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2014 Acura MDX Review By Steve Purdy

2014 Acura MDX

By Steve Purdy
Michigan Bureau

Regular readers will know how often we ply the roads from our Mid-Michigan base to Chicago. Our kids live in the western suburbs and we get there often for other purposes as well. This time it is to cover the Chicago Auto Show for TAC and this time of year it is often crucial to have a competent all-wheel drive vehicle to deal with lake effect show and other winter hazards.

The weather reports were scary this time. Heavy snows passed through overnight and checking the police road reports gave us no comfort. But fortunately are driving this large all-wheel drive Acura MDX crossover so we were not afraid.

As it turned out we were mostly behind the worst of the weather. Ice, snow and slush kept us humble for the first hour of the drive but I-94 from Marshall to the Indiana line was not bad at all. As we approached the Skyway, however, a large squall brought us back to extreme caution.

The all new for 2014 MDX is a 7-passenger luxury crossover. The previous version shared a platform with the mainstream Honda Pilot but this one does not. In fact, if you had the MDX and Pilot side by side you would find nothing the same – profile, shape, controls or any other details. Exterior design is lovely with the classic profile of a three-row crossover, an elegant grille and front fascia, large wheels, subtle character lines and an exceptionally classy character.

Our tester is the MDX AWD with Tech Package showing a base price of $48,565. For that we get power tailgate, power moonroof, 19-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, heated mirrors with integrated turn signals, keyless entry with pushbutton start, navigation with voice recognition, real-time traffic, ELS Studio premium audio, tri-zone climate control, LED “puddle” lights, heated front seats, 10-way power driver’s seat, multi-angle rear view camera, Pandora, Bluetooth, lane departure warning, forward collision warning, lots of airbags, . . . and the list could go on. Our sticker shows no options but the list of included features is impressive.

The interior of the MDX favors the driver with conveniently placed controls within easy reach and punctuated by a classy analog clock dead center. (To me an analog clock is required for a vehicle claiming a luxury moniker.) Design and materials also project a confidence and competence with stitched leather, nice wood and metal accents along with plastics that do not call attention to themselves. The center stack has two screens to accommodate navigation, audio, infotainment, and everything you might want in technology. That’s an improvement over the myriad buttons and knobs of the previous model. Navigation controls are not the easiest to manage but still better than many. As with the apps and management of all the car’s functions there is a learning curve involved, but that can be said of just about any new vehicle today, especially the upscale ones.

Cargo capacity is about the same as the competitors with 15.8 cubic-feet behind the third seat. That’s a bit more than the usual sedan trunk. With second and third rows folded we have an impressive 90.9 cubic-feet. Rear seat legroom is good and third row seating is about average for this class of vehicle. Towing, too, is about average at 5,000 pounds.

Power is more than adequate, in fact, quite impressive with this 3.5-liter V6 that boasts 290 horsepower. That is a couple less horsepower than the outgoing 3.7-liter engine but fuel economy is improved and acceleration is a fraction better. Direct injection boosts low-end torque. Full-throttle acceleration is impressive and the six-speed automatic transmission seems to always be geared where it ought to be. The EPA rates our AWD version at 18 mpg in the city, 27 on the highway and 21 combined. Our road trip to Chicago and back in bitter cold conditions and intermittently bad roads resulted in just over 24 mpg average on regular fuel.

Driving dynamics live up to expectations for a luxury crossover. Tactile functions – steering, operating the shifter, control buttons, etc – all project a feel of quality and heft. More sound deadening in this year’s MDX screens out road and wind noise while allowing some lovely engine sounds to come forward when we push it into higher rmp ranges. Suspension design is conventional and well calibrated for rough roads and high speeds.

Acura’s warranty covers the whole car for 4 years or 50,000 miles and the powertrain for 6 years or 70,000 miles.

MDX has amazingly stiff competition, from the Buick Enclave to the Audi Q7. Even the less-than-luxury entries like those from Kia and Hyundai present themselves well. I guess we could call this a mid-luxury entry. For those needing or wanting all this room the Acura MDX with its mid-level price is a must-shop.

ęSteve Purdy, Shunpiker Productions, All Rights Reserved