Mountain Wheels: Acura’s fourth-generation MDX gets bigger and better
It strikes me that the fourth-generation Acura MDX, officially the best-selling three-row luxury SUV around since its debut in 2000, has now veered into the world of the ultra-gigantic. I say this because my increasingly old brain remembers previous MDX’s mass and breadth being closer to what you now find on the somewhat smaller RDX. The entirely recooked 2022 MDX seems very, very large.
But in a world of very, very large SUVs, maybe that’s OK, as it’s still an extremely sophisticated, beautifully designed and striking alternative to those even larger three-row luxury SUVs we now see everywhere. It’s also low-key elegant, not audacious and — with a 290-horsepower V-6, a 10-speed automatic transmission and the genuinely sticky magic that is its Super-Handling all-wheel drive system — it gets the job done. And with an MSRP of $60,650 for the advance-level package, the Ohio-built Acura MDX practically seems like a bargain compared to Escalade or the Germans.
Some of the bigness might be attributed to MDX’s much-evolved, seven-passenger layout for 2022, which sees its proportions grow incrementally. It’s more than 2 inches longer overall, has a 2.8-inch longer wheelbase, a much longer hood, more stretched out cabin space, and a wider track and overall vehicle width.
From the tailgate, reaching to pull up the third-row seats was an actual stretch. I had to stand in an open door well to sweep late-winter snow off the roof. Inside, the center console seemed as large as an entire 1980s Honda Civic. Maybe I am just getting old and have shrunk.
The added expanses and wide-open spaces pay off, however, when it comes to absolutely effortless cruising. MDX and its 20-inch wheels ate up terribly decomposed pavement, rode solid and smooth on gravel roads and eased up an icy driveway with no issues whatsoever.
My feeling is that the 290 horsepower will be more than adequate for everyone but High Country drivers. I had to put just a little too much pedal pressure to make it work on the passes, but once I dug in, the power arrived. It’s literally built on a light truck platform with new double wishbone front suspension and upgraded brakes. Curb weight is a little over 4,500 pounds, and I certainly felt that in the corners.
While Lexus and Infiniti have gone totally bonkers in the design department, MDX feels nicely understated. Every freaking SUV in the industry now has Camaro-styled headlamps and a freight train-sized grille, but they look pretty cool here, with an interesting Superman logo-styled starburst surrounding the Acura emblem. The rear doors seem limousine-sized. Even the rear bumper is massive.
Limo is right, however, as your rear passengers definitely get the VIP treatment. Drop the center portion of a 40-20-40 split seat and you get an ultra-cushy center armrest, or remove it entirely if you wish. Overall, legroom and shoulder room has increased a bit, and the seats also recline more than in the past.
There’s one-touch access to get to the smaller third-row seating, where your smallest passengers will get USB outlets and what Acura describes as “a more comfortable posture.”
Up front, it’s a very attractive cabin setup, with a new fully digital instrument panel, a soft highlight-stitched buffer panel and an infinitely adaptable onboard light show. USB connections are located in a cool-looking pop-up box on the center console, and the moderately frustrating “True Touchpad” input device gradually reveals its literally point-and-click utility.
As stated before on other Acuras, the drive mode knob is way too much of an overstatement, unless you snag the upcoming 355-horsepower Type S. And yes, what looks like a 1970s manual credit card machine is part of the center console business.
In keeping with the other growth, cargo space is also much larger throughout. There’s a standard 16.3 cubic foot space behind the third row, but with a two-tier, reversible cargo floor, that can be expanded to 18.1 cubic feet and another 1.8 cubic feet under the floor. Drop the third row and you can get between 39.1 and 48.4 cubic feet of storage. Drop the second row as well and the absolute maximum is 95 cubic feet.
Andy Stonehouse’s column “Mountain Wheels” publishes Saturdays in the Summit Daily News. Stonehouse has worked as an editor and writer in Colorado since 1998, focusing on automotive coverage since 2004. He lives in Golden. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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