Full 2014 Acura MDX Review
What's New for 2014
The Acura MDX has been completely redesigned for 2014. Highlights include improved fuel economy, a higher-quality and quieter interior, and a new control interface.
The 2014 Acura MDX illustrates the benefits of smart and selective evolution. The previous generation was a success, popular with buyers who enjoyed this midsize luxury crossover SUV's sporty performance and luxurious nature. Still, there's always room for improvement, and canny upgrades have produced an even more refined adaptation, poised to achieve even broader appeal.
Last year's MDX shared its platform with the Honda Pilot and previous-generation Odyssey. For 2014, the crossover gets a new platform that offers a slight increase in interior room. Within the MDX's cabin are useful new features, such as a second row that slides forward with the touch of a button to facilitate third-row access. A 7-inch touchscreen largely replaces the endless array of buttons that dominated the center stack of previous models, and this upgrade gives the dash a cleaner, more modern look.
There's a new 3.5-liter V6 under the hood, and though it offers 10 less horsepower than the 3.7-liter it replaces, it boasts more low-end torque thanks to direct fuel injection technology. Acura says the 2014 MDX gets from zero to 60 mph half a second quicker than last year's model, due largely to a 275-pound curb weight reduction. The new engine brings fuel economy gains, too, and AWD models in particular offer a 17 percent improvement in combined mpg. And for the first time ever, Acura's midsize crossover is also available with two-wheel drive, which gives buyers in mild climates a less expensive (and more fuel-efficient) entry point into MDX ownership.
The MDX's talents are formidable, but it faces strong competition. The 2014 Buick Enclave is roomier and less expensive, but falls short of the Acura in refinement and handling. The 2014 BMW X5 is more performance-oriented, but it also represents a significant step up in price. Infiniti's QX60 and Lincoln's MKT are solid picks, but neither is as enjoyable to drive as the MDX. With its pleasant handling and ride dynamics and generous feature content, the highly evolved 2014 Acura MDX earns our recommendation for drivers seeking a three-row crossover that hits the sweet spot when it comes to driver engagement, luxury and value.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2014 Acura MDX is a midsize luxury SUV that seats seven. It is offered in one well-appointed trim level with progressive add-on packages.
Standard features include 18-inch wheels, automatic LED headlamps, heated mirrors, a power liftgate, a sunroof, rear privacy glass, keyless entry/ignition, heated eight-way power front seats (with driver power lumbar), driver memory settings, a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, leather upholstery, tri-zone automatic climate control and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. Electronics features include twin console displays (7-inch touchscreen and 8-inch information), a multi-angle rearview camera, Bluetooth phone connectivity, and an eight-speaker sound system with a CD player, an iPod/USB interface, a Pandora radio interface and satellite radio.
The Technology package adds a navigation system, voice controls (navigation and audio), Bluetooth audio connectivity, AcuraLink (with the Aha smartphone app interface) and a 10-speaker Acura/ELS surround-sound audio system with HD radio. Also included with this package are 19-inch alloy wheels; rain-sensing wipers; rear-door keyless entry; GPS-linked and solar-sensing climate control; and lane departure warning, blind spot warning and forward collision warning systems.
The Technology and Entertainment package adds a 115-volt household-style power outlet, heated rear seats, rear-door window sunshades, a rear-seat DVD entertainment system with a 9-inch screen, and an additional speaker for the surround-sound audio system.
The Advance and Entertainment package builds on the above features with roof rails, front and rear parking sensors, remote start, auto-dimming sideview mirrors, upgraded leather upholstery, ventilated front seats, a collision mitigation braking system, lane-keeping assist, adaptive cruise control, an eight-way power front passenger seat (with power lumbar) and an upgraded rear-seat entertainment system with a 16.2-inch screen, two additional speakers and an HDMI input.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2014 Acura MDX is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 that produces 290 hp and 267 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive are standard, and all-wheel drive is available as an option.
EPA-estimated fuel economy with front-wheel drive is 20 mpg city/28 mpg highway and 23 mpg combined, while the AWD version rates 18/27/21. Properly equipped, the MDX can tow up to 5,000 pounds.
Standard safety equipment for the 2014 Acura MDX includes antilock disc brakes, front-seat side airbags, side curtain airbags, a driver's knee airbag, active front head restraints and traction and stability control. A multi-angle rearview camera is also standard, and AWD models come with a stabilizing feature for trailer towing.
Optional safety features include lane-departure and blind-spot warning systems. A forward collision warning system is also available, and it works by warning the driver of a possible collision with auditory and visual alerts. The MDX is also offered with collision mitigation braking, which automatically applies the brakes to prevent or mitigate an impending collision. A lane-keeping assist system is available as well, and it provides automatic steering assistance to keep the MDX in its lane.
Interior Design and Special Features
The MDX's interior is driver-focused, with a pleasantly thick, leather-wrapped steering wheel and easy-to-read gauges. Materials quality is high grade, a step up from last year's model. The center stack has been simplified, with a cleaner layout and two display screens that largely replace the previous generation's seemingly endless ocean of buttons. Overall, the cabin is a pleasant and luxurious place in which to spend time.
Using the navigation system is simple and intuitive, as Acura allows you to look up destinations by using the central control dial, a new 7-inch touchscreen interface (mounted below the 8-inch nav screen) or an enhanced voice recognition system. The touchscreen provides both haptic and audible feedback, and in our experience, this helps you enter a destination more quickly.
Second-row seats now slide fore and aft, with an adjustment range of 5.9 inches, for added flexibility. Rear legroom is reasonably generous. The one disappointment is the front seats' minimal adjustability. Relative to other models in this segment, they offer only basic adjustments.
The third row is best suited for kids, but adults should be OK back there on short trips. Accessing the third row is a breeze, thanks to power-sliding second-row seats that slide forward with the touch of a button.
With 15.8 cubic feet of space behind its third row, the MDX trails its competition in cargo room when all three rows are in use. However, when you fold the second and third rows, cargo capacity becomes quite generous, with 90.9 cubic feet of room available for luggage and belongings.
The 2014 Acura MDX remains one of the more enjoyable luxury crossovers to drive. Relative to the previous generation, the steering is now lighter in low-speed situations and gives this midsize luxury SUV a more confident feel on the open road. The 2014 model also has a more forgiving, less busy ride quality than previous models.
Though the current V6 engine offers slightly less power than the old V6, Acura claims that the 2014 MDX is actually a bit quicker than its predecessor. We have yet to instrument-test the new MDX, but during our initial drive, we found the acceleration brisk enough and feel that most buyers will be happy with this luxury crossover SUV's performance. Also, Acura has taken measures to reduce engine noise, and as a result, the cabin remains tranquil in most situations.