2014 Acura MDX AWD Review By John Heilig
THE AUTO PAGE
By John Heilig
Model: 2014 Acura MDX AWD
Engine: 3.5-liter SOHC V6
Horsepower/Torque: 290 hp @ 6,200 rpm/267 lb.-ft. @ 4,500 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed automatic with Sport Shift
Wheelbase: 111.0 in.
Length x Width x Height: 193.6 x 77.2 x 66.7 in.
Cargo: 15.8/45.1/90.9 cu. ft. (third row up, third row down, third and second row down)
Economy: 18 mpg city/27 mpg highway/19.5 mpg test
Fuel capacity: 19.5 gal.
Curb Weight: 4,297 lbs.
Sticker: $56,505 (includes $895 destination and handling)
The Bottom Line: Smooth, comfortable, quiet, almost too automated.
The Acura MDX is listed as a small SUV. I disagree. With three-row seating and excellent cargo capacity,, the MDX is definitely a mid-size or even slightly larger. I’m certain that there’s some government regulation with statistics, etc., that defines mid-size, small and full-size, but, as usual with the government, this time they’re wrong.
Driving the MDX is a pleasure. There’s plenty of power from the 3.5-liter V6. Even though the MDX is relatively heavy, the V6 moves it along at a brisk pace whenever you want. And, best of all, it does it relatively silently. There’s barely a whisper of sound coming from the engine or the road as you travel along. I wasn’t overly thrilled with the economy on our test, but if we had included more highway miles, I’m certain it would have been better.
Handling is very good. Thanks to detours, we had some interesting trips on winding roads that were fun. Even my wife almost enjoyed the winding roads because the overall performance of the MDX was so smooth. A good 6-speed automatic transmission made for smooth shifts when power was needed.
Part of the reason for the nice ride over these winding roads was good power steering. It was light when needed in parking lots, but just heavy enough to assure you of control when you were on the road.
The front seats are comfortable. Both front seats were powered on our tester. There was some side support to the seats and they were heated.
With Lane Keeping Assist and adaptive cruise control it is possible to drive the MDX without touching the steering wheel or accelerator. Cruise control keeps you a safe distance behind the vehicle in front and Lane Keeping Assist keeps you between the white and yellow lines. I confess I tried it, but not wholeheartedly. I still had my hands loosely on the wheel, just in case. It seems odd to let the car take control, but it’s nice to know it can.
Normally I’m not a fan of features like Lane Keeping Assist because I don’t like the car telling me that I may have wandered, even during normal driving. It’s great if you nod off, and I’m certain I would keep it on constantly in situations where nodding off is a possibility.
Another part of the built-in safety systems is accident avoidance. If the vehicle determines that an accident is imminent, red lights flash on the windshield and the brakes are applied. In reverse, the car simply won’t go if there’s an obstruction.
We were in a parking lot that we realized too late was a dead end. In backing up, we were just feet from a vertical pole. With sunlight glare on the reverse camera, I couldn’t see this pole clearly. The MDX simply decided it wasn’t going to go any further, like a stubborn child. I realized what the problem was and eventually worked my way around the pole.
Because of the MDX’s length it’s hard to maneuver in tight parking lots (see above) or narrow streets for parking. But with mirrors and the back-up camera, it’s hard to mess up.
The rear seats have good leg room. In addition, they have their own HVAC settings as well as an ultrawide entertainment screen. A simple pushbutton folds the second row seats for third row access. As usual, third row seating is for small adults or children.
My only real complaint is with the navigation system. It’s hard to program a destination because of the odd layout of the letters. They are splayed in a semicircle and you have to go off-screen to bring up letters at the end. And with the audio system, I couldn’t get a readout of what music was playing on the XM radio.
Aside from these minor complaints, I thoroughly liked the Acura MDX. Yes, it’s pricey at $57,400, but it carries a lot of technology as well as great road-going performance.
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