2022 Acura MDX A-Spec ・ Photo by Acura
Two decades ago, Acura saw the writing on the wall. People seeking luxury were going to want it in a crossover SUV offering the tall and roomy seating, configurable utility, and all-wheel drive characteristic of the breed, combined with driving dynamics more akin to a car than a truck. Consumers responded by making the Acura MDX the best-selling three-row luxury SUV in history.
Now, a redesigned, fourth-generation 2022 Acura MDX arrives, continuing in the tradition established by those that came before it. It remains a mid-size model with three rows of seats, comes only with a 3.5-liter V6 engine and front- or all-wheel drive, and is available in base, Technology, A-Spec, and Advance configurations. This coming summer, a performance-oriented MDX Type S will join the lineup. Prices for the 2022 Acura MDX start at around $48,000 and rise to more than $60,000 with every option. The Type S is likely to cost more than $65,000.
Upgrade from the standard 2022 Acura MDX to the Technology Package, and the SUV comes with premium leather upholstery, ambient interior lighting, an upgraded climate control system, rear side window sunshades, navigation with real-time traffic, a 12-speaker premium sound system, and low-speed automatic front and rear braking. It sits on exclusive 20-inch wheels and has front and rear parking sensors, rain-sensing wipers, and power-folding side mirrors.
The MDX A-Spec Package builds on this with standard SH-AWD, a dark gray wheel finish, LED fog lights, and a sportier appearance. Inside, sport seats await, complete with heating and ventilation. The A-Spec also has brushed aluminum trim, metal pedal covers, a flat-bottom steering wheel, and a black headliner. A terrific 16-speaker high-end audio system is standard. Choose the Advance Package for 16-way power-adjustable front seats, heated rear seats, a heated steering wheel, a head-up display, a surround-view camera, auto-dimming side mirrors, roof rails, and remote engine starting from the key fob. Our test vehicle had the A-Spec Package and extra-cost Liquid Carbon Metallic paint, bringing the window sticker to $58,625, including the $1,025 destination charge.
Photo by Acura
Modeled on Acura's latest design themes, the new 2022 MDX is familiar yet far more dynamic. The hood is longer and higher, giving the new MDX a blunt front end. Bigger standard wheels, a less droopy butt, and deeply carved character lines deliver substantially more visual impact. The new MDX looks much more upscale.
Inside, Acura rids the MDX of its ancient technology interface, adding a 12.3-inch high-definition infotainment screen embedded into a low, wide, and layered dashboard. A matching 12.3-inch digital instrumentation display is also standard, and the overall theme is sporty, high-tech, and upscale. The materials Acura uses support this impression. Using the primary controls takes practice and patience. From the push-button transmission module to the True Touchpad Interface (TTI) for the infotainment system, the MDX requires an acclimation period. Fortunately, other controls are conventional in design, operation, and location.
Photo by Acura
Seat comfort was a hallmark of the previous MDX, and the redesigned 2022 model continues to supply a proper driving position and terrific support. The base specification includes leatherette upholstery, 12-way power adjustment for both front seats, and heated cushions. As you add trim packages, you gain premium leather, ventilation, and 16-way adjustment.
In all MDXs, a new removable center rear-seat section provides a three-person bench or captain's chairs with a pass-through to the third-row seat. The third-row seat is a little larger and more comfortable now, but it remains best for children instead of adults. Heated outboard second-row seats are available, along with side window sunshades. Interior storage space is less impressive than before; this change is due to the TTI and wireless charging pad's spatial requirements on the center console and prioritizing design over practicality concerning the transmission controls and driving modes knob. Cargo volume is comparable to the old MDX. Including the large, covered storage bin under the floor, there is 18.1 cubic feet of space behind the third-row seat. Fold it down to access 39.1 cubic feet of cargo room with ample floor space. Maximum volume measures 71.4 cubic feet.
Photo by Acura
Dual 12.3-inch digital displays convey instrumentation and infotainment data to the driver. Neither is touch-sensing, but useful steering wheel controls and a helpful voice recognition system make the technology easier to manage. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard, along with Alexa Built-in. Simply say "Alexa?" and the digital assistant wakes, ready to help.
Acura's True Touchpad Interface (TTI) infotainment system design is a curved pad on the center console, complete with a wrist rest to make it less fatiguing to use. It looks like a laptop computer trackpad but instead aims to supply "absolute positioning." In other words, if you put your fingertip on the upper left corner of the TTI, you'll access the upper right corner of the display. Using the TTI efficiently takes practice. Especially if you're shackled to a laptop computer all day, you need to recalibrate each time you drive the MDX. And even then, failed swipe actions or mistaken presses in the wrong places can cause confusion (and distraction) in a driver. The system desperately needs a navigation map zoom button or knob to join the volume and tuning controls to the TTI's right on the center console.
Photo by Acura
Historically, the Acura MDX has been a safe SUV designed around Advanced Compatibility Engineering (ACE) principles. No doubt, with its much stronger vehicle architecture, this new 2022 MDX will continue to provide exceptional protection in a collision. When it comes to avoiding a crash in the first place, the new MDX considerably ups its game. The AcuraWatch collection of advanced driving assistance systems (ADAS) expands and, more important, operates with greater precision and refinement.
New features include a driver monitoring system that can suggest a break if it detects drowsiness or distraction, a road sign recognition system, and Traffic Jam Assist, a Level 2 ADAS designed to reduce fatigue during commutes and in other heavy-traffic situations. In use, this version of AcuraWatch is an improvement over the previous MDX. It still employs an irritating steering wheel wobble instead of a vibration when delivering a lane-departure warning, but the adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping and lane-centering functions all operate with better accuracy and smoothness. Compared with other systems in the same vehicle segment, however, AcuraWatch can still seem a little unsure and uncertain of itself depending on the driving situation. That makes it harder to trust.
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For now, Acura has dropped the MDX Sport Hybrid from the lineup, leaving an updated 3.5-liter V6 as the sole source of power. It makes a satisfying 290 horsepower and 267 lb-ft of torque, and it pairs with a new 10-speed automatic transmission with Normal and Sport driving modes.
Front-wheel drive is standard in the more affordable models, with Acura's torque-vectoring Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) available. Both the A-Spec and Advance packages include SH-AWD. An Integrated Dynamics System (IDS) offers Comfort, Normal, Sport, Snow, and Individual driving modes, the latter providing six different items to calibrate to personal preferences. Our A-Spec test vehicle accelerated quickly, accompanied by an engine note enhanced through Active Sound Control. The 10-speed automatic is much more refined than the previous nine-speed unit Acura used, and when you're powering out of a curve or a corner, the torque-vectoring SH-AWD digs in and points the SUV's nose in the right direction. It's fun to drive — for a mid-size, three-row SUV. Acura says our test vehicle should have returned 21 mpg in combined driving. We averaged 19.4 mpg on our testing loop.
Photo by Acura
Thanks to a new double-wishbone front and improved multi-link rear suspension, the MDX feels more athletic than ever. And this doesn't come at the expense of ride quality. This Acura is firm and communicative, traits aligned with the automaker's "precision-crafted performance" approach to engineering, but it never beats you up. Furthermore, body motions are much better controlled, especially when traveling over uneven or undulating surfaces.
New variable-ratio steering offers a light touch at low speeds. Maneuver the MDX into a parking space, and the steering wheel spins effortlessly. As momentum builds, it firms up nicely, making it a perfect tool for canyon carving and Interstate cruising alike. By switching to a new electronic brake booster, pedal feel and response are better, along with pedestrian braking response time. Acura also improves the brakes' heat resistance capabilities, helpful if you're taking advantage of the SUV's maximum 5,000-pound towing capacity. Acura uses new Bridgestone Atenza all-season performance tires on the 2022 MDX, sized 255/50R20, when the SUV has 20-inch wheels. They provide a good blend of grip in corners and comfort on highways, but the MDX seems louder inside with regard to road noise.
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With its engineering, technology, and equipment improvements, the 2022 Acura MDX is better positioned to compete with other luxury three-row SUVs while retaining its value-oriented position within the market.
Buyers seeking upscale but lower-priced alternatives to this Acura will want to examine the Buick Enclave and Mazda CX-9 Signature. Competitors that remain out of the MDX's reach include the BMW X7 and Mercedes-Benz GLS. The remainder of the field is fair game, from the Audi Q7 to the Volvo XC90. However, the new MDX could face a renewed challenge from the redesigned 2022 Infiniti QX60.
Photo by Audi
The overdue Acura MDX redesign was worth the wait. It retains nearly everything that was appealing about the previous-generation model while dramatically improving in the areas that caused the most disappointment.
Our favorite things about the new MDX are the design, the driving dynamics, the interior comfort, and the expected safety this SUV will provide. It's a genuine pleasure to get into the new MDX, push the engine start button, and head off down the road, secure in knowing you and your loved ones are in good hands. We'll miss the previous-generation MDX's powerful and efficient Sport Hybrid, though, as well as the huge center storage console. There is more road noise than expected, too, and Acura still doesn't offer much in the way of exterior paint and interior color combinations. No matter which 2022 Acura MDX you choose, though, get the SH-AWD. In addition to providing added traction in snow or dirt, it alters the SUV's driving character for the better everywhere you drive it.
Photo by Acura