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.

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First Drive: 2014 Acura MDX

Acura practically invented the segment for luxury CUVs with three rows with the introduction of the first MDX in 2001, and now Acura is introducing the third generation of this vehicle with the 2014 model year with significant upgrades over the previous model. The market for 7-passenger luxury CUVs in now crowded with very healthy competition from other luxury brands, but Acura will remain very competitive with this all-new MDX. I had the opportunity to drive the new model and I came away very impressed.

Exterior

The changes to the exterior design of the MDX aren’t dramatic, as Acura sticks with its wedge-shaped grille for the front end, but the Jewel Eye LED headlights give the vehicle a much more modern look and feel as you can see from the photos above. The new headlights also provide superior road light and visibility as well. Acura slightly altered the size of vehicle, making it slightly narrower and longer. The new MDX is two inches longer with a 2.8-inch longer wheelbase which helps to enhance ride quality. Meanwhile, the vehicle width was reduced by 1.3 inches. The frontal area of the vehicle is also 2-percent smaller which helped to provide for greater aerodynamic efficiency. While the vehicle looks more modern with a number of refinements to the design, it retains the sporty essence that makes it an attractive option in this segment.

Interior

Acura strived to make significant improvements to the interior of the MDX with the goal of creating “synergy between man and machine.” The result was a very luxurious and practical driving experience that will appeal to buyers in this segment. The overall feel is modern and sophisticated and I experienced a very comfortable drive that will meet the expectations of the target market.

I particularly liked the improvements to the center stack. The center console storage area is large and well thought out with a handy slot for mobile phone storage. The sliding lid above the storage area and below the leather-trimmed top is equipped with rubber strips which prevents items like phones from sliding around.

Another feature that stood out for me was the turn-by-turn navigation feature in the main dashboard which compliments the main navigation system in the center stack, letting drivers see instructions in their direct line of site without needing to turn their heads to the main display panel in the center stack. The MDX also features a new 7-inch color On Demand Multi-Use Display touchscreen with haptic feedback which helped to reduce the number of hard buttons in the center stack from 41 to 9.

For the third row seats, Acura wanted to make it easier to get in and out, so they added a very convenient “one push” button in two different places for second row seats. With the longer wheelbase, the new MDX now has 4.5-inch wider foot entry point for third-row passengers along with a 1.8-inch lower floor height for easier step-in. With the new
Extended Slide second-row seats the process of getting into the third row is now much easier.

Performance

The new MDX is powered by a direct-injected 3.5-liter 24-valve V-6 engine, generating 290 horsepower at 6,200 rpm; 267 lb-ft at 4,500 rpm and 267 lb.-ft. of peak torque. The aluminumV-6 engine is paired with a reengineered 6-speed automatic transmission that provides reduced friction and smoother gear changes. I drove the all-wheel drive model and was very impressed with the responsiveness and acceleration. I’m partial to vehicles that offer different driving modes so I was happy to see that the MDX offers Sport, Normal and Comfort modes. You can really have fun with the Sport mode option and the paddle shifters, and when you’re stuck in slower traffic you can save more fuel with the Comfort mode. Speaking of fuel, the 2014 MDX also achieves best-in-class fuel economy with 18/27/21 MPG city/highway/combined for the AWD package.

Overview

The MDX is a family-friendly vehicle that also meets the expectations of luxury buyers. It’s a beautiful vehicle, inside and out, and it’s loaded with all the luxuries and amenities you’d expect from today’s luxury vehicles. Buyers with families will also appreciate all of the safety features as well. Prices range from roughly $42,290 for the base 2-wheel drive model to $56,505 range for the fully loaded SH-AWD model. If you’re in the market for a luxury CUV the MDX should be on your list.

  

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