2022 Acura MDX: First Drive Review

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceFourth Generation MDX
Twenty years ago, Acura entered the premium SUV market via the stylish MDX, and now Honda’s luxury brand introduces the fourth generation of this best-selling luxury SUV. Shown in prototype form a couple months ago, the 2022 Acura MDX gets built on an all-new platform with bold styling, a spacious interior and a wide range of high-tech features. And for those who seek more performance, Acura has announced it will offer a high-performance MDX Type S for the first time.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceFlagship SUV
“This new fourth-generation MDX really builds on all of the values that have made MDX a perennial favorite with customers over the past 20 years,” said Tom Nguyen, MDX global development leader. “By injecting higher levels of craftsmanship, performance and technology, the 2022 MDX is truly a vehicle befitting of its flagship position,” Nguyen noted.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceNew Platform
The 2022 MDX rides on an all-new light-truck platform designed to deliver an improved ride including a quieter cabin. To support the upgraded performance of the Type S, the 2022 MDX has the most rigid SUV body ever from Honda’s premium brand. A new performance-focused chassis will be supported by the model’s first use of a double-wishbone front suspension; the package is designed to deliver markedly improved handling and ride comfort.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceLonger and Wider
Riding on its new platform, the 2022 Acura MDX has a wheelbase almost 3 inches longer than the previous version. The 2022 model is 2.2 inches longer, about an inch wider and slightly shorter in height — although ground clearance remains at 7.3 inches. Wheels get pushed to the corners for an even wider stance, and the front and rear track (distance between the wheels across each axle) increases by 1.4 inches.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceNew Yet Familiar Looks
With clear styling ties to the recently introduced TLX, the 2022 Acura MDX features a larger Diamond Pentagon grille with a large Acura logo at the center. Very bright four-element Jewel Eye LED headlights integrate well on either side of the grille and feature Chicane LED daytime running lights. The stylish grille, swept-back headlights and character lines on the hood give MDX the appearance of motion even when standing still.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceSleeker Look
When viewed from the side, the longer hood of the 2022 Acura MDX pushes the cabin rearward, giving the new SUV a sleeker look. The deeply sculpted sides get further emphasis from a chrome strip along the lower segment of the doors. A strong shoulder line runs from the edge of the headlights to the beginning of the taillights. The standard 19-inch or optional 20-inch aluminum alloy wheels complement the vehicle’s new proportions.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceModel Lineup
As with other vehicles in the Acura lineup, MDX ordering is kept simple with choices limited to front-wheel drive or Super Handling-All-Wheel Drive as well as a Technology Package, an A-Spec Package and an Advance Package — the latter two come with SH-AWD. The Type S will join the lineup later in 2021.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceAcuraWatch
All Acura MDX trims are equipped with Acura’s suite of advanced safety and driver assist features called AcuraWatch. This includes forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane departure warning, lane-keeping assist, road departure mitigation, a blind-spot information system and rear cross-traffic alert.

© American Honda MotorsAcura MDX Base
Even the base-level MDX comes well equipped with a long list of standard features. At a base price of $46,900 the MDX FWD gets tri-zone climate control, power-adjustable heated front seats, leatherette trim, a 12.3-inch display, a digital instrument cluster, wireless device charging, wireless Android Auto / Apple CarPlay, Alexa integration, a panoramic sunroof, a premium audio system with nine speakers, and 19-inch alloy wheels. Acura’s SH-AWD system can be added for $2,000.

© American Honda MotorsTechnology Package
Priced at $4,700, the MDX Technology Package adds sport seats with perforated Milano leather trim, GPS navigation, rain-sensing wipers, 27-color ambient lighting, an ELS Premium Audio system with 12 speakers, front and rear parking sensors and 20-inch alloy wheels.

© American Honda MotorsAcura MDX A-Spec
Priced at $57,100 the MDX A-Spec includes all the items of the Technology Package, SH-AWD, ELS Studio 3D Premium Audio with 16 speakers, ventilated front seats and a leather-wrapped flat-bottom sport steering wheel. The A-Spec also stands out from the rest of the MDX lineup with an Ebony headliner, metal pedals, an A-Spec Sport Appearance Package and LED fog lights.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceAdvance Package
The Advance Package runs $3,550 above the MDX A-Spec and adds 16-way power front seats, a 10.5-inch head-up display, a surround-view camera, a heated steering wheel, heated rear seats, remote engine start and hands-free operation of the power tailgate.

© American Honda MotorsMDX Type S
This summer Honda’s luxury brand will introduce the 2022 Acura MDX Type S — the first Type S performance treatment applied to an Acura SUV. The MDX Type S will have a 3.0-liter turbocharged V6 engine producing an estimated 355 horsepower and 354 lb-ft of torque — the most powerful engine Acura has ever dropped into an SUV. The Type S will stand out from the rest of the MDX lineup with an open diamond mesh grille, quad exhaust outlets and a range of premium interior features.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceInner Space
Although the exterior design updates of the 2022 Acura MDX are somewhat evolutionary, the new SUV sets itself apart from the previous generation with a stylish new interior. The design flows upward from the center console into the dashboard, with clean lines stretching to either door. Vents are now slimmer and horizontal, giving the cabin a wider feeling further enhanced by a 12.3-inch ultra-wide HD center display. The gear selector is centrally located directly below the Dynamic Mode control.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceTouchpad Interface
Acura introduced a new interface on the RDX a few years ago, and it still takes some time to get used to it. Unlike a touchpad that requires dragging a pointer across the screen, the “True Touchpad” interface in effect replicates the layout of the display screen — to select an item in the top-left corner of the screen, the driver touches the top-left corner of the touchpad. Although we like this method better than the touchpad Lexus vehicles employ, it is still difficult to use quickly and requires some adept hand-eye coordination that can be difficult while driving.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceCharging Options
A large wireless device charger is located conveniently next to the driver, and even during spirited driving the phone stays put — especially handy when using wireless Android Auto or Apple CarPlay. There are also multiple USB-A and -C ports in the center console.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceAlexa Integration
Acura has done a great job with their Alexa integration; it is one of the more useful voice interfaces in a new vehicle. Operating similarly to an Alexa home device, the system activates via the “Alexa” voice command — it can then be asked just about anything. We asked Alexa to find the closest Starbucks and then direct us there. Alexa was also able to tell us when it was going to rain, how long it would take to drive to Chicago, and even the distance to the moon at that particular moment.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceFront Seats
We spent a considerable amount of time in the top-level 2022 Acura MDX Advance and thoroughly enjoyed the sport seats trimmed in soft Milano leather. Contrasting piping adds a higher level of luxury to the look, and larger side bolsters are snug but not tight. With multiple adjustments as well as heating and cooling functions, the seats work well for long drives.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceSecond Row
The second row of the 2022 Acura MDX possesses decent legroom and headroom, and the panoramic sunroof adds much to the spacious feeling. Rather than simply offering second-row captain’s chairs, the MDX has DIY appeal. The center seat of the second row can be easily removed to create more room for two passengers; its removal also adds extra legroom for third-row passengers.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceRear Seat Controls
Rear-seat passengers get easily accessible climate controls as well as two USB-A ports. The Advance Package adds heated rear seats as well as a 110-volt AC outlet.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceThird Row
Even though the 2022 Acura MDX has more overall space, the third row is still rather tight, especially for adults. Available USB-A ports for third-row passengers may help ease the pain of being stuck in the back of the bus.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceCargo Space
With its larger dimensions, the 2022 Acura MDX has more cargo space than the previous generation. A few suitcases or plenty of groceries fit easily behind the third row. The rear seats can be folded flat for considerably more cargo-carrying capacity.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceSwappable Floor
The cargo floor of the 2022 Acura MDX features additional underfloor storage. The storage top can be flipped to have a carpet or hard plastic surface — a great option for stashing dirty or muddy cargo.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceUnder the Hood
A 3.5-liter i-VTEC V6 engine producing 290 horsepower and 267 lb-ft of torque powers the 2022 Acura MDX; these figures remain unchanged from the prior generation. However, the V6 is now teamed with a 10-speed automatic transmission with Sequential SportShift and paddle shifters. Maximum towing capacity remains at 5,000 pounds.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceFuel Economy
U.S. EPA fuel-economy ratings for the 2022 Acura MDX are listed as 19 mpg city / 26 mpg hwy / 22 mpg combined for front-wheel drive. Highway and combined ratings drop by 1 mpg for all-wheel drive. During our drive, the trip computer stayed around 17 mpg, which may be attributable to a heavy right foot.

© American Honda MotorsSuper-Handling All-Wheel Drive
The 2022 Acura MDX gets the latest generation of Acura’s Super Handling All-Wheel Drive. The rear-biased SH-AWD system features torque vectoring, including the ability to send 100 percent of the rear-axle torque to the right or the left wheel for improved cornering and better overall handling. The updated system can deliver up to 70 percent of the power to the rear wheels and is 30 percent quicker when transferring power from front to rear.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceOn the Road
With close to 300 horsepower on tap, the MDX has more than enough power for most driving situations. Although it feels quick, wouldn’t call the new MDX a high-performance SUV. (Granted, our opinion might change once when we get a chance to drive the more powerful MDX Type S.) The 10-speed automatic works well thanks to quick — almost imperceptible — shifts. The MDX feels comfortable cruising the highway at 70 mph-plus as well as running errands around town via a smooth, quiet ride.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceSH-AWD
When equipped with SH-AWD, the MDX can send power to the outside rear wheel when cornering, which makes a noticeable difference on winding roads in the rain. With its updated chassis and improved suspension the 2022 Acura MDX handles excellently, making it enjoyable to drive; however, when pushed hard it becomes evident that the MDX is not a small vehicle — eventually physics always wins.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceRight for You?
The MDX has always been a great option in the competitive premium SUV segment, and the updates for 2022 make Acura’s flagship SUV an even more appealing option. With a high-tech, comfortable and attractive interior as well as plenty of utility, the MDX has a lot to offer. The SUV remains a high performer and overall drivability is excellent, and it’s all wrapped up in a sleek new design. The new MDX certainly fits the bill as Acura’s flagship SUV and should be more popular than ever before.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceRating: 8.5
Pros: Attractive styling; fine performance; great Alexa integration.
Cons: Cramped third row; odd touchpad interface.
Bottom Line: Updated MDX adds more performance, style and technology to the competitive premium SUV market.

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