Honda's luxury division, Acura, steps into the highly competitive midsize crossover competition with a totally revamped, next-generation offering of its flagship vehicle, the three-row 2022 model year mid-size MDX.
This marks the arrival of the fourth-generation based on Honda's all-new global light-truck, unibody platform. Acura debuted the MDX five-door crossover in 2000. It boasts an ultra-rigid platform with enhancing stability anchored by a new double wishbone front suspension joining a returning multi-link rear suspension. Acura got an early jump on the 2022 model year with vehicles reaching dealers in February of 2021.
Unit body (or uni-body) describes a conventional car-type build rather than a truck-like, multi-tier body-on-frame design found in conventional pickup trucks. Honda blurs these lines better than most with its Ridgeline pickup and Acura MDX sharing this unicorn-ish, uni-body design; resulting in a comfortable ride with a workman-like attitude. If current lifestyles necessitate towing weekend toys, MDX stands out from the pack with all-wheel drive versions able to accommodate 5,000 pounds. The V-6 powered Lexus RX 350, by comparison, hauls just 3,500 pounds.
Acura debuts new passive safety built into the bones of the 2022 MDX, an advanced compatibility engineering (ACE) structure. It's a mouthful, but neatly translates into a network of connected structural elements distributing crash energy throughout the vehicle in the event of a frontal impact; in effect reducing energy forces within the passenger compartment.
When ordering available all-wheel drive, Acura continues upgrading its top-shelf 'Super Handling' branded version. This technology sends reactive power to rear wheels when detecting slippage. Constantly monitoring Super Handling AWD automatically sends power to corners in addition to front and back. Works notably well when precipitation arrives.
The hotly contested mid-size crossover luxury segment is loaded with worthy rivals including the all-new Genesis GV80, Lexus RX 350, BMW X5 and Cadillac XT5. At this moment in time in the spring of 2021, MDX boasts the freshest design and latest technological wizardry. Since its 2000 intro, MDX included three rows of seating standard. Rivals including the Lexus RX added a third row option later in the game.
This new effort grows a bit. Wheelbase (distance between front and rear axles) increases 2.8 inches and overall length adds 2.2 inches. It's wider too by a full inch. All these measurements add up to a roomier interior for all seven occupants. Total interior passenger volume swells to 139.1 cubic feet, 6.4 additional than the 2021 version.
Four well-equipped trim levels include MDX, MDX with technology package, MDX A-Spec and MDX with advance package. Add-on extras and optional packages are minimal as each trim adds content up the ladder simplifying the purchasing process. Both MDX and MDX with technology package are front-wheel drive exclusive while the upper two trims offer both FWD and AWD.
All trims include the same number of advanced safety nuances included front knee air bags and a cadre of radar-sensitive technologies wrapped up in 'Acurawatch,' the in-house brand name covering safety
Our top-line MDX with advance package teamed with all-wheel drive started at $60,650. The only extra, $500 for premium exterior paint, brought the bottom line to $62,175 after adding a $1,025 destination charge. An entry MDX with front-wheel drive starts at $46,900.
Up front, a five-sided pentagon grille insert borrows a cosmic theme with a star-like bodies growing smaller when approaching its universal center, the logoed A. It's flanked by narrow horizontal slit-like headlight housing of four Nano-sized LED lights atop a smallish lower air dam.
A high horizontal side belt line connects the tippy tops of wrap around head light and tail light housing traveling above the strap-like door handles and below narrow, chrome-framed side windows ending with an arrowhead design. The raised hood with vertical center crease joins a roof reaching its apex at the 'B' pillar, gently sloping down to the hatch door.
A V-6 powertrain returns unchanged from Generation three; a 3.5-liter, naturally aspirated, non turbo pumping out 290 horsepower. Premium, 91-octane fuel continues recommended. For now, it's the sole engine until the summer of 2022 when a 3.0 turbo charged V-6 joins the team in an all-new higher-performance Type S variant. Also new: the 10-speed automatic transmission, replacing a nine-speed variety.
The V-6 offers start-stop technology allowing the engine to conserve fuel during prolonged stops by gently shutting down operation. Once the right foot lifts from the brake, the powertrain snaps back to attention. A push button disengages the system if desired. All-wheel drive versions deliver 19 miles per gallon city and 25 mpg highway. Add one mile better highway with front-wheel drive.
Both the digital instrument cluster and flat multi-function center screen now boast identical and sizeable 12.3 inch measurements. When initially pushing the electronic push start, the IP graphics include a colorful interpretation of the Acura logo and rotating MDX sketch drawings.
The animated IP gets an assist from steering wheel face push and scroll buttons allowing selectable windows. A large, well-marked circular dial below the center flat screen and horizontal vents selects one of four drive modes. Each mode welcomes its own unique instrument panel layout and color schemes.
Both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto Smartphone interplay come standard, allowing usage of stored applications and phone messaging through the sound system. A wireless charging pad assisting newer generations of Smartphones also comes standard across all trim lines. It's located between front buckets just left of inline beverage holders and behind a flat touch-sensitive control pad working in tandem with the screen.
Not a big backer of these sketch pads requiring a skating right pointer finger and gentle pushes to motivate an in-screen curser. However, it's slightly more workable than what Lexus offers in many of its vehicles. Near the landing pad, Acura includes a twist dial controlling volume and on/off functions, residing next door to a toggle-like switch assisting station pre-sets and other functions. Utilizing these two mechanical functions along with secondary steering wheel audio buttons and thumb scroll minimizes sketch pad usage.
Below the flat multi-function screen and air vents resides a row of small push buttons monitoring HVAC functions below a wide digital display window.
Unlike a mechanical transmission with conventional grab handle, MDX opts for well-marked in-line electronic designates (PRND) to select desired gears. Engineers wisely designed specific finger motions and shapes for each choice. For example, Park requires a push down of a rectangular button while Reverse necessitates a tactile tab push. It's a returning layout utilized in other Honda/Acura family vehicles.
A notable miss for this luxury offering: third-row seating with no power folding capabilities. One expects a power assist in a luxury-badged product. The rear hatch, however, does enjoy a power boost, opening from the bottom up with decent head clearance.
Maneuvering into row three requires young bones. Second-row seatbacks tilt forward, encouraging the unit to manually slide forward, creating a small aisle. My creaky sixty-year-old frame made the trek inside; it's harder with each passing birthday. Row-three headroom is designed for those under six feet tall, but USB ports for portable electronics are available. Luggage volume behind a prone row three grows to a useable 16.3 cubic feet, 1.5 better than Gen Three.
The MDX counts as one of five Acura models sold in the U.S. joining ILX and TLX sport sedans, RDX compact crossover and the low-volume electrified NSX coupe; all manufactured at U.S. based assembly plants with MDX calling East Liberty Ohio home. 2022 Acura MDX
Price as Tested: $62,175
Wheelbase: 113.8 inches
Length: 198.4 inches
Width: 78.7 inches
Width: 78.7 inches
Engine: 3.5-liter V-6
Curb weight: 4,534 pounds
Fuel Economy: 19 mpg city/25 mpg highway
Powertrain warranty: Six year/70,000 miles
Assembly: East Liberty, Ohio