by Tony West and Bill P.
Acura’s award-winning MDX gets fresh upgrades for 2014. The new MDX offers two models, each with three optional add-on packages. For SUV’s under 50k, the 2014 MDX is at the top of its class. The third generation MDX now has a super efficient V6 engine, lighter body, and tons of entertainment and safety technology. What the new MDX lacks in pizzazz on the outside, it more than compensates for on the inside. We reviewed the fully loaded 56k 2014 MDX complete with Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD), and the Technology Entertainment and Advanced Packages.
[divider] Exterior Design Typical with a Few Perks
The 7-passenger MDX design is a lot like the 2013 model. Other than jewel LED headlights, the 18 inch wheels, and the chrome accents, most of the upgrades are not cosmetic. The 2014 design is more aerodynamic and efficient though.
The new steel/aluminum/magnesium frame is 275 lbs lighter than the 2013 model. And the wheelbase of the new MDX is almost 3 inches longer and narrower. LED fog lights and a trailer hitch are optional.
[divider] Interior Hi-Tech Comfort
Inside the 2014 MDX is where the magic happens. While bolder color options with contrast stitching would be more stylish, Acura designers did a fantastic job creating a highly functional and comfortable cabin.
The driver and passenger focused cabin is one of the most innovative I’ve seen in a mid-size SUV. Drivers have a 10-way adjustable seat that’s heated and ventilated. The passenger has an 8-way adjustable heated and ventilated seat. The second row has optional heated seats.
Drivers have convenient buttons for the power tailgate, extending the second row, folding the third row and for the rear entertainment. The dash displays all the helpful information a driver could want including speed, trip, warnings, fuel economy, average speed, oil life, a compass, navigation, and the SH-AWD. The leather wrapped steering wheel has controls for the voice command, audio, and cruise control. Acura does sophistication right with user friendly controls and less clutter.
Highly effective are the dual screens. An 8 inch screen with a wallpaper option displays detailed navigation. And a second 7 inch touch screen is used for audio, media, and settings. The center stack has only 8 buttons for entertainment with very useful one-touch controls for brightness and rear entertainment. A dial controls the navigation screen, which makes for fewer distractions. Instead of having to switch back and forth from navigation to change media, I can do both and keep my eyes on the road.
The shortfall of the MDX’s interior is the materials. The leather (ish) seats feel rough. The dash material seemed plastic. Milano leather seats come with the fully loaded model, but I missed the soft leather and classy wood trim Acura is known for. There is chrome trim however. Front passengers have plenty of space to spread out with a good amount of legroom and a wide view of the road.
There is also plenty of storage space in the MDX with compartments in the doors, a large center console, and a hidden compartment.
The interior also has other perks like the panoramic sunroof, rear sunshades, and tilting side mirrors. But the second row should’ve been more spacious, especially with a rear entertainment system. Without the third row, second row passengers would be able to recline. But with the third row erect, neither rows have enough legroom.
[divider] Infotainment Top-Notch
Media and infotainment in the Acura MDX is designed for comfort and functionality. The MDX offers four sound system options from the standard 8 speaker Acura sound system to the 12 speaker surround sound system. The sound system in the fully loaded MDX is pristine and mighty, nothing less from Acura. Navigation in the MDX offers real-time traffic, congestion and construction reports, and road warnings along with weather and POI commands. But the screen didn’t allow for me to zoom in enough to see all the streets. Acura’s MDX also has optional AcuraLink that adds a more media via Aha mobile.
Very stuntastic is the rear entertainment system. For an additional 6k owners can get the rear entertainment system with a 16.2 inch WVGA screen. The rear entertainment system comes with HDMI port, a 115 volt outlet, remote and headphones. The rear entertainment system is just like a home system with controls for playback and for picture. Drivers can control the rear entertainment too, with the DVD deck and a headphone on/off button in the center stack.
[divider] Adventurous Performance Family Friendly
The MDX boasts a 3.5 liter V6 engine with direct injection and Variable Cylinder Management. The 24-valve iVTEC has 290 horsepower and 267 lb-ft of torque. Variable Cylinder Management makes the MDX super efficient switching to 3 cylinders when cruising with light loads. The all-wheel drive MDX has a combined EPA of 21 mpg (18 mpg city/ 27 mpg highway.) The MDX V6 is mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission with Sequential Sport Shift. Acceleration in the MDX is lively and response quick. The V6 has 8% increase in torque at speeds below 2,700 rpm and a 2% increase in horsepower output per liter. The MDX isn’t a turbo SUV, but it commands the road like one while saving more fuel. Available Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive allows for maximum stability and traction, transferring torque seamlessly to individual wheels in snow, mud, or on a steep hill. Agile Handling Assist aids precision with tight turns by gently applying brakes to the front or rear wheels.
Comfort, Normal, and Sport modes are selectable via the Integrated Dynamics System that adjusts steering and throttle response. The new MDX also has Macpherson strut front suspension and multilink rear suspension, along with Amplitude Reactive Dampers for a dynamic sporty ride. The MDX handled well at speeds above 70 mph. Driving in manual mode with the paddle shifters is athletic but still controlled. Braking is prompt, on a dime even in bad weather.
[divider] Safety Features for Added Confidence
Acura predicts the new MDX will achieve a 5-star crash safety rating from the NHTSA. The rigid, lightweight, all-wheel drive MDX has a number of safety technologies that enhance driver confidence. Along with a nifty rear view camera, the MDX has Electronic Stability Control, Electronic Brake Distribution, Brake Assist, Vehicle Stability Assist, an optional Forward Collision Warning, Lane Departure Warning, Land Keeping Assist, the Collision Mitigation Braking system, and Adaptive Cruise Control with low speed follow. Homelink is also optional.
The 2014 Acura MDX exceeds my expectations not so much with the look, but with the high level of comfort and functionality on the inside. MDX designers chose sport over luxury, and efficiency above spaciousness for the 2014 model. But the 2014 Acura MDX’s performance and its bang-for-your-buck sticker price will surely keep it a leader in its segment.[divider]