2014 Acura MDX AWD Long-Term Road Test: Introduction
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.
What We Got
Entry into the world of luxury crossovers doesn't come cheap, but it does come with a lot of toys. Our 2014 Acura MDX comes standard with Jewel Eye LED headlights, a multiview rearview camera, automatic three-zone climate control, heated front seats, push-button start, a power tailgate, Bluetooth, USB input and a suite of driving personalization options that Acura calls IDS. This Integrated Dynamics System tailors the steering weight among Normal, Sport and a very light Comfort mode. Sport mode not only enhances steering feel but sharpens the throttle and, on AWD cars, sends more power to the outside wheels during hard cornering.
While there are a number of different styles for the 2014 MDX, there is only one engine available for Acura's big three-row SUV: a 290-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 hooked up to a six-speed automatic transmission. This combination can be had in either front-wheel drive or like ours, with Super Handling all-wheel drive (SH-AWD). Making that jump ups the price of the MDX from $43,185 to $45,185.
But as usual, we didn't simply get the base car, add all-wheel drive and call it good. Our 2014 Acura MDX has the Technology and Entertainment packages, which boost the as-tested price to $51,460 including an $895 destination fee.
The Technology package includes navigation with voice recognition and real-time traffic, an 11-speaker ELS audio system, HD radio, GPS-linked automatic climate control, blind spot monitoring, LED puddle lamps and rain-sensing wipers. The Entertainment package lumps together a DVD player and 9-inch display with wireless headsets for the rear, a 115-volt power outlet, heated second-row seats and rear door sunshades.
These options are certainly gravy on top of an already full plate, but in this car, they warranted further testing. There was no negotiating on the price either, as the vehicle was provided by Acura.
Why We Got It
The 2014 Acura MDX is running a hot streak. Not only did it receive an "A" rating, but it bested the 2013 Lexus RX 350 F Sport AWD and the 2014 Infiniti QX60 AWD in our luxury crossover comparison test. During that test we said, "Since it came out in 2001, the Acura MDX has been exactly what you'd think the luxury arm of Honda would build: a family-friendly SUV with a frisky personality." Though we certainly appreciated its personality, it wasn't just the Acura's drivable nature that put it in the winner's circle. With a ton of cargo room, a fully flat load floor and exceptionally easy-to-use folding seats, the Acura won us over with the "U" aspect of the SUV equation, too.
At the end of the day we wrote, "The Acura MDX was the one we'd most like to spend time in. It makes daily chores feel much less like, well, chores."
Now we're going to see if that rings true after a year and roughly 20,000 miles behind the wheel. Follow along on the long-term road test page for daily updates on our 2014 Acura MDX and the rest of our fleet.
Best MPG: 20.1
Worst MPG: 18.2
Average MPG over 611 miles: 19.2
The manufacturer provided Edmunds this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.