Selecting a new car is a challenge. The automobile market is long on options, whether you’re looking for a compact city car or a pickup truck to haul your horses around the ranch. Such a massive array of choices can make car shopping a challenge. This is especially true if you’re a professional person looking for a ride that speaks to your status, meets your needs, and doesn’t break the bank.
Chances are you’re looking for a car that matches your dedication to the pursuit of excellence. You need a vehicle that will keep you comfortable on the way to the office and let you live your life outside of work to the fullest. What you need is a high-quality luxury SUV. And while the luxury SUV market is crammed full of contenders, you’ll find that the brilliant minds at Acura have created a splendid machine in the MDX.
The 2022 Acura MDX: Vital Statistics
The soul of a car is in the engine. The MDX has been blessed with a sporty and joyful soul indeed. The 2021 MDX sports a 290-horsepower, 3.5-liter gasoline direct injection engine that can put out up to 267 pound-feet of torque and accelerate from 0 to 60 in 6.4 seconds. A rolling-start 5-to-60 test has the MDX hitting a mile a minute in about 6.2 seconds. Comparable vehicles, such as Lexus’ RX350, will hit 60 in a relatively sluggish 7.7 seconds. While the base engine is quite capable, buyers who spring for the Acura MDX Type S will enjoy a substantial upgrade. The Type S is powered by a beefy 355-horsepower engine that sends 354 lb-ft of torque to the powertrain – more than many light trucks!
Of course, the engine alone doesn’t drive the car. The powertrain is where a lot of the magic happens. Acura has connected this highly capable powerplant to a 10-speed automatic transmission that powers the front wheels. The shifting is fast, mostly seamless, and sporty, helpful for those fast highway merges. The base MDX and the MDX with technology package sport this 10-speed automatic and can tow loads of up to 3,500 pounds. For buyers of the Acura MDX A-Spec and higher trim levels, the powerplant drives Acura’s specially engineered SH-AWD transmission, which adds all-wheel handling and buffs the towing capacity to a respectable 5,000 pounds.
Acura’s SH-AWD transmission warrants a brief discussion. The MDX’s base 10-speed automatic transmission is rather capable: reviewers use words like “aggressive” to describe the MDX’s power and acceleration, and buyers of the base model will not be disappointed. Regardless, there are real benefits to the SH-AWD transmission. SH-AWD stands or “Super-Handling All Wheel Drive,” and while this might sound like little more than a clever marketing gimmick, the SH-AWD is, in fact, a remarkable bit of kit. The SH-AWD takes data from the engine and tires and intelligently routes torque to the wheel that needs it most. The system can route up to 70% of available torque to the rear axle and can also route torque differentially to the right or left wheel. In other words, the SH-AWD system can route power to any individual wheel as needed. This makes the SH-AWD-equipped MDX a beastly machine when faced with snow, slick roads, or sharp turns.
The MDX’s handling is augmented further with a double-wishbone front suspension. If you’re not a mechanical engineer, double-wishbone suspensions provide multiple points of articulation for each wheel, which allows the ride quality to be precisely tuned. Acura’s engineers spent a lot of effort getting the ride tuned to the exacting specifications of the modern high-end automobile consumer, and as such, you’ll find the handling and ride quality of your MDX superlative whether you’re cruising down an open highway, bumping along a country road, or navigating a winding mountain pass, you’ll enjoy smooth handling and a ride like a cushioned dream. If you decide to take your MDX off-road, you can anticipate solid performance even in the absence of pavement: reviewers who tested the vehicle on Honda’s complex off-road track found the MDX quite capable of traversing even sandy or muddy terrain, especially when enhanced with the SH-AWD.
The MDX is fast, nimble, and tuned for performance – but is it comfortable? The answer is an overwhelming yes. Reviewers have noted that the trim in the 2022 MDX is far superior to that of past generations: the upholstery is plush, and the cabin is thoughtfully designed and carefully assembled. It is also heavy on comfort features designed to make it a pleasant ride. The base MDX comes with synthetic leather upholstery, heated seats, and a three-zone independent climate control system. Buyers of the Technology Package will enjoy genuine leather with artful contrasting stitching, adjustable ambient lighting, and a 12-speaker stereo system – plus front and rear parking assist sensors.
For those who want even more out of their car, Acura has introduced three more trim levels for the MDX. The A-Spec package takes everything in the technology package and adds in ventilated seats and a high-end, 16-speaker stereo system. All of this is built on the SH-AWD transmission, making the A-Spec a smart choice for buyers living in colder climates or people who plan to take their MDX off the pavement. The next step in Acura’s trim scheme is the MDX Advance, which includes all features of the technology package plus heated rear seats, a heated steering wheel, and a hands-free power liftgate. Perhaps the most interesting feature of the Advance is the heads-up display. This display provides vital information in the drivers’ line of sight using the same technology that fighter pilots use to see information while maneuvering. The HUD is linked to a set of onboard cameras that can read street signs and will actually read speed limit signs and display the limit for the driver! This camera array also provides drivers with a real-time image of what is happening around their vehicle, which is a big help in traffic or in low-visibility situations. The final perk of the MDX’s Advance package is an assortment of USB outlets throughout the car to keep everybody’s gizmos powered up while you drive.
The peak trim level of the MDX is the Type S. The Type S includes all of the features of the lower trim levels, plus a 25-speaker stereo system. You can bump your favorite tunes on your commute or enjoy your podcasts in a whole new dimension of sound. You may want to turn the stereo down when you’re moving fast, though, so that you can hear the massive engine of the Type S in action. The 355-horsepower turbocharged engine screams and gives the Type S a powerful, aggressive feel on the road.
Regardless of your specific choice, reviewers have found all trim levels of the MDX to be finely appointed with a premium feel. Individual climate control systems offer passengers in any MDX to enjoy customized climate zones. In the Technology package and all higher trims, the MDX sports a customizable ambient lighting system that allows drivers to control the lighting and atmosphere in the cabin.
In terms of passenger space, the MDX technically has room for seven people. Realistically, that’s probably pushing it unless some of your passengers are of smaller stature. The back row of the MDX is rather small and probably best suited for children. In terms of cargo, however, the design team at Acura has done an excellent job of creating storage space. The MDX sports 95 cubic feet of cargo space, largely thanks to a cunning cargo storage system featuring smart lids, which provides functional storage suitable for almost anybody.
Acura knows that our mobile devices are our lives these days, and as such, they’ve thoughtfully outfitted the cabin with an array of USB ports. The built-in infotainment system is compatible with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Alexa. For those who prefer to get their entertainment from low-earth orbit, the MDX is equipped with a satellite radio receiver. If your passengers prefer streaming or scrolling, they can connect to the MDX’s built-in hotspot to engage with their favorite web content while en route to your destination.
The infotainment screen is 12.3 inches, making it a decently sized screen for a luxury SUV. However, multiple reviewers have noted that Acura’s onboard software is a little clumsy, especially the touchpad interface. While they excel at building safe, comfortable, sporty rides, the engineers at Acura need to work on their UI build. While the infotainment display can be somewhat annoying at times, this is a relatively minor grievance in an otherwise exceptional vehicle.
One of the most interesting features of the Acura MDX is the highly customizable drive modes. Most vehicles these days sport friendly “Eco” or “Sport” buttons designed to change drive modes. However, Acura knows that there are many more contexts in which people drive. They’ve developed five separate drive modes for the 2022 MDX: Snow, Comfort, Normal, Sport, and Individual. Of special note is the Individual mode, which allows the driver to customize their own driving mode. Drivers can manipulate parameters like throttle response, shifting pattern, suspension tuning, and even the ambient lighting system to create a drive mode that is unique to their own style behind the wheel.
Power and comfort are essential for any discerning vehicle buyer, but with today’s traffic, we all need to worry about safety. Fortunately, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety — commonly referred to as the IIHS — has granted the MDX a rating of “superior” in front-end crash prevention, meaning that the vehicle can automatically apply brakes to avoid a collision or minimize the speed of impact. The MDX accomplishes this through a sensor array connected to their “Collision Mitigation Braking System,” or CMBS. The CMBS includes a pedestrian-detection system to help drivers avoid a car-vs-pedestrian collision. To prevent collisions caused by cross-traffic or blind spots, the MDX includes rear-facing cross-traffic monitoring sensors and blind-spot sensors that will alert the driver to potential threats.
The IIHS awarded the Acura MDX a rating of “Good,” their highest ranking, in six separate crash tests. All MDX models come with eight standard airbags. The front airbags are designed with multiple air chambers. This new design helps the airbags catch and cradle the head of a crash victim and can reduce brain injuries by up to 75%. Electronic enhancements to the braking system have improved stopping distances with and without the use of auto-brakes.
The MDX’s array of sensors also powers the Acura MDX’s Adaptive Cruise Control system and the new Traffic Jam Assist system. For highway drivers, adaptive cruise control is a must-have. Unlike traditional cruise control, adaptive cruise can detect the speed of the vehicle in front of you and will adjust your speed accordingly. If your cruise is set at 75 mph, but the dude in front of you in the left lane is putting along at 71, the adaptive cruise will keep a respectful distance from the offending driver while maintaining best forward speed. This is a miraculous technology in heavy traffic conditions. Speaking of heavy traffic, Traffic Jam Assist can slow your vehicle to a complete stop if needed in heavy traffic. It can also resume driving autonomously as traffic begins to flow again. Traffic Jam Assist significantly reduces the driver’s workload in traffic. For entrepreneurs and commuters who live in dense urban cores or heavily-trafficked cities, Traffic Jam Assist is a total game-changer.
The Last Mile
Overall, the 2022 Acura MDX is an excellent piece of automotive kit. With a plush, thoughtfully-designed interior, countless high-tech features, and advanced engineering from the ground up, one might expect a vehicle like the MDX to be expensive. And while you’re not likely to be able to pay for your MDX with rolled pennies, you also won’t have to take out a second mortgage for your ride. Kelley Blue Book reports that the average 2022 MDX should sell for somewhere between $52,000 and $54,000, with more advanced models like the A-Spec or Type S sporting heftier price tags. Regardless, the MDX is worth the money. If you’re looking for a ride that tells the world you’ve arrived without being obscenely flashy about it, the Acura MDX might just be the perfect vehicle for you.
Cover photo of the 2022 Acura MDX and courtesy of Acura.