2014 Acura MDX review
Acura tries to answer the MDX's every criticism, but did it try too hard?
- Active Sound Control allows great engine noise in Sport mode
- Integrated Dynamics System is a long-awaited addition
- New body styling makes for a good-looking vehicle
- Why does the "beak" remain?
- Steering unnecessarily softened, with little feedback
- New interior too sparse and Honda-like for Acura
The outgoing MDX was a good SUV, a winning combination of luxury, comfort and capable performance. Consumer and critical issues with the MDX were minor; most had to do with simplifying the spaceship-like controls cluttering its instrument panel. Driving the all-new 2014 MDX, however, feels like Acura overcompensated for issues real and imagined. The new MDX is still a good SUV, and some new features bring welcome changes, but it doesn't feel as exclusive and engaging as it once did.
The 2014 Acura MDX is a 5-door SUV that comes standard with a power moonroof and LED headlights. The Technology package adds a 501-watt 10-speaker stereo, navigation, and safety systems including forward collision warning and lane departure warning. The Technology and Entertainment package adds a 529-watt 11-speaker stereo system, a 115-volt outlet, and a rear entertainment system with 9-inch display, a DVD player and two wireless headsets. The Advance and Entertainment package bumps the stereo to 546 watts with 12 speakers and includes a rear entertainment system with a 16.2-inch display, adaptive cruise control, a collision mitigation braking system, lane keeping assist, ventilated front seats, leather interior, remote engine start and parking sensors at the front and rear. The base MDX comes with 18-inch alloy wheels while all other packages get 19-inch wheels.
Under the hood
All 2014 MDX models come with Acura's 3.5-liter direct-injected V6 engine with intelligent-variable-valve timing and variable cylinder management. The V6 produces 290 horsepower and 267 lb-ft of torque at 4500 rpm. The only transmission available is a 6-speed automatic with paddle shifters. The 2014 MDX editions are available with Acura's Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive or, for the first time, front-wheel drive.
It's not the roominess or comfort where the interior of the 2014 MDX falls short; it's in the materials that the driver sees and touches while inside. Acura chose to respond to complaints that the MDX's controls were too cluttered and busy — which was true of the 2013 MDX — but in a way that leaves the 2014's instrument panel looking a bit bare and cheap. The added controls to the steering wheel are intuitive enough, but now it looks a little cluttered, too. Somehow, despite the wall of buttons, switches, etc., on the old MDX's interior control panels, it just looked better than this new one.
The 2014 MDX's dash and instrument panel feels more Honda than Acura. While there's nothing inherently wrong with that, it's not reflective of the Acura experience. All is not lost, however. The push-button rear-seat access is especially convenient, although it can be a pain to return the seatback to its original position. One thing Acura nailed is pairing the Active Sound Control system to its Integrated Dynamics system, allowing more of the V6's noise into the cabin when in Sport mode. The 3.5-liter V6 engine has always sounded good; it's nice to be able to hear it better.
On the road
Another reported quibble with the outgoing MDX was that its steering required too much effort, although we beg to differ. Nevertheless, Acura has installed an electronic power steering system that has a 10 percent faster ratio than the old setup, yet it still feels far too soft. We're not sure that the new steering will have anyone talking, except to note how much better it used to be. But that's the standard electric power steering gripe.
There's a new multilink rear suspension setup replacing the old trailing arms, and with the all-wheel drive, the MDX still performs well. The Integrated Dynamics system sees Acura finally following the German builders with a pushbutton setup and performance settings including Normal, Comfort and Sport modes. (Sport mode is intriguing, but the traction control nannies will shut you down if you start having too much "fun.") The V6 is still a great engine, but without downsizing and turbocharging, or the option of a 7- or 8-speed transmission, gas mileage returns aren't anything to brag about. MDX all-wheel-drive variants rate at 18 mpg city/27 mpg highway/21 mpg combined, with front-wheel-drive models faring a bit better at 20/28/23 mpg.
Right for you?
The 2014 Acura MDX will go on sale in early July. Both front- and all-wheel-drive versions will be available in base trim or with the Technology, Technology and Entertainment, or Advance and Entertainment packages. Prices range from $42,290 to $54,505 for front- drive MDX models, and $44,290 to $56,505 for MDXs with Super Handling All-Wheel Drive. Those looking for an up-market 7-seater SUV will find many aspects of the 2014 MDX compelling, especially its comfort and available entertainment packages. In an increasingly crowded $40,000-to-$50,000 SUV market, the 2014 MDX seems a bit underwhelming when up against competitors such as the Audi Q5 and BMW X3, but the Acura's more basic layout and softer feel may win some consumers over.
(As part of a sponsored press event, the automaker provided MSN with travel and accommodations to facilitate this report.)
James Tate cut his teeth in the business as a race team crew member before moving to the editorial side as Senior Editor of Sport Compact Car, and his work has appeared in Popular Mechanics, Automobile, Motor Trend and European Car. When not writing, Tate is usually fantasizing about a vintage Porsche 911.
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Well, I own a new 2014 Acura MDX and have researched it pretty thoroughly. I see some misconceptions here. If you will go to the instrument testing section of Car and Driver you will see what I mean. Example: At 70 mph the noise level is 67 dB. I can not find a single car with less noise levels - at ANY price. This would include such quiet cars as Lexus, Mercedes, Infinity, Cadillac, etc. With lateral acceleration of .85g (Michelin Latitude Tour tires at 35 psi) and a 0-60 of 6.4 sec we are talking very excellent figures for a crossover (again, pretty much top of the class). Using the sport mode and the paddles, runs of 6.1 and 6.2 were recorded.
Cons: The new computer system has way too many levels - menus within menus. It will take weeks to learn it all. Example: Put in a CD and it will play AND record (at the same time) onto the HD at a much faster rate (5x to 10x). But . . . you have to tell it to. I currently have 40 CDs on the MDX's hard drive. These can later be pulled up as albums, songs, or searched for using many categories, including genres.
I would strongly suggest living with an automobile for a few months before writing a serious review.
Ok so here is my honest observation.
We own a 2005 MDX. My wife loves it. I have never been a fan of this car since till recently I drove a BMW 740i sport. I will say that the 2005 was the last year of the old body style. It is "roomier" overall compared to 2006 and beyond models, especially the third seat area. In an effort to better aerodynamics and increase fuel efficiency, I feel Acura has created an issue for themselves in my openion.
Anyway, we went to buy/test drive the 2014. Yes the noise reduction seems to be better than the 2005 and the gas mileage is better than the previous models. But the main issue is that it "feels" smaller inside with blind spots in the back. There is less visibility so they had to add the extra lane changing, etc electronics. To my surprise my wife just straight out rejected it. My kids (two boys 7 and 8) felt tight in the third row where they often end up when we have grandparents tag along. In the 2005, the third row was at least manageable for little more than out of town drives. But I cant say the same for the 2014 model.
We also test drove the BMW X5 and the GL350 (for better fuel economy than GL450). BMW felt little roomier due to the larger panoramic roof and I feel the windows are little bigger than 2014 MDX. I have to say thought, although I had my BMW 740i sport for several (12) years and my impression of the X5 didn't change even this time around. Its the same as it was from 2001 (when I choose the 740i sport vs. X5). The second row is bumpy.. the car just feels tight to drive.. which is what BMW is known for... The third seat is a joke for long distance travel. Hence a reject when I think of a nice smooth family vacation... Both MDX and X5 qualify as mid-size SUV's which they are.
With two boys 7 and 8 and parents (sometimes) we needed a car that was not a super gas guzzler (like most of the full size SUV's) but roomier than mid size SUV's. We had rejected the MDX and BMW. Did not even want to look at the Infinity (I have never been an infinity fan). Based on our family need I have to say the Blue Efficiency GL350 was the only SUV that checked most of the items on the "need to have". Its roomier, quiet, higher ground, decently fuel efficient (18/21 mpg, but since I have had it which is a month, its been giving me 24 miles to a galon of Diesel, mostly highway driving). The GL has all the bells and whistles you and you family will enjoy for years to come. I went to and bought a pre-owned Mercedes, with around close to 20k miles, and 5 yr/100k mile CPO warranty for less than what I would have paid for Advance package MDX or BMW X5 (again, Mid size vs. full size).
Yes, I had to get over the fact that I was spending over 50k and purchasing a pre-owned full size SUV, but I am telling you. Brand new GL350 with all the options was 78k...
And the car looks clean as new. Included in my price was also the extra two year/135k warranty through Mercedes Benz for peace of mind which gets refunded to you if you dont use it (which I doubt will happen.. haa haa).
I will say, if you don't want to spend the money and stay under 50k, and if MDX and BMW are not big enough for you, go for the loaded Toyota Sienna (best value for your $). This was a tough decision. Very tempting... as long as you don't mind pulling out of the drive way in a bat mobile every morning. :) (sorry Sienna owners, no offense.. I have lots of friends who own a Sienna).
A pre owned GL with around 20-25k will easily run you 10-15k (based on options) over a brand new Sienna But to me, I feel its well worth it considering I drive my car everyday and keep it for long.
People say cars are not a good investment. I don't understand it. You get what you pay for. And if you are going to use something every day (almost), why not make the investment and go for what you will enjoy getting in every day. I owned my BMW 740i for 12 years and enjoyed every single day I owned it! Was it worth it to me? ABSOLUTELY!
Good luck and I hope this was helpful..
Lastly, the reason I mentioned Toyota Sienna and not Honda Odyssee is because Sienna has the 4 wheel drive option that comes in handy when you are living in areas with snow, etc. You can also look at Honda Odyssee to compare. Again for mid space consider Acura or BMW X5. For reasonable $$$ consider the vans, for Full size SUV consider Mercedes 350 GL.
Good luck shopping!