The 2014 Acura MDX may be new from the ground up but the Acura team wasn?t about to gamble with the success of their most popular model. Don?t look for revolutionary styling changes, massive increases in horsepower or anything else that might indicate it?s all new; if anything the new MDX is ? MDXier.
Perhaps the most significant change in the 2014 Acura MDX is the totally new MDX platform (body and chassis), which was developed specifically for this vehicle and not adapted to it like previous generations. The difference between the old MDX and the new one is like the difference between an off the rack suit and one that?s custom made. The result is an MDX that is more comfortable, stylish and efficient. It also happens to be 275 pounds lighter, 16 percent more aerodynamic and 17 percent more fuel efficient.
Acura says the MDX was developed in the image of an ?Executive Family Jet? and that?s a good analogy although we don?t think it?s quite as fast. The focus was to make it more luxurious, economical and safe; we think they?ve hit their mark. The MDX has always had well-built quality feel, but this new generation seems to have risen to a new level.
The result of all the new structure, mechanics and redesign is an Acura MDX that looks very much like the previous model that might have gone away to school, toned-up and became even more refined. The interior reflects the same schooling with a strong emphasis on simplicity. We weren?t sure if we?d like that they replaced many controls with a second touch screen, but with a little practice the screen system which controls audio, communications and climate functions worked nicely and made sense.
The MDX is a three row, seven-passenger SUV. The second row seats are adjustable so they can be pushed back to provide more legroom for the passengers, or forward to make a little more space for the third row occupants. There?s a new One-Touch Walk-In mechanism on the second row that makes third row access and egress easier, but like all third row environments, it still requires an extra effort to get there and it?s tight once you arrive.
The suspension has been changed to a new strut-type in the front and more compact multilink in the rear. You don?t see the difference, but you can feel it. The new MDX has a more ridged feel and the ride and handling are even better, thanks, in part, to new Amplitude Reactive Dampers.
Reversing the old adage that bigger is better, Acura engineers have used a smaller, less powerful V-6 engine in the new model. A 290-hp, 3.5-liter direct injection V-6 engine powers the new MDX, the previous engine was a 300-hp, 3.7-liter V-6. The engine utilizes Honda?s Earth Dreams Technology architecture which combines direct-injection, a new generation i-VTEC valve control technology and a two-stage Variable Cylinder Management? that seamlessly switches the engine between six- and three- cylinders depending on the load.
The MDX is available in front-wheel drive or with Acura?s Super Handling-All Wheel Drive (SH-AWD?) which instantly adjusts engine torque between the front and rear axles and from left to right in the rear to maximize traction.
The six-speed automatic transmission with sequential sport shift gets tweaked for 2014. But, it seems a little out of date when compared the seven-, eight- and nine-speed transmissions other SUVs are using. We do appreciate that it has steering-wheel mounted paddle shifters to give the driver better control.
New to the MDX is a new Integrated Dynamics System with three driving modes ? Comfort, Normal and Sport. Each setting changes the steering effort and ease of maneuverability. The Sport mode also adjusts throttle response, SH-AWD proportioning and it also tunes down the cabin?s Active Noise Control to give the MDX a more aggressive sound inside the cabin.
MDX performance is quite good for a 4,100 pounder. Even with the smaller engine, 0 to 60 mph acceleration times are improved by about one-half second to 6.9 seconds. The fuel economy improves significantly to 18 mpg city, 27 mpg highway and 21 mpg combined to the previous engines 16/21/18 mpg.
The 2014 Acura is available in one trim level with front-wheel drive or the SH-AWD and with three equipment packages. The FWD pricing starts at $43,185, including the destination charge. SH-AWD adds $2,000. The Tech Package adds $4,275. The Technology and Entertainment Packages option increases the price by $6,275. The Advance Package, which includes the Technology Package, and the Entertainment Package is $12,215 more. That mean the most expensive MDX is priced at $57,400. We like how Acura handles pricing by simplifying the process with major packages and not a long list of separate options.
The main features of the Tech Package include navigation, AcuraLink Communications, premium ELS audio and Blind Spot Information system. The Advance Package adds Collision Mitigation Braking, ventilated front sport seats, remote start, Lane Keep Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control and parking sensors. The Entertainment Package features a DVD player, 16.2-inch screen, wireless headsets, heated rear seats and rear door sunshades. What else could you possibly want?