2014 Acura MDX
The RLX gets a lift kit and a butt implant.
Web2Carz Contributing Writer
Published: November 18th, 2013
Acura's in the midst of a serious aesthetic shakeup for its entire lineup. Gone is the hearse-like ZDX, and the remaining models are being subject to a number of upgrades, both inside and out. The MDX is the latest of these new Acuras to land on our doorstep. Acura claims that luxury and simplicity have been put at the forefront of the redesign, and we feel that they've stayed true to that claim. From a reduced mess of buttons in the interior, to second-row seats that we wouldn't mind sleeping on for days at a time, the MDX is doing its best to position itself as a viable competitor in the luxury seven-seater market. Even if you judge this book by its cover, it's easy to walk away impressed.
The interior is upscale without resorting to egregiously expensive, never-before-heard-of materials and angles that would confuse M.C. Escher. Honda's known how to do this for years, and the result is a beautiful interior with soft-touches everywhere you'd expect, and then some. That said, between the wheel, dashboard, and center console, there are an awful lot of buttons, so expect to take some time acclimating yourself to your surroundings. The new MDX put a focus on reducing the number of center-console buttons, but the trade-off there is that it's not necessarily intuitive to be diving into a touchscreen just to turn the seat heaters on. Somehow, there are simultaneously too many and too few buttons.
The seats are supremely comfortable, and even the third-row seats are capable of fitting grown adults, as long as they're not basketball players. The massive center console storage could practically count as a third seat for a small child (note: we do not recommend this).
Just like every other Acura on the road, it looks luxurious without being annoying about it. The Jewel Eye LED headlights remain the best-looking feature on any Acura, and the all-new body for 2014 looks much smoother than the previous generation. An old storage box, this is not. Even though it's a proper SUV more than a crossover, the ride height and attention to detail on the lower parts of the body would suggest that any off-roading beyond gravel is verboten, unless you dig that beat-up aesthetic.
As with the RLX, there are numerous exterior lights that guide your hand in the right direction as you walk closer to the vehicle, thanks to the near-field communications (NFC) inside the key fob. And, seeing as how it's a luxury car, your choice of exterior color is a bit limited - let's hope you're not looking for one in bright red.
On the Road
Despite the heft of the MDX, Acura managed to make this land-behemoth drive like anything but. Steering is comfortable without feeling like the car is doing half the work. Acura notes that sound-deadening took a priority in the 2014 redesign, and from what we experienced, that rings true; you're relatively sealed-off from the outside world with all the windows up. All of the optional warning systems combine for a tech-laden driving experience that will (ideally) cut down on accidents. That said, the adaptive cruise control likes to overestimate how much braking power is needed, and if you're relying on the ACC to slow the car down for you, expect a serious lurch forward. If you're doing the braking yourself, prepare to push on the pedal a fair amount - pedal feel reminds us of the pickup trucks we've driven lately.
Although, when you need to get back up to speed, there's plenty of power mated to a no-nonsense six-speed automatic with three distinct settings. We suggest avoiding Sport mode, as it only seems to hold revs longer, which will absolutely destroy your fuel economy. Speaking of fuel economy, Acura's numbers are achievable - especially the highway rating - but not without a seriously steady foot that's unwilling to go over 70 mph.
It's a real fighter in its segment. The MDX gives you everything you need - and then some - without requiring a first-born child for payment. It drives nicely, returns good fuel economy so long as you're driving without a timetable in mind, and it can haul around a whole lot of cargo thanks to some easy-dropping rear seats. Like every other Acura we've tested, it's luxurious but subtle in the execution. Just don't walk in front of it; like an Elijah Wood poster, you'll get lost in its eyes.
Specs & Price
Engine: 3.5-liter, naturally-aspirated V-6
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Power Output: 290 hp / 267 lb-ft
Fuel Economy: 20 city / 28 highway (FWD); 18 city / 27 highway (AWD)
Base Price: $42,290
As Tested: $58,295 (incl. $895 destination)
Optional Features: Super Handling All-Wheel Drive, Technology Package (navigation, blind-spot warning, forward-collision warning, lane-departure warning, ELS premium audio system, keyless access), Entertainment Package (rear entertainment system, heated second-row seats, wireless headphones and remote), Advance Package (leather-trimmed interior, heated and ventilated front seats, adaptive cruise control, Collision Mitigation Braking System, lane-keep assist, remote engine start, parking sensors)
• For more information such as specs, prices, and photos of the 2014 Acura MDX, click here: 2014 Acura MDX.