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2022 Acura MDX Review: Once an Avatar, Always an Avatar

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Auto123 reviews the 2022 Acura MDX.

The 2022 Acura MDX arrives much-anticipated and much-needed, for the outgoing generation of the stuck around for a year or two too long. As competitors refreshed themselves and new models entered the segment, the MDX remained relatively static. Its aging was apparent to anyone who took a drive in it right after taking a spin in the much younger, more-dynamic RDX. But now the new MDX is here, and it frankly personifies the brand’s overall renewed energy.

Outside
The 2022 MDX is a far more attractive beast than its predecessor, looked at from the outside. That’s not to say it’s recognizable, and that’s probably a good thing. But it’s a bit sleeker, its wide stance and lengthy hood giving it style and ridding of its overly boxy shape of yore. Those familiar with the Acura brand will recognize some elements borrowed from the new TLX and the slick RDX; it’s nice to see Acura carving out a discernible trademark look.

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2022 Acura MDX, profile
Photo: D.Boshouwers
2022 Acura MDX, profile

Inside
Inside, things have gotten even more modern. Quality of finish is high, the materials in my A-Spec tester were suitably premium and the new cockpit is flashy and futuristic. Acura has given its SUV welcome luxury touches like a leather-wrapped steering wheel, metallic pedals and paddle shifters, even stitching on the door panels.

As my eyes tracked across the interior, however, eventually they alit on the dreaded touchpad on the lower central console. Argh! I suppose some folks like this atrocity, or at least accept its presence with neutral bonhomie. Not me. Years into the existence of this method for perusing the menus of the central screen, I still find it unwieldy – you just know that halfway through your manoeuvre to get to another command a small bump on the road will send the cursor flying to the wrong thing – and even downright dangerous, as it insists on you taking your attention away from the road.

Acura does redeem itself in part by the placement of the audio volume knob on that same lower console section – right where you want it to be to adjust without having to reach. Kudos. Also in that neighborhood you’ll find an armrest that keeps you from knocking your phone as it charges on the wireless charging pad.

2022 Acura MDX, interior
Photo: D.Boshouwers
2022 Acura MDX, interior

In front of the driver, the digital gauge cluster is sharp-looking and is controlled via scroll-wheels on the steering wheel. The central multimedia screen is large (12.3 in) and its navigation simple enough, though it was a bit of a letdown to see that even when a model gets a top-to-bottom redesign, the designers lacked the drive or creativity to do other than have it “float”, or as I like to put, be hammered down onto the top of the dashboard and glued in place.

Safety-wise, the new MDX is well-equipped, as you’d expect. Standard functions include forward collision braking with pedestrian detection, lane-keeping assistance, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and adaptive cruise control. The A-Spec version gets front and rear parking sensors and multi-angle rearview camera, while the top trim gets a larger suite of parking assistance features.

2022 Acura MDX, first row
Photo: D.Boshouwers
2022 Acura MDX, first row
2022 Acura MDX, second row
Photo: D.Boshouwers
2022 Acura MDX, second row
2022 Acura MDX, third row
Photo: D.Boshouwers
2022 Acura MDX, third row

A-Spec
That A-Spec package adorning our tester beautifies the exterior of the MDX with some pretty accents and features, most notably LED lighting everywhere, a panoramic sunroof and a power tailgate. That sunroof bathes in light an interior that also benefits, when choosing the A-Spec, from the inclusion of a heated steering wheel, ventilated front seats, heated front- and second-row seats, that wireless phone charger, driver and passenger seat memory and three-zone climate control. You can even yell at the misbehaving kids in the back with a menacing voice that broadcasts through the EPS premium audio system with 16 speakers (the base-model MDX features 12).

One feature not included in the A-Spec, somewhat surprisingly, is a head-up display. That comes into the picture with the range-topping Platinum Elite. You’ll also search in vain for a massage function on the seats. You could argue that these kinds of goodies should be included in a vehicle that carries an MSRP of $63,405 (the base model starts at $56,405).

Still, though, this A-Spec version is pretty recommended for what it adds to the overall package, if you can live with the added cost.

2022 Acura MDX, A-Spec badging
Photo: D.Boshouwers
2022 Acura MDX, A-Spec badging

Under the hood, and under the chassis
No change in 2022 as the MDX once again comes with a 3.5L V6 that once again delivers 290 hp and 267 lb-ft of torque. Mated to this engine is a new 10-speed automatic transmission that gets two thumbs up for its discreet work getting the most out of the horses available. Main thing is, shifts are prompt and sure of themselves. The full-time Super Handling all-wheel-drive system is competent, and note that it can shift torque when the road conditions demand it, including from left to right wheels or vice versa.

Take note there will be a Type S version of the MDX coming in the next few months, and it will feature a turbocharged 3.0L engine. It should finally satisfy those who feel this MDX is still not quite up to the beef standards of German heavyweights in the segment.

2022 Acura MDX, front
Photo: D.Boshouwers
2022 Acura MDX, front

The drive
Those folks may be right, but only dishonest drivers would call the MDX sluggish. This is a big vehicle, obviously, and while it doesn’t make like a performance car (as it happens I drove a new Elantra right after, and the effect was of a runner taking off the ankle weights they usually run with), it’s got plenty of power to move its hefty weight around. Passing is no issue, and acceleration is fine considering you’re unlikely to do any drag racing in an MDX.

The AWD system, meanwhile, made mincemeat of the (admittedly relatively innocuous) winter conditions I drove it in. The vehicle stays tight to the road on turns, within reason of course, and steering is decent if a little loose. The MDX now comes with a new double-wishbone front suspension, and frankly the ride quality and smoothness during the time I had it in my possession was on the level of a Lexus; it seems it inherited the distinctly non-BMW steering that luxury Japanese brand is equally known for. Things did brighten when switching to Sport mode.

Speaking of which, In the middle of the central console, beneath the controls for the climate control system, sits a large button that allows for choosing one the different available drive modes (Snow, Comfort, Normal, Sport and the customizable Individual mode). That goes some way to making the MDX somewhat more dynamic, though only some.

2022 Acura MDX, three-quarters rear
Photo: D.Boshouwers
2022 Acura MDX, three-quarters rear

Overall, comfort is the order of the day inside the new MDX, with the seats offering just the right level of firmness. The A-Spec version’s seats are sportier and offer good support laterally. Row two is very comfortable in its own right, with generous head-, leg- and shoulder-room, even when there are three back there. The third row, meanwhile, is really only valid for use by kids or in emergencies. Cargo space in the MDX is decent, with 513 litres available with all seats up, and 1,368 when the third row is folded down. For really big haul jobs, push down the second-row seats as well and you get a cavernous 2,690 litres. Towing capacity is a healthy 2,268 kg.

My week in the MDX was spent strictly in the city and the sample was too small for my totals to mean anything, but official Acura numbers for the SUV are 12.6L/100 km (city), 9.4L/100 km (highway), and 11.2L/100 km (combined). I was off the scale, but over the longer term I expect those are realistic averages.

Acura’s larger luxury SUV gets a starting price of $56,405, with the Technology package moving the price to $60,405. With the A-Spec package, you’ll pay at least $63,405, and the top-trim Platinum Elite Model reigns at the top with a price of $67,405. These figures do not include the destination charge.

2022 Acura MDX, three-quarters front
Photo: D.Boshouwers
2022 Acura MDX, three-quarters front

We like

Very comfortable, quiet ride
Ample room inside (first two rows)
Much modernized overall
Good visibility

We like less

That touch pad!
Third row for smaller folks or emergencies only

The competition

Audi Q7
BMW X5
Buick Enclave
Cadillac XT6
Genesis GV80
Porsche Cayenne
Volvo XC90

2022 Acura MDX, rear
Photo: D.Boshouwers
2022 Acura MDX, rear

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Photos:D.Boshouwers
2022 Acura MDX pictures