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Last year, Acura made its compact RDX crossover a little more mainstream. And now for 2014 the brand looks poised to take its larger MDX crossover back in the direction from whence it came—that's the position that, certainly more so than other vehicles with three rows of seating, emphasizes driving enjoyment.
All that Acura has released about the new MDX points to some very important, meaningful improvements, although the exterior styling of this vehicle won't altogether match its bold, athletic driving personality. Acura is using more lightweight materials like aluminum and magnesium in a new body structure—altogether making the new MDX 275 pounds lighter than the previous model. Length is up a couple of inches, while wheelbase is up nearly three inches, which combined with a compact new multi-link rear suspension adds a little more cabin space.
An all-new 3.5-liter direct-injected V-6 powers the 2014 MDX; it makes 290 horsepower and 267 pound-feet of torque and comes mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. A Sport mode and paddle-shifters help provide a more entertaining driving experience, while versions with all-wheel drive have the so-called Super Handling All-Wheel Drive system—and it should make even more of it thanks to the weight loss. EPA ratings now stand at 20 mpg city, 28 highway for front-wheel drive versions, or 18/27 with AWD.
The MDX has always been a luxury vehicle first and foremost, and that, in addition to the sportier driving characteristics and more flamboyant styling, is what separates it from the closely related Honda Pilot. Acura claims to have made some significant gains in comfort, quiet, and refinement. With triple path isolated dampers plus more sound-deadening materials and Active Noise Cancellation technology, it should be far quieter than the outgoing version.
A new ten-way driver's seat and eight-way passenger seat—both heated and power-adjustable—are noted upgrades. Step-in height is two inches lower than before, so getting in and out should be easier for everyone, and third-row space and access have been improved, Acura says. With one motion, you can fold and slide the second-row seats all the way forward to make entry easier to the third row. The second-row seatbacks now adjust for recline, in several positions. Up in front there's a new center-console compartment said to be large enough for a laptop cars, a couple of iPads, or a purse. And for items that should be hidden away, there's a new underfloor cargo compartment.
Acura anticipates that the new MDX will emerge from all crash tests, federal and IIHS, with top scores, and expects that it will earn the vaunted new IIHS 'Top Safety Pick+' designation. Lane Keeping Assist, Blind Spot Information, a Collision Mitigation Braking System, and Adaptive Cruise Control with Low-Speed Follow are all available, as are Forward Collision Warning and Lane Departure Warning Systems, while four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes, Brake Assist, electronic stability control, and a full suite of airbags (including a driver's knee bag) are all standard.
Four different builds of the 2014 MDX will be offered, amounting to a relatively simple lineup: the base MDX, an MDX with the Technology Package, an MDX with Technology and Entertainment packages (the pick if you have kids or passengers to occupy), and the top-level MDX with Advance and Entertainment packages. With the Entertainment package you get a new rear DVD system with a nine-inch VGA screen for the rear seats, or a 16.2-inch wide-screen monitor with HDMI capability in Advance models. Acura/ELS premium audio and a next-generation AcuraLink connectivity system with Real-Time Traffic features and cloud-based connectivity are among the other tech upgrades. Feature details and pricing haven't yet been detailed at the time of writing.
The 2014 Acura MDX will be built in the U.S., in Lincoln, Alabama, and it will reach dealerships beginning summer 2013.
- Handling and leanness
- Relatively good fuel-efficiency
- A (somewhat) usable third row
- New active-safety features
- Unadventurous exterior design
- No hybrid or diesel model
- Can be quite pricey in upper trims