Remaining a luxury 3-row crossover, the Acura MDX is completely redesigned for 2022. The MDX actually took the 2021 model year off and was introduced in the winter as a 2022 model. Changes include new styling inside and out, additional safety and tech features, all-new chassis and late arriving Type S model with turbocharged engine. Gone from the lineup is a hybrid powertrain, though it is likely to return in the near future. Competitors include the BMW X5, Cadillac XT6, Genesis GV80, Land Rover Discovery, Lexus RX, Lincoln Aviator. Mercedes-Benz GLE and the Volvo XC90.
Initially, the model lineup included Base, Technology, A-Spec and Advance. Base and Tech come standard with front-wheel drive. Optional on those models and standard on the A-Spec and Advance is Acura's Super-Handling all-wheel drive. All models get a 3.5-liter V6 that makes 290 horsepower and mates to a 10-speed automatic. In the summer Acura added a Type S model with a 355-horsepower, turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 and SH AWD. Towing capacity with front-wheel drive is 3,500 pounds and 5,000 pounds with all-wheel drive.
All models get a new 12.3-inch central display for an infotainment system that now supports wireless Apple Car Play and Android Auto. In addition, Acura switched to a double-wishbone front suspension to improve handling dynamics. Available driver-assist technology includes rearview camera with cross-traffic alert, adaptive cruise control, frontal collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assist, blind-spot monitoring, automatic high-beam headlights. In addition to a more powerful engine, Type S models get a stiffer suspension and larger brakes, wheels, and tires. Pricing ranges from $47,000 to $58,000.
Acura's 3.5-liter V6 is likely the best overall engine in the class. It provides robust acceleration, refinement, reasonable economy and, most importantly, longevity. In the latest MDX Acura adds a slick-shifting 10-speed automatic to the equation. The result -- despite a 300-pount increase in curb weight over the previous model -- is smooth, even and effortless acceleration and exceptional passing response. With a 0-60 MPH time of about 6.5 seconds, the MDX is quicker than mainstream competitors like the Kia Telluride and Mazda CX-9 and on pace with crossovers like the Cadillac XT6 and Volvo XC90.
The all-wheel drive in the MDX does not have a low range and is not intended for extreme off-road use. It does efficiently direct power to the wheel(s) with the most traction and doesn't reduce fuel economy much. It does offer torque vectoring, effectively improving high-speed handling characteristics.
The front-drive MDX is EPA rated at 19 MPG city and 26 MPG highway. All-wheel drive models see the same city rating but a 25 MPG highway rating. Both require premium-grade gasoline. The MDX's fuel economy numbers compare favorably to luxury competitors. In routine suburban driving expect to average about 22 MPG overall, perhaps as high as 25 MPG if you throw in a bunch of highway miles.
Dynamically, the MDX is reborn. The double-wishbone front suspension is a direct derivative of racing technology and instantly moves the MDX's on-road demeanor from minivan mainstream to athletic charger. The steering is much more direct and "alive" than in the previous-generation and there's a substantial difference in the way MDX leans into corners and tackles mid-curve bumps. Brakes have great stopping power and an evenly weighted pedal. Much like the recently redesigned TLX sedan, Acura made a conscious effort to create more agile and responsive handling without introducing undue ride harshness that's so common in "sport" crossovers.
From a comfort standpoint, MDX still provides a smooth and controlled ride over just about any surface. There's very little impact harshness even on A-Spec and Advance models. Body motions are kept in check and there's almost no lean in fast corners or quick transitions. It's amazing what a few extra development dollars will do to transform the ride of a vehicle and kudos to Acura for breathing new life into the MDX.
Interior noise levels are on par with others in the class. No, the MDX isn't hush quiet like the Cadillac or Lexus, but there's enough isolation to allow for normal conversation between all three rows of seats.
The 2022 Acura MDX is larger in just about every way compared to its predecessor. Wheelbase grows by 2.8 inches, length is up 2.2 inches and height is up almost an inch. That adds up to more interior room and additional cargo capacity. Acura fans will feel right at home at the tech-inspired interior design, but at least it is simpler and more user-friendly than in the past. Materials are modern and price appropriate but don't have that luxurious touch that's found in some competitors. Though stepping up in trim brings fancy aluminum and open-pore wood trim.
On the tech front, MDX benefits from Acura's new single-screen infotainment system. It's controlled by a touch-pad that can take a bit acclimation. But once mastered, it becomes second nature and makes it a lot easier to navigate without taking your eyes off the road. Wireless Android Auto and Apple Car Play are supported and Acura's own infotainment system is fairly easy to navigate. There're still far too many submenus. Things like 27 different lighting themes seem superfluous.
The front seats are incredibly comfortable and provide ample support for just about any body type. There's plenty of leg and head room in both the front and second row. The 29 inches of third-row legroom is enough for kids, but might be tough for adults. Second-row seats are unique with middle seat being removable or flip down for cup holders and storage. One downside comparted to true captain's chairs is there are no flip-down armrests. However, in Advance trim, those outboard second-row seats are heated. Like many vehicles in this class, the MDX offers a standard panoramic moonroof.
With a larger design, cargo space gets a boost this year. MDX offers 18.1 cubic feet behind the third row, 48.4 cubes behind the second and 95 cubic feet overall. That's more than the Genesis GV80 has and way more than the BMW X5. Interior storage is good as well with deep map pockets and a large center bin.
Bottom Line -- With a starting price of less than $50,000 the MDX still straddles that line between mainstream and true luxury, but leaning decidedly luxury this time around. Freshened styling and new safety tech aside, the biggest change in this refresh is the switch to a double-wishbone suspension that transforms the MDX from an also-ran into a legitimate luxury sport crossover. It's too big and cumbersome to be considered lithe, but the ride remains comfortable while still providing enough athleticism to stick it out in the fast lane. It is unclear at this point how much "sport" the Type S will bring along, but for most buyers the A-Spec or Advance are sure to prove a good fit.