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Posts tagged: 2014 Acura MDX

Acura MDX: Hitting its stride

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This should be a very good year for Acura’s MDX.

Fully made over, the 7-passenger crossover went on sale last year and enters 2014 already smashing its own sales records. Built on a new platform and featuring a new powertrain, updated cabin tech and more, the MDX is as fresh as the day it debuted in 2001 — and far more modern.

For the first time in its 13-year history, the MDX is available in a front-wheel-drive version. FWD pricing starts at $43,185, while $45,185 fetches Acura’s brilliant SH-AWD system. 

This year’s updates have an efficiency bias, but affect every aspect of the MDX. The new platform is narrower than before, for improved aerodynamics, yet cabin space grows.

A longer wheelbase, stiffer chassis and revised suspension improve driving dynamics and ride quality, already MDX hallmarks. The MDX sheds 275 pounds, due largely to increased use of high-strength steel.

In tandem with a revised steering system, its svelte new form gives the MDX a lighter and more agile feel from behind the wheel. 

It also enables a more efficient powerplant. The 290-horsepower V-6 that powers the new MDX is less powerful on paper than its predecessor but has a broader power band.  Despite a 17-percent efficiency bump, the ’14 MDX is quicker than before and can still tow up to 5,000 pounds.

EPA-estimated fuel economy with front-wheel drive is 20 mpg city/28 mpg highway and 23 mpg combined, while the AWD version rates 18/27/21.

Inside the fully redesigned cabin, materials quality improves and new noise-abatement measures — ranging from thicker three-layer acoustic glass to a new floor “sealing plane” and Active Noise Control technology — significantly reduce cabin noise.

A new touchscreen system slashes the instrument-panel button count from 41 to nine. At first blush, the system seems to complicates such simple functions as seat-temperature adjustments but Acura says customizable shortcuts override that concern.

The large and comfortable front seats lose an inch of fore-aft travel, which may bother a handful of long-legged drivers, but second-row legroom grows. Second-row seats have a five-position recline feature and slide 5.9 inches fore and aft. At the touch of a button, second-row seats tip and slide forward to allow easy access to the third-row seating area.

Suspension changes drop the vehicle height by 1.5 inches and step-in height by 1.8 inches, easing ingress and egress and boosting aerodynamics. 
 
A new Integrated Dynamics System (IDS) offers three driving modes – Comfort, Normal and Sport. Comfort and Normal affect steering effort. Sport firms up steering feel and adjusts throttle response and SH-AWD torque proportioning. 

Good as it is in every other way, SH-AWD is the MDX’s true strength. It uses a network of sensors to anticipates and proactively offset traction losses, instantaneously directing power to the wheel(s) with the best grip. 

SH-AWD provides tremendous cornering power in dry conditions and is matchless in wintery conditions. As of this year, it’s also available in Acura’s all-new midsize RLX sedan.

Now in its thirteenth year and third generation, the MDX is just hitting its stride. A very good year, indeed.

2014 Acura MDX AWD ADV ENT
Vehicle base price: $42,290
Trim level base price: $56,505
As tested: $57,400
Optional equipment: Our AWD tester bundled the optional Tech, Advanced and Entertainment packages.
EPA ratings: 18 city/27 highway
Premium unleaded fuel recommended

 

2014 Acura MDX: SH-AWD still on the job

In my previous post, I promised the lowdown on the 2014 Acura MDX, which should start arriving in dealerships by summer.

As you may recall, I’d come across a rumor that Acura would dropSuper Handling All-Wheel-Drive (SH-AWD) from upcoming versions of the MDX. PR boss Chuck Shifsky was quick to respond to my query to that  effect.

“Bad rumor,” he said.

Acura show the new MDX at the Detroit Auto Show today and, in fact, SH-AWD is still onboard. 

The only real change, traction-wise, is that for the first time the MDX will be available in a front-wheel-drive format. This comes in response to requests from Sun Belt dealers.

Otherwise, the ’14 MDX gets a full facelift. Its new “Aero Sculpture” styling not only looks good but also improves aerodynamic efficiency by up to 16 percent.

It will be shorter by 1.5 inches and ride on a longer wheelbase, which should enhance ride quality and boost cabin and cargo space. A new chassis is lighter and more rigid and new front and rear suspension designs are expected to produce in a sportier ride-and-handling package.

There’s a new engine, a 3.5-liter V-6 that’s expected to produce more torque while improving fuel efficiency to class-leading levels.

Acura will load the MDX with a host of safety technologies and expect to see the next generation of Acura’s cloud-based AcuraLink connectivity initiative.

Acura aims to make me happy

I’m never going to own a large crossover — i.e., one with three rows — but if I did, it would be Acura’s MDX.

The MDX rides well, though it’s not the least bit sporty. It’s strong and handsome, though not at all flashy. It’s comfortable and quiet, though a bit old-school in certain ways.

To wit: Unless I’m misreading the spec sheet, that spiffy, new 2013 MDX you’re eyeing isn’t available with such a commonplace feature as keyless entry and ignition.

This isn’t a huge surprise. Acura is Honda’s up-market division and Honda’s strong suit is engineering. They’re less interested in key-fob transponders than in the greasy bits down below. When they do engage ones and zeros, it's generally in an effort to tackle a pressing need, not whether I can open the car without taking the keys out of my pocket.

Many buyers value Honda's go-slow approach — it tends to reduce failures and increase resale value, though I’m certain it costs the company sales.

There is one piece of Acura tech I’m particularly fond of. Its Super Handling All-Wheel-Drive (SH-AWD) system — is simply the best of the breed. I've never driven a more surefooted car in the snow.

A new, 2014 MDX is coming in 2013 and there are rumors afloat that Acura will drop SH-AWD for a lesser system, presumably in an effort to reduce the price of the MDX.

I’m not a prospective owner, so my vote doesn’t count for much. Still, I look forward to my annual winter test, simply because it’s so much fun to drive a capable rig in ugly conditions. Plus, largely because of SH-AWD It’s a car I never hesitate to recommend.

Let's just say I have an interest.

Today, I reached out to Chuck Shifsky in Acura’s PR office, asking for the official line on the SH-AWD question.

“Bad rumor,” he wrote. “We’ll share more on 14 MDX next week in Detroit.”

I won’t be at the Detroit Auto Show next week, but I’ll look forward to getting the lowdown — and when there’s more to tell, I’ll pass it along.

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