Where The Acura MDX Is Taking Luxury Crossovers

Front 3/4 view of 2014 Acura MDX
The 2014 Acura MDX.

There is one car Acura makes that has set the standard for its segment and this is it: The MDX.  It was one of the earliest upscale crossovers---this is its 14th year on sale---and some say if it weren't for its continued success, Acura would have a difficult time making the business case for continuing.

Rear 3/4 view of 2014 Acura MDX
2014 Acura MDX.

This year is the first of only the third generation of MDX.  The 3.7-liter, 300 horsepower engine has been replaced with a 3.5-liter, 290 horsepower motor with variable cylinder management.  The biggest benefit is in fuel economy.  EPA estimated city mileage moves from 16 to 18 miles per gallon, but the highway rating leaps from 21 to 27 mpg.  Part of that is also attributable to more aerodynamic styling, which Acura says has reduced drag by 16%.

You can get an MDX with a starting price of $42,290, but that's a two-wheel drive base model.  The one we drove was a top-of-the-line SH-AWD with Advance and Entertainment packages.  The base price is $56,505.  That might seem a bit high, but it is an all-inclusive price.  There are no options.  Add the $895 destination and handling fee and the price tag stops at $57,400.
Interior view of 2014 Acura MDX
2014 Acura MDX interior.

And you do get a lot for your money.  The standard equipment includes a multi-angle rearview cmaer, an on-demand multi-use display touch screen, XM Satellite Radio and an interface for Pandora., Bluetooth, text messaging functionality, a 10-way power driver's seat which, along with the front passenger seat, is heated, pushbutton ignition, a power moonroof, 19-inch alloy wheels, jewel eye LED headlights and keyless entry.

When you select the Advance and Entertainment packages, you get the Tech Package thrown in.  That's navigation with voice recognition, AcuraLink with real-time street and freeway traffic conditions, an ELS Studio premium audio system with 12 speakers, HDRadio, a GPS-linked, three-zone climate control system with air filtration, blind spot information, LED puddle lights and rain-sensing wipers.

The Advance Package add collision mitigation braking, sport seats with performated premium leather trim, ventilated front seats, it upgrades the front passenger's seat to the same 10-way power adjustment the driver's seat has, and includes remote engine start, lane-keeping assist, adaptive cruise control with low speed follow, parking sensor and roof rails.

And finally, the entertainment package, which is an ultrawide 16-point-two inch screen for the rear seats connected to a DVD player with HDMI and wireless headsets.  It also adds a 115-volt power outlet, heated seats in the secon row and rear door sunshades.

Perhaps best of all, this year's MDX has moved a lot of functions to the touchscreen, which features haptic feedback, in theory allowing you to know you have selected the proper function without taking your eyes off the road. Where it succeeds is in thinning out the proliferation of buttons on the dashboard, which had become a major bad habit for Acura.

Despite the 10-horsepower drop from last year, the Acura continues to have more of a sports-like feel than competitors like the Lexus RX 350.  There's more cargo space in the back and the fuel economy boost puts the MDX at the head of its class.