2022 Acura MDX SH-AWD Advance Review

More premium, more sport


Amos Kwon, Editor-In-Chief



Positives: Excellent athleticism for a three-row crossover, the best-styled MDX ever.
Negatives: Still befuddling infotainment system, busy controls.
Bottom Line: The MDX is better than it has ever been in terms of drivability, style, and room. We're not huge fans of the in-car tech, but we're willing to overlook it because the new MDX is just that good.
The MDX has always been a top-seller for the luxury Honda division. But competition is getting stiffer by the year, and there are a ton of great premium three-row crossovers out there such as the Volvo XC90, the Audi Q7, and even the Hyundai Palisade. So, in order to move to the head of the pack, Acura made the 4th-gen MDX bigger, more powerful, more attractive, and more athletic to drive. The suspension has been upgraded, and the platform is now lighter and stiffer than the outgoing 3rd-gen vehicle, which already drove quite well. We drove the MDX with the Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive and the Advance Package for a week to see how much it's been elevated with the redesign. Read our full review below.
 

Driving Experience

8.9

 

The MDX is a great SUV to drive, but it's not the tautest around when it comes to feeling buttoned down on the road. That said, the structure is stiffer and lighter than ever, and the rear multilink suspension really makes a difference in the way it drives and feels. Power is more than adequate, and it's easily one of the best driving three-rows around.

Ride Quality: The non-adaptive dampers are a bit too soft for our liking, but it results in a comfy ride. We just wish there was more firmness built in.

Acceleration: 0-60 with the SH-AWD setup comes in 5.7 seconds, which is pretty quick for something this size.

Braking: The brakes were strong and easy to modulate. Progression in the pedal made it easy to control, and there was no mushiness or overly long travel.

Steering: The steering in the MDX required a modicum of effort, and turn-in was quick. There wasn't much feel to the equation, but that's expected.

Handling: The MDX felt great in the turns and didn't exhibit much body roll. It felt very planted thanks to the SH-AWD and the torque vectoring.

Technology

6.8

 

Although the new system looks good, it's rather confusing to use. This is not good for an infotainment system that has to be used while driving. While the graphics are better than ever, it's just too convoluted in terms of controls to operate smoothly.

Infotainment System: The touchpad doesn't operate the way you'd expect. You have to select the position on the touchpad to correspond to what you want to use on the screen. It's confusing, annoying, and not well thought out.

Controls: The center stack has to much going on in our opinion. The drive mode selector bisects the climate controls, and the infotainment touchpad is, as we mentioned before, frustrating. We also dislike the pushbutton transmission that carries over from the last model.

Styling

9

 

The MDX grows in size and refinement with a longer hood and a sleeker body. It also gets creasing in all the right places and front and rear fascia styling that's straight from the new and very attractive TLX sports sedan.

Front: The diamond pentagon grille is bigger and more dramatic, paired nicely with the jewel-eye headlights. We wish the vents on the lower fascia were real instead of fake.

Rear: The MDX's taillights look fantastic. Instead of the generic-looking versions on the 2021 model, these have a more refined signature that's leaner and more sophisticated. The creases in the liftgate, along with the thin exhaust ports and the wide expanse of a license plate cutout give it a strong stance from the back.

Profile: The profile view shows a leaner but still athletic look. It looks more refined and less bulky with just the right amount of body creasing. There's still a bit too much chrome for our liking, but that should be resolved with the sportier Type S trim coming soon.

Cabin: Materials quality and interior finish are very good. We wish they would use less piano black in the center stack and console.

Comfort

9.1

 

This is where the MDX also shines because it has room for up to seven people. It's not a huge vehicle inside, but front row occupants have ample space. The back two rows are very comfortable, but things can be tight in the third row for taller adults. Materials are excellent, as are the ergonomics.

Front Seats: Comfort and adjustability are top notch, and the leather soft and supple. It has aggressive bolstering for spirited driving, and the seats hug the front occupants extremely well. They also have just the right amount of cushioning.

Rear Seats: There's 36.6 inches of 2nd row legroom and 28.1 inches of 3rd row legroom. That's almost five more inches than the Lexus RX 350 L in row three. The 2nd row outboard positions actually have decent bolstering, not something you see often.

NVH (noise/vibration/harshness): The MDX is quiet and composed with very little wind and road noise at high speeds. It's also incredibly well-built with no squeaks or rattles.

Visibility: Visibility all around is good with only a bit of compromise due to the raked D-pillars. Rear glass is a good size, making views directly out the back very good.

Climate: The climate system works well, as do the heated seats in the first two rows. Air flow is voluminous, as well.

Safety

9.4

 

Although the MDX hasn't been tested by the NHTSA, it gets top marks from the IIHS, coupled with the fact that it's packed with excellent safety features that should make families confident in the purchase.

IIHS Rating: It's hard to imagine a vehicle scoring better than the MDX did. Not only did it earn the Top Safety Pick+ rating, it scored the maximum in every crash test, crash avoidance tech, and even a rare "good+" for LATCH ease of use.

NHTSA Rating: Not tested.

Standard Tech: Our tester came standard with Acurawatch, which has Adaptive Cruise Control, Collision Mitigation Braking, Forward Collision Warning, Lane Departure Warning, Lane Keeping Assist System, Road Departure Mitigation, Traffic Jam Assist, and Auto High-Beam Assist. The MDX Advance also comes with Low Speed Braking Control, rain-sensing wipers, front and rear parking sensors, Surround View Camera, and a head-up display.

Optional Tech: None.

Storage/Cargo

8.7

 

There's a lot to love about the usable interior space in the MDX. While we wish the center console was a bit more accommodating, Acura did a good job for the front and rear occupants for the most part. The cargo area is bigger than we expected, as well.

Storage Space: There's a small open binnacle in the center console, and the wireless phone charging tray is handy. We do wish there was a larger open space for other items, but at least the door pockets and center armrest compartment are sizable.

Cargo Room: 18.1 cubes behind the third row is decent, but it's the huge 95 cubic feet of cargo space with the seats folded flat that impresses us.

Fuel Economy

7.4

 

We really drove the MDX fairly aggressively, so there wasn't much of an attempt to maximize the mileage. In combined driving, we were able to get close to the city EPA estimate. Plus, we were in Sport mode the entire time.

Observed: 18.4 mpg.

Distance Driven: 132 miles.

Audio

8.8

 

Our MDX Advance came standard with the excellent Acura ELS Studio 3D Premium Audio w/ 16 speakers. We cranked up the tunes and found the system powerful, rich, and with good clarity. It's a great system, but not as good as the Mark Levinson system found in Lexus models.



Final Thoughts

The MDX is a top-seller for a reason, but now the brand has made this model the best in its four generations. It's more refined in terms of its styling, and the handling is hard to beat at this size and price. We'd take it over the RX 350 L because it has a truly usable third row, and it looks and drives better, as well. The MDX's only real demerit is its infotainment system, which is unnecessarily convoluted and difficult to use. Aside from this, it's a marvelous family vehicle that delivers driving fun and great looks. We can't wait to try the more powerful MDX Type S.
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