October 15, 2014
What We Got
Three-row SUVs are one of the fastest-growing market segments for good reason. They provide maximum people-hauling capability with an attractive, versatile package. In other words, they act like minivans without being minivans.
With that in mind, the redesigned Acura MDX certainly piqued our interest. It's the best-selling model in Acura's lineup and has been for some time. Consider that it also earned an "A" rating and you understand why adding a 2014 Acura MDX to our long-term fleet made perfect sense.
The options list didn't cause us to lose much sleep. Acura models are available in a slim number of trim levels that encompass a wide variety of features. We ordered an MDX in Technology and Entertainment trim, a midpack level that adds three-zone climate control, blind-spot warning, DVD player and second-row heated seats. We also made sure to check the box for Acura's Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) for added versatility. Our tester, including destination fees, totaled $51,460.
Here's a sampling of how it fared over its one-year stint with our staff.
October 15, 2014
You already know about my recent 2014 Acura MDX road trip to Oregon to move my daughter off to college. You don't yet know about another trip I took the very next weekend to the high country of Utah.
The Oregon excursion took place on roads posted at 65-70 mph. There were a couple of mountain passes, but they only topped out at 4,500 feet or so. And they were generally over and done with quickly. Most of our time was spent well below 1,500 feet. There were three of us, plus clothes, pillows, bedding and the hardware of dorm living piled to the roof.
Last weekend's Utah blast took place on freeways posted at 75 and 80 mph. The entire trip was a steady climb up onto a plateau to our base of operations that sat above 5,000 feet. Once there we climbed a 9,800-foot pass to spend some time at an outdoor area that's nestled up at 8,600 feet. Five fully-formed adults were spread across the MDX's three rows, with our luggage piled on top of the folded unoccupied half of the third-row seat.
October 13, 2014
You may remember last week's college dorm move-in trip in our 2014 Acura MDX. On the way we paid a brief visit to my parents place because they live nearby.
Their house sits atop a hill on the Oregon coast, and their quarter-mile long driveway is exceptionally steep, well over ten percent for at least half the distance. And it's sinuous, too. Depending on the season it could be wet or snow-covered, but even when it's dry there's never enough engine braking in anything but first gear. Even then most cars require a few dabs at the brakes at key points.
But the MDX won't let me downshift below second gear here, even at speeds that are more than low enough to steer well clear of the redline. Here I am at just 1,000 rpm at 7 mph in second having no luck at all. I tried flicking the downshift paddle in D-mode, I tried again (and again) in Sport mode. No luck.
October 3, 2014
September was good to our 2014 Acura MDX, with over 3,200 miles added to its odometer. By now the data is pretty mature. Like a late-season batting average, it's hard to move the needle much at this stage.
Indeed the best and worst tanks didn't change. No new range records were set. Nevertheless, this month's mix of city and highway miles was accrued at an average of 21.8 mpg, and that was enough to nudge the lifetime fuel economy average of the MDX up from 20.5 to 20.7 mpg.
Excluding the decimal point in the style of EPA window stickers, that figure rounds to 21 mpg.
Can you guess the EPA combined rating that's assigned to our AWD-equipped 2014 Acura MDX?
September 29, 2014
This week we're using our 2014 Acura MDX to move our daughter to her dorm at the University of Oregon in Eugene. She's a freshman and this will be the first time she's lived away from home, so she packed a lot.
I'm not sure if it will all fit in her dorm room, but it fit in the MDX...barely. We stuffed it from floor to ceiling, and we folded the 60-percent portion of the middle seat down and piled that to the headliner, too. The result was a useless windshield mirror and just enough remaining room for three of us.
Good thing the door-mounted mirrors are decent-sized. And the rearview camera was an absolute necessity for backing up.
September 25, 2014
The Acura MDX has long been the driver's SUV. With an energetic engine, direct steering and suspension designed for people who know the difference between a damper and a hamper, the MDX was deemed just a tad too enthusiastic for the Pampers crowd. So the 2014 Acura MDX is softer, quieter and more comfy.
It's still got sauce, though, kicking out 290 horsepower and 267 pound-feet of torque. So, we took it to the track to see if it's still got the moves.
September 24, 2014
The "Maintenance Due Soon" warning appeared in the instrument panel in our 2014 Acura MDX for the third time just as the odometer was about to hit 22,000 miles. We could have waited until service was required, but the SUV was about to go on a 2,000-mile road trip and we didn't want to travel on used oil.
September 22, 2014
If you don't live in Southern California, you may not have noticed, but we're having a bit of a heat wave. Triple-digits-in-the-day, too-hot-to-even-bother-going-to-the-beach, if-you-need-me-I'll-be-in-a-kiddie-pool-full-of-ice hot.
Our 2014 Acura MDX doesn't play well with this kind of weather.
September 10, 2014
Nearly 2,000 miles were added last month to the odometer of our 2014 Acura MDX long-term test vehicle. But despite the thousands of miles driven, the Acura's monthly fuel-economy numbers hardly budged.
August 28, 2014
Yeah, yeah, another stuff-in-the-cargo-area post. But bear with me. Our long-term 2014 Acura MDX was actually the third vehicle I attempted to transport said stuff. Third! The MDX succeeded where other vehicles in our fleet did not (or had only partial success).
Three times, charms, and all that.
August 27, 2014
Even though I feel tiny when driving alone in the gigantic 2014 Acura MDX, I can appreciate its appeal. When I have passengers, they are always happy.
I had one of those weekends with lots of errands and fun. The Acura MDX was a great companion. From a trip to the mall to dinner at a fancy restaurant, it served us well.
August 20, 2014
Not long ago I gave our long-term Nissan Rogue credit for having vents for the rear seat occupants. It was a small nod to a small, but useful feature. Of course, not long after that, it was reported that although the vents are indeed present they don't actually cool the rear compartment very well.
August 14, 2014
We introduced our 2014 Acura MDX to the fleet on October 15 of 2013. On August 9 of 2014, almost 10 months later exactly, we crossed 20,000 miles. That's two months ahead of schedule. Turns out spacious, quiet, comfy, nice-to-drive three-row SUVs get a lot of use...
August 11, 2014
At first glance, the control layout in our 2014 Acura MDX looks like it would be easy to use. Just look at the size of that dial, it's huge.
August 8, 2014
Our 2014 Acura MDX joins a long list of cars that were seemingly developed by engineers and designers that are unaware of the concept of sunrise and sunset. Funny thing, because these solar events occur daily. And they happen during commuting hours, a time when most cars and their bleary-eyed drivers are on the road.
Interstate 5 runs north and south, so I had the visor flopped to the side for extended periods on both legs of my recent trip to visit the University of Oregon. Our MDX lacks any sort of sliding flap or a telescopic arm, so I was forced to improvise.
August 5, 2014
We scored some personal bests in our 2014 Acura MDX this month. A road trip to Oregon by our Director of Vehicle Testing, Dan Edmunds, included several long stretches that delivered the record numbers.
August 1, 2014
Sharing test cars has it challenges. Occasionally another staffer will turn on or off a feature or system and leave you scratching your head.
Such was the case with the blind-spot system in our long-term 2014 Acura MDX. I immediately noticed the static illuminated light in the MDX's gauge cluster, but wasn't sure if that meant the system was broken or turned off.
July 30, 2014
Some months back I had nice things to say about the so-called jewel-eye headlights on our 2014 Acura MDX. But the pictures didn't really illustrate how far the high beams penetrate down the road because I made the comparison on a treeless desert backdrop. I could see the difference from the driver seat, but it didn't come across on the small screen.
The worth of the low beam and high beam headlights grabbed my attention once again on this most recent Oregon trip, but this time the countless trees we drove past made it easier to illustrate my point.
July 29, 2014
This trip to Oregon in our long-term 2014 Acura MDX AWD wasn't a vacation, really. My eldest daughter is heading off to college this fall, and she needed to attend a two-day introDUCKtion program to meet her advisor, sign up for classes and see how much space she'll have in her dorm room at the University of Oregon.
I'll share a few new observations I made during the drive in a couple of posts to come, but the thing that really stuck out was the range and fuel economy. We managed to wring 541 miles out of one tank at 29.9 mpg. Not bad at all considering its 27-mpg highway rating.
July 16, 2014
Now that first-half sales numbers are in for the auto industry, it gives the top sellers some bragging rights. In the case of the 2014 Acura MDX it remains the best-selling, three-row luxury SUV in the U.S.
In fact, Acura is proud to point out that the MDX is actually the best-selling, three-row luxury SUV of all time. That translates to 692,710 MDXs sold since it was introduced in 2000.
July 15, 2014
Okay, what's pictured above is actually our long-term 2014 Acura MDX's blind spot indicator and not the collision alert indicator, but bear with me.
The collision alert sounds an audio alert and flashes "BRAKE!" in the instrument cluster when it thinks you're about to crash.
Key word there: thinks.
July 11, 2014
Our 2014 Acura MDX saw holiday duty this past weekend. It ferried seven of us to a local Fourth of July fireworks show, then took three of us on a trip up the coast and to an auto museum. And you're not going to believe this, but it also handled a trip to the mall and supermarket. Road trips and shopping excursions are typically where a crossover SUV proves its worth. And the MDX did itself proud.
July 03, 2014
I found a few ants in my house the other day. This happens every summer. They're looking for water or something. It completely freaked me out and I went on a cleaning frenzy.
July 2, 2014
We ran a little over 1,000 miles of mixed driving in our 2014 Acura MDX during the month of June, averaging 19.33 mile per gallon.
June 26, 2014
Of course I understand that our 2014 Acura MDX isn't a pet. The MDX doesn't shed, clamor for attention, or get jealous if I play with another MDX. But like my beloved dog, it does have a personality. In my opinion at least. The best way to describe the MDX's personality is obedient.
June 25, 2014
You already know the 2014 Acura MDX, like our long-termer, earned top scores from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
June 18, 2014
Since our long-term 2014 Acura MDX joined our fleet in late September we've driven this crossover 15,000 miles.
Problems? Not one.
June 16, 2014
It was my prized possession when I was 12, a brand-new 20-inch 1982 Redline Proline. It was chrome just like Stu Thomsen's and I special-ordered black Tuff Wheels, just like the ones R.L. Osborne used.
Then, in 1995, in one of my more foolish moments, I tossed its rusty remains in a dumpster. I still can't believe I was that stupid. Regret doesn't begin to cover it.
June 11, 2014
Cameron and I recently dropped off our long-term 2014 Acura MDX at Santa Monica Acura for its second regular service appointment. Our MDX had already been to this dealership for its first service and a recall. We arrived at the dealership in the afternoon, and picked up the MDX the following morning. Other than having to wait about 10 minutes or so to have the MDX brought around to us, the service appointment went fine.
The MDX was asking for a "B16" service. Here is what that included:
June 6, 2014
It was a busy month for our 2014 Acura MDX, with more than 4,000 miles added to the odometer in May alone. Mike Monticello's road trip to Oregon accounted for a significant portion of those miles, and John Adolph borrowed it for an excursion to Nevada. How did thousands of miles of open highway affect the MDX's overall average mpg?
June 5, 2014
While on a recent road trip in northwestern Nevada we got caught in some heavy rain and hail, which wasn't that big of a deal. Problem was that our friends live on a remote ranch in the middle of alfalfa fields that were prehistorically ocean floor. The silt and sand across the valley is micro fine, and doesn't drain well. Also, the unpaved road varies from being compact and smooth as glass, or loose and mucky as concrete mix.
The first puddle wasn't that wide or particularly deep, but the surface underneath was slick enough to engage the traction control system. This slowed the vehicle considerably, and the momentum we had was decreasing. We made it out without getting stuck, but the next puddle needed a different technique.
June 4, 2014
Over the weekend I was able to take our long-term 2014 Acura MDX on a road trip to visit friends in Northwestern Nevada, with stops along CA HWY 395 at Mono Lake and June Lake.
Most of the time we had two adults, a 60-pound dog, a cooler, and luggage. On the long stretches we had both the second and third rows folded down, which gave us more cargo room than we needed. I'm proud of my travel gear Tetris skills, but when every square inch is crammed, visibility suffers. This was not the case. I could see out the back and things were easy to access.
June 3, 2014
Our long-term 2014 Acura MDX SH-AWD is hungry for a checkup. On my way home from the office, a message popped up warning me that the Oil Life had reached 15%. Since then, every time the vehicle was restarted the message would appear with a healthy "bing" and the letter code "B16". As Dan Edmunds pointed out before, Acura's Maintenance Minder system "monitors our driving behavior and adjusts the service intervals accordingly"
Broken down, B16 includes -
May 30, 2014
Early Monday morning I was back in the 2014 Acura MDX for the slog down Interstate 5 South from Eugene, Oregon to Santa Monica, California. I was sad to leave Oregon.
I'm not sure why I didn't think to do this before, but when the driver's window made the occasional whistling sound as it had on the trip up, I pushed out on the window, just to see how it would affect things. Doing so eliminated the noise. Clearly this is something that could be fixed.
May 29, 2014
After a Saturday spent walking all around Eugene, Oregon with a friend (great little city, by the way), on Sunday it was off to Bend in the 2014 Acura MDX to go mountain biking with another friend.
My buddy in Bend told me I'd enjoy the drive, and he was spot-on. From Eugene you take Route 126 slightly north, but mostly west as it follows the McKenzie River. Classic woodsy, river scenery. And hardly any traffic.
There's a cutover on Route 242 to Bend, but it's closed in winter due to snow. Apparently it won't open up until June or maybe July.
May 28, 2014
I'm not sure how this is possible, but I've lived in southern California for 14 years and I've only been to Oregon once. And that was simply passing through, driving a Subaru WRX down from a press launch in Vancouver, Canada.
Clearly this needed to be rectified. So I decided to take a four-day weekend and head north to visit a friend in Eugene and another in Bend. I called it my Trees and Trails Tour. We don't have much in the way of trees down here in SoCal, and I've heard the mountain biking is spectacular in Bend. I aimed to find out.
I loaded up my mountain bike and gear into our long-term 2014 Acura MDX and hit the road.
May 20, 2014
Being a big fan of Honda and Acura (I've spent a fair amount of time in both), I was surprised by the navigation display offered in the 2014 Acura MDX , and not in a good way. The display seems washed out to me, the same way a television might look if somebody goes through the menu system and increases the brightness well past the medium mark. It is especially easy to notice because of the closeness to the super sharp multi-use display, which sits just a few inches below the navigation screen.
It didn't matter if the navigation system was in day or night mode, being used for navigation or as the display for the back-up camera. It still looked hazy.
May 9, 2014
The Integrated Dynamics System button on our 2014 Acura MDX changes the steering weight and throttle response as well as adjusting the torque distribution to the wheels while cornering. It does all this across three modes: Comfort, Normal and Sport.
May 6, 2014
We put 995 miles on our 2014 Acura MDX in April. With a 21.4 mpg average over those miles, the MDX equaled its EPA estimate for combined driving. We set no high or low mpg milestones last month but did increase the MDX's lifetime average mpg from 19.1 to 19.3 mpg.
April 29, 2014
This will sound strange but I actually like when our L.A. freeways are only moving about 40 mph. They are usually moving much slower and as soon as they open up instant stupidity sets in. Every driver jumps to any lane that is moving fractionally faster. This is when accidents happen. And this is when I appreciate the Blind Spot Information system in our long-term 2014 Acura MDX.
April 28, 2014
In an effort to bring some spring cheerfulness to my house, I hopped in our 2014 Acura MDX and went shopping for some new fun stuff. I ended buying some new pillows for the couches, some Easter tchotchke, fresh new candles, etc.
I dropped the third row in the MDX and piled in my bags. But I didn't really need to. With the third row in place, there is still plenty of space back there and my bags weren't huge. But the seats were easy to fold over, so I did.
April 25, 2014
There's my beloved Integra (in need of a bath) parked behind our long-term 2014 Acura MDX.
Why Acura discontinued the Integra is beyond me. Sure, it was in need of an update. But the RSX and ILX have not filled its shoes. Acura doesn't have anything in its current lineup that has the cult status of the Integra. Maybe the NSX when it launches, but we'll see.
April 18, 2014
We're now at the halfway mark for a long-term test of our 2014 Acura MDX. For almost each vehicle in our fleet, we aim to rack up at least 20,000 miles in a one-year stay. We started our MDX test back in October 2013, so we should be on track.
So far, our MDX has been rock-solid and earned plenty of favorable comments.
April 17, 2014
I really like our 2014 Acura MDX. It's versatile, enjoyable to drive and equipped with a nice selection of convenience and luxury-oriented features. If I were shopping for a three-row luxury crossover SUV, it would be very high on my consideration list.
But it's not the only one on the list.
April 15, 2014
Pop the hood of our 2014 Acura MDX and you'll find a rather unassuming plastic cover over the 3.5-liter V6 engine. It might as well have "Generic V6 by Kirkland" stamped on it. But what lies underneath is actually one of the more appealing engines in the three-row crossover segment.
April 11, 2014
We've already used our 2014 Acura MDX for a couple of road trips, most recently on a trip to Mammoth. So far we've only had good things to say. I've collected a few thoughts as well on why I like I like driving our MDX on long hauls.
April 9, 2014
There are many aspects to our 2014 Acura MDX that I enjoy, but one of the more basic happens to be its overall size. It's not too small and it's not too big. As three-row crossover SUVs go, this one seems just right to me.
October 15, 2013
The midsize luxury SUV segment is a leather-lined battlefield. Every entrant in this segment is primped, preened, swathed in elegant materials and overstuffed with technology. Yet even in this field, the 2014 Acura MDX stands out.
Though it certainly looks similar to the three-row crossover it replaces, the 2014 MDX is all new. Long a favorite of people who really enjoy driving but need three rows, the redesign brought weight savings (275 pounds), a less powerful and smaller V6 and electric-assist power steering. It's also faster, more fuel-efficient, far quieter and draws from the deep pool of RLX technology to bring things like LED headlights into suburban garages.
And now it's in our garage. For the next 12 months and 20,000 miles, not only does our new long-term 2014 Acura MDX AWD have to live up to a competitive segment, but to the expectations Acura set with this car years ago.