All the right stuff, but no more
THE GOOD
  • Excellent ride
  • Attractive exterior
  • Fair pricing
THE BAD
  • Powertrain could use a bit more power
  • Lacking a must-have feature
  • Near-useless third row

2022 Acura MDX Review

The 2022 Acura MDX has finally arrived, and along with it is the optimism for a revived Acura – a brand that can once again hang with the best in the business.

And on the surface, the overhauled MDX has everything it takes to do its part: an attractive exterior, tons of technology, and an interior full of high-quality materials. But then that could also describe just about any other SUV in the segment – though there are at least a few ways this MDX stands out.

Power: 7.5/10

The 3.5L V6 motivating the new MDX makes the same 290 hp and 267 lb-ft of torque as the last one. The motor isn’t anything exciting but always has enough oomph to pull off a pass when needed. For those after a little more excitement, a turbocharged 3.0L engine in the upcoming Type S will be worth waiting for, finally giving the MDX what it needs to match its rivals.

New for the 2022 MDX is the 10-speed automatic transmission, which helps eke out every ounce of available juice from that powerplant. It’s relatively smooth, even at low speeds, with smart shift logic to use the best ratio when more power is needed. One final piece of the drivetrain is the full-time all-wheel drive system that shifts torque around as needed, even routing power to specific rear wheels when others have limited (or no) traction.

Fuel Economy: 7/10

Acura says the new MDX will burn 12.6 L/100 km in the city, 9.4 on the highway, and 11.2 in combined driving conditions. That’s slightly worse than the outgoing model, which boasted a combined consumption of 11.0 L/100 km. It’s rare to see a vehicle’s fuel efficiency fare worse than the one it replaces, even if it’s not by much.

Driving Feel: 7.5/10

While the specs may suggest a lukewarm experience, the on-road feel is anything but. That all-wheel drive system helps the MDX feel more agile than its size would suggest while also providing superb confidence in poor weather conditions. The MDX wasn’t fazed by the instances of snowfall experienced during testing, remaining surefooted at all times.

There are a variety of drive modes to suit your mood, as well as an individual mode that allows you to tailor the experience. A new double-wishbone front suspension helps the MDX feel surprisingly light on its tires. There are no clunks or thumps on road imperfections, and it always seems to have enough traction to manage the next input without worry. The ride is balanced between firm and comfortable, but the steering is the biggest source of complaints, feeling lifeless and too light at low speeds. Changing the drive mode to sport or using the sport steering setting in the individual mode helped assuage those grievances at least a little bit.



Styling: 7.5/10

The MDX nameplate has been around since 2000, but somehow this model looks recognizable and familiar while appearing fresh. While no one will mistake it for an Infiniti or Lexus, the MDX gets a sculpted exterior with a wide stance and long hood. These design cues are found on the redesigned 2021 Acura TLX as well as the slightly older RDX, meaning the MDX fits right in.

The interior is a pleasant step up from previous generations, with a smart mix of interesting materials, and a sci-fi cockpit packed with screens and buttons. Small details stand out, like the stitching on the door panels, the leather-wrapped steering wheel, and the metallic paddle shifters and pedals. However, the decision to put the drive mode selector right in the middle of the dashboard while the volume knob is placed next to the touchpad infotainment controller is a questionable one.

User Friendliness: 7/10

That touchpad-based infotainment system is the most infuriating part of the whole MDX cabin. While the touchpad itself has excellent sensitivity, there is a disconnect between sliding your fingers on the console-mounted panel and seeing where it ends up on the screen. Furthermore, selecting items on the go, or having an interface that can go several menus deep for some settings can be distracting.

It’s a shame, because almost every other part of the user experience in the MDX feels impressive. The digital gauge cluster is full of useful information, with scroll wheels to navigate that screen, and there’s a handy wrist rest with a wireless phone charger underneath it as well, giving your device a little canopy to enjoy. Other controls are tactile and feel great. It’s just the touchpad that requires a warning.

Features: 7.5/10

The A-Spec model we had on hand for testing is the penultimate trim level of the MDX’s current lineup. Naturally, it has features like heated front- and second-row seats, a heated steering wheel, ventilated front seats, a wireless phone charger, multi-colour ambient lighting, LED lighting all around, a power tailgate, massive sunroof, driver and passenger seat memory, three-zone climate control, and a neat function to broadcast the driver’s voice to the rear rows.

There’s a colour head-up display in the top-trim model, and a more robust camera array when parking, but there are at least a few features that are expected nowadays that are absent. Where are the massage seats like Lincoln offers? What about an in-cabin camera to keep an eye on the kids in the back? Some automakers have gimmicks like gesture controls, digital assistants, or 3-D displays, but Acura has nothing special to boast about.

While the infotainment is a headache to navigate, the wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connections, built-in Amazon Alexa assistant, and the great 16-speaker stereo are all great features for the money.

Safety: 8/10

As of this writing, the 2022 Acura MDX has yet to be rated by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). That rating is sure to come soon, and the MDX has a lot going for it in terms of safety. Features like forward collision braking with pedestrian detection, lane-keeping assistance, blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, and rear cross-traffic alert are all standard. While the top trim gets a different suite of parking assistance features, this A-Spec model featured front and rear parking sensors and a useful rearview camera with different camera angles (a rearview camera is mandated by the government with all new vehicles).

Comfort: 7.5/10

With a balanced ride thanks to the new front-end suspension and chassis, the MDX is a surprisingly comfortable crossover. The seats in the MDX are supportive, with faux suede surfaces in the A-Spec model. This sport-oriented trim infuses the MDX with nicely bolstered seats. Large mirrors and windows help the MDX feel easy to manage in tighter city roads despite the SUV’s large footprint. One significant issue with the MDX is the useability of the third-row seats, which are best saved for emergencies. Not many people would be happy in those seats for an extended period, and the second-row seats are far more accommodating.

Practicality: 8/10

While those rear seats are far from useful, the MDX offers plenty of cargo room and a versatile layout for packing items of various sizes. Behind the third row, you’ll find 513 L of storage, but fold that row down and you get 1,368 L. Fold the second row down and the MDX offers a maximum of 2,690 L.

Those looking to tow will find the MDX’s capability up to par. The MDX offers a maximum towing rating of 2,268 kg (5,000 lb), which should be plenty for cottage-goers and adventurers with boats or trailers with off-road vehicles.

Value: 7.5/10

The MDX is attractive enough, with a solid ride, spacious cargo capacity, and high-tech cabin; but helping to make it more appealing is a fair asking price for this latest luxury SUV. It starts at $56,405, while adding the Technology package bumps that up to $60,405. The top-trim Platinum Elite Model comes in at $67,405, while the A-Spec model tested is $63,405. These prices don’t include the $2,075 destination charge or tax.

There are a few points to consider at this price, especially with the loaded Platinum Elite model. First, it isn’t far from the current darling of the luxury crossover segment, the Genesis GV80, which ranges from $64,500 to $85,000 before tax. The Genesis is a bit less sporty but has more space in the third row, and plenty of high-tech features.

The Verdict

This review might come across as a bit lukewarm, but don’t let that deter you from checking out the 2022 Acura MDX. It’s superior to one of the best picks in this segment, the Lexus RX, though Acura doesn’t offer a hybrid option yet. With the 2022 MDX, the automaker is showcasing its potential and keeping up with the top names in the segment. It needs just a bit more to put it over the top, and that may be coming with the Type S, which is expected to debut later this summer.

All the right stuff, but no more 2/24/2021 6:30:00 AM

Competitors

Specifications

Engine Displacement 3.5L   Model Tested 2022 Acura MDX A-Spec
Engine Cylinders V6   Base Price $63,405
Peak Horsepower 290 hp   A/C Tax $100
Peak Torque 267 lb-ft   Destination Fee $2,075
Fuel Economy 12.6 / 9.4 / 11.2 L/100 km cty/hwy/cmb   Price as Tested $65,580
Cargo Space 513 / 1,368 / 2,690 behind 3rd/2nd/1st row  
Optional Equipment
None