The Acura MDX has quietly stood as the most popular model available from the Japanese luxury brand for many years, a vehicle that at times is so ubiquitous in mall parking lots and at soccer pitches that it becomes part of the background and even harder to consciously notice. The 2014 Acura MDX represents an all-new take on the automaker's mid-size SUV, but one that doesn't make the mistake of messing with a successful formula. Instead, the redesigned MDX simply takes what was working and makes it better, improving a number of key areas without stripping the vehicle of its family mojo.
Let's take a look at 10 things you need to know about the 2014 Acura MDX.
01. The 2014 Acura MDX Has Been Completely Redesigned
At first glance, it might be hard to tell that you are looking at a 2014 Acura MDX and not last year's model. This is by design, as the conservative yet sleek lines of the mid-size Acura MDX didn't require a drastic overhaul in order to keep playing to its built-in family audience. Shorter and narrower than the year before, yet two inches longer, the MDX remains reasonably-sized in order to appeal to city dwellers. It also features an updated front fascia, standard LED headlights, new scalloped sheet metal along the sides, and a less-upright roofline, especially towards the rear. It's important to note that the Acura no longer shares its platform with the Honda Pilot SUV, as it has moved to its own chassis, and that its dual exhaust system has been deleted in favor of a single, hidden exhaust outlet.
02. The 2014 Acura MDX Offers 7 Passenger Seating
One of the advantages of the 2014 Acura MDX moving to a new platform is a somewhat larger interior, although not every aspect of the passenger compartment has grown for the current model year. The SUV's 2.8-inch increase in wheelbase translates into more legroom for those riding up front, but second and third row passengers will notice very small decreases in leg and headroom. Cargo room is down a smidge too, checking in at a still-useful 90.9 cubic feet in total from 2013's 103.5 cubic feet. The area directly behind the third row has been enlarged, however, with almost an extra cubic foot lurking to handle day-to-day hauling needs. The Acura MDX's three rows of seating can accommodate up to seven riders, and the second row of accommodations is able to slide forward easily via a simple button setup to make it that much quicker to access the final set of seats.
03. The 2014 Acura MDX Features A New V-6 Engine
The 2014 Acura MDX dumps last year's 3.7-liter V-6 in favor of a slightly smaller 3.5-liter unit that makes use of both cylinder deactivation and direct fuel injection technology. Total output for the new mill found in the Acura MDX is listed at 290 horsepower and 267 lb-ft of torque, managed by a six-speed automatic transmission. Sharp eyes will notice that this represents a not-inconsiderable drop in power as compared to the 2013 model, but as we'll see later on, the 2014 edition of the MDX is actually a more stout performer than its predecessor.
04. The 2014 Acura MDX Makes AWD An Option
The 2014 Acura MDX continues to be available with Acura's Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) system, but the feature moves to the options sheet after having been standard equipment for 2013. This means that it's possible to purchase a front-wheel drive version of the Acura MDX, which is music to the ears of drivers who don't live in areas where the extra traction provided by all-wheel drive is any real bonus. It also provides a cheaper starting point compared to the 2013 edition of the MDX. Those who do yearn for an SUV that motivates all four wheels will be happy to know that the Acura's SH-AWD system still shuttles torque from front to rear in order to benefit dry pavement performance as well as enhance grip during icy or wet driving conditions.
05. The 2014 Acura MDX Is Significantly Lighter Than Before
A big part of the reason why the 2014 Acura MDX's lower horsepower rating doesn't really matter in terms of performance is that the new platform that it rides on is nearly 300 lbs lighter than the one it replaces. Not only does the lighter Acura MDX accelerate with the same gusto as it did in 2013, but it also offers more confident handling as there's simply less mass being asked to change direction. Suspension tuning is noticeably geared towards comfort rather than all out handling, but there's no denying that the new and lighter MDX is more buttoned-down when the going gets twisty.
06. The 2014 Acura MDX Delivers Better Fuel Efficiency
If lightening the 2014 Acura MDX's load has helped it to stay peppy even with less horsepower, it stands to reason that its fuel efficiency figures will also shoot up. Cylinder deactivation should also do its part to help the MDX sip fuel when cruising at a steady speed. This is indeed what has happened, as the smaller-engined, not-as-heavy Acura MDX now posts a fuel mileage rating of 20-mpg in stop and go driving and 28-mpg on the highway when found in front-wheel drive trim. This is an increase of four and seven miles per gallon for each respective measure, as compared to last year, and even all-wheel drive MDX models are only slightly less efficient than front-wheelers.
07. The 2014 Acura MDX Comes In A Single Trim Level
The 2014 Acura MDX comes in a single 'base' trim level that is designed to be loaded up with options packages. All versions of the Acura MDX feature a power liftgate, keyless entry and ignition, heated leather seats up front with power adjustments, a sunroof, LED headlights, 18-inch rims, heated mirrors, three zones of automatic climate control, two LCD displays, Bluetooth phone connectivity, and an eight-speaker stereo system. The SUV also comes with satellite and Internet radio capability, a rearview camera, tilt and telescopic steering, and a memory feature for the driver's seat.
08. The 2014 Acura MDX Offers Customization Via Options Packages
The 2014 Acura MDX almost treats its available options packages like individual trim levels, as each provides a substantial amount of extra gear on top of the SUV's standard features. The Technology package enhances Bluetooth audio capability on top of the vehicle's phone-only setup, along with a surround sound entertainment system, a navigation system with voice commands, 19-inch rims, keyless entry for the rear doors, a climate control system that keeps track of the position of the sun, HD radio, and a number of active safety features. The Technology and Entertainment package provides heated rear seats and a DVD entertainment system, while the Advance and Entertainment package delivers parking assistance, a remote starter, nicer leather seats (with cooling up front), adaptive cruise control, still more safety gear, and a larger screen for the rear seat entertainment system.
09. The 2014 Acura MDX Can Be Configured With Advanced Safety Gear
All versions of the 2014 Acura MDX come with a driver's knee airbag, dual forward airbags, seat-mounted side impact airbags up front, and side curtain airbags front and rear. Electronic stability control and traction control are also included free of charge with the Acura MDX. Optional safety features for the SUV include a blind spot warning system, a lane departure warning system, and a forward collision warning system. The latter can be upgraded with an automatic braking feature that will bring the vehicle to a stop in order to avoid an accident, and the lane departure warning system can also be had with an active component that will steer the MDX away from trouble.
10. The 2014 Acura MDX Is The Brand's Best-Seller
The 2014 Acura MDX, as we've already mentioned, is a strong seller for the automaker. With a starting MSRP of $42,290 (made possible by the new front-wheel drive model), the Acura MDX happens to be quite reasonably priced, especially when compared to other luxury three-row SUVs like the Audi Q7, the BMW X5, or the Mercedes-Benz GL-Class. It's also competitive with premium options like the larger Buick Enclave and equally big Infiniti JX. Fully optioned out, the Acura MDX will set you back $54,505, which is a decent spread for a high end people mover.