Acura's best-selling SUV is improved in every way.
With over one million copies sold, the Acura MDX is the best-selling three-row luxury SUV of all time. Now in its fourth generation, the 2022 Acura MDX has some big shoes to fill, continuing more than 20 years of success for Honda's luxury division. Production at Honda's East Liberty Auto Plant in Ohio is well underway, and MDX deliveries are in full force, but is it still the best all-around three-row luxury crossover to spend your hard-earned dollars on?
CarBuzz recently spent a week driving the 2022 MDX A-Spec, the sportiest appearance package available currently. From our test drive, we discovered that this latest MDX makes several notable improvements over the outgoing model in a bid to become its segment leader once again. This might be the best MDX yet.
Acura is quick to market the MDX as a sports car with seven seats. While this message might be a slight exaggeration, the MDX is nimble and fun to drive. The A-Spec model doesn't add any notable performance upgrades, but it looks properly aggressive with grey wheels and other sporty accents. Combined with an available red interior, and the A-Spec model should turn heads in the school pickup line.
Acura built this latest MDX on its new Light Truck Platform with improved body rigidity, double-wishbone front suspension, and multi-link rear suspension, all of which add up to a charismatic driving experience. The steering feels extremely light but offers a quick response, and the new 10-speed automatic transmission is a massive improvement over the old nine-speed box.
The base MDX uses a carryover 3.5-liter VTEC V6 engine producing 290 horsepower and 267 lb-ft of torque. It produces plenty of power for a base engine in this segment, though there are more potent options available. We love how this VTEC engine wails at high RPMs, though it doesn't get up to speed as quickly as rivals due to its lack of torque. A turbocharged Type S model with 355 hp will improve the base model's 6.2-second 0-60 mph time.
By the end of its life cycle, the previous generation MDX felt dated with its dual-screen setup. This new MDX uses Acura's latest True Touchpad interface, which is not our favorite control method. Though the controller has a steep learning curve, the technology present in the MDX is stout. The available 16-speaker ELS Studio 3D audio system is among the best we've tested at any price, putting some of the pricier European options to shame.
The 12.3-inch infotainment system included wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, plus the best integration of Amazon Alexa we've experienced in a car. Simply say "Alexa" and the system responds instantly to any request. It works just like the Alexa device in your home and makes other in-car voice command systems feel obsolete by comparison.
Most SUVs make buyers choose between a more practical bench seat in the second row or more comfortable captain's chairs that will give children more room. In the MDX, buyers get the best of both worlds. The center seat in the MDX's second row is removable, meaning buyers can have a three-seater bench or captain's chairs on demand. That center seat can also stay in place and act as a cupholder and an armrest.
Taking the seat out is a bit tricky because it weighs about 20 pounds, but it will store conveniently in your garage. Getting into the third row is easier with the middle seat removed, but Acura makes it simple to hop back there even with it in place with well-placed eject buttons for the second-row outboard seats.
As with the seat design, Acura nailed it with the trunk space. The trunk yields 16.3 cubic feet of space behind the third row, but a removable floor adds 1.8 more cubic feet. Drivers can leave the floor installed to create a hidden storage area or remove it to fit taller items in the trunk. In another stroke of genius, Acura's designers made one side of the trunk floor carpeted while the reverse side is plastic. This is perfect for muddy cleats or sandy beach chairs because the plastic underside is easy to wash down.
The Acura brand is known for a good value that undercuts most European and Japanese competitors, and this 2022 MDX is no exception. Priced starting at $46,900, the MDX is less expensive than the Audi Q7, BMW X5, Cadillac XT6, Genesis GV80, Lincoln Aviator, Mercedes-Benz GLE, and Volvo XC90. Only the Lexus RX and Infiniti QX60 ring in with lower starting prices, though both SUVs are much older than the MDX. Even in its higher trim levels, the Acura MDX presents an excellent value in the mid-size luxury SUV segment.