Auto Review: A proper sleigh: the Acura MDX

By Bill Heald - ReminderNews
Featured Article - posted Wed., Dec. 18, 2013
- Contributed Photo

If you doubt for one second how competitive and segmented the SUV market has become, just take a look at this week’s auto: the Acura MDX. It wasn’t that long ago when the term Sport Utility Vehicle applied to only one type of machine: the truck-based full-sized 4WD wagon. But now, we not only have SUVs and CUVs (the C standing for “Crossover,” defined by the chassis being more car-based than truck-sourced), we have all manner of sizes and trim levels. There are far more CUVs these days because the unibody design tends to mean lower weight, better road manners and improved fuel economy. The MDX comes from Honda’s upscale Acura division and is a full-size model with three-row seating and a technological resume that is as packed as a stocking on Christmas Day. As our test in winter weather pointed out, it’s also a very competent way to get around when the roads are icy, thanks to the MDX’s optional Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive System. (SH-AWD).

The new 2014 Acura MDX starts with a new chassis and drivetrain, based on what came before but altered to increase comfort, capability and fuel economy. Rather than being based on existing architecture, the latest MDX is designed from the ground up to be a frontrunner in the class. Rather than the 3.7-liter V6 that powered the last iteration, this new version uses what Acura calls Earth Dreams technology to design a 3.5-liter V6 that develops 290 horsepower. The transmission is a six-speed Automatic with a sequential shift manual mode, and the body structure is lighter and stronger than before thanks to the generous use of high-strength steel in key areas. Front-Wheel Drive is standard, but as I mentioned before, we had the optional All-Wheel Drive that is as sophisticated and versatile as it is a huge asset in snow. The Integrated Dynamics System has three modes (Comfort, Normal and Sport) to tune steering response and other systems to suit your driving style and road conditions. Acceleration is impressive and handling is very poised and belies the large stature of the vehicle. The new body structure is very quiet and overall the impression is of a solid, well-engineered vehicle.

Acura calls the MDX a Luxury/Performance SUV, and uses what they call Man-Machine Synergy in the design process. Acura describes this approach as, “The intelligent pairing of useful technologies and luxury features in an indisputable value relationship.” Our MDX came with the Advanced Entertainment trim line that included the Tech and Advanced Packages. These include Adaptive Cruise Control with Low Speed Follow (for use in stop-and-go traffic) and Collision Mitigation, among other marvels. The cabin is finished to luxury car standards and although the third-row seats are tight for adults, they’re fine for kids. The rear seat DVD player also serves to keep assorted elves entertained.

The 2014 Acura MDX AWD ADV ENT is EPA rated 18 MPG city/27 highway and has a base price of $56,505. With Destination charges, our MSRP came to $57,400.

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