2022 Acura MDX-SH AWD Advance - Review by David Colman +VIDEO
Features great improvements, except for the touchpad interface
Special Correspondent to THE AUTO CHANNEL
There's a memorable scene in the movie Fargo where Oldsmobile salesman Jerry Lundegaard flubs a new car deal over a surcharge for TruCoat sealant. Jump ahead 25 years, and we have the all-new 2022 Acura MDX, equipped with the latest "true" innovation, True Touchpad Interface (TTI). This one is a mostly infuriating haptic control for the infotainment system that makes you long for good old knobs and buttons. While the improved MDX has a lot of other things going for it, TTI isn't one of them.
Before we get into the operation of TTI, let's recount the substantial ways Acura has improved generation four of this lusty SUV. A revamped and stiffened platform increases width and length by 2 inches, and stretches the wheelbase by 2.8 inches. That reconfiguration confers spacious luxury status on second-row passengers and makes the tilt-down third-row bench a more useful and attractive feature. It also increases cargo volume to 16.3 cubic feet. New for 2022 is a removable second-row center seat that allows you to convert the cabin to four captain's chairs. But the increase in platform size jumps curb weight by nearly 300 pounds to 4,514 pounds.
Front suspension is now fully independent, with an all aluminum double-wishbone configuration replacing the simpler MacPherson strut used on the previous MDX. Acura capitalizes on this improvement by retuning the electronic power steering booster to provide more precise feedback. They have also added a choice of 5 driving modes (Sport/Snow/Comfort/Normal/Individual) chosen by a console-mounted dial that controls the MDX's Integrated Dynamics System (IDS). Driveline improvements add a 10th speed to the 9-speed automatic transmission of the outgoing MDX. Acura fits nicely shaped paddles to the backside of the steering wheel to control shifts manually. A 3.5 liter V6 provides enough power to run from zero to 60 mph in 6.5 seconds and crank a standing start quarter-mile time of 15.3 seconds at 93mph. Later this year, a 355hp V6 will mark the arrival of an S Model MDX.
Our Advance specification MDX planted 20-inch platinum silver alloys at each corner. These sparkling rims bore 255/50R20 Bridgestone Alenza Sport A/S mud and snow-rated rubber. The SH-AWD (super handling all-wheel-drive) description lived up to its name by providing a torque-vectoring rear differential which apportions drive to the wheels enjoying the best adhesion. In a corner, 100% of the drive goes to the outside rear wheel. When cruising in a straight line, 90% of the drive goes to the front wheels in order to conserve fuel. Although our luxuriously appointed MDX weighed too much to feel really comfortable on backroad switchbacks, its handling was secure and predictable in Sport setting. We did, however, notice some jarring ride intrusions over bad pavement, even with IDS set to the Comfort setting.
If you like playing Whack-A-Mole, you'll love Acura's touchpad interface. Every time I illuminated a particular segment on the 12.3-inch dash-top screen, then pressed the linked control pad for activation, the illuminated segment I had selected suddenly disappeared as the highlighter migrated to some adjacent segment. I found the system difficult to master while stationary and impossible to deal with when underway. TTI cries out for a simple touchscreen.
Luckily for Acura, the lavishly appointed interior of the MDX Advance makes up for the shortcomings of TTI. The perforated Espresso leather front sport seats are ventilated, sumptuous and ultra comfortable, with 16 different positions electrically available. The Advance Package compliments the interior with matte wood trim, heated first and second-row seats, heated steering wheel, head-up display, surround-view camera system and auto-dimming side view mirrors. Owner's of this consummately well equipped SUV are left wonting for nothing when it comes to comfort or good taste. And to be perfectly honest, those owners will eventually come to terms with the operation of the TTI system which is a nuisance at first, but a set and forget proposition in the long run.
2022 ACURA MDX SH-AWD ADVANCE
ENGINE: 3.5 liter VTEC V6 with Variable Cylinder Management
FUEL CONSUMPTION: 19MPG City/25MPG Highway
PRICE AS TESTED: $62,175
HYPES: Curvaceous Restyle, Plush Surroundings
GRIPES: Confusing Graphic User Interface
STAR RATING: 8 Stars out of 10