Acura, the performance and luxury sub-brand of Honda, is celebrating its 35th anniversary.
To commemorate this special occasion, they released the new generation of two bestselling models, the compact luxury TLX sedan and the three-row SUV, this 2022 Acura MDX Platinum Elite. For the redesign of these two important vehicles, Acura reverted back to their old formula of pairing up striking design with a focus on driving engagement, and announced the revival of its Type S high performance variant for each – a badge we have not seen since the departure of the CSX Type S in 2011.
Since its debut at the beginning of this millennium, the Acura MDX has been one of the most important models for the brand. It was one of the pioneers in the three-row sporty crossovers, Acura’s best-selling model of all-time, and according to Acura, the best-selling three-row luxury SUV in America of all time with over one million units sold. The all-new fourth generation MDX is designed using an evolution of the brand’s Precision Concept design language and features a slimmer version of Acura’s JewelEye LED headlights up front which gave it a wider and more athletic look.
The grille is massive with the oversized Acura logo displayed proudly upfront, and we appreciate the low slung, athletic profile created using clever body sculptures and a low waistline. The MDX has always avoided looking like a conventional SUV and the latest iteration is arguably the sportiest looking of all.
Speaking of sportiness, much of that comes from a powerful 3.5-litre V6 engine that pumps out 290 horsepower and 267 lb-ft. of torque. The engine is an enhanced version of Honda’s tried-and-true V6 and the MDX retained most of its linear characteristic. Push on the accelerator and the MDX surges forward swiftly with no let up all the way to its near 7,000 RPM redline.
The ten-speed automatic is quick and responsive when you let it shift on its own logic but there is a noticeable lag when we tried to shift gears ourselves. Power is directed to all four wheels using the fourth generation of Acura’s signature Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) system which worked seamlessly during our road tests.
The 2022 MDX is built on an all-new light truck chassis that features a double-wishbone front suspension, a first for the Acura MDX, and an all-new multilink rear suspension. It emphasizes its chassis rigidity and promises to deliver the driving dynamics of a sport sedan. We observed enhanced stability offered by the extra rigidity but its suspension needs better calibration to keep up with the hefty promises.
The damping strength was too soft during spirited runs, which led to excess body roll and a busy effort on the wheel. The suspension setup leans too much towards comfort in its default settings and we observed a better response when set to the Sport setting in the Integrated Dynamics System using the quick adjusting control knob on the centre console.
Fuel economy of the 2022 MDX is rated at 12.6L/100km in the city and 9.4L/100km on the highway for a combined figure of 11.2L/100km, closely matching our observation for the week. Acura recommends premium grade gasoline but the MDX can accept regular fuel for its 70-litre fuel tank.
The biggest change for the 2022 MDX is the interior design, where it has seen a thorough makeover to a much more modern and elegant layout. Gone is the dated dual screen design on the centre console and it’s replaced by a 12.3-inch widescreen display with vivid resolutions. Infotainment is now controlled using Acura’s True Touchpad Interface system.
Rather than dragging across the touchpad to navigate the system, users simply place their finger on the location of the touchpad that corresponds with the location of the command on screen, which theoretically lowers the attention needed away from the road ahead.
In practice, the system works as advertised most of the time, and users will become trained on how to quickly reach prompts on the main screen. It is when you move away from the home screen where things get distracting. There are smaller prompts that are needed to be pressed on screen and we encountered error messages that require us to drag the pointer to dismiss. Thankfully, there is Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity supported wirelessly, and the A-Spec and Platinum Elite trims come with an excellent 16-speaker ELS Studio 3D Premium Audio system.
The rest of the interior is nicely appointed with premium materials and craftsmanship. The Platinum Elite trim tested comes with genuine wood on the dash and door cards that adds a touch of sophistication. The front seats are heated and ventilated and the two outboard second-row seats are heated. We liked the seating position from the 16-way power adjustable front seats, and the low waistline and panoramic sunroof create a bright and airy cabin. There is plenty of head and legroom for the first two rows, but third row occupants will feel cramped. Cargo volume is measured at 512 litres behind the third row 1,367 litres with the third row folded.
Standard on all MDX models is a full suite of driver assist technology including Blind Spot Information, Lane Keep Assist, Rear Cross Traffic Monitor, Adaptive Cruise Control, and Traffic Jam Assist systems. The Platinum Elite trim gets an additional surround view camera system with best in class image quality.
Pricing of the all-new 2022 Acura MDX starts at $56,405 and goes up to $67,405 for the top of the line Platinum Elite. Add $500 for the Liquid Carbon Metallic colour and we are at an as-tested price of $67,905. It finds itself about five thousand dollars less than its archrival, the Lexus RX 350L, with more modern amenities and a greater focus around the driver. It’s also considerably cheaper than the Genesis GV80, though the MDX is a tighter vehicle inside and offers less power.
Buyers who prioritize interior comfort will not need to think twice about getting the Lexus despite it being way overdue for a redesign, and everyone else should give the 2022 Acura MDX Platinum Elite a long hard look for its solid all-around package. The MDX is not far off from being a great driver’s SUV and the excitement around the 35-year-old brand and the upcoming Type S model is certainly warranted.