Acura faced an interesting challenge when it set out to create the fourth-generation, 2022 MDX.
In 2001, the midsize MDX CUV pioneered the three-row crossover. Soon enough, the market was flooded with competitors and Acura was having to fend off the upstarts.
Over time, the MDX had evolved into Acura’s best-selling model and the best-selling three-row vehicle in the country. That sounds like an enviable position, but being on top means changing your rig enough to stay ahead of the pack without messing up the magic.
The 2022 MDX ($47,925) is new in virtually every way. It’s larger, roomier and more capable than the outgoing model.
(There is no 2021 MDX; Acura wanted to clear the decks for the fourth-gen model.)
The MDX is based on a rigid new platform designed exclusively for Honda/Acura’s light-truck lineup. The strengthened unibody and other measures isolate passengers from noise, vibration and harshness.
For a large (4500 pounds) rig, the MDX is surprisingly responsive. The new chassis uses a double-wishbone front suspension that contributes to both handling and ride quality. A new variable-ratio steering system has outstanding feel and sharpens cornering.
In 2005, Acura fitted the MDX with its new torque-vectoring all-wheel drive system, Super-Handling All-wheel Drive. Unlike more conventional systems, which can apportion torque between the front and rear axles when they sense traction loss, SH-AWD employs a network of sensors to anticipate and counteract traction loss.
It also distributes torque between the rear wheels. By overdriving the outside wheels, it minimizes skids in slippery conditions and maximizes cornering power in any condition.
Most luxurious MDX
The new edition is the most luxurious, best-equipped MDX yet. Cabin materials are improved and impressively assembled. The front-of-cabin design is crisp and clean and the infotainment system ditches the previous two-screen setup for a single, 12.3-inch horizontally oriented display.
The display is not a touchscreen. Instead, Acura uses a console-mounted touchpad. It’s tricky to learn but quick and effective once mastered.
Menus are straightforward and the climate controls are managed separately via honest-to-goodness buttons.
All trims get real wood and aluminum trim. Lower trims use an almost-convincing faux leather; the Milano leather upholstery in the upper trims is soft, supple and fragrant.
Wheelbase grows by 2.8 inches, which translates into roomier accommodations. Each row gains legroom, hip room and shoulder room.
In the third row, headroom grows by nearly an inch. The seats are elevated 2 inches and legroom grows 2.4 inches. It’s still best suited for kids, but it’s one of the more adult-friendly third rows we’ve sampled.
Prices start at $47,925, a $2,400 increase over the outgoing model. Five trims include: Base ($47,925); Technology ($52,625); A-Spec ($58,125); and Advance ($61,675).
The base and Technology trims offer SH-AWD as a $2,000 option. It’s standard on upper trims.
Every MDX is equipped with a panoramic sunroof; keyless entry and ignition; a power liftgate; power adjustable and heated front seats; reclining and sliding second-row seats with a removable center seat; digital gauge cluster; 12.3-inch central display; True Touch touchpad control system; wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto; nine-speaker audio system; wireless charging pad and onboard Wi-Fi.
Standard gear on our Advanced trim tester included attractive open-pore wood trim, 10.5-inch head-up display, surround-view camera, hands-free power liftgate and roof rails. The front seats are ventilated and have a massage function. Outside door handles are fitted with LED lighting.
All trims are powered by a 290-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 that carries over from last year. It’s mated with a new 10-speed automatic transmission that makes quick and smooth shifts.
Due its extra poundage, the ’22 MDX scoots from 0-60 in 6.4 seconds, quick enough but a half-second slower than last year.
Acura isn’t finished with its seventh-generation MDX. This summer, it will drop the Type S, with its 355-hp twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6. It’s expected to ring the bell at around $65,000.
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2022 Acura MDX SH-AWD Advance
Vehicle base price: $47,925
Trim level base price: $60,650
As tested: $62,175 (includes destination and handling)
Options: The MDX Advance is fully equipped; our tester had no options.
Tow capacity: 5,000 pounds
EPA rating: 21 combined/19 city/25 highway
Premium gasoline specified