a beak anymore, but more of a large silver band that contains the Acura logo. The side of the new MDX carries a more pronounced rear window pinch and a pair of new wheels in either 18-inch or 19-inch sizes.

THE VERDICT


Keeping the MDX close to its roots and not dramatically changing that much may seem like a bit of a copout by Acura. But why change something that has been a resounding hit with customers? The MDX has always been something a little different in the luxury crossover segment. It is more minivan than the likes of the BMW X5 or Mercedes-Benz ML, but far more luxurious and sporty than any minivan. Now, however, there is a new kid in town, the Infiniti JX, which seems to have studied hard at the school of MDX.

To keep ahead of this new rival, and all the old ones, the MDX needs to continue being, as Acura puts it, ‘a great blend of strengths’. This means being near the top of the class in luxury, sportiness, utility and comfort while retaining its value proposition. After a brief drive around Oregon, it appears Acura has succeeded by improving the MDX’s few weaknesses, without ruining what has made it so popular in the 1st place.
LOVE IT
Luxurious interior
Sporty drive
Good fuel economy
Styling mostly unchanged


LEAVE IT
Cramped 3rd row
Styling looks unchanged
More confusing user interface

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Old 05-31-2013, 08:15 AM   #3
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Blockbuster sequels are all about 1-upmanship—more explosions mean more popcorn sales. Luxury-car makers generally follow Hollywood’s lead, with horsepower standing in for special effects. So when Acura introduced a redesigned but less powerful MDX, we were puzzled. Then it said the 3-row SUV would, for the 1st time, be available in a dumbed-down, front-wheel-drive model. The whole thing sounded like The Expendables 3 rewritten as a Katherine Heigl romantic comedy.

Acura didn’t have a front-drive MDX at our preview, but a few hours behind the wheel of the 4-wheel-drive 2014 MDX convinced us that we needn’t have worried.

The old MDX had 300 horsepower that bellowed, “Prepare for glory!” like so many Spartan warriors in a Gerard Butler movie that, while critically panned, has lately developed a cult following. Anyway. That 3.7-liter V-6 has been supplanted by a version of the 3.5-liter V-6 from the RLX sedan. Here it’s rated at 290 horsepower and 267 pound-feet of  torque and still mounted transversely. With variable valve timing and lift (a.k.a. VTEC), direct injection, and cylinder deactivation, the new V-6 screams efficiency nearly as loudly, helping the MDX’s EPA-combined rating jump from 18 mpg to 21, with highway fuel economy hitting 27 even with 4-wheel drive.


A new platform makes its debut here, developed just for the MDX (at least for now). Cutting ties with the rest of Honda’s light trucks, which had shared an architecture with the Odyssey minivan, helped the MDX drop 275 pounds compared with the old model. The body-in-white saw 123 pounds trimmed thanks to the increased use of high-strength steel. A new rear-suspension design also netted a 26-pound weight savings. The diet means that the MDX’s power-to-weight ratio actually improves despite the reduced output of the smaller engine.

The carryover 6-speed automatic isn’t great. Whether in sport mode or through the steering-wheel-mounted paddles, shifts aren’t as quick as those executed by state-of-the-art 7- or 8-speed automatics offered by German competitors. Acura replaced the old MDX’s dual exhausts with a new single pipe hiding behind the rear bumper, a disappearing act that mirrors what happened to most of the noisiness of the old MDX. Better sealing and insulation and thicker acoustic glass quiet the cabin enough that you’ll be able to hear the kids whispering insults to each other in the 3rd row, at least up until 4950 rpm. That’s the threshold where VTEC kicks in for a 1850-rpm howl to the redline.

Both the middle and rear seats now fold flat, and 1-touch 3rd-row access means kids can climb aboard unassisted. Pressing either of  2 buttons—1 on the back of the seat or 1 on the side, both lit at night—slides the 2nd row all the way forward on tracks that permit fore-aft adjustment. 2 optional DVD screens, 1 of which is able to display 2 programs side by side, make the MDX a veritable multiplex.

Appointments in the MDX have been upgraded throughout, with more leather and nicer metal and wood accents, though the materials are still entry-luxury grade. The RLX makes a cameo in the cabin, too, donating optional safety features such as lane-departure warning and adaptive cruise, which can decelerate to zero in stop-and-go traffic and start back up again.
As in the RLX, a haptic touch screen sits just below the main infotainment screen. This is Acura’s attempt to clean up the dashboard-by-Boeing look of the old MDX, with its dial controller and dozens of buttons. It’s an improvement, but the digital buttons aren’t any more logically deployed than the real ones were.

A wheelbase that grows by 2.7 inches helps improve the ride quality, while the 2 extra inches in length add additional cargo capacity. The new model sits an inch closer to the ground, nominally reducing its off-road capabilities, and Acura also shrunk the MDX more than an inch in width to make it easier to park. It does tighten up the passenger compartment, though it’s still comfortably roomy. The new dimensions hurt weight distribution a bit, with front bias up 2 percent to 58.


You’d never know it, however, thanks to Acura’s Super Handling All-Wheel Drive. This is still the MDX’s signature feature, and a new calibration in sport mode sends even more torque to the outside rear wheel, speeding directional changes so much that you’ll have to dial back your normal steering inputs. Selecting sport on the MDX’s Integrated Dynamics System (IDS) also sharpens throttle response and adds heft to the wheel. Steering is quicker than in the old model, and weighting is as good, regardless of the switch from hydraulic to electric assist.

Acura swapped out the old model’s rear multilink suspension for a more compact setup with coil-over shocks. Its subframe has extra bracing and more substantial body mounts. Damping is firm, and body motions are controlled well enough to provide encouragement while still serving as reminders that you’re in a 4350-pound vehicle. The brake feel improves with more immediate bite and better modulation. Acura’s Agile Handling Assist appears here, as in the RLX, using the brakes during initial turn-in to help induce rotation. Combined with the SH-AWD, the 2 types of torque vectoring work seamlessly to help the new MDX banish understeer when driven hard.

And drive hard you shall, because the new MDX remains among the sportiest and most dynamic 3-row SUVs extant. Sure, there will be customers lining up for the front-drive, minivan-surrogate model. They will be the same ones who will lock the IDS setting into “comfort,” boosting the steering assist and erasing any feel. Regardless of this concession to the audience, Acura still regards the MDX as a vehicle worthy of carrying the tag line “From the producers of the NSX.” And we’re inclined to agree.
Specifications >

VEHICLE TYPE: front-engine, front- or 4-wheel-drive, 7-passenger, 5-door wagon

BASE PRICE: $43,185–$45,185

ENGINE TYPE: SOHC 24-valve V-6, aluminum block and heads, direct fuel injection

Displacement: 212 cu in, 3471 cc
Power: 290 hp @ 6200 rpm
Torque: 267 lb-ft @ 4500 rpm

TRANSMISSION: 6-speed automatic with manual shifting mode

DIMENSIONS:
Wheelbase: 111.0 in
Length: 193.6 in
Width: 77.2 in Height: 66.7 in
Curb weight: 4050–4350 lb

PERFORMANCE (C/D EST):
Zero to 60 mph: 6.1–6.3 sec
Zero to 100 mph: 17.2–17.5 sec
Standing ¼-mile: 14.8–14.9 sec
Top speed: 120 mph

FUEL ECONOMY:
EPA city/highway driving: 18–20/27–28 mpg
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Old 05-31-2013, 08:40 AM   #4
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To say Acura has a lot riding on the success of its new 2014 MDX crossover is like saying winter driving in Canada can be a bit challenging. Last year, almost 1-3rd of new vehicles sold by Honda’s luxury brand were of the 3-row MDX. But with an all-new, larger-yet-lighter platform, a new engine and a host of new safety, luxury and infotainment features, Acura is hoping its 3rd-generation MDX will be as popular — or even more so — than ever before.

The all-wheel-drive, 7-seat Acura certainly has its work cut out for it. Automakers have figured out that large, luxury crossovers can be very profitable, to the point where the MDX has more competition than ever before. On top of traditional, semi-luxury brand mid-sized rivals like the Buick Enclave, Mazda CX-9, Lincoln MKT, Volvo XC90 and Infiniti JX, the Acura can also be considered as an alternative to much pricier crossovers, like the Audi Q7 and BMW X5.


As before, a V6 gas engine powers all 2014 MDX models. Instead of offering a diesel or gas-electric hybrid option for better fuel economy, Acura has reduced engine displacement in its gas 6-cylinder from 3.7-litres to 3.5L and added direct injection. Horsepower only drops from 300 to 290 and pound-feet of torque from 270 to 267. However, combined with what Acura says is a loss of 131 kilograms in curb weight (from a 2013 model that was already 1 of the lightest in its class), an 18% improvement in aerodynamic efficiency, and variable cylinder management (where the engine can run on either 3 or 6-cylinders) the 2014 MDX’s estimated fuel economy numbers are a “best-in-class” 11.2 L/100 km in the city and 7.7 on the highway — a big improvement over the 2013 model’s 13.2 and 9.6 ratings.

Inside, Acura designers focused on making the new MDX’s cabin more functional for both the pilot and passengers. The crossover’s much criticized “wall of buttons” centre dash design has been cleaned up dramatically. Acura’s so-called “jog dial” controller has been retained, but there is now a pair of central digital displays, reducing the button count from 41 to 9. Fit and finish has also improved.


The added value of having a 3rd-row of seating is mitigated if owners can’t get passengers back there easily enough. So Acura has lowered the 2014 MDX’s rear door step-in height, made the entry wider and added a new feature that automatically folds and slides the 2nd-row seats to their forward-most position with a push of a button. As well, cargo space behind the 3rd row has been lengthened by 150 millimetres.

Many mid-sized luxury crossover buyers are graduating from smaller sport sedans. So a family hauler than could also be driven with some verve when called upon was 1 of the more outstanding qualities of the last-generation MDX. Here at the 2014 version’s media launch, Jim Keller, chief engineer for the MDX, says despite the emphasis on more room and interior functionality, the 2014 MDX is even more rewarding from the driver’s seat. And after a morning of spirited, 2-lane driving in a topline 2014 MDX Elite, I can confirm his optimism.


With an all-new, multi-link rear and updated front suspension, the longer 2014 MDX is just as nimble and easy to place in corners as the last model — much more fun than any of the aforementioned semi-luxury brand rivals, and darn near close to the pricier German offerings. The Acura’s standard all-wheel-drive system keeps its active rear engine-torque-vectoring feature, but this year adds brake-torque-vectoring as well for improved initial turn-in. I also found the new MDX’s electronic steering natural and accurate, with less torque steer than before.

With its new Integrated Dynamic System (IDS), you can also tailor the 2014 MDX’s steering effort, throttle response, all-wheel-drive system and engine sound. And the IDS settings can be paired to a corresponding key fob for 2 different driver profiles.


For when you’re using the new MDX as a family hauler or luxury sedan, it can also be serenely quiet and cosseting. There’s a lot less noise, vibration and harshness than the outgoing mode, and while the Acura’s ride is firm, it’s never jarring over rough pavement.

For drivers not paying attention, the new Acura introduces a host of e-nannies (Lane Keeping Assist System, Adaptive Cruise Control with Low-Speed Follow, Blind Spot Information, and Collision Mitigation Braking System). In addition, a newly optional Surround View Camera System lets drivers have a 360-degree view of the exterior of the vehicle when parking, and it’s a Canadian-market exclusive.


When the 4-model 2014 MDX lineup goes on sale this July, pricing will range from $49,990 for the base version all the way to $65,990 for the fully loaded (remote engine start, surround camera, “ultra-wide” rear DVD, heated and ventilated front seats, heated windshield and steering wheel, all the new e-nannies, plus more) Elite model. 2 other Navigation ($54,690) and Tech ($59,990) models will be priced in between. That’s above most of the aforementioned semi-luxury brand rivals, but nearly $10,000 less than a Q7 or X5.

Despite the lack of a hybrid or diesel powertrain, you can’t argue with the gains in fuel economy Acura has bestowed on its new 2014 MDX. Throw in a roomier, more functional and luxurious cabin, new safety technologies and an even better driving experience, and the new Acura crossover should appeal to an even broader audience.
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Old 05-31-2013, 09:34 AM   #5
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The importance of crossovers and SUVs in the premium segment cannot be overstated. The category represents 1 of the biggest sales slices for luxury brands, both worldwide, and especially in the U.S. market. The RX is Lexus' perennial best-seller, and the MDX was Acura's best-selling model in 2012, and along with its little brother RDX, is the brand's 2nd-best seller for the 1st quarter of 2013. To say a lot was riding on the 2014 Acura MDX is an understatement. It was imperative that the brand not screw up 1 of its top star players.

The 2014 MDX is no slap some LEDs on it and call it a day refresh. Engine, chassis, powertrain and dimensions were all re-thought from a clean-sheet standpoint, with particular focus given to areas that current MDX owners singled out for improvement. But the changes made to please the faithful will likely expand its appeal to general luxury SUV buyers. But far more dramatic than the styling changes is the change in the behind-the-wheel character between the new and old model.


It's instantly recognizable as an MDX, but side-by-side with the old model, the differences are manifold and significant. Length is up by 2 inches, but the 2014 model is 1.3 inches narrower, based on owner feedback of the previous-generation model being cumbersome to park. Like the RLX sedan, the MDX gets standard Jewel Eye LED headlights, which besides looking super high-tech and premium, cast a brighter light closer to daylight. Overall, the lines of the new MDX look like a slightly larger version of the RDX, which is not a bad thing.

Being a 3-row model, 3rd-row access was a major focus area for the 3rd-generation model, and a 2.8 inch longer wheelbase makes a big difference in 3rd-row access. In addition to the larger rear door opening, more clearly-marked 2nd-row seat controls make folding them forward more intuitive. Knowing that the 2nd row would be getting more regular use than the 3rd row, Acura gave the 2nd-row seats 5 recline positions, and 5.9 inches of fore and aft seat travel. Also aiding 3rd-row passenger and/or cargo room is a redesigned multilink rear suspension.


Refined Performance
The 2014 MDX is far more advanced from a technological and engineering standpoint than its predecessor, but unlike some other models and brands that become increasingly isolated and synthetic with each successive generation, the new MDX shows a renewed focus and emphasis on performance and driving dynamics. But the most remarkable accomplishment with the new model is that overall refinement was not lost, but actually enhanced with the sharper focus on performance.

Under the hood, last year's port-injected 3.7-liter engine makes way for a 290-hp 3.5-liter direct-injected Earth Dreams V-6 engine. On-paper, the downsized GDI engine makes 10 less hp and 3 lb-ft less torque than its predecessor, but you wouldn't know it from behind the wheel. With an 8-percent improvement in torque below 2750 rpm, as well as a 275 lighter weight model-for-model, the 2014 MDX feels much livelier than its predecessor from behind the wheel, with sharper throttle response, and noticeably improved low-end torque. But the biggest coup for the new Earth Dreams V-6 is the huge improvement in fuel economy, with the new model getting 6 mpg better highway fuel economy, and a 17-percent improvement in combined fuel economy for the all-wheel drive model, from 16/21 to 18/27. New for 2014 is a front-wheel-drive model that gets an even better 20 city and 28 highway. Aiding the V-6 in its efficient operation is a 16-percent reduction in drag coefficient, cylinder deactivation (Variable Cylinder Management in Acura-speak) and a 19 percent reduction in rolling resistance.

On the all-important yardstick of dynamic performance, the Nürburgring, the 2014 MDX completed a lap of the Nordschieife a significant eight seconds faster than its predecessor.

At 4297 lb, the 2014 MDX is no lightweight, but that's still 275 lb lighter than its forebear, thanks to 64 percent of the new structure consisting of high-strength steel, aluminum or magnesium. Acura is especially proud of the 1-piece hot-stamped front door ring, which is expected to give the 2014 MDX the coveted IIHS Top Safety Pick+ rating, which includes the small overlap test. Acura engineers proudly boast that the front door could still be opened by the exterior door handle even after grueling crash testing.


Dashing Style
Driving the 2013 and 2014 models back-to-back, before even starting the engine, the improvement in cabin materials and design is immediately apparent. The last-generation model had all the expected amenities, but they were presented in a somewhat chunky, angular package. The overall theme of the 2014 model's interior is a leaner, more detailed, more refined presentation. Telling of the attention to detail given to the interior is that the bottom half of the dash is padded, a relative rarity even on luxury-brand models, which usually have a padded upper dash, but frequently cheap out with a hard plastic lower dash.

Although Acura has gotten some blow-back on its On Demand Multi-Use Display (ODMD) in the RLX sedan, after a brief orientation, we found the operation in the MDX to be relatively intuitive. A return of the touchscreen in the 3rd-generation model was again based on owner feedback that gave the last-generation model's non-touchscreen control interface mixed reviews. Acura points out the number of physical buttons on the console has been reduced from 41 to 9. As in some other cutting-edge cabin interfaces, such as some versions of MyFord touch, we're not exactly sure if the radical reduction in actual buttons necessarily results in improved ergonomics, but the result is certainly a much cleaner appearance.


So it's well-established that the "new" MDX is truly all-new. But what's it like to drive? For a 4300-lb SUV, surprisingly fun. The direct-injected 3.5 provides ample power at any speed, and eagerly swings the tach needle to the redline with an enthusiastic growl, and an appropriately healthy shove into the seatback. Acura is confidently predicting a half-second improvement in 0-60 performance. Considering the last-generation MDX we tested dispatched the benchmark on-ramp sprint in just 6.8 seconds, it's safe to say the 2014 model is probably capable of sub-7-second runs. The MDX felt comfortable and composed on twisty 2-lanes, with the 9-percent quicker steering ratio of the 2014 model giving it a more nimble feel than its predecessor.

Pricing on the 2014 MDX spans more than $10,000, with the entry-level front-drive MDX starting at $43,185, including $895 destination charge. The top-line all-wheel-drive Advance model with Entertainment Package ringing the register to the tune of $57,400. The bread-and-butter Technology Package goes for $47,460 in front-drive, and $49,460 with all-wheel-drive. The Technology package includes navigation, 19-inch wheels, forward collision and lane departure warning, and GPS-linked climate control. Typical of Acura and Honda products, there are few a la carte options, with running boards, mud guards, backup sensors, and an engine block heater being the handful of note. Most options are bundled in 1 of the 4 packages.

If you're a current MDX owner and are looking for an upgrade, or looking at some of the MDX's competition, like the Infiniti JX, Lexus RX or even the BMW X5, the 2014 MDX combines the driving dynamics the German brands are generally known for, with the quality and value synonymous with Honda and Acura. Whether your purchase criteria are more practical or performance-oriented, the MDX skillfully covers both areas with quantitative improvements in comfort, practicality and economy, while still delivering a satisfying behind-the-wheel experience.

2014 Acura MDX
BASE PRICE $43,185-$57,400
VEHICLE LAYOUT Front-engine, FWD/AWD, 7-pass, 5-door, SUV
ENGINE 3.5L/290-hp/267-lb-ft SOHC 24-valve direct-injected V-6
TRANSMISSION 6-speed automatic
CURB WEIGHT 4025-4332 lb (mfr)
WHEELBASE 111.0 in
LENGTH X WIDTH X HEIGHT 193.6 x 77.2 x 66.7 in
0-60 MPH 6.5-7.0 sec (MT est)
EPA CITY/HWY FUEL ECON 18-20 / 27-28 mpg
ENERGY CONSUMPTION, CITY/HWY 169-187/120-125 kW-hrs/100 miles (est)
CO2 EMISSIONS 0.85-0.92 lb/mile
ON SALE IN U.S. July 2013

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Old 05-31-2013, 09:50 AM   #6
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Growing Up or Selling Out?
Published: 05/31/2013 - by Mike Magrath, Features Editor

When we left the office for the rainy, Sasquatch-filled wilds of Oregon to drive the 2014 Acura MDX, a co-worker yelled, "Text me if they've ruined the steering!"

A few hours later, over the pitter-patter of dime-size raindrops and through a mouthful of locally sourced meat, a single, 30-something friend says, "I hope they didn't ruin the MDX. It was so good to drive."

This neophobia is common and expected for a new iteration of a sports car, or sport sedan or sport compact, but is unheard of for a 3-row crossover.

Thanks to its direct and communicative steering, willing engine and user-friendly package, the current-generation (2007-present) Acura MDX is a fan favorite in a crowded segment. To stay relevant, the MDX had to tighten up its game.

Did Acura repeat its magic with the 2014 MDX?


Weaker. Lighter. Faster. Better?
MDX aficionados will tell you that the current CUV rides on a unibody platform shared with the 2013 Honda Pilot and last-gen Odyssey. They'll tell you that the engine is a 3.7-liter V6 that makes 300 horsepower that powers all 4 wheels via a 6-speed automatic transmission.

MDX aficionados will tell you very different things about the 2014 Acura MDX.

1st, the platform is no longer shared with a decade-old SUV. For 2014, the MDX gets its own unique chassis that has been developed from the ground up for use in a luxury crossover. The vehicle's body is 59 percent high-strength materials (a further 5 percent consists of magnesium and aluminum) compared with 25 percent on the outgoing model. It's also 123 pounds lighter.

But it wasn't just the body that lost weight. Acura ditched 44 pounds from the seats, 7.5 pounds from the steering hanger beam, 10 pounds from the HVAC unit and 41 pounds from various suspension bits. Total weight loss is a Biggest Loser finale shocker of 275 pounds.


In order to bump the fuel efficiency up even further, Acura replaced the 300-horse 3.7-liter V6 with a 290-hp, direct-injection 3.5-liter V6. It will also offer a front-wheel-drive-only version for those who don't need all-weather capability. It will return EPA ratings of 20 city/28 highway mpg and a combined rating of 23 mpg. The SH-AWD version returns 18/27/21.

Acura says the new V6 is good for 8 percent more low-end torque and that it gets to 60 half a second faster than the outgoing model. As we weren't allowed to bring our testing equipment to the Pacific Northwest to verify, we won't dispute this claim, but will say that the MDX simply doesn't feel as fast as it used to.

Part of this is intentional on Acura's part. The old car had that cool, naturally aspirated Honda intake sound, especially higher in the rev range. Unfortunately, MDX buyers complained about the noise and often tailored their driving to avoid the fun part of the tach, which led to complaints about the MDX being slow. Acura added sound-dampening material and an intake tube covered in tumorous tuning dongles so it now sounds like nothing at all. It's silent in normal operating ranges and barely hums near its redline.


The Steering Hasn't Been Ruined
While the average MDX driver might not notice that the steering ratio is now 9 percent quicker, they're certainly going to notice the new, lower-effort steering. Not only is the steering lighter in tight, low-speed situations (another owner suggestion) but it is far more confident on the open road. Comparing the '14 MDX back-to-back with a 2013 Acura, the new model has far less bump steer and is less twitchy off-center.

The new electrically assisted system doesn't have the feel or feedback of the old hydraulic system, nor is it as naturally precise. Acura intends to appease the fans of the "old" MDX by offering an Integrated Dynamics System (IDS) that tightens up the steering when set to Sport mode. Sport also quickens the throttle response, makes SH-AWD's active torque vectoring more aggressive and pumps in more noise via the Active Noise Control system. This mode adds the perception of driving pleasure without any actual tactile improvement. The steering is heavy for heavy's sake and the throttle is touchy without adding any speed. We didn't much care for it.


Like the steering, the suspension has been modified to coddle well-to-do owners and their families. The ride is quiet, well isolated and less busy than before. Amplitude Reactive Dampers replace monotube dampers up front and offer variable damping rates without complex electrical or magnetorheological components.

While the ride is excellent in most situations, large undulations can cause some unseemly bounciness and the MDX gets that slightly disconnected feeling when these happen at freeway speeds. In a world without the Infiniti JX35 and BMW X5, we wouldn't give this behavior a 2nd thought on a 3-row CUV.


Comfort for 5. Space for 7
While the 2014 Acura MDX dropped some of its youthful, Honda-esque exuberance, we doubt many buyers will actually mind. Partially because buyers of 7-passenger CUVs rarely consider at-limit steering feedback, and partially because the interior of the 2014 Acura MDX is a truly special place to spend time.

From the tight diameter and perfect thickness of the wheel to the simple gauges and easy-to-use shifter, it's clear that Acura still knows how to make a driver-focused car, even if it's a crossover. The 1 exception is the lack of adjustability for the front seats. They have the most basic adjustments and lumbar support with no vertical adjustability. No thigh support. No adjustable bolstering. You either fit in these seats or you don't. Once again, if the X5 didn't exist, these would be OK.

But the MDX is about more than a good driver interface. The current vehicle's center stack has something like 43,000 buttons. The new 1 has fewer than 20, with hard buttons for controlling temperature, navigation, phone and a knob for volume. This means that everything else, including fan speed, is buried in the 7-inch touchscreen and requires at least 2 button presses for activation. Navigation duties are handled by an 8-inch screen mounted above the smaller screen.


Of course, the MDX is about more than just the driver. Rear-seat passengers are treated to a leg-crossing amount of legroom. And if they have no respect for 3rd-row passengers, the 2nd row slides back for even more space. 2 adults would be comfortable in back and 3 would be cozy. Regardless of how many bodies you put in back, the loaded MDX will keep them comfy with rear-seat climate control, heated seats and a huge entertainment screen that can play 2 things simultaneously thanks to split-viewing technology. The 3rd row isn't so lucky.

Like all 3rd rows, the 1 in the MDX isn't specifically built for 6-foot-tall adult males, and the result is a sort of vertical version of yoga's Happy Baby pose. We'd have no problems tossing kids back there. Or friends who refuse to chip in for gas. The good news is that getting in and out of these seats is about as easy as it can be without 2nd-row captain's chairs.


How Loaded Can You Go?
When it goes on sale in July of 2013, the new Acura MDX will be available in 4 trims and all feature the same 3.5-liter V6 and 6-speed automatic transmission.

With a starting price of $43,185 the base MDX with front-wheel drive comes fairly loaded with keyless entry, push-button start, jewel-eye LED headlights, touchscreen display, IDS, USB input (there's only 1 available regardless of trim), heated seats, i-MID display and a wide-view rear camera. There are 3 models above this, each getting progressively more luxurious and more technologically advanced.

1 step up is the $47,460 MDX Technology, which is the model Acura predicts will be the volume seller. Acura adds blind-spot monitors, 19-inch wheels, lane departure warning, forward collision warning, color TFT display with navigation, rain-sensing wipers and GPS-linked HVAC (3D solar sensing determines the position of the sun relative to the front passengers and adjusts airflow accordingly).


For $49,460, the Tech Entertainment package adds a DVD rear entertainment system, heated rear seats and a 150-watt power inverter. This is just 1 step off of the top-tier, $55,400 Advanced Entertainment, which is what we drove, albeit with SH-AWD. This model gets adaptive cruise control, collision mitigation braking, premium leather seats, passenger seat lumbar, a 12-speaker 546-watt Studio Audio system (which may be worth the price of admission alone) and front and rear parking sensors.

Opting for Acura's SH-AWD will add $2,000 to the price of each trim, giving the car we drove a sticker price of $57,400.


Narrow Track, Broad Appeal
Acura played it very safe with the 2014 MDX. Even the exterior, which is longer and narrower, looks unmistakably similar to the previous model. Acura has nipped, tucked and refined a successful vehicle into what it hopes will be a superlative vehicle.

Working off of market feedback, Acura determined that MDX customers wanted higher-quality materials, simpler controls, lower-effort steering, a quieter ride and optional front-wheel drive. Acura rectified these complaints with laser focus. The needs of the many trumped the wants of a few.

The 2014 Acura MDX is a little softer, sure, but it's refined, eminently usable and a far more complete SUV than the car it replaces. Acura didn't ruin the MDX. It let it grow up.
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Old 05-31-2013, 10:08 AM   #7
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2014 Acura MDX Test Drive
By losing weight and gaining miles per gallon, Acura's crossover inches closer to the top of the class.

On-Sale Date: July

Base Price: $43,185 – 45,185

Competitors: BMW X3, Lexus RX350, Audi Q7, Infiniti JX35

Powertrains: 3.5-liter V-66, 290 hp, 267 lb-ft; 6-speed automatic, FWD or AWD

EPA Fuel Economy (city/hwy): 20/28 (FWD), 18/27 (AWD)

What's New: The new MDX might appear to be a smoother, less muscular version of last year's model. But behind those potent "Jewel Eye" headlamps, this is a radically improved crossover.

Just how important is the new MDX to both Acura and parent company Honda? For the very 1st time, this 3rd-generation Acura MDX is the 1st vehicle to come from Honda's entirely new light truck architecture (a grouping of parts that will be shared with a future Honda Pilot, Ridgeline, and probably the Odyssey). That means Large Project Leader Jim Keller could prioritize the chassis of the MDX for the MDX 1st.

1 of the biggest breakthroughs came in material efficiencies, which led to some serious weight loss. The car is down a whopping 275 pounds over the 2013 model, and the MDX was already 1 of the lightest 7-passenger SUVs on the market. Opt for the new front-drive model and you'll save another 200 pounds. Much of the savings is a result of increased use the high-strength steels, as well as aluminum (hood) and magnesium (cross car dash beam). The unibody structure is a full 123 pounds lighter than the old car's.

It is this slim-down that makes up for slightly lower power and torque numbers from the new V-6. The outgoing MDX's 3.7-liter V6 makes 300 hp and 270 lb-ft of torque. The new 3.5-liter V-6, shared with the RLX puts out 290 hp and 267 lb-ft of torque in the MDX, and now comes with cylinder deactivation to improve fuel economy. Whether you select front wheel drive or the SH-AWD (largely the same system as before), the power flows through a 6-speed automatic transmission.

Although the MDX is lighter, it's also slightly longer and rides on a wheelbase stretched by 2.8 inches. That modest growth creates improved legroom for those exiled to the last row. Before, you'd have 28.7 inches to fold your knees into your chest. The 2014 model offers 3 inches more, enough to make that last row tolerable for real adults (for short trips at least). Cargo room behind that 3rd row expands, too, up by a cubic foot to 15.8. When folded, the rearmost seats stow completely flat, unlike in the current MDX.

A more compact and lighter multilink rear suspension replaces the outgoing trailing arm setup to provide a lower floor inside for 3rd row access. The suspension has fewer connection points to the frame and the loads are better managed to quell road noise. Up front is a strut suspension with revised geometry to negate torque steer and a new electronic power steering (EPS) system. In addition to the SH-AWD's mechanical torque vectoring across the rear axle, the new MDX uses a brake-based system to help stabilize handling in off-throttle situations too.


Tech Tidbit: The switch to EPS not only provided a slight fuel economy improvement but also allowed engineers to tailor the steering effort to the driver's preference. The Integrated Dynamics System offers 3 distinct steering effort levels: Comfort, Normal and Sport. Sport mode also boosts the engine note (through the audio speakers, thanks to the tech developed for the active noise cancelling system used for cylinder deactivation), sharpens the electronic throttle, and makes the AWD system torque vector across the rear axle more aggressively. These driving system preferences, along with the normal seat and mirror position and radio presets, are now saved to individual key fobs. When a family member takes the car, the fob will set the MDX to his or her unique preferences. All cars should have this level of personalization.

Driving Character: On the inside, the MDX has the same smart split-screen system as Acura's new flagship RLX. That means you get the quick-responding haptic touchscreen in addition to the main big, beautiful navigation screen. The design reduces the number of buttons from 41 to just 9. But a crossover needs more than fancy screens. The center console is huge, able to swallow a good-sized briefcase. And it's covered by a sliding wood cover that's downright chic.

Yes, the new MDX makes 10 fewer ponies than the old 1, but you'll never notice. It feels quicker. And the fact that it delivers 6 more mpg on the freeway in a sprightlier package is impressive.

The outgoing Acura MDX never seemed particularly overweight from behind the wheel. Its handling was sharp, its steering was communicative, and its power was ample. This new 1, however, makes the old 1 feel like its BMI is in the danger zone. Grab the wheel of the 2014 MDX, bend it through a set of switchbacks, and feel the weight loss. The Acura is lighter on its feet and planted through the corners. And yet here is a crossover that delivers near Lexus-like ride quality and quietness. It sucks up big bumps better than ever before.

The old MDX's busy ride is history. This new 1 is more serene without losing the fun. It's still 1 of the most responsive crossovers on the market. If your drive home includes a run up a rigorous mountain road, the Acura MDX should be on your shopping list.


Favorite Detail: Accessing the 3rd row seats in some crossovers usually requires throwing multiple levers, and perhaps a few yoga moves too. Not so in the new MDX. Engineers developed a simple electronic push button that will tumble and slide the seat forward. The button is even illuminated for night use. And with 6 inches of total travel, the 2nd seat not only slides forward enough to crawl back to the 3rd row but also provides enough legroom for a 6-footer.


Driver's Grievance: The sheetmetal of the new MDX strikes us as just a smoothed-over version of the old 1. Yes, it's been tuned in the wind tunnel to deliver the better aero performance. But why does it have to look so bland compared to the muscular, aggressive 1 it's replacing?

Bottom Line: Although it would take a real comparison test to prove the mettle of the new MDX, our impression is that this crossover has edged its way close to the head of the class. And unlike many luxury vehicles, you don't have to buy the top–of-the-line model to get the good stuff. Most of what you'd want comes on the Tech Package that bumps the sticker to $49,460.

The new MDX also scores the top "Good" in the IIHS's new small overlap test (which mimics hitting an object with the corner of the car). For as a vehicle primarily intended as a family transportation vessel, that's comforting.
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Old 05-31-2013, 10:44 AM   #8
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Honda says current Acura MDX owners asked for simpler controls, a lighter steering touch, a quieter interior with higher quality materials and better 3rd-row access.

A front-wheel-drive version would be nice, too.

For the 2014 redesign, which goes on sale in July, American Honda's luxury brand says it has done all that, while stretching the wheelbase by nearly 3 inches, adding 2 inches in overall length and narrowing the MDX by 1.3 inches.

The basics: The MDX 7-seat crossover is the lead platform vehicle for the next generation of Honda light trucks, including the Honda Pilot and Odyssey.

The 3.5-liter, 290-hp V-6, mated to a 6-speed automatic, gets 20/28 mpg in front-wheel-drive setup and 18/27 mpg with all-wheel drive.

The rear suspension design has changed from a trailing-arm setup to a multilink design with amplitude reactive dampers and hydraulic subframe bushings. In addition to improving packaging, the suspension design change also allows the 2nd-row step-in height to be lowered by 2 inches.


For the 2014 MDX, Acura shaved 123 pounds from the body in white, 26 pounds from the rear suspension, 44 pounds from the seats, 15 pounds from the subframes and 10 pounds from the climate control systems.

The Super Handling All-Wheel Drive unit still shifts power from 90-10 to 30-70 front/rear bias, as well as full emphasis on either the left or right side. The system also now uses the brakes for torque control when entering a corner, then transitions to engine throttle torque vectoring when exiting the corner.

The old hydraulic steering system has been replaced with an electronic power-steering rack, with a thicker steering shaft that has reduced friction and a quicker turning ratio.

Notable features: Acura shaved 123 pounds from the body in white, 26 pounds from the rear suspension, 44 pounds from the seats, 15 pounds from the subframes and 10 pounds from the climate control systems. The MDX now weighs 1,046 pounds less than an Audi Q7.

Nearly 60 percent of the car is high-strength steel, as Acura chose not to use expensive and exotic materials such as aluminum. The front door structure is a 1-piece, hot-stamped frame. Most other crossovers' frames use separate pieces that are hot-stamped and then welded together.

Answering a customer complaint, the 41 buttons in the center console were reduced to 9, thanks to a touch-screen and scroll-wheel setup.

The 2nd-row seats have 6 inches of travel, with a 3rd-row access button on the side and back of the seat. The 2nd- and 3rd-row seats fold flat, rather than undulating as in the old MDX.

Acura beefed up the noise, vibration and harshness countermeasures, using 28-volt active engine mounts, as well as noise cancellation and active sound control acoustics in the cabin. The sealing in pillars, floor and doors was increased. Acoustic glass is standard.

What Acura says: Despite the lower horsepower, the 2014 MDX is 8 seconds faster around the Nurburgring circuit than its predecessor. "We don't use it for PR purposes," said Jim Keller, MDX large project leader. "We don't use it for advertising. It's just another test track for us."

Compromises and shortcomings: The 3rd row is still really only habitable for children. The "normal" suspension setting is too softly sprung. Some of the interior materials still feel a bit plasticky compared with the European brands.


In a nod to customer complaints, the 41 buttons in the center console of the MDX were reduced to 9, thanks to a touch-screen and scroll-wheel setup.

The market: The Acura MDX 7-passenger crossover was the brand's volume leading vehicle in 2012, outselling the Mercedes-Benz M class and BMW X5. The fwd model will shave $990 off the old awd model's starting base price and be $2,000 less than the 2014 awd model. This is the 1st time the MDX will be built at Honda's plant in Lincoln, Ala.

The skinny: Acura believes the MDX can go toe-to-toe with the M class and the X5. Acura has chosen to beef up the list of standard features, although at an increase of $1,010 in the base awd model's price compared with the outgoing model.
The next MDX
Acura's longer, lighter 2014 MDX is slightly less powerful than the outgoing version but gets better fuel economy.
2014 Acura MDX 2013 Acura MDX
Wheelbase 111.0 in. 108.3 in.
Length 193.6 in. 191.6 in.
Width 77.2 in. 78.5 in.
Height 66.7 in. 67.7 in.
Base engine 3.5-liter V-6 3.7-liter V-6
Horsepower 290 @ 6,200 rpm 300 @ 6,300 rpm
Torque, lbs.-ft. 267 @ 4,500 rpm 270 @ 4,500 rpm
Fuel economy* 18/27 mpg 16/21 mpg
Curb weight* 4,255 lbs. 4,594 lbs.
Base price*† $45,185 $44,175
*Awd model †Includes shipping
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Driven Car Reviews by Tom Voelk

2014 Acura MDX SH-AWD

Video Review

Since it debuted in 2001, the seven–passenger MDX has often been Acura’s best selling vehicle. And as we all know, automobile manufacturers don’t mess with success.



This is true for the 2014 MDX. The Acura engineers say their goal was to add refinement, luxury, safety, fuel economy, and better flexibility for the cabin. Mission accomplished. It rides on an exclusive new architecture that will be the platform for future Honda /Acura products like Odyssey and Pilot. As good as the outgoing MDX was, the new one shines brighter. Literally. Jewel Eye LED headlamps are now standard.

Even with the distinctive LED eyes, some will have to look twice to spot the new and the old. From 20 paces, it’s a familiar silhouette. Move in closer and you’ll spot softened lines. The overall shape is not as strong or defined as the outgoing suit-of-armor, but it has missed Acura’s angry robot design phase. The nose? Again, softer but the beak remains.



A Nod To The Sunbelt- My tester is a fully loaded Advance with Entertainment Package model that’s welded, bolted and bonded together in Lincoln, Alabama. For the first time ever, MDX is available in front-wheel drive for those who don’t need Acura’s revered SH-AWD (which is improved for 2014). That’s a savings of $2,000 and gets better fuel economy. The second generation was pretty thirsty. MDX is now best in class; EPA rated at 18 city, 27 highway with all-wheel drive or 20/28 in front drive. That beats utes that only seat five.

Nearly 60 percent of the all-new architecture is made of high strength steel. That helps to shave off 275 pounds, making MDX 960 pounds lighter than Audi Q7 (easily three NBA players or a dozen entrees at Claim Jumper). It’s now lightest in class, even against two-rows rigs like Lexus RX350. Despite it’s Jenny Craig program, Acura claims it aces the toughest new crash tests (though the government has yet to test one). A unique high-strength steel ring surrounds the front passengers.

Power Trip- The 3.5-liter direct injected V6 makes 290 horsepower @ 6,200 rpm and 267 lb-ft or torque at 4,500 rpm. MDX can cruise using half it’s pistons. Finally, you don’t have to turn a key to start it, MDX gets push button and remote start. Two 28-volt active engine mounts help quell vibration.

Acura sticks with a six–speed transmission with sport mode and paddle shifters on the steering wheel. Manual shifts do not have the crisp feel of a dual-clutch transmission but it’s smooth in everyday operation. The Integrated Dynamics System allows drivers to tailor the steering effort, throttle response, and even the amount of active noise cancellation in the cabin. These settings and many others are stored in each users key fob.



Lighter Means Faster- With a refined snarl, MDX leaps to 60 miles an hour in a guestimated 6.5 seconds. MDX has always been great fun to toss into turns. Now it’s better. In Nurburgring testing the new MDX laps the famed course eight seconds faster than the second gen car.



New dampers calm body motions. Push hard into a turn and brake torque vectoring pulses the binders imperceptivity to stabilize the line you’re tracking. During exit, Super Handling-All-Wheel Drive (got to love that name) adds torque to the outer rear wheel for better control. This one-two punch of technology makes you a better driver. The word agile is seldom used to describe the handling of a seven-passenger sport-ute. Feel free to use it here.


The new front suspension and drive shaft geometry reduces torque steer on front-drive models (that’s the steering wheel tug under hard acceleration). A new rear suspension with fewer atatchment points and a different mounting position helps to cut road noise. Foam inside frame cavities and thicker glass means MDX is much quieter now.



Even with the Integrated Dynamics System switched to “comfort” the electric power steering effort is never over-boosted or numb. MDX is for light off-roading with 8.2 inches of ground clearance. The vault-like structure is calm on forest service roads. Stay away from boulders and chasms, okay?

Understated Tech- The cabin looses the large planks of wood and goes for a new sense of subtlety. Interior materials are of high quality and well-sculpted seats can link to the climate control system to provide both warmth and a cool breeze for your backside. Stash purses, laptop computers, maybe even a Labrador in the roomy center console (please PETA, I’m kidding about the dog). Intelligent cruise control will match speed to traffic down to a full stop. There’s blind spot warning and a lane keep assist that Acura engineers claim will keep MDX centered more naturally on the road.

The outgoing MDX had 41 buttons on the center console stack. The new one pairs that down to nine with a haptic touch-screen interface replacing the other 32. The second screen that displays maps and the three different views from the rear camera is not touch-screen. Generally the interface is pretty easy to use with an occasional curveball (I never did find the “North up” control for the nav system but I was also busy dodging rain squalls to produce the video).



Acura’s familiar controller knob sticks around for the faithful. Yes, you can listen to Pandora. You might even buy MDX simply for the 546-watt, 12-speaker ELS surround-sound audio system. It’s that good, one of my favorites.

Want a stitched instrument panel, panoramic glass roof or electric parking brake? Sorry, these are not offered on MDX.

Better Access- The middle row now splits and slides fore and aft six inches to max out legroom or help those in the third row keep their knees out of their faces. It’s easy to get comfy in row number two with heated seats, a separate climate zone and reclining seatbacks. A 110-outlet and HDMI port allows hookup of nearly any electronics known to mankind. The 16.2-inch screen can display two sources side by side.



A handy one-button seat release scoots the mid row out of the way (there’s a second one on the seat back, both are lighted). That third-row seat is low to the floor. Adults will fit but will not be happy. Keep it to small children.

Size Matters- Generation three MDX is two inches longer and about an inch narrower. Feedback from second gen owners helped make the cargo area a lot more useful. There’s almost six inches of additional space at the point where the rear glass meets the hatch door so a standard cooler now fits with all rows usable. Got love the storage compartment lid that stays open at nearly any angle. I’m at a press launch so no TP trunk test. Good thing, it would be a lot of work. Fold the third row and there’s 42.9 cubic feet of room. Knock the second row flat and it’s 83.5. The floor becomes very flat now.





Pricing? A base front drive unit is $43,285 with destination. Add $2,000 for SH-AWD. The fully loaded Advance with Entertainment Package machine in the video retails for $57,400 (you can still add dealer installed options like fog lamps and heated steering wheel). Competing against Audi Q7, BMW X5, Infiniti JX35, and with only two rows, the Lexus RX and Mercedes ML, MDX is a compelling package and a marked improvement to an already well-done machine.

The competition should pay attention. You should put MDX on your test drive list.

Tom attended a manufacturer’s press event for access to this vehicle. Still photos provided by Acura. Moving pictures shot by Tom. Special thanks to drive partner John Vincent of The Oregonian.
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Old 05-31-2013, 11:41 AM   #10
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1st Drive: 2014 Acura MDX
A Better BestSeller: Acura Rewrites a Crowd-Pleasing Script

In 2012 Acura sold 50,854 of its 3-row MDX crossover, far and away the brand's best-selling vehicle. The next best? The TL sedan, at 33,572 units. Now, almost 51,000 units might not sound like a lot, but consider the following: not even the fuel-efficient, budget-priced, and generally excellent Honda Fit subcompact, at 49,346 sold, found as many takers -- this during a year of growth recession and high gas prices. Suffice it to say, the MDX is Acura's most popular and most important vehicle, and 1 of the reasons Honda's luxury wing can absorb the costs associated with developing the low-volume 2nd-gen NSX super sports car. So thank you, MDX, and congratulations on your success. Just don't screw it up.

Enter the 3rd-gen 2014 model. If it looks similar, that's because it bears a strong resemblance to its predecessor, despite every piece of sheet metal, plastic, and glass being all new. It's a bit like seeing the current 991 Porsche 911 next to the 997 -- totally familiar but totally different. The appeal is in the subtlety. For instance, the all-LED headlamp and DRL assemblies are beautiful; you just have to take a close look to fully appreciate them.

Dimensionally, the new MDX is up 2.0 inches in length (193.6 in) and down 1.3 and 1.5 inches in width (77.2) and height (66.7), respectively; yet, cargo room has swelled, whether the back 2 rows are up (plus 0.8 cu ft to 15.8) or down (plus 7.4 to 90.9). On the scales, the 2014's improvements are even more dramatic. According to Acura, curb weight has dropped nearly 300 pounds, attributable to increased use of high-strength steels (up 24 percent) as well as lighter seats, HVAC, subframes, and rear suspension. Along with improved aerodynamics (18 percent more efficient says Acura) that enable the 2014 to travel over a quarter mile longer on a 70-to-0-mph coast-down run, the binge on bulk helps the new model achieve class-leading fuel economy of 18/27 mpg city/highway (AWD) and 20/28 (FWD).

Of course, the all-new 3.5-liter direct-injected V-6 and revised 6-speed automatic play a pivotal role in the improved efficiency as well. Touting friction reduction between virtually every moving part, not to mention the addition of Variable Cylinder Management (VCM) that deactivates 3 cylinders when cruising, the single-cam 3.5 puts out 290 horsepower at 6200 rpm and 267 pound-feet of torque at 4500, representing drops of 10 hp and 3 lb-ft compared to the previous 3.7-liter V-6. But given the vehicle's overall weight reduction, acceleration times should improve slightly.

On my preview drive outside Portland, Oregon, the new MDX certainly felt sprightlier than its predecessor. The DI V-6 revs smooth and strong (and sounds sports-car worthy), the 6-speed is seamless and intuitive, the new electric power steering serves up solid feel and linearity, and the reworked suspension -- front struts with revised geometry; rear multi-link with coilovers in place of trailing arms -- replete with new Amplitude Reactive Dampers (variable damper rates), delivers a praiseworthy compromise between sport and comfort. What proved fortuitous in light of the showers that drenched the roads thru the Willamette Valley, Acura had only Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive versions available (the new front-drive variant, aimed at lowering the price of entry and broadening appeal along the Sunbelt, had yet to roll off the Alabama production line); naturally, the SH-AWD's active-torque-transfer system, capable of shifting front/rear torque from 90/10 to 30/70 and side-to-side rear torque from 0/100 to 100/0, proved adept at keeping the MDX surefooted in the rain. No doubt, the MDX's testing at the infamous Nürburgring Nordschleife, where 1 13-mile lap can yield both wet and dry conditions, paid off -- 8 seconds, in fact, over the '13.

A key piece to the MDX's rise in refinement and performance is the lighter, stronger, and safer structure. Completely new, the platform, which will underpin the next-gen Honda Pilot and Odyssey, utilizes Acura's latest ACE safety structure and the 1st application of a 1 -piece hot-stamped door ring, with both helping the MDX achieve what Acura predicts will be a 5-star safety score from NHTSA and a Top Safety Pick+ rating from IIHS. The airbag total is up to 7, thanks to a new driver's knee bag. In terms of active safety features, the MDX offers forward collision warning, lane departure warning, lane keeping assist, blind-spot monitor, and adaptive cruise control with low-speed follow, the last allowing for pedal-free motoring in stop-and-go traffic.

Inside, the MDX pampers with a cleaner, richer, better-equipped cabin. There's less of the faux wood and more of the soft-touch materials, rich Milano leather seating (upper trims), and satin chrome plated accents. Pushbutton start is now standard, and the 2 keyless fobs are programmable for mirror, seat, radio, and climate settings as well as the optional remote-start feature. The center stack button count has been reduced from 41 to 9, though many functions now require multiple inputs to the new haptic touchscreen. So, the stack appears simpler and less fussy, but determining whether user-friendliness has indeed improved will require more time behind the wheel.

3rd-row access and comfort are absolutely more user-friendly, what with a 1-touch folding 2nd row on both sides. Moreover, the 2nd row slides fore-aft 5.9 inches and reclines. Luxury and convenience features are plentiful and include a wide-view backup camera, Bluetooth, USB connectivity, tri-zone automatic climate control, a power-adjustable steering wheel, and a 432-watt audio system with Pandora and Aha compatibility. Move up to a non-base trim (Technology, Technology Entertainment, Advance Entertainment), and the features list grows to include such items as navigation, rain-sensing wipers, heated rear seats, rear-entertainment system, and audio systems flaunting at least 501 watts. Pricing opens at $43,185 for the front-drive MDX and $45,185 for 1 with SH-AWD. Add $4275 for the Technology or $6275 for the Technology Entertainment. If you associate luxury with quietness, open your wallet for the $12,215 premium baked into the Advance Entertainment, which, in addition to a 546-watt 12-speaker audio system and a 16.2-inch ultra-wide rear-entertainment system with HDMI connectivity, adds heftier carpet, extra insulation, and thicker rear-quarter glass. The improved noise isolation between this top-tier example and lesser trims, which do boast acoustic windshield and front-door glass, is akin to wearing regular versus noise-cancelling headphones – a nice touch when enjoying a bestseller.

2014 Acura MDX
BASE PRICE $43,185
VEHICLE LAYOUT Front-engine, FWD/AWD, 7-pass, 4-door SUV
ENGINE 3.5L/290-hp/267-lb-ft SOHC 24-valve V-6
TRANSMISSION 6-speed automatic
CURB WEIGHT 4000-4300 lb (mfr)
WHEELBASE 111.0 in
LENGTH X WIDTH X HEIGHT 193.6 x 77.2 x 66.7 in
0-60 MPH 6.5 sec (MT est)
EPA CITY/HWY FUEL ECON 18-20 / 27-28 mpg
ENERGY CONSUMPTION, CITY/HWY 169-187 / 120-125 kW-hrs/100 miles
CO2 EMISSIONS 0.85-0.92 lb/mile
ON SALE IN U.S. July 2013
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Old 05-31-2013, 12:53 PM   #11
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Old 05-31-2013, 12:54 PM   #12
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Before we get into the meat and potatoes of the 2014 Acura MDX, let's pause for just a moment and talk about the current, still-sitting-at-dealerships 2013 model. It's a pretty good machine. Perhaps guilty only of falling to the backburners of our minds in recent years because, well, the old girl's not gotten any younger. But every time we drove this 2nd-generation MDX, our thoughts were the same – good to drive, pleasant to sit in and a pretty decent value.

Acura's customers felt the same way, and so when it came time to design and engineer the 3rd-generation MDX, the vehicle's formula wasn't shaken up at all. Despite the fact that it uses a brand-new platform and offers a host of upgrades, the key points addressed by the company's engineers were the specific requests of customers and shoppers in the segment – changes that amounted to nothing radical. After all, if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Succeeding at being evolutionary is often far better than trying to be revolutionary. That in mind, we traveled to Portland, OR to see if that formula works for this fully redesigned Acura MDX.



The production-spec 2014 Acura MDX debuted at the New York Auto Show in March, following our 1st glimpse at the not-quite-ready "concept" version at the Detroit show in January. And when our team 1st laid eyes on the fully freshened MDX, our initial discussions surrounded the CUV's styling. The 2nd-generation model arrived during a time when Acura wasn't exactly doing great things with design, though a lot of us liked the angular shapes and prominent schnoz of the then-new model. Even now, that 2nd-gen MDX has quite a presence about it – it looks decidedly large and in charge, for better or for worse.

For 2014, however, things have changed. Senior Editor Seyth Miersma once described the new MDX as looking like the old 1 but having "melted by 10 percent." Moreover, this 3rd-generation MDX reminds us of a puffed-up version of the company's smaller RDX crossover that was redesigned for the 2013 model year. The lines are smoother and the whole package sort of loses the old model's presence, but this more conservative approach to the large, luxury CUV formula will likely appeal to a greater number of shoppers.



What's interesting, though, is how much smaller the new MDX looks in person, especially compared to the old 1. It's 1.5 inches shorter in overall height, and the width has been reduced by 1.3 inches, but this 2014 model gains 2.8 inches of wheelbase and is 2 inches longer than the previous model overall (note that the front overhang has been decreased, but there's added length between the rear wheels and the back bumper). Looking at the MDX from any angle, you might not immediately realize that this is a proper 3-row crossover.

Speaking of which, Acura has done a lot of work to make the MDX's cabin more luxurious and passenger-friendly – 1 of the areas of improvement requested by customers. Specifically, access to the 3rd row of seats was a big concern with this new model, and has been addressed in a very smart, traditionally Honda-like fashion. The 2nd row seat now slides both forward and backward to adjust legroom in the rear passenger compartment depending on where people are sitting, and there's even a 1-touch slide function, so there's absolutely no confusion on how to move the bench forward for easy access to the way-back. Acura engineers said they wanted to make it so even a child could figure out how to move the seat, and it's appropriately intuitive and low-effort. Check it out in the Short Cut video below.

Despite this desire for better passenger accommodations, the 2014 MDX is actually smaller inside in some areas than its predecessor, with headroom and legroom decreasing ever so slightly for nearly every row of seats (save front-seat legroom, which grows by 2-tenths of an inch). In fact, overall cargo capacity has been reduced to 90.9 cubic feet from 103.5, though the area behind the 3rd row of seats can hold 0.8 more cubes than the 2013 model, allowing the tailgate to close with a large cooler inside, a trick not possible with the 2013 model. The cabin doesn't necessarily feel like it has downsized compared to the outgoing MDX, but stepping into an Infiniti JX will reveal an interior that genuinely feels more spacious.

But there's still a whole lot to like here. A big area of improvement in the new MDX is found in the forward cabin, where everything has been completely redesigned. The center stack is now much cleaner and loses its button-heavy layout, and it incorporates the dual-screen interface that's employed in the RLX sedan. The 2-screen arrangement still strikes us as a bit redundant – the lower 1 is a haptic-feedback touch interface, whereas the larger, recessed 1 up top is controlled by the big knob at the bottom of the stack – but hey, it sure looks techy and there's great functionality within. In fact, many of the features found up front in the new MDX are reminiscent of what we 1st experienced in the RLX earlier this year. The steering wheel is nearly the same, with redundant controls for the radio and Bluetooth functions, as well as the color TFT information display in between the speedometer and tachometer.



All around, the MDX offers a comfortable, quiet environment for passengers, though the overall fit-and-finish isn't as solid or vault-like as what you'd find in a BMW X5. Still, we prefer the more premium approach to both the design and quality of materials over, say, the Infiniti JX or Lexus RX. It's an attractive cabin, with easy-to-use controls throughout. 1 noticeable change in operation between the 2nd- and 3rd-generation MDX, however, is seating position. Whereas the old car had a more upright, traditionally SUV-like feeling, you don't get that same sort of experience in the new MDX. It's a lot more car-like – your butt sits lower to the floor – while still offering an easy step-in height that makes for good ingress and egress for drivers of all shapes and sizes.

Acura will, for the 1st time, offer the 2014 MDX with front-wheel drive in addition to the automaker's excellent Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive. All models can be had with the less-expensive 2-wheel-drive option, and Acura executives say that the company has already had good success with this new front-drive strategy with its smaller RDX crossover. By achieving a lower price point without SH-AWD, this sort of package better appeals to folks in warm-weather states where the added cost and economy premium of all-wheel drive isn't really validated.

Regardless of how many wheels are driven, only 1 engine is available for 2014 – Honda's new Earth Dreams 3.5-liter V6, also found in the RLX, though detuned to produce 290 horsepower and 267 pound-feet of torque here (Acura's flagship sedan puts down 310 hp and 272 lb-ft) and mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission. Compared to the outgoing model, the new MDX's power numbers actually represent decreases of 10 hp and 3 lb-ft, and while we miss the better noise of the larger 3.7-liter V6 from the old model, the revised powertrain is a much smoother (and more efficient) operator.


A key point about the 2014 MDX is that it's a full 300 pounds lighter than the outgoing model; a top-level Advance model tips the scales at 4,332 pounds. No specific performance numbers were given, but we're told that the new MDX is roughly half a second quicker to 60 miles per hour than its predecessor. In fact, Acura took its 2014 MDX back to the Nürburgring, where the big CUV ripped off a lap time that's a full 8 seconds quicker than the time of the 2013 model. Leadfoot moms, rejoice.

This major weight savings comes thanks to an all-new platform, developed specifically for the MDX. Well... sort of. Acura says that the MDX will be the "lead vehicle for this platform," so we'd expect it to show up elsewhere in the Honda/Acura family at some point (*ahem* Pilot *ahem*). Still, this means more good things for the MDX – Acura says its new crossover posts the lowest published weight among AWD competitors. Fuel economy benefits here, too, with all-wheel-drive models capable of achieving 18 miles per gallon in the city, 27 mpg highway and 21 mpg combined, and front-wheel-drive versions increase those numbers to 20, 28 and 23, respectively. Most importantly, back in the land of SH-AWD, these new economy numbers represent gains of 2 mpg city, 6 mpg highway and 3 mpg combined versus the 2013 MDX. Good stuff.

The reason we always enjoyed driving the old MDX wasn't because it was some great enthusiast machine, but because everything that it did, it did well. It's a similar story here for 2014, with a few thoughtful improvements to offer a slightly more engaging feel to drivers who seek it, while still being pleasant and comfortable for folks who, frankly, could care less.



For starters, the new MDX utilizes an Integrated Dynamics System (IDS) that allows drivers to switch between 3 driving modes: Comfort, Normal and Sport. The setup here is pretty self-explanatory, with Comfort offering the maximum amount of assist from the electric power steering, while Sport mode offers slightly more weight, as well as improved and more direct throttle response and a more aggressive shift schedule. We tried all 3, with normal offering a perfectly fine dynamic for the luxury CUV set – light, yet direct steering, and linear throttle response. Comfort mode, on the other hand, takes away just about all weight from behind the wheel. There's a ton of assist available, with the steering feeling overboosted at times. Less steering effort was requested by a vocal portion of current MDX owners, and this suits that bill without mandating it for everyone. Of course, we naturally preferred Sport mode, and actually found the steering to be quite good, with no feeling of deadness on center.

Acura retuned its SH-AWD for Sport mode, too, with the system able to provide maximum torque vectoring under these more enthusiastic conditions. Coming out of a corner, you can really feel the power being sent to the wheels that need it most. Even during instances when entering a corner hotter than we (or the typical shopper) would, the system reacts quickly to keep things stable and on point through the turn. Occasionally, we found ourselves issuing small steering corrections exiting a corner, as the torque vectoring and throttle inputs can really steer the MDX through a turn. It's the sort of situation that we noticed here on our short drive loop through the hills outside of Portland, but we think it'd be easy to adjust to over time.


That said, we don't expect most MDX buyers to care about handling ability above all, and in the normal sort of luxury CUV driving tests, the MDX passes with flying colors. The new model is 16 percent more aerodynamic than the outgoing MDX, and Acura worked tirelessly to improve cabin quietness at highway speeds. The company went so far as to create what it says is an industry-1st 1 piece stamped door ring, a structural bit that eliminates a lot of potential air gaps while increasing rigidity.

We didn't have a chance to experience any sort of long-distance cruising to really vet out the noise levels over a long period of time – nor did we have the opportunity to sample a front-wheel-drive model. We'll try to catch up on both fronts for a Quick Spin down the road.

The 2014 MDX goes on sale in July, starting at $42,290 for the base, front-wheel-drive version, excluding $895 for destination. Acura will offer 3 higher trim levels – Technology; Technology and Entertainment; and Advance, priced from $46,565, $48,565 and $54,505, respectively. That's significantly cheaper than a similarly equipped BMW X5, but falls right in line with the MDX's closest 3-row competitor, the Infiniti JX. And while many would argue that the JX offers a more spacious cabin with better amenities, the MDX is far, far better to drive – and not just from an enthusiast standpoint. Get out of a refreshed 2013 Buick Enclave and into this 2014 MDX and you'll never want to get behind that Tri-Shield wheel again.

We're willing to bet that the midsize luxury crossover segment is 1 of the most competitive out there – just think about all of the options available from Germany, Japan and the United States. By continuing to keep the MDX's formula simple and sticking with what it knows, Acura has created a functional, thoughtful, premium vehicle that handily bests many of the other players in this segment. The 2014 MDX is perfectly fine (and, in fact, quite good) in just about every measurable area. Just like it always has been.
Vital Stats
Engine:
3.5L V6
Power:
290 HP / 267 LB-FT
Transmission:
6-Speed Auto
Drivetrain:
All-Wheel Drive
Curb Weight:
4,332 LBS
Seating:
2+3+2
Cargo:
90.9 CU-FT (max)
MPG:
18 City / 27 HWY
Base Price:
$42,290
As-Tested Price:
$55,400

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Old 05-31-2013, 03:21 PM   #13
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Old 06-01-2013, 11:10 AM   #14
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Unhappy Consumer Reports


The Acura MDX has long been a favorite SUV choice for many affluent suburbanites. We think its 2014 redesign will continue to please many, though impress few.

This 3-row car-based SUV has cultivated a loyal clientele by combining a measure of luxury with a lot of versatility. It's less ostentatious than, say, a BMW X5 yet has a bit more exclusivity than a Toyota Highlander.

When the 2014 Acura MDX goes on sale in July, its prices will span a wider spectrum thanks to the addition of a front-wheel drive version. Sticker prices will run from $42,290 to $56,505, with a typical AWD Tech trim level retailing for $48,565.

We've just had the opportunity to drive a pre-release MDX borrowed from Honda.


As always with Acura, the powertrain is slick and powerful. It's also nice to see that road noise is reduced, and handling is still responsive. The cabin is well put together and impeccably finished, but many controls have become more convoluted and confusing.

The functional 7-passenger interior remains the MDX's biggest drawing card. The front seats are very supportive; the 2nd row can slide fore or aft to optimize leg room for 2nd- or 3rd-row passengers as needed. The 50/50-split 3rd row is ideal for little kids, but pre-teens will feel they've outgrown it. A power release feature lets kids climb in and out of the 3rd-row seat more easily.

Generous cabin storage facilities include a deep bin between the front seats with a padded top that serves as an elbow rest. A handy compartment behind the 3rd-row seat has a slick lid that stays open as needed, rather than flop down. An available rear entertainment system includes a wide retractable video screen. The rear lift gate is power operated, but does without height adjustment.


Unfortunately, Acura just couldn't resist fitting the MDX with the same 2-tier display-screen arrangement found in the RLX. On the plus side, it lets you control the audio system through the lower touch screen and view the navigation or other functions on the top 1. But it also creates visual overload, and some simple functions take multiple steps to execute. Happily, a multifunction thumb wheel on the steering wheel alleviates some of that nuisance.

Most current MDX owners may not complain about how the new 1 drives, but some astute drivers might. The ride is firm yet compliant, but some motions at low speeds can be a bit abrupt. While the new electrically assisted steering is appropriately weighted, it is largely devoid of true feedback. That's too bad because the previous MDX steered quite well. Cabin quietness will certainly be appreciated with reduced levels of road noise, but we noticed some unwelcome suspension noise at low speeds.

We commend the punchy and refined 290-hp, 3.5-liter V6. The engine now employs direct injection. That, combined with some weight reduction and other measures, results in a combined EPA fuel economy gain of 2 mpg. We got 18 mpg with the previous MDX. The slick 6-speed automatic is largely a carryover and shifts are always timely.

The MDX lacks a few features compared to its market peers, such as an oversized sunroof and cross-traffic alert. But the MDX comes with a front collision-warning system and lane-departure warning on all trim lines, except the Base. Oddly, a heated steering wheel is a dealer-installed option.

Bottom line:
Although the driving experience is unremarkable and the styling is quite anonymous, the new MDX preserves most of the assets of the previous generation, especially the plush and versatile interior. Plus, it gains 1 or 2 new tricks. In the 3-row SUV club, it has all the ingredients to remain 1 of the sensible choices.
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Old 06-01-2013, 08:11 PM   #15
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All these reviews...

I knew Consumer Reports would ruin the good vibe. They're sometimes unnecessarily negative. Since most reviews favor the MDX positively, Consumer Reports have to be different.
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Old 06-02-2013, 07:52 AM   #16
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Acura, Honda’s luxury brand, is shifting design, engineering and production of its vehicles to the U.S.

The new 2014 MDX crossover vehicle that goes on sale in July is the 1st Acura to be developed entirely by the company’s Ohio tech center, the 1st Honda Group platform conceived here. The MDX architecture will probably also underpin the next Honda Pilot SUV.

“Acura as a brand is very heavily NAFTA-focused,” Mike Accavitti, Honda and Acura senior vice president of automotive operations, told me after I drove the MDX last week. For a long time, that simply meant that Acura only existed in the U.S. and Canada. The same vehicles bore Honda badges in the rest of the world.

Honda understands Acura must become more distinctive, particularly as the brand enters new markets such as China, Russia, Brazil and the Middle East. As the brand’s historic home and largest market, Honda’s U.S. operations have an unprecedented opportunity to shape Acura’s future.

The MDX was designed by Acura’s studio in Torrance, Calif. It just went into production in Lincoln, Ala. Every model but the RLX and TSX cars is built in North America.

Honda reinforced Acura’s American identity when it decided to build the next generation NSX exotic sports car in Ohio.

“It’d be nice to have a higher brand premium” in terms of pricing, and a higher overall perception of Acura’s status, said Accavitti, a former Chrysler executive who joined Honda in 2012. Accavitti said buyers see Acura as a smart choice because its cars have good resale value and offer lots of features compared with similarly priced competitors.


Acuras also tend to have roomy interiors, good fuel economy and high quality and reliability, said Frank Markus, technical director of Motor Trend magazine, and my driving partner in the MDX last week.

None of that has translated into the prestige and prices Acura needs to compete in the top tier of luxury automakers.

“Acura has a crisis in design,” Markus said. “Their vehicles just don’t look very interesting or good. Especially versus competitors like the Audi A7 or Mercedes CLA. They’ve got a long way to go on styling and to simplify their controls.”

The 2014 MDX — almost certain to be a highly profitable successor to Acura’s best-selling model — is vital to the brand’s immediate future, but the Ohio-built and-engineered NSX hybrid supercar may be the key in the long term. It could change people’s perception of the brand, particularly as others jump on the high-performance bandwagon with hyper-priced hybrids such as the $845,000 Porsche 918 Spyder, $1.3-million McLaren P1 and $2.3-million LaFerrari.

“We’re breathlessly awaiting the NSX,” Markus said. “It’s the affordable hybrid supercar.”

It’s the successor to the legendary NSX that helped put Acura on the map in the 1990s. Acura expects the combination of all-wheel drive, 3 electric motors, a turbocharged V6 and high fuel economy raise the brand’s profile.

“They can’t get the NSX fast enough,” said Jim Hall, managing director of 2953 Analytics. “Acura needs a serious flagship with a clear connection to the rest of its models.”

Contact Mark Phelan: 313-222-6731 or [email protected].
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Old 06-02-2013, 08:34 AM   #17
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We suspect we're not the only ones who think that the very premise behind some high-performance luxury utility vehicles borders on perverse.

Who are they kidding? Unless you're seeking revenge, you're not load you clients (or your mother-in-law) into the back seat and head out on a 9-tenths thrill ride—and driving like that with kids in the back seat? Don't dare. And are busy parents really going to take time away from carpool duty to go carve canyon roads in a luxury ute? Wouldn't they just have a Miata or an M3 for that?

All that silliness is perhaps part of the reason Acura did something very smart when it was redesigning the all-new 2014 MDX luxury crossover: Rather than listening to driving enthusiasts or focusing on how it build the brand's image, Acura went back and listened to current MDX owners.

What did they say? They like the size; they liked its performance; and they appreciated the utility and towing ability. But they wanted to see an improved interior, simplified controls, lighter steering, a quieter interior, smoother ride, and a little more room for the 3rd row.

The brand took all of that feedback very seriously, and with the 2014 Acura MDX that begins arriving at dealerships in July, it's complied with pretty much all of it.

And at least at 1st, it seems like an about-face of sorts in Acura MDX history, as the last-generation MDX took a big step in the performance direction. That version was a pretty sharp-driving, responsive crossover—1 of the best driving in its class, really—yet driving enthusiasts would have probably told Acura to tune the MDX even firmer, or that the steering could load up heavier.


Lean, athletic, yet not punishing

While Acura has shaken some of that edginess in the new 2014 MDX, we found the new model to be delightfully lean and athletic, and just as much at ease on undulating, oddly banked back roads as on smooth, fast highways.

But our 1st impression was that the MDX is quiet inside—very quiet—thanks to a host of noise-hushing and vibration-reducing measures. Active noise cancellation, active engine mounts, acoustic glass for the windshield and front windows, thicker glass elsewhere, added underfloor insulation, tighter seals, and subframe bushings are all among the many measures that help keep things quiet inside. And oh, do they.

Ride quality, too, is phenomenally good. New amplitude-reactive dampers reduce the damping force for high-frequency inputs—jittery pavement surfaces, for example—while hydraulic sub-frame mount bushings help seal out more road vibration.

Acura claims that the new approach improves ride comfort with no trade-off to handling, but in a back-to-back drive of a new 2014 MDX with the outgoing model, the new model didn't turn in quite as crisply. You do lose a little edge with all that vibration and harshness here, but to us and to the typical buyer, it's going to be worth it without a doubt.

And you do get a chance to tune things, when you are in a zippier mood. Just behind the shift knob, the IDS button (Integrated Dynamics System) commands 3 different modes. Comfort uses a lighter, higher-boost setting for the steering, and with a less-certain on-center feel in this mode we can’t imagine where you’d use it unless you need to do a lot of parallel parking with a sprained wrist or broken elbow (really, it's fingertip light). On the other side, the Sport mode offers real change—for the better, we think—with less steering assist and a more confident on-canter feel.


Very satisfying powertrain

Under the hood is a 290-horsepower version of Acura’s always-excellent V-6 engine—now fed with direct injection and kosher with the full suite of Honda’s so-called Earth Dreams technologies. Across the lineup, it’s mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission that includes steering-wheel paddle shifters. Click down to the 'S' mode and click the paddle-shifters, and you get quick throttle-blip downshifts. Furthermore, it's closer to a true manual mode, as the transmission here will actually let you hold onto gears—all the way up to redline, or all the way down to where you're starting to lug the engine.

Furthermore, Sport mode allows just a little more of the right engine sounds to make their way into the cabin—by actually allowing a different selective mode for the Active Noise Insulation system. Yes, it's a trick; but it works.

What's it all add up to? Rather counterintuitively, considering how much 'softer' it feels, the new MDX is actually faster on the track or on the back roads compared to the previous model. Although there's really no reference point, Acura boasted that the new model is actually 8 seconds faster around the Nurburgring, with the same driver, than the previous model.

Here's where impressions start to gel, and the new model starts to make even better sense. The 2014 MDX is noticeably lighter—about 275 pounds less than the outgoing model, and now at 4,025 pounds for the base model or about 4,300 pounds for the 2 tech-loaded AWD models we drove, it's 1 of the lightest vehicles its size. And it feels quick to react to any need—whether that be pulling off a quick pass, diving into a next corner, or maneuvering precisely around a parking lot.

The weight loss can be attributed to many things. The MDX is the 1st vehicle to be built on an all-new platform that will eventually underpin the next Honda Pilot and Honda Ridgeline, and this structure gives up the previous model's unibody-on-ladder-frame compound construction. There's a lot high-strength steel than its predecessor (59 percent versus 25 percent), which saves 123 pounds less in the body itself. Meanwhile in the seats and air conditioning system they've managed to save nearly 55 pounds. Body engineers are perhaps most proud of the new front door ring—a world 1st, and done in hot-stamped high-strength steel, in a single piece. That innovation alone should help improve the MDX's performance in side-impact and small-overlap frontal tests, we were told.


Packed with useful technology

Speaking of safety, there's a lot of it. MDX models with the Technology Package add Lane Departure Warning (LDW), which will warn you when you're straying out of your travel lane, and Forward Collision Warning (FCW) warns you of a rapid closing distance on a vehicle or barrier ahead. A driver knee airbag has been added for 2014, and a Wide View Camera system is included on all models. The Blind Spot Information system is included in all models but the base MDX., while Advance Entertainment models also have Lane Keeping Assist (LKAS), which will provide a gentle, proactive nudge to the steering to help you stay in your intended lane. And, we should note, for all of the cool active-safety features here, you won't feel like you're being nudged and nannied; most of these features are light on the false warnings.

During our drive, the skies opened up and a torrential downpour erupted—just as we were covering 1 of the most demanding, oddly banked and rough-surfaced stretches of road. And yet here, the combination of the MDX’s SH-AWD system and some new road-stability-minded features in the stability control system added up to a vehicle that felt tenacious, predictable, and hard to fluster, even in those conditions.

Inside, the new MDX feels warmer at 1st look, and the impression held for the length of the 5 hours we spend in and out of the cabin. Acura has paid much more attention to properly coordinated materials and trims, and it shows. The only letdown from a styling standpoint is that there's a very limited (only 4 hues) combination of interior colors and trims.


Back seat space matters—and it's great here

In terms of seating, there are no letdowns here, and everything's a little more comfortable, a little more spacious, than you might expect given either the exterior or your experience with a past MDX or a competitor. Wheelbase on this model is up about 3 inches, which frees up more space for the 2nd and 3rd rows. You can slide the 2nd row back and forth about size inches, and Acura has even installed a little lighted button beside the 2nd-row outboard seats, for 3rd-row access. A press enables a neat, cleverly-designed spring-loaded process (yes, fewer motors to short out, less weight and complication).

Still, getting into the 3rd row was, I’ll admit, quite a challenge for me, at a lanky 6’-6” tall. But once in, I head just enough headroom and I actually fit—mostly. I wouldn’t sit back there for more than a short trip, but it’s definitely doable for anyone more ‘normal-sized.’

Of all the things that Acura has changed with this MDX, pricing and market position isn't 1 of them. The new 2014 MDX starts at $43,185, including the $895 destination fee, which is just below what last year's base AWD model cost. Jump all the way to the top-of-the-line Advance & Entertainment model and you'll bottom-line at $57,400. In this class, that seems very competitive—especially including some of the features you get at the top of the line, like keyfob-integrated remote engine start, adaptive cruise control with a low-speed follow feature, collision mitigation braking, a wide-screen rear entertainment system with HDMI, 12-speaker ELS audio system, and Milano premium perforated leather upholstery with ventilated front seats.

Our only complaints about the MDX seemed, almost entirely, focused around the instrument panel and center stack. Acura boasts that it's managed to simplify the center-stack design and gone from 41 hard buttons to just 9. But many of those buttons (for climate control, for instance) have simply become 'buttons' that are part of the touch screen above—and require a little more focus than hard buttons would. A haptic 'buzz' from the screen helps, admittedly.


'Simplified' interface?

But then there's the fundamental design that, after being talked through the logic several times now, we question the worth of. As with Acura's other vehicles (and now, the upper systems in the Honda Accord, for instance), there are 2 screens. The upper screen isn't a touch screen, but the lower 1 is. A large 'jog dial' controller may at 1st seem like it's for volume, or for the screen it's just below, but it's for the upper-most screen, and navigates through a set of primary functions. The upper screen is supposed to be for critical information, we were told at 1 point, yet we still wondered about exceptions to this rule—like why do you sometimes get more detail for audio on the upper screen than on the lower screen.

Acura does offer an impressive navigation system here with integrated traffic, integrated Aha and Pandora streaming radio (with a smartphone and data connection), and a set of high-power Acura/ELS premium audio systems that have to be close to the best in this class of vehicle. Yes, it's an odd set of controls, but we'd get over it because the rest of the vehicle is so good.

As we wait in a holding pattern for the breakthrough reincarnation of the NSX supercar, it seems that Acura’s crossovers, the RDX, and especially this very sweet-driving MDX, seem to hit their stride right in line with what the market wants. While Acura's other sedans—the RLX, TL, TSX, and ILX—all seem to be struggling with their identity—the MDX is right here, right now.
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Old 06-03-2013, 08:38 AM   #18
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TTC Rating: 9

Quick Take
The 2014 Acura MDX is more focused than ever on its mission of keeping the entire family comfortable, content, and entertained—and yes, that still includes the driver.
Likes

Responsive powertrain
Excellent ride quality
Very quiet, refined interior

Dislikes
Unintuitive navigation/audio controls
Confusing dual-screen layout
Very limited array of interior colors/trims
The 2014 Acura MDX has, for more than a decade, been 1 of the top utility-vehicle choices for those who are sensible and practical yet value driving enjoyment. MDX buyers don't want to be hit hard by the reliability issues or depreciation that have affected some rival models; and they don't need a lot of off-road ability, or the appearance that they're ready to head out to the Rubicon.

Premium-brand, 3 -row crossovers like the 2014 Acura MDX can make impressive, high-class alternatives to minivans for large families, and it seems that the new 2014 MDX takes a step in that direction as well. With jiggered 2nd- and 3rd-row seats, a new fully flat-folding 2nd row, a lower passenger floor, and a lower cargo floor, the 2014 model takes a package that's about the same size and makes it more useful inside. While the current identity (and future) of Acura’s sedans like the RLX, TL, TSX, and ILX feels as nebulous as that next corner in the pouring rain, the MDX is clearer and more focused than ever.

Design-wise, there are no big surprises. The 2014 MDX takes to a shape that's a little more sport-wagon influenced, perhaps, and mates that with interiors that are a little warmer. The sleeker profile, more curvaceous sheetmetal, and some new, precise front-end details serve to give it a leaner look overall. Our editors are split on whether Acura’s ‘beak’ front end works, but we think that it’s much more flattering on the brand’s utility vehicles—and this new MDX—than on its sedans. Crisp matte-chrome details and ‘jewel-eye’ LED headlamps altogether gives this model a streamlined, elegant look. Inside, Acura has paid much more attention to properly coordinated materials and trims, and it shows.

The 2014 MDX is powered by a 290-horsepower version of Acura’s always-excellent 3.5-liter V-6 engine—now fed with direct injection and kosher with the full suite of Honda’s so-called Earth Dreams technologies. Across the lineup, it’s mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission that includes steering-wheel paddle shifters. The so-called Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) system that’s available in the MDX (yes, front-wheel drive is now standard, if that’s all you need) provides more all-weather traction, and even a little more cornering control in some situations, and it can vary front-wheel torque distribution from 90 percent down to 30 percent (70 percent to the rear)—or up to a hundred percent to either the left or right wheels.

The outgoing MDX has a ride that’s busy, to put it best, and 1 of the most delightful things about the 2014 MDX is how well it balances vastly better ride quality with handling that, almost miraculously, is more athletic—even though a little feedback to the driver is missing here. New amplitude-reactive dampers reduce the damping force for high-frequency inputs—jittery pavement surfaces, for example—while hydraulic sub-frame mount bushings help seal out road vibration. Acura claims that the new approach improves ride comfort with no trade-off to handling.

It's now 1 of the roomiest 3-row crossovers inside, unless you're willing to step up to a vehicle that's potentially too big to park. Front seats are about as supportive yet plush as you'd expect in a luxury crossover, and you can now slide the 2nd row back and forth about size inches, and Acura has even installed a little lighted button beside the 2nd-row outboard seats, for 3rd-row access. A press enables a neat, cleverly-designed spring-loaded process (yes, fewer motors to short out, less weight and complication). Flatter-folding seats, better storage solutions, and a great center-console arrangement with a slide-out tray all contribute to an impression that this is a vehicle that doesn't waste your space—or your time.

The 2014 MDX is also very, very quiet inside. An active cancellation system inside the cabin helps, as well as an active engine mount system that helps quell low frequency vibrations from the powertrain. Full-on acoustic glass is used for the windshield and front windows, while thicker, noise-insulating glass is used elsewhere; and Acura has added a load of insulation elsewhere, while looking at cabin air leakage to help seal out residual noise.

An all-new structure aids that refinement, but also more importantly it should result in top-tier safety ratings. Additional advanced-technology safety features include Lane Departure Warning (LDW), Forward Collision Warning (FCW). a Wide View Camera, and a Blind Spot Information system. A driver's knee bag rounds out an already complete safety set, and there's also Lane Keeping Assist (LKAS), which will provide a gentle, proactive nudge to the steering to help you stay in your intended lane.

The 2014 Acura MDX is offered in 4 different grades: base MDX, Tech, Tech Entertainment, and Advance Entertainment. Each of those 4 models can be specified with front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. At the top of the line, the Advance Entertainment gets Lane Keeping Assist, front and rear parking sensors, keyfob-integrated remote engine start, adaptive cruise control with a low-speed follow feature, collision mitigation braking, the wide-screen rear entertainment system with HDMI, the top 12-speaker ELS audio system, roof rails, and Milano premium perforated leather upholstery with ventilated front seats.

The 2014 Acura MDX will be built in the U.S., in Lincoln, Alabama, and it will reach dealerships beginning in July 2013.


Interior/Exterior: 8/10
We’ve seen styling as 1 of several key components to the MDX’s continued success over the years, and it’s clear that Acura wasn’t out to shake up the formula in the 2014 MDX. It’s within a few inches of the outgoing model in almost every respect, but a somewhat sleeker profile, more curvaceous sheetmetal, and some new, precise front-end details serve to give it a leaner look overall.

While Acura’s smaller RDX looks a bit larger with the last redesign it received, for 2013, the effect is pretty much the opposite with the new MDX. A more tapered roofline, somewhat more chiseled front end, and an even smoother rear-end design all serve to make this latest MDX impress as something that’s close than ever to a sport wagon.

Our editors are split on whether Acura’s ‘beak’ front end works, but we think that it’s much more flattering on the brand’s utility vehicles—and this new MDX—than on its sedans. A relatively simple front airdam design, complemented by crisp matte-chrome details and ‘jewel-eye’ LED headlamps, altogether gives this model a streamlined, elegant look, and while in back the MDX runs the risk of being generic, with its integrated tailpipe and ‘lined’ LED lamps, it all fits in.

Inside, Acura has paid much more attention to properly coordinated materials and trims, and it shows. And from a design standpoint, the dash, with its sloping, tiered look and V-shaped center stack, is a step more in pace with those in Acura’s sedans. We’re not entirely in love with the center stack's functionality—see the Quality (Comfort) and Features sections for more on that—but we like the way the entire dash fits in with the rest of the cabin, from a design standpoint.

If we have a complaint about the interior styling, it’s that the interior is only offered in 4 interior hues—Parchment, Eucalyptus, Graystone, and Ebony. A few more are on the way, an Acura official told us, but it’s a surprisingly limited, conservative range of possibilities at a time when the Acura’s European rivals seem to be offering almost countless possibilities with various lines, trim packages, and accessories.


Peformance 9/10
The 2014 MDX is powered by a 290-horsepower version of Acura’s always-excellent 3.5-liter V-6 engine—now fed with direct injection and kosher with the full suite of Honda’s so-called Earth Dreams technologies. Across the lineup, it’s mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission that includes steering-wheel paddle shifters.

Click down to the 'S' mode and click the paddle-shifters, and you get quick throttle-blip downshifts. Furthermore, it's closer to a true manual mode, as the transmission here will actually let you hold onto gears—all the way up to redline, or all the way down to where you're starting to lug the engine.

The so-called Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) system that’s available in the MDX (yes, front-wheel drive is now standard, if that’s all you need) provides more all-weather traction, and even a little more cornering control in some situations, and it can vary front-wheel torque distribution from 90 percent down to 30 percent (70 percent to the rear)—or up to a hundred percent to either the left or right wheels.

Acura has worked to mitigate torque steer by changing the geometry in front, reducing the driveshaft angles and the center offset. The powertrain itself has been lowered, too. Likewise, the former model's trailing-arm rear suspension setup has been dumped, in favor of a multi-link, coil-over-damper layout.

New amplitude-reactive dampers reduce the damping force for high-frequency inputs—jittery pavement surfaces, for example—while hydraulic sub-frame mount bushings help seal out road vibration. Acura claims that the new approach improves ride comfort with no trade-off to handling.

For the most part, they're right. Although the MDX's steering feel might not feel quite as crisp, or transmit as much feel of the road, as that of the previous version, the vehicle as a whole feels surprisingly capable and coordinated when driven near the limit.


Quality 10/10
The MDX stands as 1 of the roomier 3-row luxury crossovers. Front seats are about as supportive yet plush as you'd expect in a luxury crossover, but rear accommodations have been much improved. With about 3 more inches of wheelbase for 2014, there's a little more wiggle room if you need to regularly balance out the space between the 2nd and 3rd rows.

You can now slide the 2nd row back and forth about size inches, and Acura has even installed a little lighted button beside the 2nd-row outboard seats, for 3rd-row access. A press enables a neat, cleverly-designed spring-loaded process (yes, fewer motors to short out, less weight and complication).

Although the rear roofline of the 2014 Acura MDX looks more arched than before, that's deceptive; the rear cargo floor, behind the 3rd row, is nearly 3 inches longer, while the horizontal distance from the top of the 3rd-row seatback to the window is almost 6 inches longer. Making it even more useful for weekend projects, or hauling furniture items, the cargo area is now fully flat when the 2nd-row seats are folded.

Acura has done away with the storage area that was beside the front footwell in the outgoing MDX, but it's done a great job in redesigning what most people frequently use: the center console area. With a multi-tiered setup, the main bin has enough space for a tablet computer, a small purse or handbag. Then just aft and above is a smaller, tray large enough to hold a smartphone and perhaps pen. Ahead of the console top, which doubles as an elbow rest, an attractive wood-toned tray pulls forward to cover everything. It has traction strips and is a good place to stow any other small personal items you need to keep an eye on while driving.

There's also a large underfloor storage area in back, with a lid that can be propped up in position when you're loading. There's enough space in it for a laptop or camera bag, or an extra pair of shoes.

The MDX has not only active cancellation inside the cabin but also an active engine mount system that helps quell low frequency vibrations from the powertrain. Full-on acoustic glass is used for the windshield and front windows, while thicker, noise-insulating glass is used elsewhere; and Acura has added a load of insulation elsewhere, while looking at cabin air leakage to help seal out residual noise.


Safety 9/10
The 2014 Acura MDX has an entirely new body structure, so there's no way we can extend it's already very impressive 2013 results to present.

But based on Acura's own internal test data, it expects the MDX to earn the IIHS Top Safety Pick+ accolade, with top results in every category, including the new small-overlap frontal test. And from the federal government, it's anticipating a 5-star overall rating, with 5-star results for frontal and side impact. If these anticipated ratings are made official, we'll be raising the MDX's safety number to a '10.'

MDX models with the Technology Package add Lane Departure Warning (LDW), which will warn you when you're straying out of your travel lane, and Forward Collision Warning (FCW). Which warns you of a rapid closing distance on a vehicle or barrier ahead.

In addition to the full roster of airbags, a driver knee airbag has been added for 2014. A Wide View Camera system is included on all models, and a Blind Spot Information system is included in all models but the base MDX. Our only wish is that Acura had reached into the Honda parts bin and also thrown in the excellent LaneWatch system from the Honda Accord.

Advance Entertainment models also have Lane Keeping Assist (LKAS), which will provide a gentle, proactive nudge to the steering to help you stay in your intended lane.


Features 9/10
The 2014 Acura MDX is offered in 4 different grades: base MDX, Tech, Tech Entertainment, and Advance Entertainment. Each of those 4 models can be specified with front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive.

Tech models add navigation, AcuraLink, ELS Studio audio, GPS-linked climate control, Blind Spot Information, rain-sensing wipers, Forward Collision Warning and Lane Departure Warning, puddle lamps, HD Radio, a rear-door smart entry feature, a color TFT display in front of the driver, for turn-by-turn directions, and 19-inch alloys.

Step up to the Tech Entertainment model, and you get DVD Rear Entertainment, a 150-watt AC inverter, heated 2nd-row seats, and 2nd-row window shades.

At the top of the line, the Advance Entertainment gets Lane Keeping Assist, front and rear parking sensors, keyfob-integrated remote engine start, adaptive cruise control with a low-speed follow feature, collision mitigation braking, the wide-screen rear entertainment system with HDMI, the top 12-speaker ELS audio system, roof rails, and Milano premium perforated leather upholstery with ventilated front seats.

The Active Cruise Control system that's included in Advance Entertainment models now includes a low-speed follow feature that will maintain a set following distance and will come to a complete stop with slow-moving stop-and-go traffic. Side mirror positions, climate preferences, radio presets, and seat position can now all be tied in with individual key fobs, and 1 that comes with the Advance Entertainment model is of a new long-range bi-directional sort. You can remote-start the vehicle from up to 100 yards away (with a climate-control preconditioning mode for very cold or hot days), and the fob will give you a reminder, with a green light, when the engine is running.

The MDX’s AcuraLink system includes a complimentary 3-year subscription to the ‘Standard Package’—with traffic info for surface streets and freeways, vehicle messaging, and integrated Aha and Pandora entertainment. A Connect Package adds Assist Services, Map Services, and MyVehicle (remote vehicle services and diagnostics). Full-on concierge services are available with a Premium Package.

Separate options include back-up sensors, an engine-block heater, a cargo cover, a cargo mat and tray, wooden steering-wheel and shift-knob trim, a 1st-aid kit, and a few appearance accessories (side molding, running boards, garnish trim, and mudguards).

While the base audio system includes 8 speakers and 432 total watts, the premium Acura/ELS audio system now actually comes in 3 configurations. With the Technology Package, you get ten speakers and 501 watts. Step up to the Tech and Entertainment Package, with its DVD rear entertainment system, and there are eleven speakers and 529 watts. Then at the top of the line, with the Advance Package (and its 16.2-inch Ultra-Wide HDMI entertainment system), you get twelve speakers and 546 watts. Streaming apps are now available through Aha and Pandora.


Fuel Economy/MPG 8/10
At an EPA-rated 18 mpg city, 27 highway, the all-wheel-drive version of the 2014 Acura MDX actually gets 6 mpg better than its predecessor on the highway. And at 20 mpg city, 28 highway, the MDX is better than virtually any other 3-row utility vehicle in this class.

Honda says that it's the 1st of its utility vehicles in which underhood flow was included in aerodynamic design, and it claims a best-in-class coefficient of drag (as measured in its own wind tunnel, against rivals that include the BMW X5, Audi Q5, Lexus RX 350).

The aerodynamics, as well as improvements like low-rolling-resistance tires, allow the 2014 MDX to coast for more than 1.5 miles from 70 mph, Acura says.
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Old 06-03-2013, 05:16 PM   #19
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Consumer Reports - First drive: 2014 Acura MDX boasts improvements, yet feels unremarkable

The Acura MDX has long been a favorite SUV choice for many affluent suburbanites. We think its 2014 redesign will continue to please many, though impress few.

This three-row car-based SUV has cultivated a loyal clientele by combining a measure of luxury with a lot of versatility. It's less ostentatious than, say, a BMW X5 yet has a bit more exclusivity than a Toyota Highlander.

When the 2014 Acura MDX goes on sale in July, its prices will span a wider spectrum thanks to the addition of a front-wheel drive version. Sticker prices will run from $42,290 to $56,505, with a typical AWD Tech trim level retailing for $48,565.

We've just had the opportunity to drive a pre-release MDX borrowed from Honda.

First Impressions:
As always with Acura, the powertrain is slick and powerful. It's also nice to see that road noise is reduced, and handling is still responsive. The cabin is well put together and impeccably finished, but many controls have become more convoluted and confusing.

The functional seven-passenger interior remains the MDX's biggest drawing card. The front seats are very supportive; the second row can slide fore or aft to optimize leg room for second- or third-row passengers as needed. The 50/50-split third row is ideal for little kids, but pre-teens will feel they've outgrown it. A power release feature lets kids climb in and out of the third-row seat more easily.

Generous cabin storage facilities include a deep bin between the front seats with a padded top that serves as an elbow rest. A handy compartment behind the third-row seat has a slick lid that stays open as needed, rather than flop down. An available rear entertainment system includes a wide retractable video screen. The rear lift gate is power operated, but does without height adjustment.

Unfortunately, Acura just couldn't resist fitting the MDX with the same two-tier display-screen arrangement found in the RLX. On the plus side, it lets you control the audio system through the lower touch screen and view the navigation or other functions on the top one. But it also creates visual overload, and some simple functions take multiple steps to execute. Happily, a multifunction thumb wheel on the steering wheel alleviates some of that nuisance. (Read: "First drive: Bland Acura RLX is under equipped and outclassed.")

Most current MDX owners may not complain about how the new one drives, but some astute drivers might. The ride is firm yet compliant, but some motions at low speeds can be a bit abrupt. While the new electrically assisted steering is appropriately weighted, it is largely devoid of true feedback. That's too bad because the previous MDX steered quite well. Cabin quietness will certainly be appreciated with reduced levels of road noise, but we noticed some unwelcome suspension noise at low speeds.

We commend the punchy and refined 290-hp, 3.5-liter V6. The engine now employs direct injection. That, combined with some weight reduction and other measures, results in a combined EPA fuel economy gain of 2 mpg. We got 18 mpg with the previous MDX. The slick six-speed automatic is largely a carryover and shifts are always timely.

The MDX lacks a few features compared to its market peers, such as an oversized sunroof and cross-traffic alert. But the MDX comes with a front collision-warning system and lane-departure warning on all trim lines, except the Base. Oddly, a heated steering wheel is a dealer-installed option.

Bottom line:
Although the driving experience is unremarkable and the styling is quite anonymous, the new MDX preserves most of the assets of the previous generation, especially the plush and versatile interior. Plus, it gains one or two new tricks. In the three-row SUV club, it has all the ingredients to remain one of the sensible choices.

Source: http://news.consumerreports.org/cars...emarkable.html
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Old 06-07-2013, 03:29 PM   #20
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Last week, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) cautioned states about allowing cars featuring self-driving technologies on public roads. The federal agency recommending that licenses for such vehicles be limited to prototypes operated by specially-trained test drivers, at least for the next few years.

Funny thing is, on the same day that announcement came out I was in a car that was cruising down the road with no input from the person in the driver seat, controlling its speed and steering all by itself. Starting next month, you’ll be able to buy 1 for yourself.

Guess that cat’s out of the bag.

The 2014 Acura MDX looks about as much like the car of the future as the old MDX did, which it resembles quite a bit. But the updated luxury crossover is packing some impressive new driver assist technology under its familiarly-styled skin.

1st, there’s its optional adaptive cruise control system, which uses a radar to maintain a set distance to the vehicle you are following, even as its speed varies. A lot of cars on the road today have something like this, but Acura’s includes a Low Speed Follow function that can bring the MDX to a complete stop and return to the original cruising speed with a tap of the Resume button on the steering wheel when traffic starts moving again.

Meanwhile, a camera mounted at the top of the windshield scans the road ahead looking for potential obstacles, and the MDX will fire off an audible and visual warning, or trigger the brakes autonomously if it sees trouble ahead. But it’s that camera’s 2nd function that really drives the MDX into Tomorrowland.

By keeping its eye on the lane markers, it enables both a Lane Departure Warning and Lane Keeping Assist System that uses the electric power steering to keep the car between the lines. As with the cruise control, several other automakers, including Lincoln, offer similar systems, but the 1 on the MDX is so aggressive that you may wonder why you’ve even bothered to sit in the driver seat.

On a very windy road along the Hudson River Valley, my partner on a recent test drive was shocked when it engaged, taking his hands off the wheel as we sat there, amazed at how effectively the MDX was managing itself at speeds over 50 mph through a series of tight-radius curves that you wouldn’t want to take any faster if you were in control.

Granted, the system is only as good as the lines on the road are visible – it won’t pick them up if they’re too faded or covered in dirt – and some turns were simply too sharp for it to handle, but combined with the cruise control, on a relatively straight, well-kept highway, it seems that you could easily sit back, relax and enjoy the trip a good portion of the time; something 1 of the Acura representatives on hand said is exactly what he’s been doing his morning commute these past few weeks in the also-new RLX sedan that shares the technology.

He didn’t say it too loudly, though, and you won’t see Acura advertising the vehicles as “hands and feet free.” Lawyers, they’re still not comfortable with this sort of thing, and as good as it is, it’s still not perfect enough that you don’t need to keep an eye on things. But in a segment where technology is quickly becoming a key selling point, someone from Acura should be on a roof somewhere shouting about it.

If they won’t, I will, and look forward to happily surrendering to our electronic overlords. At least during my next boring commute.

At other times, the MDX is quite good to drive, especially for a minivan in disguise. The suspension features 2-mode shocks that eat up the little bumps, but offer excellent body control; the sport mode on the 6-speed transmission is plenty sharp; the steering is quick and nicely weighted, at least if you keep it out of comfort mode, which was added because some customers apparently need their steering so light that they can use one finger on the wheel; and you’ll hear no complaints about the 290 hp V6.

Front-wheel-drive is now available for Sun Belters, and good for 28 mpg highway, but Acura’s excellently-named Super Handling All-Wheel-Drive will make up the bulk of sales for just 1 mpg less. Fitted with a few more driver aids, like torque vectoring and something called

Compared to the outgoing MDX, there’s additional legroom throughout and significantly more cargo space behind the 3rd row. The design of the dashboard is standard issue Acura: quiet, handsome, but slightly underwhelming for a $43,185 car that can be optioned up into the $60,000 neighborhood.

The centerpiece of it is a touchscreen display that takes the place of 32 physical buttons on the control panel, leaving just 9. Unfortunately, it could use a few more. Functions as simple as turning up the fan or adjusting the volume now require navigating several screens. I’d have to spend a lot more time with the MDX to tell you if it gets better the more you use it, but it is infuriating and distracting at 1st try.

Good thing the MDX can take care of some of the driving while you figure it out.

Just don't tell NHTSA.

----------

2014 Acura MDX

Base Price: $45,185

Type: 5-door, all-wheel-drive 7-passenger crossover

Engine: 3.5L V6

Power: 290 hp, 267 lb-ft torque

Transmission: 6-speed automatic

MPG: 18 city/27 hwy
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Old 06-07-2013, 03:44 PM   #21
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Old 06-10-2013, 07:39 AM   #22
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CG Says: Acura designers and engineers are hoping to bring back the spark that made the MDX such a hit with new-car shoppers. The 2014 MDX drives and handles exceptionally well and boasts a quiet, refined cabin that has pretty much everything you need and nothing you don't. Rear-seat room and comfort are not great, despite the redesigned models' longer wheelbase and overall length. Further, the control interface still has a couple usability issues, but the design is much improved over the outgoing MDX. Still, this Acura deserves a top spot on your shopping list, especially since you can buy 1 with front-wheel drive. The top-line Advance Entertainment version is a bit pricey for what it offers, but the Base and Technology models deliver lots of safety, convenience, and luxury features at reasonable-for-the-class prices.

UPDATED: 06/04/2013
Vehicle Highlights
PROS
Fuel economy (projected)
Quietness
Steering/handling

CONS
3rd-row seat room/comfort
Control layout
The Basics
The Acura MDX did for the 7-passenger luxury crossover segment what the Lexus RX 350 did for the 5-passenger luxury crossover segment. It essentially invented it. Since its debut back in 2001, MDX has been a consistent best seller for Honda's luxury marque.

For its 1st 2 generations, MDX came exclusively with all-wheel drive. That changes for 2014, as new front-wheel-drive models join the lineup. Acura says this will give MDX greater appeal to "sun belt" buyers who don't necessarily want or need AWD. Front drive also brings with it a lower price point, making it accessible to a broader group of buyers.

Competitive Vehicles
When MDX debuted more than a decade ago, you couldn't find another 7-passenger luxury crossover on the market. Its closest rival was the 5-seat Lexus RX. Acura still considers the RX to be a rival, but perhaps more appropriate competitors in this space would be the BMW X5, Buick Enclave, and 2013 Infiniti JX35. Note that the JX will undergo a name change to
QX60 for the 2014 model year, but the vehicle will otherwise stand pat.

New for 2014
Everything about the Acura MDX is new for 2014. This is an absolute clean-sheet redesign. The chassis and body structure are new. Horsepower drops slightly, but projected fuel economy gets a significant boost. Credit a new engine and curb weight that's 275 pounds lighter than the outgoing MDX for that achievement.

A few safety and technology features previously reserved for the top-line trim level move into more-mainstream models for 2014. MDX's interior gets a fairly dramatic update, eliminating the "button-itis" that plagued the 2007-2013 version.

Production of the 2014 MDX moves to Honda's factory in Lincoln, Alabama, from the old models' home in Ontario, Canada.

Trim Levels, Equipment, and Options
The 2014 MDX's trim-level designations mostly carry over from the 2013 edition. They ascend through entry-level Base, volume Technology, more-feature-rich Technology with Entertainment, and top-line Advance Entertainment.

Base versions retain a fairly high level of standard equipment, including leather upholstery, heated power front seats, power liftgate, sunroof, and rearview camera. Keyless entry with pushbutton engine start and LED headlights are newly standard on this model.

The Technology model adds a navigation system, Acura Link infotainment and telematics, and Acura's high-end ELS-brand audio system. Newly standard on this model are blind-spot alert, forward-collision warning, lane-departure warning, rain-sensing windshield wipers, and an HD Radio receiver. Technology with Entertainment versions gain heated 2nd-row seats, rear DVD entertainment with 9-inch screen, 150-watt power inverter for connecting external entertainment sources (video game consoles, laptop computers, etc), and 2nd-row window sunshades.

The top-range Advance Entertainment gets adaptive cruise control, Acura's collision-mitigation braking, upgraded leather upholstery, ventilated front seats, front- and rear-obstacle detection, remote engine start, and a rear DVD system with a 16.2-inch screen. Also included is a more-advanced lane-departure-warning system that gently nudges the steering wheel if sensors detect the vehicle leaving its intended lane.

Remote engine start is standard on the Advance Entertainment and optional otherwise. A heated steering wheel is available on all MDX models. The factory installs the wiring for these 2 features. If a customer would like these options added to their vehicle, the dealer performs the final installation and preparation.

Special Features
The Advance model's rear entertainment screen is a whopping 16.2 inches wide. It also includes an HDMI input port, which can be used to connect modern video-game consoles.

The 2014 Acura MDX is 1 of the lightest vehicles in its segment, checking in at a couple hundreds pounds less than some 2-row, 5-passenger crossovers, including the Lexus RX and Cadillac SRX. MDX weighs nearly 1,000 pounds less than the 7-seat Audi Q7.
Engines, Transmissions, and Fuel Economy

MDX's sole engine/transmission combo is a new 290-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 paired with a 6-speed automatic.

Though it has 10 fewer horsepower than the outgoing model, the 2014's lower curb weight should translate into quicker acceleration and much improved fuel economy. Indeed, the 2013 MDX received a rather mediocre fuel-economy rating of 16 mpg city/21 mpg highway. 2014 models equipped with all-wheel drive rate 18/27. The new front-wheel drive MDX gets a score of 20/28. Acura recommends premium-grade gasoline for all MDX models.

Safety
All 2014 Acura MDX models include the safety features buyers can expect from a vehicle in this class. Blind-spot alert and forward-collision warning are newly standard on Technology models. Advance versions add lane-departure prevention to the Technology's included lane-departure-warning system.

On the Horizon
When Acura introduces a new or redesigned vehicle, it typically sees no major changes for the subsequent model year or 2. Any significant updates will likely not be forthcoming until model-year 2016 at the earliest.

This evaluation is based on preview test drives.

1st Spin
It's a sad reality that some things once described as trend setters are now stale and mainstream. Such is the case with the Acura MDX. This premium-midsize SUV essentially created the 7-passenger luxury crossover genre when it bowed for the 2001 model year. It went on to be a smash success for the brand, earning accolade after accolade--including Consumer Guide's Best Buy award in our premium-midsize SUV category.

The streak continued when Honda's luxury division redesigned the MDX for the 2007 model year. Alas, all good things must come to an end, and MDX failed to make the CG Best Buy cut for 2013. It was ousted by the upstart Infiniti JX35, produced by Nissan's luxury brand.

Not 1 to take things lying down, Acura's designers and engineers started with a blank canvas, creating a brand new MDX from the ground up. The 2014 edition looks different, feels different, and even smells different. But is it the sweet scent of victory, or does MDX remain out-classed in its class?

When we said the 2014 Acura MDX was a clean-sheet redesign, we meant it. The chassis is brand new and unique (for now, at least--we suspect parts of this design will end up on the next-generation Honda Pilot). The body structure, composed mainly of high-strength steel, weighs 123 pounds less than the outgoing MDX. Other weight-saving measures include lighter seats, subframes, suspension, steering, and HVAC (heating/ventilation/air conditioning), for a combined savings approaching 300 pounds. This is all while the 2014 MDX is longer in wheelbase and overall length than the model it replaces.

Under the hood is 1 of Honda's new "Earth Dreams" engines. It's a 290-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 that pairs with a 6-speed automatic transmission. Though it actually has 10 fewer horses than the 2013 Acura MDX, projected fuel economy of the 2014 model is vastly improved, by up to 6 mpg on the highway for all-wheel-drive versions. Expected to be even more efficient is the new front-wheel drive MDX, the 1st time such an option has been offered on this particular vehicle.

The complete 2014 MDX lineup, including feature availability is described above, but we'll reiterate a few of the new goodies this vehicle boasts. Lane-departure prevention, remote engine start, and a huge 16.2-inch widescreen rear DVD entertainment system are among the new items offered on the top-of-the-line Advance Entertainment. Blind-spot alert and forward-collision warning, safety items previously available only on top-line versions, are now standard on the Technology, a model Acura expects to account for more than 30 percent of MDX sales.

As part of the interior's complete revamp, Acura has done away with the previous model's button-heavy control interface. The central dashboard stack now has 9 buttons, down from the outgoing MDX's 41. The 2014 edition employs a 2-tier display similar to that of Acura's new flagship, the 2014 RLX sedan. The screen at the top-center of the dashboard continues to display navigation (if equipped) and infotainment data, while a smaller screen is touch operated and governs most audio and some climate controls.

With Acura poised to make a comeback into the segment it pioneered, does the 2014 MDX have what it takes to re-claim its spot as a top choice among premium-midsize SUVs? We took to the scenic roads around Portland, Oregon, to find out.
What's Cool...

Still a Good Drive
We've praised the outgoing MDX for its sporty driving character, and those traits have not diminished as part of its 2014 redesign. Steering feel is outstanding, body lean is well controlled, and the brakes deliver confident stopping control.

Bringing It to the Front
While Acura's Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) is a terrific system, it's not something that every buyer wants or needs. The availability of a front-wheel-drive MDX will certainly expand this vehicle's appeal in sunnier climates as well as with customers who like the vehicle's features but would rather have the AWD system's $2,000 price premium remain in their bank accounts.

More for Less and More with Less
While prices on most 2014 MDX models are higher than the 2013 editions, the company is adding quite a bit of content. Technology models now gain many of the safety features that were once reserved only for the top-of-the-line Advance.

Despite having 10 less horsepower than the 2013 MDX, the 2014's projected fuel economy goes way up--by more than 20 percent in some cases. Credit the vehicle's significantly reduced curb weight as well as the engine's use of fuel-saving high-pressure gasoline direct injection.

...What's Not

Advanced Sticker Price
The MDX Advance Entertainment costs nearly $6,000 more than the Technology Entertainment and almost $8,000 more than the Technology. With destination charge, an AWD Advance Entertainment will set you back more than $57,000. While it's still a lot of SUV for the money, we don't think there are enough extra features to justify such a high price premium over the already well equipped Technology and Technology Entertainment.

Cramped Rear Quarters
MDX's 2nd-row seat is unexceptional for space or comfort. Headroom is a bit tight, and legroom is just OK. Acura includes a thoughtful "1-touch" power tilt and slide feature for the 2nd row, which offers reasonably good access to the 3rd-row bench. Once situated, though, headroom and legroom are in rather short supply. If you're going to carry 6 passengers (who are larger than children) on a regular basis, MDX might not be the best choice.

Lingering Control Confusion
The 2007-2013 Acura MDX included no fewer than 41 buttons on the central control stack. We think Acura might have gone a bit too far in the opposite direction with the 2014 model, as it has just 9 buttons. Most audio and some climate functions are now governed by a touchscreen. Its operation is a bit fiddly, particularly if you need to tune the radio or adjust the standard heated or available ventilated front seats. The navigation system on models so equipped still functions via a separate display atop the center of the dashboard; users control this part of the MDX via Acura's signature "Jog Dial." The navigation screen can also display audio data, which takes some acclimation.
CG Road Test
ACCELERATION
AWD Advance Entertainment 6
Class Average 5.5

Only the Advance Entertainment with all-wheel drive was made available for our preview drive. MDX's new 3.5-liter V6 engine delivers power very smoothly, if not always strongly. You're never wanting for more muscle, but at the same time, MDX might not feel as sprightly as some luxury buyers might prefer. The 6-speed automatic transmission kicks down quickly when the driver desires more power. Upshifts are not always seamless, even when accelerating at a more leisurely pace.

FUEL ECONOMY
AWD Advance Entertainment 5
Class Average 4.5

No opportunity to measure. The 2014 MDX's projected fuel economy of 20 city/28 highway with front drive and 18/27 with AWD are vastly improved over the outgoing models' 16/21 scores. Acura recommends premium-grade gasoline for the MDX.

RIDE QUALITY
AWD Advance Entertainment 7
Class Average 7.0

Previous MDX Advance models included an adjustable suspension, which made the ride either too floaty or too brittle, depending on the driver's desired setting. This setup is no longer offered on any 2014 MDX, and frankly, we don't miss it. The redesigned model rides comfortably with good body control, at least on the reasonably smooth roads of our western Oregon preview drive. The suspension reacts quickly to imperfections without inducing any unwanted secondary motions.

STEERING/HANDLING/BRAKING
AWD Advance Entertainment 7
Class Average 6.0

Despite the loss of its adjustable suspension, the 2014 MDX is no less tossable. This is a surprisingly fun and capable SUV. Acura's Super Handling All-Wheel Drive does a great job of maintaining grip through tight turns, especially on wet pavement. Steering response is excellent, and the brakes stop the vehicle swiftly.

QUIETNESS
AWD Advance Entertainment 8
Class Average 8.0

MDX was already a quiet vehicle, and Acura has improved it further for 2014. A stronger body and additional sound-deadening materials make for an atmosphere largely free of wind and road noise. If we had to nitpick, the only source of racket worth mentioning is the engine. It's only heard during full-throttle acceleration. It doesn't sound unrefined, but it's not the best noise either.

CONTROLS
AWD Advance Entertainment 5
Class Average 6.0

Acura has reduced button clutter on the 2014 MDX by more than 70 percent. The steering wheel is less busy and easier to manage. While the navigation system continues operation in a screen atop the center of the dashboard, most of the audio and climate functions are now part of a smaller touchscreen, similar to the Acura RLX premium-midsize sedan. Though an improvement over the outgoing MDX, this new control system still takes some acclimation. Simple actions such as tuning the radio and adjusting seating heating/ventilation require multiple virtual button presses that can distract drivers.

DETAILS
AWD Advance Entertainment 7
Class Average 7.5

MDX's cabin is best described as "purposeful luxury" rather than high-end opulence. Interior materials are solid and pleasing to look at and touch. Buyers of the top-line Advance Entertainment might want a few more distinctive touches given its larger price premium over other MDX models, but nothing is out of place.

ROOM/COMFORT/DRIVER SEATING (FRONT)
AWD Advance Entertainment 8
Class Average 8.5

Overall room is quite good, and the seats are long-haul comfortable, with just the right amount of support. Somewhat thick rear roof pillars and tall headrests can obstruct visibility. When in use, the Advance Entertainment model's ultra-wide DVD entertainment screen can block the view out back. Kudos to Acura for including blind-spot alert on more than just the most expensive trim level. We wish they would do the same for the available ventilated seats.

ROOM/COMFORT (REAR)
AWD Advance Entertainment 6
Class Average 6.5

The 2nd-row bench seat is unremarkable for both comfort and space. Taller passengers will find headroom a bit cramped. The seat is also adjustable fore and aft, and most occupants will want it in its most rearward position for optimal legroom. MDX offers handy 1-touch power operation that tilts and slides the 2nd-row seat, allowing for easier access to the 3rd row. Once situated, however, passengers will find headroom and legroom in very short supply, even with the 2nd row adjusted forward.

CARGO ROOM
AWD Advance Entertainment 9
Class Average 9.5

Both rows of rear seats are split and fold very easily to form a nearly flat cargo floor. There's a small under-floor bin behind the 3rd row, but it's a bit too shallow to be of real use. Interior storage is ample. The center console can be configured to accommodate a tablet. The glovebox is large, as are the door pockets.

VALUE IN CLASS
AWD Advance Entertainment 6
Class Average 7.5

TOTAL SCORES
AWD Advance Entertainment 74
Class Average 76.5
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Old 06-10-2013, 01:46 PM   #23
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Rarely is the question “how much can you improve on a good thing?” so aptly applied as it is with the 2014 Acura MDX. It’s the 3rd generation of Acura’s brand-defining luxury SUV, a car that has been the brand’s bestselling model since ‘07; last year, over a 3rd of all Acura sales in Canada were MDXs, and the manufacturer is predicting the same for this latest model, calling for a 6,000 unit sell-rate for the new model’s 1st year.

Those are some mighty shoes to fill—does the ’14 MDX have what it takes?


A few important changes required

As well as the MDX drives—and as we’ll see later, it does drive very well—Acura felt that more needed to be done in an effort to appeal to our more luxurious tastes.

With that in mind, they’ve simplified the centre-console—I’d forgotten how convoluted and button-rich the old car’s was, but after spending a few minutes in it, that all came rushing back—replacing most of those buttons with a dual-LCD screen interface (the button count has dropped from 41 to 9). The upper display houses your navi, the lower display controls for your HVAC, infotainment and so forth. The touchscreen is nice and responsive and the buttons are nice and big, but I did find the graphics a little old-school compared to competition in the form of Chrysler’s UConnect system (1 of my favs) or BMW’s iDrive. There are also no knobs or buttons for controlling your HVAC; having to rely on the touchscreen for this is a little annoying.


New MDX gets lower roof line and more aerodynamic front-end. Now, not only does it drive like a car, it’s starting to look like 1, too

Also added to the top-spec trim level is real Olive Ash wood trimming, whose matte look is a very nice touch that recalls options on offer from other top luxury brands like Land Rover or Mercedes-Benz. It’s reserved only for the top Elite trim, however, as is a new infotainment system with an ultra-wide 16.2-inch display that can be split; if 1 kid wants to play a video game (the system features an HDMI port) and the other wants to watch a DVD, then they can both have their wish. Also smart are the steering wheel-mounted scroll wheels for your volume and trip computer controls. Unlike other manufacturers, whose controls look like scroll wheel but are, in fact, just buttons that can be pressed up or down, Acura’s have an action much like that of a computer mouse.

The Elite also features the top-spec (of 4) audio systems that gets you 12 speakers and 546 watts of power. The other 3 systems give you 8, 10 and 11 speakers, and 432, 501 and 529 watts of power. Taken together, these features really do make for a luxurious experience at the Elite level.

The bread-and-butter trim, however, is the all-new $54,690 Navi trim, which sits 1 level above base. With it, you get navigation, leather seating, hard drive-based storage and a 10-speaker Panasonic ELS audio system.


New model (left) gets new LED light treatment, reduced grille and lower roof. Looks good

Ease-of-use

After the improvements to the MDX’s luxury chops, next on the list was to make the vehicle more accessible and more livable both for the adults sitting up front, and the kids in the 2 rows behind them (Acura is expecting the MDX’s buying population to be younger, affulent families going forward).

For the passengers up-front, and for the driver especially, more high-tensile steel has been used for the body, meaning less steel overall was needed. This makes for a roomier interior, and a much better view out, 2 things you’ll experience—as we did—as soon as you switch out of the ’13 model, and into the ’14.


Large central control knob remains, but centre stack button count has been reduced from 41 to 9 thanks to new 8 in. touchscreen display

It’s much roomier in the ’14, airier even though the car is actually narrower and lower than the outgoing model.

It’s also easier to access the 3rd row of seating thanks to a new touch-sensitive system; just brush a button mounted low and on either side of the 2nd row seat and it tumbles and slides forward; it’s so simple and light that the kids will probably be able to do it themselves. It’s not quite as intuitive as the Infiniti JX35’s fold/tilt/slide system, but it’s a mighty step up over the outgoing model. The way the “seat fold” button glows at night, meanwhile, is another nod to the new emphasis on luxury being championed by Acura.

Once folded, those clambering into the back (and it will still be a bit of a clamber, new folding seat or not) will be happy to know that Acura has crafted a step-down system, making entrance and egress that much easier.

Front seat passengers also benefit from a newly-designed centre console that looks more complex than anything I’ve experienced before, but is fairly intuitive when you spend some time in the car. Included is a total of 3 levels, which combine to essentially provide 3 separate storage bins. The deepest bin is big enough for small bags or iPads, the next level slides fore and aft, is finished in wood and has a set of rubberized strips mounted atop, making for a perfect landing area for your mobile device (we placed an iPhone there during a set of sharp curves, and it hardly moved at all) while the topmost level is perfect for sunglasses or wallets.


Centre console gets 3 levels of storage; telescoping shelf gets grippy rubber inserts to ensure cell phones don’t slide away

Gone are the days where all you had to do was craft a storage bin big enough for CDs; Acura says that its market research has shown that folks are carrying a variety of objects with them, and with those objects, a variety of shapes and sizes. Me? I’m just happy I no longer have to waste a cupholder by filling it with a phone, which is what I almost always end up doing in cars these days.

Other creature comforts include a hidden underfloor storge area behind the 3rd row, which is nice as you’re going to sacrifice storage with the 3rd row deployed (leaving you with 447 litres of cargo space, which actually isn’t that bad), as well as a Canada-only smart climate control system that ensures that as soon as the car is started after being unlocked with the keyfob, the ambient temperature will be set to 7 degrees Celsius, through clever manipulation of the heated steering wheel, heated front seats (these are ventilated on the Elite trim level, a feature unavailable elsewhere in the range), heated windshield and climate control system. The auto temperature can also be adjusted.

Super-Handling AWD on all trims, with less to haul around

Weight has been cut by 131 kilos for 2014, through the use of 35 per cent more high-strength materials in the frame and chassis of the MDX. Also new–not just for the MDX, but for the industry as a whole–is the use of hot stamping for the frame, a process that adds less weight than traditional automotive welding practices.

The seats are lighter. Some steering components are fabricated with light-weight magnesium and even the HVAC system has been tailored for less weight. It’s not quite a Mazda SKYACTIV-like transformation, but it is nonetheless a comprehensive re-imagining of what Acura’s biggest model—both in size and sales–is all about.


Interior recalls older model, but is much less cluttered and feels roomier as a result

The MDX has always been surprisingly nimble for its size, but the ’14 takes things up a notch, evidenced by some time we spent on a tight autocross track. This is an SUV that feels even more like a car, thanks to smart use of torque-vectoring (the brakes are automatically applied to the rear wheels to keep things copasetic through turns) and a surprisingly lively and light steering rack that is good and would be great, if it weren’t for a distinct lack of feel.

Then again, on-track performance is not really what the MDX is all about, and in keeping with the luxury focus, Acura took steps to reduce noise levels within the cabin, which were bad in the 1st gen, got a lttle better for the 2nd gen and continue to improve here.


3rd-row seats are now easier to access thanks to folding and tumbling 2nd row

The suspension dampers have been tuned to better reduce noise thanks to the addition of an extra valve within the damper, and a new multi-link rear suspension set-up takes noise dispersal a step further.

Another noise-causing factor that plagues the SUV world is drag and the associated wind noise, which Acura has reduced by crafting a more aerodynamic front end that includes a new grille and aerodynamically-shaped headlights, a fascia that is becoming a staple of the brand. The roof has also been lowered, and a functional rear spoiler completes the package.

The result is the quietest-riding MDX yet; even under hard acceleration, you’d have to strain your ears to really hear the engine.

Part of Honda/Acura’s new Earth Dreams concept, the new engine is a little smaller, a little down on power than the outgoing model (300 hp on the ’13 plays 280 on the ’14) but the switch to gasoline-direct injection, and the fact the new car is so much lighter, mostly makes up for the power discrepancy. You do, however, feel a bit of that power gap higher in the rev band.


16.2 in. rear display can be split in 2, turning your MDX into a mobile rec room of sorts. Can only be had on Elite trim

Of course, I’d bet dollars to Dunlops that most MDX drivers aren’t going to be wringing the neck of their MDX so as to ever reach the upper rev band, so they’d probably be more interested in knowing that technologies like cylinder deactivation and direct-injection will be lowering their fuel costs; Acura is claiming 11.2 litres per 100 kilometers in the city, and 7.7 on the highway.

As does the re-engineered 6-speed automatic transmission which gets a self-shift option via wheel-mounted paddles (the MDX’s closest competition in the form of the JX doesn’t offer this) and Acura’s Integrated Dynamics System; with a button mounted just ahead of the shifter, 3 drive modes can be selected, each 1 changing how much engine noise enters the cockpit, how heavy the steering feels, how quickly the throttle responds to driver input and how invasive the torque vectoring is.

In the end…

For the duration of our drive, we kept it in spot mode because as far as I’m concerned, that’s how an Acura should feel.

Thanks to underdog supercars like the NSX, and hot-selling tuner specials like the Integra, Acuras have always been the sporty ying to the complacent-luxury-above-all yang of so much of the competition. It’s an image that has been fading a little lately; Acura’s sportiest model is arguably the ILX, but it doesn’t sell all that well, at least not as well as the CSX or even the RSX before it did.

With the MDX and its starting price of $49,990 (Navi, Tech and Elite trims start at $54,690, $59,990 and $65,990, respectively), there’s a chance for Acura to make good on its claim that younger buyers, buyers that are looking for a little more from their luxury SUV than simply a way to easily transport the hockey team, are going to turn to the MDX.

Early 1st impressions suggest that if I were them, I would look very closely at this car before jumping into a JX or even a BMW X5.

Look for our full Review and Road Test of the ’14 MDX later this summer.
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Old 06-11-2013, 08:28 AM   #24
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Back-to-back driving of the outgoing and incoming MDX models shows how much Acura has smoothed out the ride and handling of the large cross/utility vehicle.

Not that the exiting version is bone-rattling. It offers refinement 1 would expect from Honda’s luxury brand. It’s that the new MDX is so noticeably improved.

The driving dynamics are suave, agile and quiet. Acura engineers spent a lot of time addressing those things. The effort has paid off.

The 3rd-generation 7-passenger CUV also comes with plenty of creature comforts and technological wizardry that keep the occupants safe, entertained and connected.

The original version of the MDX was a breakthrough vehicle when introduced 12 years ago. It won 2001 North American Truck of the Year honors. “It helped define a segment that used to be body-on-frame,” says Art St. Cyr, Acura’s vice president-product planning and logistics.

The centerpiece of the ’14 MDX is an all-new purpose-built body and chassis. The vehicle is Acura’s 1st developed from the ground up using the new platform.

It makes the vehicle stronger and safer, yet weighs 275 lbs. (125 kg) less than the previous generation, says project leader Jim Keller.

“We did an all-out attack on weight,” he says, noting how that was done throughout the vehicle. “For example, we took 44 lbs. (20 kg) out of the seats.”

The trimming down results in better fuel economy and makes the vehicle more nimble.

“While the 2nd-generation MDX remains competitive, we decided to up the ante” with the new model, Keller says.

That includes an increased use of lightweight materials, such as high-strength steel, aluminum and magnesium. Such body materials account for 59% in the new model compared with 25% in the ’13 MDX.

“We’ve achieved both outstanding strength and weight reduction,” Keller says.

The new body also is 16% more aerodynamic, with a 19% reduction in vehicle- running resistance. The CUV can coast for more than 1.5 miles (2.4 km) from 70 mph (113 km/hr).

The MDX’s torsional body rigidity is up 12.4%, aiding the cause of improved dynamic response and better isolation of road noise. That is done in a variety of ways, from added insulation, thicker carpeting, insulated glass and a new rear-suspension system that reduces noise paths into the cabin.

All-new suspension componentry includes a strut-type front suspension with triple-path damper mounting system, and a more compact and efficient multilink rear suspension.

The MDX platform accommodates the new 2-wheel-drive model. The previous model offered only all-wheel drive.

“People in southern states don’t want AWD to the extent people in snowbelt states do,” Jan Moore, MDX senior product planner, tells WardsAuto. Offering a 2WD version widens the shopper base and improves fuel economy, she adds.

It also allows Acura to reduce the base price. The ’14 MDX goes on sale in July starting at $42,290 for the 2WD model, a $990 reduction compared with the outgoing AWD-only offering.

On the other end, the new MDX with AWD as well as technology and entertainment packages tops out at $56,505. Add to that an $895 destination and handling charge.

Customer and dealer feedback accounted for product-development decisions on many matters, ranging from body size to interior configurations.

The vehicle is 2 ins. (5 cm) longer to enhance ride quality and interior spaciousness. But it also is 1.3 ins. (3.3 cm) narrower to aid both aerodynamics and so-called garage-ability.

“Customers told us they wanted a narrower vehicle,” Moore says. “They didn’t want a blown-up version that was hard to squeeze into parking spots.”

Acura also reconfigured the interior to accommodate families, she says. “They wanted it better organized and with more places to put their stuff.”

A deep and long center-console storage compartment is big enough to put “iPads, purses and things you want to secure but not take with you,” Keller says. Product developers increased rear cargo space after customers said more room was needed back there.

“Customers told us the space behind the 3rd-row seats was almost big enough but not quite,” Keller says.

Acura says it developed the MDX based on the image of an “executive family jet.” Yet, the auto maker tried to cut down on cockpit clutter by reducing the number of buttons and knobs on the center-stack console.

“The previous generation’s took a lot of criticism, and some of it was deserved,” Keller says “So we reduced the number of hard buttons from 41 to 9.”

That was done by moving many controls to the display screen. The result is a cleaner-looking center stack. But the new system requires more touchscreen, menu-down buttons that can exacerbate driver distraction.

On the other hand, Acura interior engineers say the infotainment system is intuitive and largely voice-activated.

The new MDX’s 3.5L V-6 engine is smaller than the 3.7L in the previous generation. Despite the downsizing, powertrain engineers say the engine, similar to 1 in the smaller RDX cousin, delivers more refinement, fuel efficiency and lower-end torque.

It produces 290 hp and 267 lb.-ft. (361 Nm) of peak torque with about 8% more torque below 2,750 rpm.

Due to improved operating efficiency, horsepower output per liter is up 2% and torque output-per-liter is increased 4.4% compared with the previous engine. The enhanced engine performance particularly is noticeable on the back-to-back test drives of the ’14 and ’13 models.

The engine is mated to a reengineered 6-speed automatic transmission with Acura’s Sequential Sport Shift, reduced friction and smoother gear changes. On AWD models, power to the wheels is managed by Acura’s Super Handling All-Wheel Drive system, which automatically metes out torque between the front and rear axles and the left and right rear wheels

Variable Cylinder Management switches between 3- and 6-cyl. modes, depending on engine load, varying engine displacement to match driving conditions and to save fuel. New technology allows the vehicle to run on 3 cyl. in more driving situations.

The new MDX gains an impressive 17% in fuel efficiency. The 2WD version gets the most: 20-28 mpg city/highway (11.7-8.4 L/100 km).

“In fuel economy, we moved from a relatively also-ran position to top-of-class,” Keller says, referring to competitors such as the Lexus RX 350, Mercedes-Benz ML350 and BMW X5. “Before, fuel economy previously wasn’t a top MDX attribute. Now, it is.”

Acura is pitching the MDX to Generation X families. When the MDX debuted 12 years ago, Baby Boomers made up 73% of new-family car buyers. Gen X accounted for the rest. Now Gen X makes up 68% of that group. Generation Y accounts for 20%. Boomers have dropped to 12%.

Acura sold 50,854 MDXs last year, according to WardsAuto data. The high-water mark was in 2004 with 59,505 deliveries.

The auto maker isn’t announcing sales targets for the new model but expects volumes to increase, says Jeff Conrad, the division’s vice president and general manager.

“We think the market will accept substantially more than we are selling now,” he tells WardsAuto. “We’ve taken a vehicle that was the gold standard of the SUV market and raised the level of refinement, sophistication and luxury. We’re not sitting on our laurels.”

The vehicle’s incubation occurred at Honda’s research and development center in Ohio. A plant in Lincoln, AL, will build the MDX.

’14 Acura MDX
Vehicle type Large CUV
Engine 3.5L gasoline direct-injection V-6
Power (SAE net) 290 hp @ 6,200 rpm
Torque 267 lb.-ft. (362 Nm) @ 4,500
Bore x stroke (mm) 3.5 X 3.66 in. (89 X 93 mm)
Compression ratio 11.5:1
Transmission 6-speed automatic
Wheelbase 111.0 in. (283 cm)
Overall length 193.6 in. (491.7 cm)
Overall width 77.2 in. (196.1. cm)
Overall height 66.7 in. (169.4 cm)
Curb weight 4,025 lbs. (1,825.7 kg)
Base price $42,290 (LTZ)
Fuel economy 20-28 mpg city/hwy est. (11.7-8.4 L/100 km)
Competition BMW X5, Audi Q7, Lexus RX, Mercedes-Benz ML

Pros Cons
Efficient V-6 Visually undaring
Gadgets galore $14,215 base-loaded price difference
Wonderfully quiet Bye-bye buttons
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Old 06-11-2013, 09:57 AM   #25
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IDK about you guys, but I expect this model to be a grand slam for Acura.
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Old 06-12-2013, 12:53 PM   #26
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Having just driven the 2014 Acura MDX, we came away impressed with the refinements made on the 2014 model, and its sleeker, trimmer, more sophisticated design. If you want to know what it's like behind the wheel, read our 1st-drive review 1st drive review here.

In this installment of Styling Showdown, we're going to focus on the more superficial differences between Acura's new SUV flagship and its predecessor. Honda and Acura have a reputation of playing it safe when it comes to the styling of their vehicles, and the new MDX doesn't rock the boat too much by retaining some trademark Acura styling cues such as a more refined, subtle rendition of the Acura "shield" grille, and horizontal taillights. Overall, the look borrows a lot from the redesigned RDX, which itself borrowed some inspiration from the previous MDX.


The most immediate styling cue linking the MDX and RDX is the triangular rear-quarter window, which has a steeper, more pronounced angle than the more upright window on the 2013 model. But the 2 models part ways in proportions and details. The RDX has more aggressive vertical surfacing on its wheelwells, whereas on the MDX, it's more subdued. Likewise, the MDX has a much longer rear door, due to its 5.3-inch longer wheelbase.

With LED lighting being the current signifier of "premium" styling and aspiration, the new MDX goes all-in with full LED Jewel Eye headlights, a design shared with the flagship RLX sedan. The taillights are mixed LED and conventional lights.


Compared with the last-generation MDX, the new model is 2.0 inches longer overall and rides on a 2.8-inch-longer wheelbase. Height has been lowered by 1.5 inches, and rear step-in height is 1.8 inches lower. The 2014 model is 1.3 inches narrower than its predecessor, but from the driver's seat, seems about a foot narrower, in a good way.

Which gets us to the subject of the interior. The 2013 MDX was chock full of luxury goodies and features, but their presentation left something to be desired. Whereas the previous model's interior was characterized by a button-riddled center console and angular detailing for surfaces and designs, the 2014 shows more refinement in the surfacing and radically reduces the number of buttons by migrating many of those functions to the new touchscreen display. And as noted previously, the new model's narrower body and cabin translates into a more tailored feel, rather than the last model's broad expanse of woodgrain and buttons. The fake wood accents remain in the 2014 model, but in a much more restrained, tasteful application.

Having seen and driven the new MDX up close, we think it's a big improvement over its predecessor in almost every area, and while beauty is in the eye of the beholder, we like the styling of the 2014 better too. Which is your favorite, the chunky, wide, and bold 2013, or the trimmer, more refined 2014?


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Old 06-12-2013, 03:53 PM   #27
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Old 06-13-2013, 07:17 AM   #28
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The 2014 redesign of the upscale Acura MDX pushes the popular SUV closer toward the class best-seller, the Lexus RX. But the MDX has a trick up its sleeve.

It has a 3rd row.

Lexus created the midsized luxury crossover segment, but it continues to avoid the 3-row niche. To carry more than 5 aboard a Lexus SUV, you need to buy a GX or LX. Both of these are big lumps of truck, not the car-based SUVs that most buyers seek. Even though Lexus sells over 100,000 RXs a year, they're probably giving away piles of money with this omission.

All MDXs have a 3rd row seat--they always have had that extra row, spanning all 3 generations. Sure, most buyers will leave it folded down. But having that extra capacity is like a security blanket for lots of parents, something that means they can haul half of the soccer team- even if they never will. Lots of automotive decisions work that way.

Beyond that, the distinctions between the Acura and Lexus blur with the MDX's redesign. Improvements in cabin quietness and ride show that Acura chased after the plush RX. (After all, those 100,000/year Lexus sales must be tempting.) Sure, the MDX has lost some of its sporting appeal, partly traceable to the fuel-economy-improving switch to electric steering. But combining the RX's plush feel with the MDX's 3rd row might prove a temping recipe, providing a product that Lexus lacks.

In general, it's getting hard to know where Acura is aiming. They're shying away from the overt sportiness that typified the brand half a decade ago. On the other hand, cars like the Civic-based ILX and the lackluster RLX show that Acura isn't succeeding at providing the quiet isolation that marks a luxury brand. 1st impressions are that the MDX manages to be more well-rounded than Acura's other recent efforts. But the Acura conundrum continues.
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Old 06-17-2013, 10:28 AM   #29
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The all-new 2014 Acura MDX provides all the technology you need in a premium SUV for 5 to 10 thousand dollars less than its German competition. For the 3rd generation, Acura beefed up technology, added a 2nd LCD to the center stack, reduced the button count (finally), dumped excess weight, and improved fuel economy to as much as 28 mpg. Order the MDX with adaptive cruise control and lane departure warning/lane keep assist, and you’ve got a vehicle that could — don’t try this at home, okay? — drive by itself for miles and miles.

Acura’s biggest issue with the MDX remains a packaging of options that forces you to take 2 licorice jelly beans to get the 1 lemon jelly bean you want. In an era of movies on iPads, why do you have to take a 16-inch-LCD rear entertainment system to get lane keep assist?

ExtremeTech’s best-in-class winner

At ExtremeTech, we’re building a honor roll of the best vehicles in each class. For us, that means a vehicle with the right technology, not just a cushy ride or available chrome dubs. This is our 1st citation: the 2014 Acura MDX as the best premium SUV. That’s in a field with more than a half-dozen solid competitors, such as the Audi Q5, BMW X5, Buick Enclave, GMC Terrain, Infiniti JX35, Lexus RX, Nissan Pathfinder, Mercedes-Benz ML, and Toyota Highlander.


What makes the Acura MDX stand out?

Acura was 1 of the worst offenders on center stack complexity with more than 60 buttons (by our count) on models 5 years ago. It’s far better now. Acura says the “hard button count” is down from 41 to 9 (45 down to 25 as we count it). There are now 2 separate LCD screens: an 8-inch unit for navigation and 7-inch for audio plus climate control on all but the entry model. The upper screen is controlled by the jog-shuttle dial located below the lower screen; the lower screen is a touchscreen. It’s more confusing to describe than to use.

Expect to see more cars with dual LCD displays of 7 to 8 inches rather than a single display. The only better solution might be the super-wide screen on a handful of cars such as BMW and Lexus use: 10 inches on the diagonal with double-wide VGA resolution, 1280×640, that can be used a single or split screens.


A 3rd multi-information display (MID) in the instrument cycles among navigation prompts, audio information, phone, and adaptive cruise control/lane keep assist.

The steering wheel controls are larger than average and when it comes to steering wheels bigger is better. Best of all, Acura follows Audi’s lead with scroll wheel buttons. The left button is sheer genius: roll the wheel up or down for volume, tap in to mute, push the wheel left or right to jump tracks. The right scroll wheel switches among MID content displays, makes selections, and resets trip information.

Use the scroll wheel for a minute and you’ll wonder why more cars don’t have them. Automakers now recognize this and some put a roundel front on what is merely an up-down rocker switch. In other words, the world’s automakers recognize the scroll wheel excellence in Audi, BMW and Acura designs, but they’re too cheap to implement more than the scroll wheel look and feel.

There’s a new infotainment system to go with the dual LCD displays and the option of 3 excellent ELS (Elliot Shiner, a Grammy-winning producer) audio upgrades. In back, there are 2 entertainment options, either a 9-inch display or a 16.2-inch ultrawide display that allows 2 programs to play side-by-side, 1 of which can come be over an HDMI connector. The next generation AcuraLink telematics system provides embedded (in-dash) and tethered (on your smartphone) applications, including Pandora, Aha, Facebook, Twitter, Yelp and NPR, plus real-time traffic.

Acura still does not have 1-shot destination navigation input (“navigate to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, DC”), there’s just a single USB jack, the base model lacks HD Radio, and the DVD drive for the rear seat display is in the center stack in front, ideal for toddlers in back, annoying to older children.


So smart that it’s nearly self-driving

The suite of driver assist tools on the Acura MDX is enough to make the car almost self-driving. More accurately, it maintains course on non-curvy roads and won’t run into the car in front if your attention wanders for a second or 2 … and possibly for a minute or more. Yes, technology is moving ahead.

Driver aids include blind spot detection, lane keep assist or lane departure warning, full-range adaptive cruise control, collision mitigation braking system, rear camera, and available rear sonar.


The MDX that can drive itself for brief periods is the top model and it costs $57,000. Once you get past the entry model (the MDX), levels 2 (MDX Tech) and 3 (MDX Tech Entertainment) have lane departure warning, and level 4 (MDX Advance Entertainment) have lane keep assist and adaptive cruise control.

Adaptive cruise is a known technology and works well; this 1 is full-range ACC that tracks the car in front down to 0 mph rather than cutting out at 20-25 mph. Acura’s lane keep assist doesn’t just warn you when you edge onto a lane marker (as LDW does) or bounce you back with a steering or brake correction (as early lane keep assist does). Rather, lane keep assist system (LKAS) starts to correct the moment you go off center; Acura likens it to a ball rolling down a half-pipe, meaning it tends to return to the middle.

For several miles at a time on curving country roads with no oncoming traffic, with my hands lightly on the wheel, the car would track mostly in the center of the lane, when it drifted it generally righted itself, and only about once a mile did it come so close to lane edges that I had to intervene. 1 limited access roads with gentler curves, Acura LKAS is capable of tracking the road mile after mile. The point is not that you can deliberately stop paying attention, but rather if your attention wanders for a second or 2, the machine corrects for the human’s error.

Should you buy another car with a feature called lane keep assist, understand that other cars may not have the same abilities that this Acura has. Think: Darwin lives.

The duller part of Acura’s advanced tech: engine, suspension, more

The 2014 Acura MDX gets as much as 28 mpg. How’d they do that? The new body is 275 pounds lighter even as the MDX grew 2 inches (to 193 inches), about the same as a BMW X5, almost a foot shorter than a Cadillac Escalade. There’s a new, more efficient V6 engine down slightly in power (290 hp total), still with variable displacement (cylinder shutdown) and active noise cancellation in the cockpit to make the ride quieter.

For the 1st time since the MDX arrived in 2001, there’s a 2-wheel-drive (front drive) version sought by drivers in non-snowy states; that’s the 1 that gets 28 mpg highway.


Acura is always a couple transmission gears behind the competition and its people turn feisty when asked why Acura has 6 speeds when the competition has as many as 8, soon to be 9 forward gears. Look at how good our mileage is, they say. Still, you wonder if 8 speeds might propel the new MDX to 30 mpg highway with the front-drive model. That would be great advertising. The outgoing MDX was rated at 21 mpg highway.

Acura continues with torque vectoring, or super-handling all-wheel-drive (SH-AWD) , a technology that sends extra power to the outside wheels when cornering and makes the car MDX more stable or lets you go around corners even faster. The integrated dynamics system, controlled by a console button, maps the steering, active sound control, throttle response, torque vectoring, and shift points to sport, normal, and comfort. Each key fob has its own setting.

In lay terms, the 2014 MDX is quick, quiet, safe, and about as economical as an SUV can be without a hybrid or diesel engine. It’s rated at 20 mpg city, 28 mpg highway, 23 mpg overall for the front-drive MDX, 18-27-21 for all-wheel-drive.


Room for improvement

The Acura MDX may be the best car in its class as of mid-2013, just not perfect. The biggest concern is Acura’s have-it-our-way options scheme that quickly elevates you past the $43,000 base price. To get the features you want, you have to buy 1 of 4 trim levels, and live with the trim level’s features you really didn’t want. To get the long-distance highway cruiser with adaptive cruise control and lane keep assist, you must take the top (MDX Advance Entertainment). Did you really want a 16-inch rear display in an era when most kids out of diapers are using tablets for personal entertainment? You love audio, but did you need 546 watts and 12 speakers worth of Elliot Shiner music when there are 2 more affordable levels of ELS audio on cheaper MDX’s that get by with 11 and 10 speakers? Customers told Acura the new model had to have a front-drive option (added by Acura), push button start (added), remote start (added), and parking sensors (whoops). The only way to get front and rear parking sonar built in is to buy the $57,000 model, that or pay the dealer to retrofit rear sonar (only) for a lofty $500.


Acura’s reluctance to offer more choices might make sense if the MDX was built in Japan and shipped stateside via slow boat. But the MDX comes out of Lincoln, Alamaba. BMW in comparison has thriving build-to-order system for the competing X5 built in Spartanburg, South Carolian, and can deliver the car in just a couple weeks, priced anywhere from $48,000 to $89,000. That allows BMW to offer 3 different engines, nearly 2 dozen options and accessories that carry more profit than the base vehicle, even a choice of 2 or 3 seating rows.

Still, similarly equipped, the Acura MDX you buy will come in about between $5,000 and $10,000 less than an X5. Example: Acura’s 3rd row of seating is standard; BMW gets $1,700.

Outside of BMW and its long list of options, only a couple competitors’ features are unavailable on the MDX: air-cooled rear seats, 360-degree low-speed maneuvering cameras, a head-up display, and vibrating steering wheel alert for lane departure warning (Acura sticks with a chime heard through the cockpit).

Should you buy the MDX?

You’ll be blown away by how much the new MDX is improved. The center console will hold tablets and small notebooks. The middle row of seats has good room for adults. The 3rd row of seating is standard, and a button on the sides of the 2nd row seat cushions slides the middle seats forward for 3rd row access; even little kids can use it. This is a great long distance cruiser but it’s not so big you feel uncomfortable running errands around town, and it’s still at home on dirt roads even if it won’t cross 2-foot-deep streams as the old 1 did. Handling is sporty, more in line with its German competition.

And if you’re looking at used SUVs, the new MDX is so good (and different-looking) that there should be a downward blip of values of the previous generation (2007-2013). Most 3- to 4-year-old MDXs will come with Bluetooth, an iPod adapter, and probably a competent navigation system making for a potential good deal.
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Old 06-22-2013, 07:21 AM   #30
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Acura took the wraps off its 2014 MDX at the same time the new Superman film opened in theatres.

While Superman may be the Man of Steel, the MDX is a premium SUV on a steel diet, incorporating lighter materials to shave off pounds.

Nor is the MDX’s story as glamorous as that of our fictional superhero. It was conceived in Japan in 2001, and initially referred to as Multi-Dimensional Luxury, or MDX. It was adopted by Acura, Honda’s premium brand, in North America and found its way into the driveways of suburban homes with growing families.

While it had no super powers, it did have an advantage over its competitors at the time — 3rd-row seats. This gave the young SUV the same carrying abilities as a 7-passenger minivan, allowing citizens from Metropolis to Victoria to ditch their minivans.

Fast-forward to the present. Over the past few years, the MDX has been weakened, its flaws now well-known and exploited by competitors. 9-passenger seating with a DVD player in the back is now common fare — nothing super here anymore. Other vehicles also have radar, to warn drivers of oncoming obstacles. They, too, have the ability to see behind the vehicle. Ho-hum.

So what’s in store for the MDX? Can it fight off the never-ending stream of villains?

We drove a 2014 MDX with the top-of-the-line Elite package (which adds $16,000 to the $49,990 base price) to find out.

Acura hopes the 2014 MDX will be like a summertime blockbuster. The storyline is familiar: The 2014 MDX is stronger, lighter and more fuel-efficient. Thanks to an all-new platform, the interior is more spacious. There is now more room behind the 3rd-row seats, so you can still carry a bit of cargo with every seat occupied.

It’s easier to get back there as well, with seats that slide and fold with 1 touch. Rear passengers can thank the 2014’s extra 70 mm in its wheelbase for the added legroom if the rearmost seats aren’t occupied.

While it did grow longer, it shrunk in width by 32 mm in response to owners in urban centres who found it hard to open doors when boxed in on either side. The MDX also loses 17 mm in overall height, again in response to ever-shrinking heights in underground garages — as well as those at homes.

Between the reduction in mass and use of lighter materials, the 2014 is 131 kilograms lighter. Even the engine loses 200 mm in displacement and 10 horses. Add an 18 per cent improvement in aerodynamics and the net benefit is evident at the pump, with a rated 7.7 litres per 100 km on the highway and 11.2 in the city.

The 2014 MDX also strives to appeal to a larger audience. The vehicle now offers a comfort setting along with normal and sport. Vehicles with more than 1 driver will find each key remembers minor details, such as radio presets and climate preferences, along with more common seat memory and side-mirror settings.

Noise and vibration are kept in place by generous helpings of sound insulation between the panels. Acoustical glass covers the rest. All of the materials make the cabin a serene environment to listen to Zen music on the 546-watt premium audio system with 12 speakers (including a subwoofer).

As a premium brand, the MDX is stuffed to the brim with cutting-edge technology. Slip behind the wheel of the flagship RLX and you immediately recognize many of the same luxury features as are in the less-expensive MDX.

The only change that puzzles me is Acura’s choice of wood for the dash. Gone is the high-gloss veneer look that has been in cars for ages. Instead, they have opted for rough-textured olive ash that, frankly, looks fake. A caveat: This wood is found only in the Elite package. As this was the only 2014 available, I have not seen the wood in the base model.

Perhaps to redeem itself, Acura now offers climate control that automatically controls the temperature of the seats — heating or cooling them — in tandem with regulating the air.

While the list of features is extensive, the number of buttons is not. Stung by criticism over the abundance of buttons in the last-generation MDX, engineers have simplified the centre stack considerably. The appearance is more elegant. Unlike in a few premium luxury cars I have driven lately, the main controller — some refer to it as a rotary joystick — is on the dash and not on the space between the front seats.

While the front-row occupants are treated very well, you need only step into the 2nd-row seats to see where a lot of time and effort has been lavished.

To start, there is plenty of head and legroom. The back seat shares the opulence of the front, with climate control with adjustable vents. The seats recline and can slide fore and aft.

An extra-wide 16.2-inch screen drops from the ceiling. The extra real estate means split screens are possible. The rear entertainment system not only includes a DVD player but also HDMI input in case movies are coming from an external source. The controller can be detached from the unit to be used as a wireless remote. Two wireless headphones are included, so kids’ shows don’t disturb their parents’ quiet ride.

While Superman has X-ray vision, the MDX has something just as handy — a surround-view camera system that uses front, side and rear cameras to give a bird’s-eye view of a driver’s surroundings when parking. A button on the dash activates the front camera at low speeds.

While it can’t fly, travel as fast as a speeding bullet or do other nifty tricks, the new MDX proves it can still impress a demanding crowd.
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Old 06-22-2013, 10:46 AM   #31
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Old 06-24-2013, 01:01 PM   #32
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What Edmunds Says
Even more complete and desirable than its successful predecessor, the all-new 2014 Acura MDX is a top pick for a midsize luxury crossover, offering abundant refinement, luxury and comfort.

Pros
Superbly crafted interior; capable handling; good fuel economy; quiet, comfortable ride; long list of standard and available features.

Cons
Front seats offer limited adjustability; less cargo space behind the 3rd row than most rivals.
What's New for 2014

The Acura MDX has been completely redesigned for 2014. Highlights include improved fuel economy, a higher-quality and quieter interior, and a new control interface.


Introduction

The 2014 Acura MDX illustrates the benefits of smart and selective evolution. The previous generation was a success, popular with buyers who enjoyed this midsize luxury crossover SUV's sporty performance and luxurious nature. Still, there's always room for improvement, and canny upgrades have produced an even more refined adaptation, poised to achieve even broader appeal.

Last year's MDX shared its platform with the Honda Pilot and previous-generation Odyssey. For 2014, the crossover gets a new platform that offers a slight increase in interior room. Within the MDX's cabin are useful new features, such as a 2nd row that slides forward with the touch of a button to facilitate 3rd-row access. A 7-inch touchscreen largely replaces the endless array of buttons that dominated the center stack of previous models, and this upgrade gives the dash a cleaner, more modern look.

There's a new 3.5-liter V6 under the hood, and though it offers 10 less horsepower than the 3.7-liter it replaces, it boasts more low-end torque thanks to direct fuel injection technology. Acura says the 2014 MDX gets from 0 to 60 mph half a second quicker than last year's model, due largely to a 275-pound curb weight reduction. The new engine brings fuel economy gains, too, and AWD models in particular offer a 17 percent improvement in combined mpg. And for the 1st time ever, Acura's midsize crossover is also available with 2-wheel drive, which gives buyers in mild climates a less expensive (and more fuel-efficient) entry point into MDX ownership.

The MDX's talents are formidable, but it faces strong competition. The 2014 Buick Enclave is roomier and less expensive, but falls short of the Acura in refinement and handling. The 2014 BMW X5 is more performance-oriented, but it also represents a significant step up in price. Infiniti's QX60 and Lincoln's MKT are solid picks, but neither is as enjoyable to drive as the MDX. With its pleasant handling and ride dynamics and generous feature content, the highly evolved 2014 Acura MDX earns our recommendation for drivers seeking a 3-row crossover that hits the sweet spot when it comes to driver engagement, luxury
and value.


Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2014 Acura MDX is a midsize luxury SUV that seats 7. It is offered in 1 well-appointed trim level with progressive add-on packages.

Standard features include 18-inch wheels, automatic LED headlamps, heated mirrors, a power liftgate, a sunroof, rear privacy glass, keyless entry/ignition, heated eight-way power front seats (with driver power lumbar), driver memory settings, a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, leather upholstery, tri-zone automatic climate control and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. Electronics features include twin console displays (7-inch touchscreen and 8-inch information), a multi-angle rearview camera, Bluetooth phone connectivity, and an eight-speaker sound system with a CD player, an iPod/USB interface, a Pandora radio interface and satellite radio.

The Technology package adds a navigation system, voice controls (navigation and audio), Bluetooth audio connectivity, AcuraLink (with the Aha smartphone app interface) and a 10-speaker Acura/ELS surround-sound audio system with HD radio. Also included with this package are 19-inch alloy wheels; rain-sensing wipers; rear-door keyless entry; GPS-linked and solar-sensing climate control; and lane departure warning, blind spot warning and forward collision warning systems.

The Technology and Entertainment package adds a 115-volt household-style power outlet, heated rear seats, rear-door window sunshades, a rear-seat DVD entertainment system with a 9-inch screen, and an additional speaker for the surround-sound audio system.

The Advance and Entertainment package builds on the above features with roof rails, front and rear parking sensors, remote start, auto-dimming sideview mirrors, upgraded leather upholstery, ventilated front seats, a collision mitigation braking system, lane-keeping assist, adaptive cruise control, an eight-way power front passenger seat (with power lumbar) and an upgraded rear-seat entertainment system with a 16.2-inch screen, 2 additional speakers and an HDMI input.


Powertrains and Performance

The 2014 Acura MDX is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 that produces 290 hp and 267 pound-feet of torque. A 6-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive are standard, and all-wheel drive is available as an option.

EPA-estimated fuel economy with front-wheel drive is 20 mpg city/28 mpg highway and 23 mpg combined, while the AWD version rates 18/27/21. Properly equipped, the MDX can tow up to 5,000 pounds.
Safety

Standard safety equipment for the 2014 Acura MDX includes antilock disc brakes, front-seat side airbags, side curtain airbags, a driver's knee airbag, active front head restraints and traction and stability control. A multi-angle rearview camera is also standard, and AWD models come with a stabilizing feature for trailer towing.

Optional safety features include lane-departure and blind-spot warning systems. A forward collision warning system is also available, and it works by warning the driver of a possible collision with auditory and visual alerts. The MDX is also offered with collision mitigation braking, which automatically applies the brakes to prevent or mitigate an impending collision. A lane-keeping assist system is available as well, and it provides automatic steering assistance to keep the MDX in its lane.


Interior Design and Special Features

The MDX's interior is driver-focused, with a pleasantly thick, leather-wrapped steering wheel and easy-to-read gauges. Materials quality is high grade, a step up from last year's model. The center stack has been simplified, with a cleaner layout and 2 display screens that largely replace the previous generation's seemingly endless ocean of buttons. Overall, the cabin is a pleasant and luxurious place in which to spend time.

Using the navigation system is simple and intuitive, as Acura allows you to look up destinations by using the central control dial, a new 7-inch touchscreen interface (mounted below the 8-inch nav screen) or an enhanced voice recognition system. The touchscreen provides both haptic and audible feedback, and in our experience, this helps you enter a destination more quickly.

2nd -row seats now slide fore and aft, with an adjustment range of 5.9 inches, for added flexibility. Rear legroom is reasonably generous. The 1 disappointment is the front seats' minimal adjustability. Relative to other models in this segment, they offer only basic adjustments.

The 3rd row is best suited for kids, but adults should be OK back there on short trips. Accessing the 3rd row is a breeze, thanks to power-sliding 2nd-row seats that slide forward with the touch of a button.

With 15.8 cubic feet of space behind its 3rd row, the MDX trails its competition in cargo room when all 3 rows are in use. However, when you fold the 2nd and 3rd rows, cargo capacity becomes quite generous, with 90.9 cubic feet of room available for luggage and belongings.


Driving Impressions

The 2014 Acura MDX remains 1 of the more enjoyable luxury crossovers to drive. Relative to the previous generation, the steering is now lighter in low-speed situations and gives this midsize luxury SUV a more confident feel on the open road. The 2014 model also has a more forgiving, less busy ride quality than previous models.

Though the current V6 engine offers slightly less power than the old V6, Acura claims that the 2014 MDX is actually a bit quicker than its predecessor. We have yet to instrument-test the new MDX, but during our initial drive, we found the acceleration brisk enough and feel that most buyers will be happy with this luxury crossover SUV's performance. Also, Acura has taken measures to reduce engine noise, and as a result, the cabin remains tranquil in most situations.

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Old 06-24-2013, 02:30 PM   #33
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Old 07-06-2013, 11:26 AM   #34
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Acura has overhauled its popular MDX 7-passenger SUV, changing almost everything but the name, and the result is extraordinary.

Except for the electronics.

Not a trivial matter. So much vehicle operation and satisfaction depends on smooth integration and functioning of electronics nowadays.

Before further bemoaning the electronics, though, a look at what Acura did to the MDX mechanically.

Stretched it a couple of inches and lowered the roofline more than an inch vs. the 2013. Sleeker now, but head room inside suffers.

Narrowed both the body and the wheel track about an inch because people said the previous MDX felt too bulky, too tricky to park. Hip and shoulder room, especially in the 2nd and 3rd seating rows, suffer.

Lengthened the wheelbase. That contributes to a smoother ride and allows the 2nd row to slide fore-aft. Getting into and out of the 3rd row — from both sides now, not just the right side — becomes easier. And the 2nd row can be positioned to accommodate 3rd-row riders or additional cargo.

Used a smaller, 3.5-liter V-6. Last year's was 3.7 liters. That cost 10 horsepower and a little torque but resulted in big gains in mileage ratings. And if anything, the new MDX feels more responsive, not less.


The new V-6 has decent power at low revs and comes on like a party animal as the tachometer climbs beyond 4,000 rpm. The 6-speed automatic snaps through the shifts as crisply as any in memory.

Lightened the vehicle more than 200 lbs., which improves the mileage and means the cut in power isn't noticeable.

Made front-wheel drive (FWD) available for the 1st time. Each trim level up through the top version, with what Acura calls the Advance and Entertainment Packages, is available with FWD for $2,000 less than the AWD version.

The test vehicle was a top-end $57,400, AWD model.

Drove like a dream. Optional adjustable suspension was most fun in "sport" mode. It firmed up the underpinnings just enough to beg for more throttle in the corners without making the ride harsh.

It defaults to "normal" each time the MDX is restarted, though, and takes 2 pushes of a button on the console to get "sport." Why not store the driver's preference in the memory settings, as with the seats and mirrors?

The SH-AWD system — Acura's mis-hyphenated acronym for super-handling all-wheel drive — is a beauty. It powers you through corners by over-driving the outside rear wheel, pivoting the MDX smartly while accelerating it forward before you knew you wanted to.


Other attributes of note:

Comfort. Seats are especially well done. And lateral leg space in front is helped because neither the center console nor the door panels bulge intrusively.

Storage. Console's big enough to handle bulky items. Underfloor bin in the rear is excellent for keeping groceries upright and in place. The lid over it stays put at whatever angle you choose.

Mileage. Test Drive's lead-foot approach to suburban motoring couldn't drop the trip computer reading lower than 17 mpg. Pretty close to awesome for frequent full-throttle driving in a 4,400-pounder.

The test vehicle was a pre-production model. Those can have flaws not present in showroom vehicles. The 1st 2 of the coming gripes, Acura says, have been mentioned by absolutely nobody else, even though vehicle's been driven a lot.

Lowering the windows causes annoying wind whistle that's like what you hear when a rubber seal is loose or missing.

Chrome strips atop each door sill don't align with chrome trim in front, or behind. Such a precise irregularity it almost seems deliberate.

And on the electronics front:

MDX won't reliably stay paired with a Windows Phone. You must re-connect at almost every start-up. MDX does, however, have a soul mate in the iPhone 5.

The test vehicle often misunderstood voice commands.

The navigation makes it confoundingly complicated and menu-intensive to set your preferences, such as having the direction you want toward the top of the map.

The test vehicle had heated/cooled front seats. But they were synced to the climate control. To override, you have to dig into a menu and work the touch-screen. The climate control should remember your choice, not force you to override each time.

The way that the 2014 MDX drives and operates mechanically is a grand improvement. But Acura would be better off just copying its electronics/infotainment from those who do it best, General Motors and Chrysler, and paying a royalty.

2014 ACURA MDX DETAILS

What? Full remake of 7-passenger crossover SUV, now sold with front-wheel as well as all-wheel drive.

When? On sale since June 20.

Where? Made at Lincoln, Ala.

How much? Base FWD is $43,185 including $895 shipping. Base AWD, $45,185. Loaded AWD: $57,400.

What makes it go? New 3.5-liter V-6 rated 290 horsepower at 6,200 rpm, 267 pounds-feet of torque at 4,500 rpm, 6-speed automatic transmission.

AWD model has Acura's "Super-handling AWD" that helps cornering by over-driving outside rear wheel.

System can send up to 70% of available torque to rear wheels and as much as 100% to either side.

How big? Slightly longer, narrower than 2013 MDX; similar to Infiniti JX35, smaller than Buick Enclave. Weighs 4,025 to 4,332 lbs.

Cargo space: 15.8 cu. ft. behind 3rd row, 45.1 cu. ft. behind 2nd row, 90.9 cu. ft. behind 1st row.

Turning circle diameter, 37.6 ft.

How thirsty? FWD rated 20 miles per gallon in the city, 28 highway, 23 in combined city/highway driving.

AWD: 18/27/21.

AWD test vehicle's trip computer showed 17.4 mpg (5.75 gallons per 100 miles) in vigorous suburban dash-about.

Burns premium, holds 19.5 gallons.

Overall: Hard to beat if the electronics were sensible.

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Old 07-06-2013, 01:51 PM   #35
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Originally Posted by TSX69 View Post
[FONT="Georgia"] [COLOR="Indigo"]
Acura has overhauled its popular MDX 7-passenger SUV, changing almost everything but the name, and the result is extraordinary.

Except for the electronics.
Don't understand this at all...it's almost laughable...
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Old 07-30-2013, 07:55 AM   #36
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The MDX crossover SUV is Acura's best seller, and it's been a great family wagon choice for more than a decade. It's new this year--and it's only gotten better.

This may be a new MDX, but the styling is so evolutionary, you might not spot the differences. The LED headlights and taillights are the most obvious changes, but it looks a bit slimmer, too, and the awkward grille's been tamed down.

But who looks at a crossover from the outside? When it comes to family cars, it's all about the interior. The MDX's cabin gets kudos here. The tiered dash and V-shaped center stack fit the Acura brand, but the controls themselves are kind of a mess. 2 screens and a large control knob and lots of buttons--you'll need some time to get used to it all.

Under the hood of the MDX you'll find a 3.5-liter V-6 engine rated at 290 horsepower and 267 pound-feet of torque. Power is sent to the wheels through a 6-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive is standard, but Acura's Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive is an option--it's smart enough to send power to boost traction and improve cornering.

Gas mileage might be the biggest win. At 18 mpg city and 27 mpg on the highway and 23 mpg combined, the all-wheel-drive MDX is more fuel-efficient than the outgoing model by 6 mpg on the highway. Front-wheel drive bumps those ratings to 20 mpg city and 28 mpg highway and 21 mpg combined.

You're about to haul your kids to soccer practice in this thing, right? So safety's a big deal, but don't worry, the MDX has you covered. Acura expects it to earn top scores in crash tests, and even a Top Safety Pick+ award from the IIHS. The full roster of airbags includes a driver knee airbag. The safety tech is here as well, from available lane departure warning, forward collision warning, wide view camera system, and blind spot monitoring, there's enough tech here to make your head spin. There's even a lane assist system that can gently nudge you back into your lane if your attention is drifting.

Both the front-drive and all-wheel-drive versions of the MDX come in 4 trim levels: Base, Tech, Tech Entertainment, and Advance Entertainment. Starting from just over $43,000 and pushing toward $57,000, the MDX is pricey, but not out of line with other luxury utes, even with options like navigation. For the kids, there's an available 16.2-inch ultra-wide screen rear-seat entertainment system available with an HDMI input--or, charging points for iPads, take your pick.

So what's the bottom line with the 2014 Acura MDX? It's more focused than ever on its mission of keeping the entire family comfortable, content, and entertained--and yes, that still includes the driver.

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Old 08-07-2013, 12:31 PM   #37
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Old 08-12-2013, 10:04 AM   #38
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The 2014 Acura MDX is the 3rd generation of this 7-passenger luxury crossover with high performance. For all its years until now, the unibody MDX was built on Honda's Global Light Truck platform. The 2014 model is the 1st ground-up MDX, and boy is it ever ground-up. Everything is new, everything mechanical is better. And it was very good, before. For this new MDX, engineers focused on 3 areas: fuel mileage, comfort and safety.

Compared to the previous version (2007-2012), the 2014 MDX has quicker acceleration, better fuel mileage, more room and comfort inside, tighter dimensions outside, nimbler handling, shorter stopping distances, and improved ride.

The 2014 MDX is 2 inches longer, on a wheelbase that's 2.8 inches longer, than the previous-generation MDX. It's 1.5 inches lower and 1.4 inches narrower at the nose; 1.8 inches lower at the sides, 1.3 inches at the hips, and 1.2 in the tail. Longer, lower, narrower. Driven by aerodynamics, driven by fuel mileage. Win-win.

Here's an MDX 1st: front-wheel drive. For years, we've been hearing about Super Handling All-Wheel Drive. Has Acura lowered its Super standards? No, don't forget about Texas. We used to think you didn't need all-wheel drive in Florida too, but that was before the floods.

The front-wheel-drive MDX is EPA-rated at 28 mpg Highway, numbers apparently worth stealing the power from 2 wheels for. That's 23 mpg Combined city and highway, compared to the SH-AWD at 21 mpg Combined. Texans, you're good with FWD. Unless the droughts turn the streets to sand. We recommend getting the all-wheel drive for most people, however. It seems a shame not to have all-weather capability on an SUV.

The all-new 2014 Acura MDX is 275 pounds lighter than before, like a 120-pound person losing 8 pounds. The weight dropped from the best place, the core, now with 64 percent high-strength steel, aluminum and magnesium. That plus the 16 percent improvement in aerodynamics, and the 19 percent reduction in rolling resistance, and we're talking real gains. Now the car weighs about a football player more than 2 tons.

The body of the 2014 MDX was developed using a new 40-percent-scale wind tunnel laboratory at Honda's U.S. R&D facilities in Ohio. With a rolling ground plane and computer modeling, engineers worked on the underbody and airflow through the engine compartment, as well as the skin, to get the coefficient of drag down.

For sharper response and isolation of road noise and vibration, the torsional body rigidity is up 12.4 percent. The new electric power steering ratio is quick. The new suspension, struts in front and multi-link in rear, is attached to lighter and more rigid subframes, with suspension mounting points 67 percent more rigid. The shock absorbers are fancily called Amplitude Reactive Dampers, because they use variable damping rates depending on the terrain and speed. It all makes for a more solid, comfortable and in-control ride.

Of course the gains move to the engine. The new 3.5-liter V6 is Acura's 1st direct-injected engine, incorporating a new i-VTEC valvetrain with 2-stage Variable Cylinder Management, cutting the fire to 3 cylinders at times. The engine architecture comes from racing, specifically the LMP2 class Acura prototypes that took 1st and 2nd in the 2103 American Le Mans Series, including a sweep at the 12 Hours of Sebring.

The 60-degree aluminum V6 is single overhead cam, with 24 valves. It makes 290 horsepower, 10 less than before. The peak torque of 267 foot-pounds drops a bit too, but there's more torque below 2750 rpm. Bottom line is you'll never feel the loss, but will feel the gain. The outgoing engine was 3.7 liters, so the new 3.5-liter engine makes more horsepower and torque per liter. The engine is mounted transversely, which improves balance enormously.

There's a reengineered 6-speed automatic transmission with 3 modes and paddle shifters, smooth gear changes and reduced internal friction. There's Acura's Super Handling All-Wheel Drive, moving torque between the front and rear axles, and the left and right rear wheels, to deliver all-weather traction and control. The SH-AWD gets an EPA-estimated 18/27 mpg City/Highway, or 21 miles per gallon Combined. Premium gasoline is recommended. Direct injection engines manage fuel in a precise manner, but their higher compression ratio wants the best gas.

The MDX body uses Acura's Advance Compatibility Engineering (ACE) structure, to absorb and deflect frontal crash energy, isolating the cabin from it. Acura designed the ACE structure in 2007 with the 2nd-generation MDX. The new 2014 MDX features the world's 1st ultra-high strength hot stamped steel, 1-piece stiffener ring for the driver and front passenger front door areas, from the A-pillar to roof rails to B-pillars to lower frame members.

Acura expects the 2014 MDX to earn a 5-star Overall Vehicle Score from the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and a TOP SAFETY PICK+ rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), including the highest rating of GOOD in the Institute's stringent new small overlap frontal collision test.

Model Lineup

The 2014 Acura MDX ($42,290) comes standard with front-wheel drive. MDX SH-AWD ($44,290) adds all-wheel drive. (All prices are Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Prices, which may change at any time without notice, and do not include $895 destination charge.)

Acura MDX ($42,290) comes standard with leather upholstery in the 1st 2 rows, 3-zone climate control, power heated front seats with driver memory, power windows, power locks, power mirrors, power tailgate, console, cruise control, rearview camera, message center, trip computer, AM/FM/CD/MP3 sound system, XM satellite radio, Bluetooth, auxiliary audio input, and split-folding rear seats. Front-wheel drive is standard.

MDX with Technology Package ($46,565) adds hard disc navigation with VGA screen, AcuraLink communications, real-time weather (with climate-control link) and traffic, 410-watt 10-speaker Acura ELS surround sound system, multi-view rearview camera, USB port; MDX with Technology and Entertainment Packages ($48,565) adds to this a Rear Entertainment System that includes a motorized 9-inch VGA screen DVD rear-seat entertainment system, heated 2nd-row seats, and 115-volt AC power outlet.

MDX with Advance and Entertainment Packages ($54,505) includes the Technology and Entertainment Packages and adds an active damper system, adaptive cruise control with collision mitigation braking system, blind spot information system, ventilated front seats in perforated Milano leather, and 19-inch wheels.

MDX SH-AWD ($44,290) adds all-wheel drive to the MDX features. Equipped identically as above, MDX SH-AWD is available with Technology Package ($48,565), Technology and Entertainment Packages ($50,565), and Advance and Entertainment Packages ($56,505).

Safety equipment includes 2-stage frontal air bags and active head restraints, 2-stage driver and front-passenger knee bolsters, front-seat side-impact air bags, and 3-row side-curtain air bags with rollover triggering. Active safety features, designed to help the driver avoid accidents in the 1st place, include all-wheel-drive, electronic stability control, and anti-lock brakes (ABS) with electronic brake force distribution and brake assist for panic stops.


Walkaround

Acura MDX was completed redesigned for the 2014 model year. The overhang in front has been reduced by less than 1 inch, but the new nose looks stubby, in an attractive way. We wish there were less chrome in the grille, but that big silver subtle-vee band is the Acura cache, and anyhow we wish there were less chrome in every grille.

The front fascia openings under the grille are tidy, and the LED headlamps, 5 bulbs in each, are sleekly designed. Acura calls them Jewel Eyes. They are super bright. Not quite like daylight as Acura suggests, but way excellent, extending the beam by 75 feet and safety by a lot.

The nose has been carved between the grille, to slope down from each side to the bumper. It works well, to give definition to the bumper, which on so many cars is flat and ugly for being shapeless. (When we say bumper, we really mean the body plastic that hides the steel bumper underneath.)

The sides don't have any fancy styling, and the rear looks like any other SUV, with a small spoiler on the roof. Since so few designs actually score when they try to make distinctive sides and rear ends on SUV styles, we say nondescript might be just fine.


Interior Features


The soft interior materials are of a high quality all around, as should be expected in any car with this price. They've always been good with Acura. Premium Milano leather is standard for the 1st 2 rows, while satin and simulated wood-grain trim accents the cabin. The steering wheel is stitched leather.

The instrumentation is well laid out, and the display screen is shaded and easy to read. The gauges are beautifully backlit with LED lighting, while LED lamps with programmable brightness are used on the center console and front foot wells.

1 major change and improvement for 2014 is the center stack, now with 9 buttons where there used to be 41. The layout saves significant space, now used for storage forward of the shift lever.

Center console storage space has more than doubled in size, thanks to repackaging of the HVAC system; it's under a sliding leather armrest. It can easily hold a purse and tablet computer, maybe both. Big SUVs and pickup trucks have center consoles like this, but not many luxury crossovers.

Front seats are on the roomy side, we'd prefer more bolstering, especially with a car that boasts Super Handling. And the A-pillar gets in the way of forward and downward visibility.

All 3 rows of seats are more than 1 inch lower, which not only improves ingress and egress, but reduces body roll. Except in the case of the driver, you'll want to crank the seat up so it gives that command-of-the-road position of a big SUV.

The longer wheelbase and more compact rear suspension allow for entry to the rear seats that's 4.5 inches wider, and 1.8 inches lower at step-in when compared with pre-2014 MDX models. It's a relative delight to get in and out. The 2nd-row seatbacks have 5 reclining positions, and 6 inches of travel to make maximum legroom; snooze time on road trips.

The 2nd row flops down with a touch of 1 button located in 3 places, so it couldn't be much easier to reach the 3rd row. Acura calls it 1-Touch-Walk-In, and it is.

Cargo space is vast, 90.0 cubic feet, with both rows folded easily flat. And with them up, there's a lot more room than before, 2 inches more floor space and 6 inches more at the top of the seatback, yielding 15.8 cubic feet, a good-sized sedan trunk. There's a cargo lid with room for things you might want to hide, and it flops open 180 degrees with the 3rd row seat folded, to provide maximum utility.

The cabin is quieter than ever, thanks to more foam in the roof pillars and new insulating materials under and behind the 2nd and 3rd rows, and a new seal at the rear door sills. All the glass is acoustic, a sandwich of tempered glass around sound insulation. The engine is so silky anyhow, you know you're in a luxury car when you're in the back seat of the MDX.

Now for the hard part. Working the electronics. Radio: fail. We couldn't tune it decently, and neither could the other journalist with us. Voice command: fail, like them all. The Acura lady can't even begin to understand plain English. We tried and tried, didn't do anything wrong, and not 1 time did she get it right. It was only after that, that we resorted to name-calling, knowing of course that that never works.


Driving Impressions

Best part of the 2014 Acura MDX is the powertrain, no doubt. We say that about a lot of BMWs, too. Handling is crisp. The faster you drive the new MDX, the better it feels. Despite having a bit less horsepower and torque, it accelerates a bit quicker. Redline is 6700 rpm, and the engine eagerly sprints there, no screaming when it's there. On the racecar, the engine screams.

The 6-speed automatic with paddle shifters and a sport mode is flawless, or at least no flaws appeared during our shared 1-day test drive. It's super smooth and quick shifting. We liked that when you use the paddles, it doesn't automatically go into sport mode, it shifts while staying in Drive. We also liked that it's not programmed to out-think you, it does what it's told and no more (although it upshifts at 6500 to out-think your idea of blowing up the engine). In sport mode, the shifts get more aggressive. Another thing that happens is the exhaust note is programmed to growl a bit. Woohoo.

The new rear suspension delivers an excellent ride, we found no jagged spots. The rear dampers mount directly to the rigid rear frame, as opposed to the more flexible rear wheelhouse on the previous model; this allows softer bushings, without sacrificing handling. The MDX platform is prepared for the new 2-wheel-drive model, with the engine lowered 1.2 inches.

Acura's IDS, Integrated Dynamics System, uses 3 modes: Comfort, Normal and Sport. The modes try to give you what you want, by balancing steering effort, throttle response, torque to the wheels, and, to enhance the fun, Active Noise Control. In sport mode you get a rumble, from microphones under the hood and in the tailpipe, enhanced by a subwoofer and wired to a speaker in the headliner.

Suspension settings are not a part of IDS because the shock absorbers already respond to conditions. We found the ride never too stiff and never too soft, challenged over a curvy patchy road. We felt the steering stiffen and quicken, in IDS sport mode, making it easier to keep the vehicle pointed true, in corners and on ripples.

The brakes in the 2014 MDX deliver better stopping distances. They're very big, 12.6-inch vented discs in front, and 13.0-inch solid discs in rear, with all the electronic assistance.

Meanwhile, you've got Agile Handling Assist going on. Standard on the 2014 MDX, it uses the brakes to improve corner tracking, by applying them to individual wheels, which puts turning forces on the car. In the direction you want. This is all in addition to Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA), which throws out all the stops to maintain control in dodgy situations.

Rolling resistance is a force that carmakers are looking at closely, because it's important to fuel mileage. An Acura engineer invented his own test, to see. In a 70-0 mph coast-down, the 2014 MDX rolled 1600 feet farther than a 2013, an improvement of 19 percent.

The MDX improvement comes from new low-drag brakes, a lightweight low-drag hub and wheel bearing, and reduced rolling-resistance tires. And the improved aerodynamics, of course, including airflow over the low-profile 19.5-gallon fuel tank, that's got more than 500 miles of driving it. On Premium gasoline, so it'll be $80 fill-ups.

We've saved the worst for last. The good news is it's an option. In the safety package, besides the annoying Lane Departure Warning and Adaptive Cruise Control, there's Forward Collision Warning, upping the bar of capability. When Volvo invented the system, it prevented low-speed rear-enders and hitting pedestrians. Now in the MDX you can drive in 30-mph stop-and-go traffic without using your feet at all.

We did just that. It's true, you can. You just won't want to, because it's so jerky, and the lag time will have all the cars behind you mad at you for not closing the gap. It works by radar, maintaining a set distance behind the car in front of you, so basically that guy has his foot on your throttle and brakes. So you'll keep turning it on and off, and if you forget it's off and, being accustomed to expecting it to save your butt, it won't, and you might more likely crash than if you never had it in the 1st place.

Don't expect these systems to go away. Expect cars to come with black boxes so your driving can be monitored, like your phone calls, emails and web surfing. You'll get tickets by mail, and if you don't pay them the black helicopters will come for you. That is, if you're allowed to drive your car at all.

Summary

The all-new 2014 Acura MDX improves on the previous version in every way: Brilliant powertrain. Better acceleration and fuel mileage, more room and comfort inside, tighter dimensions outside, nimbler handling, shorter stopping distances, smoother ride. Get it without the packages for the best value. Our pick is the base MDX SH-AWD.

Sam Moses filed this NewCarTestDrive.com report from the Pacific Northwest.
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