Vital Stats

Engine:
3.5L V6
Power:
290 HP / 267 LB-FT
Transmission:
6-Speed Auto
Drivetrain:
All-Wheel Drive
Curb Weight:
4,332 LBS
Seating:
2+3+2
Cargo:
90.9 CU-FT (max)
MPG:
18 City / 27 HWY
Base Price:
$42,290
Refinement Rather Than Revolution



Before we get into the meat and potatoes of the 2014 Acura MDX, let's pause for just a moment and talk about the current, still-sitting-at-dealerships 2013 model. It's a pretty good machine. Perhaps guilty only of falling to the backburners of our minds in recent years because, well, the old girl's not gotten any younger. But every time we drove this second-generation MDX, our thoughts were the same – good to drive, pleasant to sit in and a pretty decent value.

Acura's customers felt the same way, and so when it came time to design and engineer the third-generation MDX, the vehicle's formula wasn't shaken up at all. Despite the fact that it uses a brand-new platform and offers a host of upgrades, the key points addressed by the company's engineers were the specific requests of customers and shoppers in the segment – changes that amounted to nothing radical. After all, if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Succeeding at being evolutionary is often far better than trying to be revolutionary. That in mind, we traveled to Portland, OR to see if that formula works for this fully redesigned Acura MDX.
2014 Acura MDX side view2014 Acura MDX front view2014 Acura MDX rear view

The new MDX looks like the old one but having "melted by 10 percent."

The production-spec 2014 Acura MDX debuted at the New York Auto Show in March, following our first glimpse at the not-quite-ready "concept" version at the Detroit show in January. And when our team first laid eyes on the fully freshened MDX, our initial discussions surrounded the CUV's styling. The second-generation model arrived during a time when Acura wasn't exactly doing great things with design, though a lot of us liked the angular shapes and prominent schnoz of the then-new model. Even now, that second-gen MDX has quite a presence about it – it looks decidedly large and in charge, for better or for worse.

For 2014, however, things have changed. Senior Editor Seyth Miersma once described the new MDX as looking like the old one but having "melted by 10 percent." Moreover, this third-generation MDX reminds us of a puffed-up version of the company's smaller RDX crossover that was redesigned for the 2013 model year. The lines are smoother and the whole package sort of loses the old model's presence, but this more conservative approach to the large, luxury CUV formula will likely appeal to a greater number of shoppers.

2014 Acura MDX headlight2014 Acura MDX grille2014 Acura MDX wheel2014 Acura MDX taillight

What's interesting, though, is how much smaller the new MDX looks in person, especially compared to the old one. It's 1.5 inches shorter in overall height, and the width has been reduced by 1.3 inches, but this 2014 model gains 2.8 inches of wheelbase and is two inches longer than the previous model overall (note that the front overhang has been decreased, but there's added length between the rear wheels and the back bumper). Looking at the MDX from any angle, you might not immediately realize that this is a proper three-row crossover.

Acura has done a lot of work to make the MDX's cabin more luxurious and passenger-friendly.

Speaking of which, Acura has done a lot of work to make the MDX's cabin more luxurious and passenger-friendly – one of the areas of improvement requested by customers. Specifically, access to the third row of seats was a big concern with this new model, and has been addressed in a very smart, traditionally Honda-like fashion. The second row seat now slides both forward and backward to adjust legroom in the rear passenger compartment depending on where people are sitting, and there's even a one-touch slide function, so there's absolutely no confusion on how to move the bench forward for easy access to the way-back. Acura engineers said they wanted to make it so even a child could figure out how to move the seat, and it's appropriately intuitive and low-effort. Check it out in the Short Cut video below.

Autoblog Short Cuts: 2014 Acura MDX
Despite this desire for better passenger accommodations, the 2014 MDX is actually smaller inside in some areas than its predecessor, with headroom and legroom decreasing ever so slightly for nearly every row of seats (save front-seat legroom, which grows by two-tenths of an inch). In fact, overall cargo capacity has been reduced to 90.9 cubic feet from 103.5, though the area behind the third row of seats can hold 0.8 more cubes than the 2013 model, allowing the tailgate to close with a large cooler inside, a trick not possible with the 2013 model. The cabin doesn't necessarily feel like it has downsized compared to the outgoing MDX, but stepping into an Infiniti JX will reveal an interior that genuinely feels more spacious.

The center stack is now much cleaner and loses its button-heavy layout.

But there's still a whole lot to like here. A big area of improvement in the new MDX is found in the forward cabin, where everything has been completely redesigned. The center stack is now much cleaner and loses its button-heavy layout, and it incorporates the dual-screen interface that's employed in the RLX sedan. The two-screen arrangement still strikes us as a bit redundant – the lower one is a haptic-feedback touch interface, whereas the larger, recessed one up top is controlled by the big knob at the bottom of the stack – but hey, it sure looks techy and there's great functionality within. In fact, many of the features found up front in the new MDX are reminiscent of what we first experienced in the RLX earlier this year. The steering wheel is nearly the same, with redundant controls for the radio and Bluetooth functions, as well as the color TFT information display in between the speedometer and tachometer.

2014 Acura MDX interior2014 Acura MDX front seats2014 Acura MDX rear seats2014 Acura MDX rear cargo area

All around, the MDX offers a comfortable, quiet environment for passengers, though the overall fit-and-finish isn't as solid or vault-like as what you'd find in a BMW X5. Still, we prefer the more premium approach to both the design and quality of materials over, say, the Infiniti JX or Lexus RX. It's an attractive cabin, with easy-to-use controls throughout. One noticeable change in operation between the second- and third-generation MDX, however, is seating position. Whereas the old car had a more upright, traditionally SUV-like feeling, you don't get that same sort of experience in the new MDX. It's a lot more car-like – your butt sits lower to the floor – while still offering an easy step-in height that makes for good ingress and egress for drivers of all shapes and sizes.

Acura will offer the MDX with front-wheel drive in addition to the excellent Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive.

Acura will, for the first time, offer the 2014 MDX with front-wheel drive in addition to the automaker's excellent Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive. All models can be had with the less-expensive two-wheel-drive option, and Acura executives say that the company has already had good success with this new front-drive strategy with its smaller RDX crossover. By achieving a lower price point without SH-AWD, this sort of package better appeals to folks in warm-weather states where the added cost and economy premium of all-wheel drive isn't really validated.

Regardless of how many wheels are driven, only one engine is available for 2014 – Honda's new Earth Dreams 3.5-liter V6, also found in the RLX, though detuned to produce 290 horsepower and 267 pound-feet of torque here (Acura's flagship sedan puts down 310 hp and 272 lb-ft) and mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. Compared to the outgoing model, the new MDX's power numbers actually represent decreases of 10 hp and 3 lb-ft, and while we miss the better noise of the larger 3.7-liter V6 from the old model, the revised powertrain is a much smoother (and more efficient) operator.

2014 Acura MDX engine

A key point about the 2014 MDX is that it's a full 300 pounds lighter than the outgoing model; a top-level Advance model tips the scales at 4,332 pounds. No specific performance numbers were given, but we're told that the new MDX is roughly half a second quicker to 60 miles per hour than its predecessor. In fact, Acura took its 2014 MDX back to the Nürburgring, where the big CUV ripped off a lap time that's a full eight seconds quicker than the time of the 2013 model. Leadfoot moms, rejoice.

The new MDX is roughly half a second quicker to 60 mph than its predecessor.

This major weight savings comes thanks to an all-new platform, developed specifically for the MDX. Well... sort of. Acura says that the MDX will be the "lead vehicle for this platform," so we'd expect it to show up elsewhere in the Honda/Acura family at some point (*ahem* Pilot *ahem*). Still, this means more good things for the MDX – Acura says its new crossover posts the lowest published weight among AWD competitors. Fuel economy benefits here, too, with all-wheel-drive models capable of achieving 18 miles per gallon in the city, 27 mpg highway and 21 mpg combined, and front-wheel-drive versions increase those numbers to 20, 28 and 23, respectively. Most importantly, back in the land of SH-AWD, these new economy numbers represent gains of 2 mpg city, 6 mpg highway and 3 mpg combined versus the 2013 MDX. Good stuff.

The reason we always enjoyed driving the old MDX wasn't because it was some great enthusiast machine, but because everything that it did, it did well. It's a similar story here for 2014, with a few thoughtful improvements to offer a slightly more engaging feel to drivers who seek it, while still being pleasant and comfortable for folks who, frankly, couldn't care less.

2014 Acura MDX gauges2014 Acura MDX infotainment system2014 Acura MDX shifter2014 Acura MDX rear television monitor

There's a ton of assist available, with the steering feeling overboosted at times.

For starters, the new MDX utilizes an Integrated Dynamics System (IDS) that allows drivers to switch between three driving modes: Comfort, Normal and Sport. The setup here is pretty self-explanatory, with Comfort offering the maximum amount of assist from the electric power steering, while Sport mode offers slightly more weight, as well as improved and more direct throttle response and a more aggressive shift schedule. We tried all three, with normal offering a perfectly fine dynamic for the luxury CUV set – light, yet direct steering, and linear throttle response. Comfort mode, on the other hand, takes away just about all weight from behind the wheel. There's a ton of assist available, with the steering feeling overboosted at times. Less steering effort was requested by a vocal portion of current MDX owners, and this suits that bill without mandating it for everyone. Of course, we naturally preferred Sport mode, and actually found the steering to be quite good, with no feeling of deadness on center.

Acura retuned its SH-AWD for Sport mode, too, with the system able to provide maximum torque vectoring under these more enthusiastic conditions. Coming out of a corner, you can really feel the power being sent to the wheels that need it most. Even during instances when entering a corner hotter than we (or the typical shopper) would, the system reacts quickly to keep things stable and on point through the turn. Occasionally, we found ourselves issuing small steering corrections exiting a corner, as the torque vectoring and throttle inputs can really steer the MDX through a turn. It's the sort of situation that we noticed here on our short drive loop through the hills outside of Portland, but we think it'd be easy to adjust to over time.

2014 Acura MDX rear 3/4 view

That said, we don't expect most MDX buyers to care about handling ability above all, and in the normal sort of luxury CUV driving tests, the MDX passes with flying colors. The new model is 16 percent more aerodynamic than the outgoing MDX, and Acura worked tirelessly to improve cabin quietness at highway speeds. The company went so far as to create what it says is an industry-first one piece stamped door ring, a structural bit that eliminates a lot of potential air gaps while increasing rigidity.

We didn't have a chance to experience any sort of long-distance cruising to really vet out the noise levels over a long period of time – nor did we have the opportunity to sample a front-wheel-drive model. We'll try to catch up on both fronts for a Quick Spin down the road.

The 2014 MDX goes on sale in July, starting at $42,290.

The 2014 MDX goes on sale in July, starting at $42,290 for the base, front-wheel-drive version, excluding $895 for destination. Acura will offer three higher trim levels – Technology; Technology and Entertainment; and Advance, priced from $46,565, $48,565 and $54,505, respectively. That's significantly cheaper than a similarly equipped BMW X5, but falls right in line with the MDX's closest three-row competitor, the Infiniti JX. And while many would argue that the JX offers a more spacious cabin with better amenities, the MDX is far, far better to drive – and not just from an enthusiast standpoint. Get out of a refreshed 2013 Buick Enclave and into this 2014 MDX and you'll never want to get behind that Tri-Shield wheel again.

We're willing to bet that the midsize luxury crossover segment is one of the most competitive out there – just think about all of the options available from Germany, Japan and the United States. By continuing to keep the MDX's formula simple and sticking with what it knows, Acura has created a functional, thoughtful, premium vehicle that handily bests many of the other players in this segment. The 2014 MDX is perfectly fine (and, in fact, quite good) in just about every measurable area. Just like it always has been.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 142 Comments
      Scooter
      • 1 Year Ago
      Another iteration of Acura where only owners will admire the vehicle and on lookers will continue to avert their eyes. Very sleepy design for the price tag. The interior is awfully domestic, looks $35,000 but costs almost $20,000 more. The new lights are unique, but the bland body doesn't do it any favors.
        J*zz Muff
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Scooter
        Except for the part where it starts at $44k out the door, and that includes nav, push button start, proximity entry, etc. You only really approach the $50k+ price tag if you opt for rear seat entertainment, etc. And the competition will gladly sell you a better interior... if you're willing to pay anywhere from $5k to $25k more, as that's the price premium to go with a BMW X5, who's pricing runs anywhere from almost $50k to $80k+ compared to the MDX's $44k to $55k.
          Scooter
          • 1 Year Ago
          @J*zz Muff
          Kia gives you all the gimicky technology for $20,000.
          J*zz Muff
          • 1 Year Ago
          @J*zz Muff
          @Scooter Cute.
      bookemd
      • 1 Year Ago
      Come on people, this is ugly. Not a fan lately of Acura design.
        Jesus!
        • 1 Year Ago
        @bookemd
        Oh you are right it is ugly. Very ugly.
        Bill
        • 1 Year Ago
        @bookemd
        what ya consider pretty? mdx better than jx or rx
      Jesus!
      • 1 Year Ago
      Thats a whole lotta ugly.
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Jesus!
        [blocked]
      Scooter
      • 1 Year Ago
      Oh good, I can cancel my Ambien prescription and just look at these photos of the 2014 MDX to fall asleep.
      Chumley
      • 1 Year Ago
      Predictable. Acura has really lost its way in my opinion. I may not live in a broadly representative area but back in the day I used to know tons of people who started with Integras, Legends, had TL's, even MDX's when we had ours 2007. Today, I can't think of a single person I know, even casually, who owns any Acura. All manufacturers have improved their game SO dramatically in the last 5 years - especially the US and Koreans. This looks only slightly different than the '07 we had. And price? Granted there's alot of tech at the high end but I would much rather have a more lightly equipped X5, ML or Cayenne than this. All three start under $50k and the X5 and ML are solidly below that. We have a 2011 X5 and there is no comparison in fit, finish and quality of materials. They better plan on having a good lease program on their base models or they are going to move very few of these.
        pop8d
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Chumley
        In Greenwich, CT, no one is walking out of a BMW, Mercedes, Porsche (or Audi) dealer in a mid-size SUV under $65K. The top of the line MDX ends up at the real-world "base" of all of the Germans and in the case of the Porsche you can't find a reasonable Cayenne under $80K. It's just not a real comparison. Let alone that the MDX is a size up on the X5, ML and Cayenne. If you don't need to seat 7, that's not important, but if you do, it's a deal-breaker. Based on how it drives compared to Lexus, Infiniti and Buick, the MDX is winner.
          J*zz Muff
          • 1 Year Ago
          @pop8d
          pop8d hits the nail on the head. Also, in my quest to find a great 40-50k luxury SUV, I did a "for the hell of it" search at Cayennes, before I realized that I couldn't afford to fix one even if I could afford to buy one, and yep... even used, you're talking $60k+ here in the Green Bay area.
      Rob
      • 1 Year Ago
      Ridiculously overpriced and outclassed by it\'s competition. The Honda /acura faitful will love it but I don\'t see this attracting new buyers. And that beak just won\'t go away
      Brian Mc.Loughlin
      • 1 Year Ago
      My Enclave is ten times nicer than this and has waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay more room
        CL9
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Brian Mc.Loughlin
        lol enclave that over chromed badly engineered boat.
        J*zz Muff
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Brian Mc.Loughlin
        Hey Brian, does your Buick Enclave suffer from odd leakage? I had been briefly considering an Enclave, before I found out GM's Lambda vehicles (the entire line-up) have all suffered from phantom roof rail/sunroof seal/other leaking into the cabin. As in, you could buy a Lambda SUV in 2007 and randomly have the problem, and they still make three different models that you could have the issue happen to, in 2013. There is no known fix and GM won't even formally acknowledge the issue. A guy test drove a $50k Enclave a month ago and found water had leaked into the headliner and cabin lights. Better not drive your $50k "luxury" SUV when it rains. Oops! Read here for more info: http://www.acadiaforum.net/index.php?topic=4311.0 http://www.lemonlaw.com/wordpress/gmc-acadia-water-leak-2/ http://townhall-talk.edmunds.com/direct/view/.f1e12d1
        J*zz Muff
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Brian Mc.Loughlin
        Also, your Enclave is slower, has significantly worse gas mileage, and despite being refreshed just last year can't be had with proximity entry or push button start for any price... a confusing omission for a vehicle refreshed in the year 2012, when $15,000 Kias have PBS.
      AGSHOP
      • 1 Year Ago
      Wow I can't believe there an any negative comments. It shows how dumb the population is. Go look up SUV sales around the world in each country. You will find the MDX is the number 1 selling luxury SUV on earth.
        MMM
        • 1 Year Ago
        @AGSHOP
        Sales does not always make it right. It is very plain and can't be compared to Germans. It is ugly outside and inside. There is absolutely no reason to purchase over MB, BMW, Audi, Range Rover competition. For minivan driving crowed maybe it is a good car. As review says it does everything well. But as luxury SUV it is just a bland and uninspiring vehicle.
          J*zz Muff
          • 1 Year Ago
          @MMM
          As somebody who's actually shopping in this segment, and not playing armchair car expert, I can tell you that you're just off base. The MB M Class runs $50-60k on the lot, and the X5 anywhere from $50 to nearly $90k. Most examples of both you'll find are closer to their higher-end prices than their base prices, and when the MDX starts at about $44k after destination, with most examples on actual dealer lots running you mid to high 40's or MAYBE low 50's, suddenly the M class and the X5 are priced right out of competition. The MDX is a MID SIZED crossover. Most crossovers are either compact (Q5, X3, RDX) or three row/full-sized (Q7, GL, etc) and *usually* when you're looking at a three row crossover, the front two rows take a hit on space. Being 6'5, this makes me avoid three row SUV's like the plague, and indeed I currently drive a 2013 Chevy Equinox. If you actually test drive an MDX, however, you'll see the third row is more or less an afterthought (much like the Ford Explorer) so it's really a mid-sized, two row SUV that happens to have an "oh ****" third row. The Q7 is an actual three row SUV, and because of it the front seats take a leg room hit. Therefore, they aren't true competitors in this regard. Also, the Q7 is MUCH heavier, less efficient and again is priced in the $50-60k range, primarily. The RR Sport starts at $65k, so it's not even a competitor. So if we look at the MDX' REAL competition: the VW Toureg is a great vehicle, if you can find one. I live in Green Bay, and the VW dealership in Green Bay has 0 Touregs, and Bergstrom Auto's "Victory Lane" dealership 25 miles SW of here has I want to say two of them. Both are loaded, at nearly $60k. I'd have to travel an hour or more to even try and find another Toureg, and I'm going to guess they'll all be much higher, on the lot, than the MDX as well given the pricing structure that VW employs. The Lexus RX350 is about the same price as the MDX, and in fact can even be had a little bit cheaper, albeit with less equipment. It's also a fair amount smaller, and could probably be classified as a compact crossover, so that right there nearly rules it out of the competition as well. It's the only other vehicle I've genuinely cross-shopped. The MDX only real competitors are, then, the Toureg, the RX350, the X5 and the M Class and of the three competitors, three of the four are priced so much higher than the MDX that I can tell you from actual experience: if you can make a $40-50k vehicle purchase work, there's probably a reason you were looking at THAT price range and not $50-60k. But that notion, somebody who goes to buy a Ford Focus hatch could cross-shop it with an Audi A3, because, why the hell not, it's only ten grand more.
          pop8d
          • 1 Year Ago
          @MMM
          @J*zz Muff excellent review and analysis. You nailed it, although I disagree about the MDX as a midsize SUV. It's a full size SUV that seats 7. Perhaps its a few inches shorter than a Q7, but climb inside the 3rd row of each and you'll see that the Q7 is no Suburban. Plus, the Q7 as a practical matter STARTS where the MDX tops out. The Lexus RX, BMW X5 and Toureg are all one size smaller than the MDX and when you need 7 seats, a 5-seater just won't cut it. The Buick and Acadia are reasonable comparables as well as Infiniti, but I think the MDX lines up quite well with all of these and the quality of my 2007 MDX has been off-the-charts. After 6 years, its as tight as a new car and does not squeak or rattle (not one little bit) and gets even better gas mileage (about 20 mpg) than it did when new.
        Bill
        • 1 Year Ago
        @AGSHOP
        I do not understand the negative comments either. I look at the exterior and immediately think it makes the Q7 look dated and bland. From the A pillar back, the profile is reminiscent of the Q7. I think the interior philosophy of Japanese luxury brands is just fundamentally different than the Germans, but against Lexus or Infiniti, the MDX stands a notch above their counterparts...the RX and JX both looks cartoonish and somewhat lost in their design language. Say what you want about Acura, but they have a point of view when it comes to design and they are at their core reliable vehicles. I think this car along with the upcoming TLX and continued growth of the RDX offer a pretty bright future for Acura.
          Brandon
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Bill
          I agree that this is better than the jx and rx. But the Q7 is still miles ahead of this and I happen to think it still looks good
      Max Bramante
      • 1 Year Ago
      Definitely the new "Jewel Eyes" by Acura makes totally oudated any kind Audi of headlights.
      FIDTRO
      • 1 Year Ago
      Nice attempt, maybe it can compete with some poor quality Hyundais and Kias. It still needs work before it can take on the ML, X5 and Q7.
        J*zz Muff
        • 1 Year Ago
        @FIDTRO
        All three of the vehicles you've mentioned start at about the price of where the MDX tops out, but good try?
      CL9
      • 1 Year Ago
      sexy clean timeless design!
      • 1 Year Ago
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        J*zz Muff
        • 1 Year Ago
        I haven't been inside an MDX, but I did test drive an optioned ($42k) Edge and holy crap, the center stack/column is SO THICK in that thing. Combine that with plastic trim on either side of the column that you could literally rip off with your bare hands, and what a deal breaker. Which is a shame, the Edge is a great looking car with a premium looking exterior and a(n otherwise) pretty nice interior.
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