2014 Acura MDX luxury crossover Drive Review and Road Test
You’d be forgiven for thinking little has changed by just glancing at the MDX, and that’s the way Acura shoppers like it we’re told. That statement makes me scratch my head just a little because the 2014 model still sports the Acura “beak,” the most controversial style decision Acura has ever made. Admittedly Acura has toned down the proboscis just a little from last year with less chrome and a more upright hood that accentuates the toothy smile a little less. We do have to keep this in perspective however: nothing about the MDX is overdone, the only reason anyone complained about the beak in the first place is that Acura has long been known for conservative design cues. This love for conservative, evolutionary design is why the MDX is instantly identifiable as an Acura despite riding on an all-new MDX-exclusive platform and sharing little beyond some transmission parts with the outgoing model. Yep, you heard that right, the MDX is no longer platform buddies with the Accord, et al., although it still builds off of Honda’s structural design portfolio.
Bringing the MDX’s signature shape up-to-date we have standard full-LED headlamps which (if I am not mistaken) will make the MDX the least expensive vehicle on the road with the snazzy beams. Since we only had a limited time with the car in the day I can’t say how they perform at night, but the color temperature of the lamps is a pleasing neutral color rather than the harsh blue light some LED lamps are known for. While Acura is gettin’ jiggy with the LEDs up front, the rear continues to use regular old incandescent lamps. Probably leaving Acura something to swap for a mid-cycle refresh.
Acura continues to stick to their formula of traditional injection molded dashboards and plenty of convincing fake wood. I would be interested to hear your opinions on this choice, so be sure to sound off in the comment section below. While i like the look and the materials are premium in feel, it can’t match the visual impact or feel of a stitched leather/pleather dash, something that the refreshed Buick Enclave does incredibly well. The MDX continues to do have a very uniform feel with perfect seams and gaps and a consistent quality level throughout, something that Buick’s CUV continues to struggle with (the lower dash and door plastics in the Enclave are still a bit cheap.)
The MDX’s front and middle thrones still sport the Acura hallmark “Lady Gaga horny shoulders,” a design cue frequently imitated but never duplicated to the same effect. Like Lexus and Infiniti, Acura still hasn’t discovered seats that more in more than the same basic 8-10 ways as any $25,000 family sedan. Despite having only half the “ways” as BMW’s sport seats, I find the MDX’s redesigned thrones to be among the most comfortable in the segment for my body shape. The flip side of that is that I’m a statistical “average American male” at six-feet and 185, so if you deviate from the “norm” you may find the seats less to your tastes due to the lack of adjustibility.
For 2014 Acura has swapped out the tried-and-true 3.7L V6 for their latest V6. The 3.5L “Earth Dreams” V6 trades displacement for direct-injection and “Variable Cylinder Management” which allow the V6 to drop to a 3-cylinder mode on the highway. To quell the inevitable 3-cylinder vibrations, the MDX score’s Honda’s unique active engine mounts which generate vibrations opposite to what the engine produces to cancel them out. (Think Bose noise cancelling headphones.) Despite the DI treatment, power is down from 300HP to 290 and torque takes a small drop from 270 to 267 lb-ft as well. The power reduction is all in the name of efficiency however since this is the same engine that Acura drops under the hood of the 310 horse RLX sedan. To counter the power loss, Acura spent considerable time shedding weight with the MDX dropping a significant 275lbs in the redesign. The weight loss and improved low end torque (thanks to the direct-injection) mean that performance is up even with the power down. We weren’t able to verify this however since we didn’t have an appropriate track to perform 0-60 testing, so be sure to check back when we get our hands on an MDX for a week.
Music by Kevin MacLeod
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