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Car Review: 2014 Acura MDX AWD

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Acura has made huge strides in their SUV lineup, and the 2014 Acura MDX AWD appears to be a hot pick for luxury buyers in this segment. Built on a completely new platform, the seven-passenger MDX offers improved ride comfort, a more versatile and luxurious cabin, increased fuel efficiency and enhanced dynamic performance.

EXTERIOR

Our forest midst-colored test model MDX had extraordinary good looks with a refinement that takes luxury SUVs to a new level. The 2014 MDX body applies more than 55 percent advanced lightweight materials – including high strength steel, aluminum and magnesium – resulting in a vehicle that is both more rigid and lightweight, with total vehicle weight reduced 275 pounds from the previous model. Measuring 193.6 inches in overall length, 77.2 inches in overall width (excluding door mirrors), 67.6 inches in overall height, and riding on a 111-inch wheelbase (up 2.75 inches from the previous model), the new MDX boasts an “Executive Aero Sculpture” exterior design that lends it a sleek, tailored and sophisticated appearance. The aerodynamic body design – refined by engineers in a new wind tunnel at the company’s Ohio R&D center – helps the MDX achieve a more than 17 percent improvement in aerodynamic efficiency, making it one of the most aerodynamic and fuel-efficient luxury SUVs on the road.

INTERIOR

When you first enter the cabin of the 2014 Acura MDX AWD, you get the feeling of a high-end vehicle with a plethora of room that can’t be gauged from the exterior. Equally adept at carrying clients and kids, the new MDX boasts a luxurious and versatile interior. The revised body dimensions and new, more compact multi-link rear suspension, combined with innovative new technologies on the second-row seats, significantly improve third-row access and all-around passenger comfort. Third-row ingress and egress is significantly improved by a two-inch lower step-in height and three-inch wider entryway, and by the introduction of a new One-Touch Walk-In feature. With a single press of the illuminated One-Touch Walk-In button, the second-row seats automatically fold and slide to their forward-most position. The second-row seats now feature a four-position recline and a new Extended Slide capability that provides six inches of total seat adjustment for optimal balance between second- and third-row legroom. Rear cargo capacity is also improved and includes a new underfloor storage area.

Up front, there is a 10-way power adjustable and heated driver’s seat and an 8-way power and heated passenger seat. The MDX also addresses a major shortcoming of many luxury SUVs – available front-seat storage space – with a spacious new center console that can accommodate a purse, laptop case or a pair of iPads. The MDX’s luxury quotient is further boosted by its upgraded interior appointments, including premium leather-trimmed interior, silver plated accents, LED overhead and cabin accent lighting, along with new optional luxury features, such as Smart Entry, second-row sunshades, remote engine start and auto-linked air conditioning and climate-controlled seats. The 2014 MDX also takes a big step up in luxury comfort and quiet. The MDX’s dynamically tuned platform, more airtight body and triple path isolated dampers, along with the use of new sound-deadening materials such as acoustic glass and expanding body sealers, and Active Noise Control technology, make this the quietest and most composed MDX yet.

If stereo sound is important to you, you’ll enjoy the more powerful Acura/ELS Studio premium audio system and the next-generation AcuraLink connectivity system with AcuraLink Real-Time Traffic, featuring freeway traffic and surface street conditions (free for the first three years). In addition to the traffic services, the AcuraLink cloud-based connected car system offers an assortment of media, convenience, information and security features via an embedded cellular system and compatible web-enabled smartphones.

Both the AcuraLink and Acura/ELS Studio system take advantage of a 7-inch color On Demand Multi-Use Display (ODMD) touchscreen with haptic feedback and an 8-inch Color Information Display. The addition of the ODMD, along with other interior changes, allowed engineers to reduce the number of hard buttons in the center stack from 41 to just nine. The available Entertainment package adds a DVD Rear Entertainment system with a 9-inch full VGA screen for the rear seats, while the Advance package replaces the 9-inch monitor with an ultra-wide, 16.2-inch full VGA screen with HDMI compatibility for devices such as a game console. The 2014 MDX offers a host of innovative driver assistive and visibility technologies, including a Multi-Angle Rearview Camera and available Lane Keeping Assist System (LKAS), Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) with Low-Speed Follow, Blind Spot Information (BSI) and Collision Mitigation Braking System (CMBS).

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PERFORMANCE

The 2014 Acura MDX is powered by an all-new, direct-injected 24-valve 3.5-liter i-VTEC V-6 engine with Variable Cylinder Management (VCM), producing 290 horsepower and 267 lb.-ft. of torque. The MDX’s engine architecture is shared with two racecars that recently finished first and second in the LMP2 class at the 12 Hours of Sebring endurance race in the American Le Mans Series (ALMS). Employing a 6-speed automatic transmission with Sport Mode and Sequential SportShift Paddle Shifters, the new MDX will be offered in both Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) and two-wheel-drive drivetrain variants, both featuring Acura’s new Agile Handling Assist technology.

Matched to the highly efficient Earth Dreams Technology engine and the SH-AWD drivetrain as tested, the 2014 MDX has an EPA fuel economy rating of 18/27/21 mpg (city/highway/combined), while the new front-wheel-drive model is EPA rated at 20/28/23 mpg (city/highway/combined).

While achieving even higher fuel economy ratings, the MDX remains a true driver’s SUV with enhanced dynamic performance, including quicker acceleration, more responsive braking and even more precise steering feel. Tuned and tested on the grueling Nürburgring racing circuit in Germany, the lighter and more dynamic new 2014 MDX with SH-AWD bests the previous model’s lap time by eight seconds. To satisfy the preferences of multiple drivers in any family, the 2014 MDX features an all-new Integrated Dynamic System (IDS) with three modes: Sport, Normal and Comfort. IDS adjusts steering effort, throttle response, SH-AWD and active sound to suit the tastes of the driver. The MDX’s new Amplitude Reactive Dampers, MacPherson strut front suspension and new multi-link rear suspension enable its more nimble and responsive handling and improved ride quality. Eighteen-inch aluminum alloy wheels and 245/60-18 tires come standard on the MDX. Technology and Advance grades are equipped with 19-inch aluminum alloy wheels and 245/55-19 tires.

OVERVIEW

After considerable time behind the wheel of the 2014 Acura MDX AWD, this third-generation MDX raises the bar with more performance, class-leading fuel economy ratings, innovative interior features and signature Acura technologies. The quality of the interior and modern design will have you appreciating the details put into this fine automobile. All that for a sticker price as tested of $57,400 can add hours upon hours of driving enjoyment and real-life sensibility to those who step into the MDX on a daily basis.

  

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