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2022 Acura MDX: What's It Like to Live With?

After 12,000 miles, is the MDX as comfortable as we originally thought?

Acura MDX 2022
Miles DrivenAverage MPG
13,68118.6

Latest Highlights (updated 05/20/22)

  • So what was the issue with our noisy steering column?
  • The MDX's selectable suspension settings are not what they appear to be
  • Our thoughts on MDX comfort
  • Life average fuel economy continues to improve, but we're still well under EPA estimates


What We Bought and Why

by Jonathan Elfalan, Senior Manager, Vehicle Testing

Our test vehicle: 2022 Acura MDX SH-AWD Advance
Base MSRP: $46,900
MSRP as tested: $62,175

When it comes to family-friendly transportation, SUVs are still the popular choice. The Acura MDX has been a consistently strong player in the luxury SUV segment due to an attractive mix of accommodations, features and affordability. The previous third-generation MDX currently ranks second among all three-row midsize luxury SUVs Edmunds has rated to date. This all-new model promises to be better in almost every way.

The new MDX rides on an all-new platform, the stiffest SUV platform that Acura says it's created to date. It also gains a new double-wishbone front and multilink rear suspension. And together they help create a better-handling and more comfortable-riding vehicle. And speaking of comfort, there's more space in both the front and third rows, and the cabin features richer materials, including premium Milano leather and open-pore wood. This is the level of luxury Acura should've offered from the beginning.

What Did We Get?
The new MDX comes standard with front-wheel drive and is available in the usual range of Acura trims: base, Technology package, A-Spec package and Advance package. And for the first time Acura will be offering an even more performance-focused Type S model powered by a 355-horsepower turbocharged V6 — we likey.

Since the Type S was not yet available when it came time to order our MDX, we went for the next best configuration: the fully loaded Advance package trim with Liquid Carbon Metallic exterior paint and an Espresso brown leather interior. The Advance trim comes standard with Acura's Super Handling All-Wheel Drive system (SH-AWD is a $2,000 option otherwise), which helps to improve the MDX's agility in dry conditions as much as it provides added stability and boosts the driver's confidence when road grip is in scarce supply.

Acura bundles options into trim levels, leaving only the accessories, mostly, as à la carte items. While this helps simplify the configuration process, it also means you might have to jump to a higher trim if you want a specific feature. We'd make that near $14K jump up the trim ladder primarily for the 360-degree surround-view camera system, which makes it really easy to maneuver through tight spaces, and the ultra-comfy 16-way adjustable heated and ventilated front seats. But at the Advance package level, you also get things like a fantastic 16-speaker premium ELS audio system, a hands-free foot-operated power liftgate, a 10.5-inch head-up display and 20-inch wheels, just to name the highlights.

If none of the features above are on your must-have list, the new MDX comes with a surprising amount of standard equipment even on the base trim. Its 290-horsepower direct-injected V6, for instance, is the standard engine — the 10-speed automatic transmission is also standard. You get a panoramic moonroof, 19-inch wheels, keyless entry and ignition, a power liftgate, heated front seats, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity, a large 12.3-inch central display with touchpad controller, and a full suite of the latest advanced driving aids including adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assist and rear cross-traffic assist. That's a lot of stuff, and more than most of its pricier competitors offer.

Why Did We Get It?
With all the improvements Acura has made to create this new MDX, it's the best three-row midsize SUV it's made to date (and the currently the best-seller in its segment). The MDX has always offered a good mix of performance, features and comfort for the money, but it has fallen short of our top spot for a few reasons.

One of those reasons was an inherently problematic nine-speed automatic transmission. That transmission has been replaced by a new 10-speed automatic transmission, which we assume won't share the clunky characteristics of its predecessor. The other reason: It lacked the more upmarket interior feel that many of its competitors offered. There was little the previous MDX did to separate itself from its mainstream counterpart, the Honda Pilot. This new MDX is convincingly more luxurious, though we are admittedly suckers for anything trimmed with open-pore wood.

Beyond the aesthetics, we're also looking forward to seeing how much of a difference the stiffer body structure and new double-wishbone suspension makes over the long haul. We're also excited to check out the new fourth-generation SH-AWD system, which should make the MDX more responsive and agile by diverting more power to the wheels that need it.

Has Acura finally done enough with the MDX to win us over? We're going to find out over this next year.

The manufacturer provided this vehicle for the purpose of evaluation.


2022 Acura MDX: Real-World Fuel Economy

The 2022 Acura MDX retains the V6 engine of the previous generation, but it gains an extra gear in its automatic transmission to make it an even 10 speeds. Despite that extra gear, the MDX gives up 1 mpg in both its EPA highway and combined estimates. We're curious how this plays out in the real world and will keep you updated here.

Average lifetime mpg: 18.6
EPA mpg rating: 21 combined ( 19 city / 25 highway )
Best fill mpg: 23.8
Best range (miles): 388.1
Current odometer: 13,681

With a fair amount of miles and fill ups under our belts, including some highway-only tanks, we've come to realize that the MDX just isn't able to hit its EPA mpg estimates. Our best tank still stands at an underwhelming 23.8 mpg, below the MDX's highway estimate of 25 mpg. And I know that tank was achieved on the highway and without an passengers on board. We've seen accounts of other MDX owners online that have experienced the same. — Jonathan Elfalan, senior manager, vehicle testing

A couple modest road trips right of the bat got us off to a decent start. But now with more short trips around town, we're beginning to see a dip in our lifetime average and have dropped below the EPA city estimate. It's a good thing this MDX is a willing long-distance traveler. — Jonathan Elfalan, senior manager, vehicle testing


2022 Acura MDX: Maintenance

When it comes to maintenance, the MDX helps keep you on top of things with an onboard maintenance minder. The maintenance minder tells us what kind of service our MDX needs based on our driving habits and distance traveled. That aside, Acura recommends a yearly oil change if no maintenance notifications pop up within that timeframe. Below is our service experence with the MDX.

Maintenance Summary

Total routine maintenance costs $121.64
Additional maintenance costs  
Warranty repairs 1
Non-warranty repairs  
Scheduled dealer visits 1
Unscheduled dealer visits  
Days out of service 1.5
Breakdowns stranding driver  
Total body repair costs  

We alerted you to the groaning noise our MDX’s steering wheel made when retracting and protracting; and that distinctly unhealthy noise prompted us to take the SUV to an Acura dealer in Tustin for inspection. I kept the MDX in easy-exit mode (which, as Mike described below, moves the steering wheel and seat in and out for a more generous entry and exit) for show-and-tell purposes.

I started up the MDX for our service adviser, Cristian, and he called over a tech so we could go through the process again. That was all it took to get the vehicle checked in to the service bay. Five hours later, we got the news: The MDX needed a new steering column because the motor that powered the protracting and retracting motion was failing.

Cristian said this was the first repair of this nature he had seen on this generation, though it was occasionally a problem on 2019 and 2020 Acura SUVs. He also said they used to have problems with motors on seats and that was a much heftier repair (presumably because it's a larger piece and because there are more motors to replace). The dealer was able to overnight the steering column and install it by end of day, putting the MDX out of commission for about 36 hours. I was set up with a loaner car (a 2022 ILX with 130 miles on it), which helped ease that pain point considerably.

The repair was covered by our warranty, so the only cost was our time. — Jake Sundstrom, editorial assistant

I started the MDX this evening and was greeted with a loud groan as the steering column extended toward me. It had been in easy-exit mode, where the seat and wheel both slide away from the driver when the car shuts off. Otherwise, I may not have noticed it right away. — Mike Schmidt, senior manager, vehicle testing operations

"Our first maintenance notification popped up just after we passed 6,000 miles. It was an A1 service, which recommends the basics: an engine oil and filter change, tire rotation and multi-point inspection. Total cost of the service came out to $121.64 and didn't reveal any surprises." — Jonathan Elfalan, senior manager, vehicle testing

Items we're keeping an eye on

"Some weird 'Brake System Error' popped up (see photo below). I drove around the parking lot to test it out to make sure it didn't have any issues, then reparked the car and then restarted it. Poof! The alert is magically gone. Still, I'd like to get this checked out at some point. Those things don't just pop up ... unless electronic gremlins. Which is entirely possible." — Rex Tokeshi-Torres, vehicle test technician

Recalls performed on this vehicle

See all recalls on the 2022 Acura MDX


2022 Acura MDX: Performance

"The MDX's standard engine is a 3.5-liter V6 engine that outputs 290 horsepower and 267 pound-feet of torque. Sounds decent on paper and, frankly, at wide-open-throttle, too, but it doesn't pack as big a punch as many of its competitors do.

The MDX's steering and handling are its best dynamic qualities. Accurate and natural-feeling steering feels perfectly tuned for everything from curvy roads to long, straight hauls on the interstates. Its Super Handling All-Wheel Drive helps with wet-weather traction yet allows the MDX to rail through turns like an SUV half its size.

Here's how this kind of performance comes into play in the day-to-day."

Logbook Highlights

The MDX's lack of turbocharging in standard spec (only the Type S is turbocharged) sticks out like the proverbial sore thumb in this day and age. Turbocharging is so commonplace now that you really feel the absence of that extra help at low engine speeds. In the standard MDX, the naturally aspirated 3.5-liter V6 needs a lot of revs to produce meaningful push, which means that hitting openings in traffic requires pressing the gas pedal down quite a ways, hoping the 10-speed automatic downshifts in time, and then hoping you don't have to lift off because you got more power than you needed. It's an imprecise tool, whereas the smaller and cheaper Acura RDX, for example, with its standard turbocharged engine, enables you to press lightly on the gas and squirt forward on a wave of low-end turbo torque. More to the point, the MDX's European rivals are pretty much all turbocharged, too. With the looming EV revolution, all gasoline engines are about to be dinosaurs, but at least the turbo ones can provide easy thrust without dramatic downshifts and engine-revving. In this respect, the new MDX frankly just feels old. — Josh Sadlier, director, content strategy

"An electronically adjustable or adaptive suspension is becoming more common nowadays. Many luxury SUVs are equipped with them to offer a way to dial in a softer ride on a bumpy road or firm up the handling for a more spirited driving experience. Our MDX's Integrated Dynamics System allows drivers to choose from a number of preset drive modes that alter different aspects of the vehicle to suit various roads conditions or driving moods. There's also an Individual setting to mix and match your own preferences. One of the settings you can play with is "suspension" which offers "comfort", "normal" and "sport" modes, leading someone to believe the MDX has an adaptive suspension. Only, it doesn't (though the MDX Type-S does). What this setting does is alter the behavior of the Super-Handling All-Wheel-Drive system which affects the handling of the car in the way it shunts power between wheels, but has nothing to do with ride comfort.

All that said, the MDX's passive amplitude reactive dampers offer a pretty superb balance of comfort and performance. We don't dislike the suspension, we'd just prefer if the system represented its functions more accurately." — Jonathan Elfalan, director, vehicle testing


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2022 Acura MDX: Comfort

If there's anything that should be a requirement of any luxury SUV, it's comfort. Our initial impression of the MDX is it is more than up to that task. But just like new love, sometimes your feelings can change over time, or in this case, distance. Here is our honest account of the MDX and the comfort it provides.

Logbook Highlights

"When I told Car Czar Mike Schmidt that I'd like some wheels to get to Vegas, he quickly offered up the Acura MDX. It's not the most exciting car in the fleet, but after a few weeks in our Mustang GT 500 — which included a drive from LA to San Luis Obispo — I was ready for something with a little more seat and suspension cushion. Man, did the MDX deliver.

First, the front seats are so comfortable that I suspect that Acura must have cut a backroom deal with Nissan and snuck their Zero Gravity seats [link to https://www.nissanusa.com/experience-nissan/news-and-events/zero-gravity-seats.html] into the MDX. The seats strike an ideal balance between being supportive and cozy, and there are a solid number of adjustments so you can dial in just the right configuration. It also helps that the upholstery is buttery smooth leather. I'm sure that the base MDX with premium vinyl feels just fine, but there really isn't a substitute for a high-quality example of the real stuff.

The ride is similarly cushy. Whether traversing over broken pavement on the highway or pothole-ridden city streets, the MDX's suspension soaks up road irregularities without issue. That said, I don't know if my experience is applicable to all MDX variants, as our Advance model has adaptive dampers.*

Over the course of my 500+ mile round trip, the MDX delivered a consistently comfortable driving experience. Next time I go on a road trip, I'm sniping the keys to this big cruiser."

*Editor's Note: The dampers are not actually adaptive. More on this later.Cameron Rogers, Senior News Editor

I drove 600 miles in the MDX this weekend, going back and forth to Nevada. It was comfortable, quiet, and an excellent chariot for the road trip. While I wasn't a fan of the center-stack controls at first, they became second nature after just a few hours. The thing that stood out to me the most was just how quiet and isolated I felt inside. Even in heavy crosswinds, the MDX was settled and serene. It's an excellent pick for anyone that wants to take the family on long trips and be comfortable along the way. — Travis Langness, Reviews Editor


2022 Acura MDX: Technology

Acura has branded itself as a forward-thinking company when it comes to technology. A central piece of Acura's new tech in the MDX is the infotainment system utilizing Acura's True Touchpad Interface. The position of your finger on the rectangular touchpad corresponds directly to the position on the screen, like a remote touchscreen.

So far, it's proven to be a bit controversial; some don't mind it, others despise it. This section will talk about our experiences living with this new tech, as well as all the other ways Acura continues to push the envelope.

Logbook Highlights

It appears as though Acura is in a race with Lexus...to the bottom. This in in reference to the touchpad interface they both use for their infotainment systems. Quite simply, I think they're worst interfaces in the industry. They're difficult to use when you're parked and aggravating when you're driving because it's extraordinarily difficult to control when the car is in motion. Mercedes' MBUX system went with a swipe method to move between on-screen "buttons" and it works perfectly. Take notes, Acura and Lexus, because I consider the touchpad with its more computer mouse-like control, a dealbreaker. — Mark Takahashi, senior reviews editor

"On two different occasions this week (one in the city, one on the highway) the MDX did a very strange thing. The head-up display, which shows speed, navigation prompts, and driver-aid status, showed the speed limit as 100 miles per hour. I disconnected my iPhone to make sure it wasn't an apple CarPlay issue, and sure enough, the posted speed limit of 100 mph showed up on the HUD. There was no rhyme or reason to it, but I'm guessing that the MDX's cameras picked up a road sign, tried to read the speed limit, and clearly did it wrong — especially since the highest speed limit on any road in the United States is 85 mph." — Travis Langness, senior reviews editor

"After driving the MDX for a month, I finally — finally — was able to use the touchpad interface without tearing out what remains of my hair. It's far from the most intuitive way to interact with a infotainment system, and certain actions, like switching between radio presets, is still challenging.

Now, it's the malfunctioning smartphone interface that's drawing my ire. Roughly once out of every 20 times I start the car, the system won't properly connect to my smartphone. That means I can't play audio via Bluetooth or wireless Apple CarPlay (the virtual button for AC is greyed out and inaccessible). Plugging in my phone likewise does nothing either through AC or the USB audio input option. Every now and then I even get an unhelpful "Unfortunately, com.windriver.ipod has stopped." message. We'll need to have this looked at when we take our MDX in for next first service." — Cameron Rogers, senior news editor

"I am actually in the camp that doesn't hate the True Touchpad Interface. Yet. I have no issues navigating the menus and I like the little secondary side pad for the ancilliary menu. I would still prefer a standard touchscreen over this system, finger smudges and all. Some others have also complained about lag time, which is something I really haven't had an issue with so far." — Jonathan Elfalan, senior manager, vehicle testing

"I dig this wireless phone charger set up. The large, rubberized pad can accommodate some pretty large smartphones, and surprisingly the phone doesn't slide around even during dynamic driving. Wireless CarPlay allows this setup to feel sleek and well integrated.

"My one gripe so far, though, has to be switching between my phone media and radio stations. Often times the radio stations won't have any volume when first switching, so I'll have to switch bands (like from XM to FM and back) to get it to play. This was a constant issue on my 10-hour round trip drive up the California coast." — Jonathan Elfalan, senior manager, vehicle testing