2014 Acura MDX - Driven

Acura has had a run of disappointments in recent years, particularly when I happened to receive the Acura TL in place of an RLX that had some "issues" preventing me from getting a fair shot at it. And it was little more than a Honda Honda wrapped up in an Acura costume. In fact, my tester Accord had more features than it, but I digress. I am here to talk about the 2014 Acura MDX.

For 2014, Acura scrapped the old MDX body and slapped on some brand-new sheet metal with all sorts of sharp angles and gorgeous lines. No longer does it look like a Honda Pilot wearing a different mask. It honestly looks like something that belongs in the same class as the BMW X5 and Mercedes GL-Class — at least in the press images it does.

So you can imagine that I was pretty antsy to get my hands on it, and that was multiplied by my crappy experience with the TL. So, what did I think of the TL once I got my chance behind the wheel?

Click past the jump to read my full Driven Review and find out.

Exterior

Acura MDX - Driven
Acura MDX - Driven
Acura MDX - Driven

You also get those Jewel Eye LED lights that looked a little off in the press photos, but they look right in place in person

I am not a huge fan of white cars, but something about the 2014 MDX in white that just looks stunning. Maybe it’s because it is more of a pearl than a white, or maybe it is just because Acura did a nice job in refining the look of the SUV.

Up front, you get the typical Acura beak that looks more in place on this larger SUV than on a sedan or coupe. You also get those Jewel Eye LED lights that looked a little off in the press photos, but they look right in place in person. With the Technology Package, the MDX also gains a 19-inch aluminum-alloy wheels to give the bulky SUV an even sexier look.

Around back, the MDX received a new set of taillights and a revised hatch. Speaking of that hatch, it is a power unit, so you simply press a button and it opens up for you automatically. I’ve never tinkered with this feature before, and I must say that it is pretty convenient to have.

2014 Acura MDX - Exterior Specifications

Wheelbase111.0 in
Length193.6 in
Width77.2 in
Height67.6 in
Front track66.3 in
Rear track66.3 in
Ground Clearance (unladen)7.3 in
Angle (approach/ departure/ breakover)14.9° / 15.2° / 19.4°

Interior

Acura MDX - Driven
Acura MDX - Driven
Acura MDX - Driven

On the inside, the Acura MDX is nearly everything you could ask for in a luxury SUV. It’s big, it’s roomy, it has seating for seven, the seats

The perforated Milano leather is like heaven for your butt and spine

are comfortable and the center stack is well organized, but that rubberized dash topper has gotta go. No one that is paying $50k for an SUV wants anything but animal hide on the top of the dash.

The audio system inside this beast is a thing of beauty, thanks to the optional Advance Package that came with it. This added in a 12-speaker Acura/ELS audio system with hard-drive storage and all the wattage needed to get those speakers thumping with zero buzzing.

The perforated Milano leather is like heaven for your butt and spine, as they are soft, supple and do not hold heat on a hot Florida afternoon. Additionally, they feel like they’ll last forever without ever getting dry and starting to crack. This can do nothing but drastically increase your resale value in the future. The only issue I had with the seating is that the third row of seats is totally useless for anyone over 5’8" tall.

A feature that my three-year-old son fell in love with was the DVD entertainment system in the rear seat. We could just pop in The Lorax, and my wife and I could enjoy hours of peaceful driving — something any parent can appreciate.

On a whole, the MDX’s cabin was impressive. Sure, the dash topper hurts at this price point, but the remaining features allow you to quickly forget about it.

2014 Acura MDX - Interior Specifications

EPA Passenger Volume132.3 cu ft
Max. Cargo Volume (SAE)14.846 cu ft (Behind 3rd row) / 38.446 cu ft (Behind 2nd row) / 68.446 cu ft (Behind 1st row)
Headroom (Front/2nd Row/3rd Row)38.1 in / 38.3 in / 35.6 in
Legroom (Front/2nd Row/3rd Row)41.4 in / 36.6 in / 28.1 in
Hip room (Front/2nd Row/3rd Row)57.5 in / 57.8 in / 40.6 in
Shoulder Room (Front/2nd Row/3rd Row)61.1 in / 59.1 in / 54.7 in

Drivetrain

Acura MDX - Driven

The drivetrain is yet another treat that the MDX. Under its hood is the same 3.5-liter V-6 that powers several models through the Honda Honda and Acura lines. This six-pot puts down 290 ponies and 267 pound-feet of torque, which isn’t much, but with the SH-AWD system on my test model, it launches with authority.

The six-speed automatic transmission is a nice-shifting unit that delivers clean and crisp gear changes under heavy throttle, and smooth shifts under light throttle. Putting it into manual mode makes the sprints to 60 mph all that more fun.

Speaking of that, it takes around seven seconds to hit 60 in the MDX, which isn’t bad for a 4,200-pound SUV. Where the MDX does fall off is in city fuel economy, as it only gets 18 mpg, but it does do well on the highway at 27 mpg.

2014 Acura MDX - Drivetrain Specifications

Engine TypeAluminum-alloy direct injection V-6
Displacement3.5 liters
Horsepower @ RPM (SAE net)290 @ 6,200
Torque (LB-FT @ RPM) (SAE net)267 @ 4,500
EPA MPG Ratings (city / highway/ combined)18 / 27 / 21

Pricing

Acura MDX - Driven

The base model Acura MDX checks in at $42,290, but to get the level of luxury I received, you’ll have to jump to about $56,000. Sure, it sounds rather pricey for an Acura, but it’s a hell of a lot more SUV for the money than a BMW X5 can offer.

Driving Impressions

Acura is really making an attempt to pull legit BMW buyers away from the Bavarian brand and its high maintenance/repair costs

When I slid into the MDX, it was a lot more vehicle than I expected from Acura. Honestly, I remember Acura as being little more than fully loaded Hondas, but the MDX is on a whole new level. The seats were supple and supportive; the audios system was fantastic; the entertainment system in the rear was a lifesaver; and the ride was like a luxury sedan.

In performance terms, the MDX was competent, but not Earth shattering. The SH-AWD system is one of the most beautiful AWD system this side of Audi Audi ’s quattro system, and the 3.5-liter V-6 has enough pop to get the MDX moving. Don’t expect the MDX to win any drag races, but it sure will hit highway speed with ample quickness.

The NVH levels inside the cabin are nearly unnoticeable, as the suspension does a great job absorbing big hits and the insulation keeps everyday road noise to a minimum. If there is one complaint I have, it’s that it felt a little heavy in tight turns.

Competition

2014 BMW X5

BMW X5

The X5 is one of the best-sellers in its class year in and year out, mostly because it is a recognizable name. In comparison to the MDX, the X5 is better in the corners, and packs more power from its gasoline engines — 300 horsepower from the I-6 and 445 from the V-8. On top of that, it has a diesel option that still has all the torque you need, while delivering better mpg and lower emissions.

The downside to the X5 is that it starts at $53,000 and quickly shoots up from there.

2014 Infiniti QX60

Infiniti QX60

The QX60 is more along the lines of the MDX, as it, like the MDX, is from a subsidiary of a normal Japanese automaker. The QX60 comes with a 3.5-liter V-6 that pumps out 265 horsepower through a CVT. This puts the QX60 at a bit of a disadvantage, but its $39,665 base price and high level of base luxury make it a cheaper alternative.

Conclusion

Acura MDX - Driven

My time with the MDX really softened my stance on the idea that Acura is just a throwaway brand that Honda dangles out there as "luxury" to scrape the bottom-end customers from Bimmer dealerships. Now I really feel that Acura is really making an attempt to pull legit BMW BMW buyers away from the Bavarian brand and its high maintenance/repair costs. The MDX is certainly one SUV that BMW needs to be looking at and finding a way to outclass it for less of a premium on the sticker price.

LOVE IT
  • Huge levels of luxury at a relative bargain
  • One of the best AWD system I’ve seen other than quattro
  • Completely changed my opinion on Acura in one week
LEAVE IT
  • Not overly powerful for the class
  • Third row is a little cramped
  • Not much cargo room with the third row upright

What is your take?

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