HEELS ON WHEELS: 2014 ACURA MDX REVIEW
The 2014 Acura MDX now out-performs fancier nameplates with endless features
HEELS ON WHEELS
By Katrina Ramser
San Francisco Bureau
The Auto Channel
INTRO TO THE ALL NEW ACURA MDX VEHICLE
New from the ground up, the Acura MDX gets a longer wheelbase, a 3.5-liter V6 engine and a bevy of new standard features and signature technologies that take mid-size crossover luxury to even higher levels. The list includes popular safety features like Lane Keeping Assist System and Adaptive Cruise Control with Low-Speed Follow, plus some fun stuff like new Ultra-Wide DVD Rear Entertainment System with HDMI connectivity.
I drove a 2014 Acura MDX with the all-new standard 290-horsepower 3.5-liter VTEC V6 engine mated to the six-speed Sequential SportShift automatic transmission and Super Handling All-Wheel Drive. Available in one trim with optional packages, the Acura MDX offers as standard equipment: ten-way power driver’s seat and eight-way passenger; front heated seats; leather upholstery; rearview camera; tri-zone climate control; Bluetooth; and an eight-speaker audio system. Total price as described comes to $42,290.
The main rival to the Acura MDX is the Lexus RX350, but extends to other high-performing luxury utility vehicles like the Buick Enclave, Infiniti FX37 and Volvo XC90. Additions to the 2014 model put it on par with the Audi Q7 and BMW X5.
HEELS ON WHEELS REVIEW CRITERIA
Stylish But Comfortable Results: Let’s get the obvious out of the way: The cabin construction sings of refinement, from the Milano premium leather upholstery and wood interior trim to the ultra-plush and supportive seating arrangement for up to seven with the optional third-row. Now for your nit-picking quirks: accessing the climate control system – which can only be done through a touchscreen – is confusing and never became intuitive; and the new power Extended Slide feature on the second-row seats does not mean entering the third row got any easier. My test drive featured both the Advance and Entertainment Packages. That included everything Acura has to offer: highlights include the rear DVD player; the safety technology; heated seats; AcuraLink telematics; navigation; two screens; sunroof; spoiler; and nineteen-inch wheels.
Reliability & Safety Factor: The 2014 Acura MDX is a Top Safety Pick with The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gives the vehicle an overall 5-Star rating – up one from last model year.
Cost Issues: A base MDX starts about a thousand less than last year’s model at $42,290 with my test drive complete with the Technology and Entertainment Packages) coming in at around $56,505 – an increase of over $6k. This is due to the addition of improved or all-new features.
Activity & Performance Ability: The powertrain may have dropped 10-horspower and moved down from a 3.7-liter to the 3.5-liter; but the MDX is Acura's second Earth Dreams Technology engine features a next-generation set of advancements that greatly enhance both driving performance and fuel efficiency. It’s strong and composed as expected for a car of this caliber – it also shed 275 pounds for even more agility which translates to more confidence behind the wheel. You also have preferred driving modes (Comfort, Normal or Sport) to adapt to driving conditions.
The Green Concern: Fuel economy for the new 3.5-liter engine with all-wheel drive is 18-mpg city and 27-mpg highway for a combined 21 miles-per-gallon – the older engine retained 18 miles-per-gallon combined, so a real improvement here for Acura and SUVs of this size.
FINAL PARTING WORDS
One of my most highly recommended mid-size SUV, I bow down to the 2014 Acura MDX that no longer deserves the moniker of being simply entry-level luxury – it now out-performs fancier nameplates with endless features and a smarter 3.5-liter V6 retaining 21 miles-per-gallon combined with all-wheel drive.
©2013 Katrina Ramser