2022 Acura MDX: Top three-row contender
Acura has completely redesigned its midsize MDX crossover for 2022 — and not a moment too soon. The new version has jumped from very good to great, just as competition in the three-row luxury SUV market is heating up
Since it was first introduced in America in 2000, the MDX has gone on to become the best-selling six-to-seven passenger crossover of all time, with over 1 million sold to date. That's because of its design and quality, and the fact that it costs thousands less than comparable luxury German SUVs.
But now other manufacturers are getting into the reasonably-priced three-row crossover market segment, most notably Genesis with its well-reviewed GV80. Even Hyundai and Kia are knocking on the door with the top-of-the-line versions of their Palisade and Telluride.
But the 2020 improvements to the Acura should blunt all those threats. They include bolder exterior styling, a more sophisticated interior, a stiffer light truck platform, a double wishbone front suspension, an improved multi-link rear suspension, wider wheels and tires, larger brakes, and more direct electric power steering.
Other improvements are literally too numerous to list, but they range from better pedestrian safety features to torque vectoring for better handling, and more tech than the average owner can even keep track of.
In fact, just about the only thing that hasn't changed much is the engine, which is a slightly upgraded version of the previous 3.5-liter V6. It still produces 290-horsepower and 267 foot-pounds of torque, which is not all that much these days. But the nine-speed automatic transmission has been replaced by a new 10-speed unit that makes all the difference in the world. It has a lower first gear for quicker acceleration off the line, and it moves through the other gears even smoother than before, especially in Sport mode.
The results are impressive. The 2022 MDX is slightly larger than the previous generation but looks sleeker, thanks to what Acura terms its "athletic proportions." The interior transformation is even more dramatic, with a higher and wider center console contributing to more of a cockpit feel for both the driver and front seat passenger. The all-new digital display is a first for Acura, and the larger 12.3-inch full-HD display screen is now mounted high on the dash for easier reading.
The changes to the driving experience are even more pronounced. The MDX has always felt polished, but now it is genuinely sporty, too. The engine feels stronger through all the gears, even in Comfort mode. The suspension is both firmer and smoother, encouraging higher speed driving that previous models, especially through turns. But because the brakes are more powerful, it also feels safer.
Our test MDX was the current top-of-the-line version, which meant it was equipped the company's Super Handling All-Wheel Drive system, a Tech Package, all AcuraWatch safety systems, and the A-Spec package that featured a stunning red and black leather interior. Even with all that, the price was still less than $60,000, which compares well to any other performance-oriented luxury three-row crossover.
My only complaint is with the touchpad that controls the infotainment display. It requires a light touch that was hard to master in even a week of test driving. I found it best to make my settings before leaving the driveway, although I'm sure owners will get the knack of it in time.
But Acura is not done with the 2022 MDX. The manufacturer dropped the Hybrid Sport version, which was its performance model last year. But coming soon will be a Type S model featuring a turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 that produces 355 horsepower and 354 foot-pounds of torque. The base MDX was designed to handle the additional power, which helps explain why it drives so much better.
As always, shop and compare if you're in the market for a three-row luxury crossover. But put the completely redesigned 2022 Acura MDX at the top of your list.
2022 Acura MDX SH-AWD A-Spec
Base price: $46,900 (base model)
Price as tested: $58,625
Type: Midsize crossover SUV
Engine: 3.5-liter (290 hp, 267 lbs-ft)
Transmission: 10-speed automatic with paddle shifters
Drive modes: Snow, Comfort, Normal, Sport, Individual
EPA estimated mileage: 19/25
Overall length: 196 inches
Curb weight: 4,032 to 4,350 pounds
Final assembly: East Liberty, Ohio
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