RYAN ZUMMALLEN: When we first saw the redesigned 2022 Acura MDX, we knew it could be a big winner in class. So we brought one into our long-term test fleet. Now, we've been driving this MDX for a little over a year. And a lot of things have stood out, especially with regards to the interior, the technology, and, of course, the way that it drives.
But is it the winner we thought it could be? Yes and no. After all, you could also get an Audi Q7, a Lincoln Aviator, a Lexus RXL, and lots of other luxury three row SUVs. And while the MDX has some big splashy features, there are also a few that are flops. I'll tell you all about it right now.
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First things first, what is it? Well, this is a 2022 MDX with the advanced package. That's the highest level that we could get. Now, there's also an MDX type S, with 355 horsepower but it wasn't available at the time. No matter which MDX you get, every one comes with a bunch of goodies like a 12 inch center screen, wireless Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto, a power lift gate, and panoramic moon roof. Not bad for a starting price around $48,000.
Our car came to $62,000 because that advanced package comes with a lot of extra equipment. For instance, there are all kinds of upgraded interior and technology bits inside, as well as all wheel drive. If the advanced package sounds a little like overkill to you, between you and me, I'm going to save a little cheddar, cheddar cheese. You get a great package in the [INAUDIBLE], which is $4,000 less than this one.
Now, that is a stacked SUV right there. And to be clear, Edmunds didn't buy this car. Acura loaned it to us for testing purposes. So before we give it back, let's play a little game I like to call smash or pass. I mean, splash or flop.
The MDX is a family vehicle. And at the time that we're filming this, gas prices are skyrocketing. So it's important to talk about fuel economy. Front wheel drive versions of the MDX are EPA rated at 22 MPG combined. And all wheel drive versions like this one only lose one MPG to 21 combined. So we expected pretty good fuel mileage out of this thing, but we were mistaken. The best mileage we saw was 23.8 MPG, and that was on a tank with a lot of highway driving.
When you start to mix in city driving, the mileage drops significantly. And we ended our test with an average of 17.8 MPG. , Now that's a long way off from its EPA rating of 21 MPG combined, which makes fuel economy a flop.
Let's talk about the great in here, because later on we're going to talk about some things that aren't so great. So first off, this handling. The MDX is super sharp for a three row SUV and the steering wheel feels darty in a good way. The suspension also feels really tight for an SUV of this size, but it has the right amount of give, which helps it get around corners quick but comfortably.
And then finally, the all wheel drive system which, Acura calls super handling all wheel drive. Works by sending the right amount of torque to the rear wheel that needs it most. It's called torque vectoring. And the way that works is as you're going around a corner, especially if you stay on the gas, it helps the back end swing around, which is a really interesting feeling. And you can feel it actually working as you're going along.
Now, are you going to be keeping your foot on the gas all the time you're going around corners? Not really. But it is a very cool trick and also helps with traction. And for that reason, it's a splash.
So the MDX wows, but it stumbles just a little with some of the most basic stuff. For one thing, the engine lacks some punch. In fact, it's slower from 0 to 60 miles per hour than the previous MDX in our testing. But our biggest issue is with the 10 speed automatic transmission. Yes, it's advanced, but it can be pretty jerky and that just lends itself to a feeling that isn't as smooth as it should be in a luxury SUV. It's a shame that it's actually the power train that's holding this back from being an excellent SUV to drive. So that's the handling that's a splash, but the power train that's a flop.
When it comes to comfort, I really like what Acura did in here. There's lots of space to move around and our test vehicle came with 16 way power seats, heated and cooled. Speaking of seats, there's a really nice shape and structure to these things. I could stay in here for hours and hours on the long drive. Also, check out these materials. You get soft padding and nice genuine leather, especially on the points that you're going to be touching a lot. So this is not just a rebadged Honda Pilot, there is legit attention to detail in here.
Look at this, open pore wood. It feels like a proper luxury three row SUV. Now, you do get a fair bit of hard plastic in here. For instance, this entire giant center console, it's just a lot. I'm also not a big fan of all this glossy piano black plastic which starts to look bad once it gets dusty and filled with smudges. Check out this panel, where there's nice materials but it goes leather, wood, piano black, Leather, plastic glove box. And these just smoosh it all together, like a weird leather layer cake.
Now, let's check out the back. In the rear, it's more of the same. Lots of space, excellent seats. I could relax back here for a long road trip with no problem. This one even comes with cool sunshades. And oh yeah, there's a third row. It's tight. But overall, a solid A when it comes to comfort, which makes it a splash.
You want to compete in luxury? You have to nail your technology. So how does the MDX stack up? Well, you're off to a good start with a very nice looking, clear 12.3 inch center screen. That's got wireless Apple CarPlay and wireless Android Auto. And then right in front of the driver you've got another 12.3 inch screen. This is the digital information display with some really cool graphics.
Then, there's this true touch pad interface. It's a pad down here that you use like a laptop pad to control what happens on the screen up there. Normally I like pads or dials or anything that I can use around here so that I don't have to be reaching up and poking at the screen all the time. And I like this one too but I get why people don't. In order to use it, you gently swipe across to move to different menus or you just move your finger slightly to select things and press on it to pick them.
The problem there is it doesn't work like a computer mouse. If you scroll to something and then take your finger off, the cursor completely goes away. Instead, you have to use the pad basically as a surrogate for the screen. Put your finger on the part of the screen that you want and then press it. That will select it. This all sounds very confusing, I realize that. That's because it is confusing.
Just know some people love it and some people absolutely hate it. You're going to need to spend time practicing this and learning it. And for that reason, it's a flop. Elsewhere, there's good and there's bad.
Now, we're often calling for real physical buttons instead of just cramming everything into the touch screen. And Acura gave us that, lots and lots of buttons. There's kind of a messy arrangement here and it might take you a long time to find the thing you're actually looking for. That's kind of a bummer.
And then there are USB ports up front, which is great. There's this cool little battery logo on top but then you press it and it's just a plastic brick with ugly ports that looks like it came out of a Happy Meal. There's no way that could have been the best option that was on the table, guys. Come on.
You also get a telescoping and tilting power steering wheel, but the problem is in our car when you turn it on it groans and moans and squeaks really loudly. It's not great, but you can wash all that down with a premium 16 speaker ELS audio system. You also get a super clear surround view camera. Overall, as far as technology, minus the touch pad.
As you can see, there's pretty good cargo space back here. Enough room for some carry on luggage and a bunch of bags of groceries. But it's not exactly something to write home about. What we like a little bit more is the usability. For instance, there's side pockets over here that could fit a bike helmet and underfloor storage that could probably fit a couple of shoe boxes, maybe three or even four. On top of that, the third row folds down flat nice and easy and the second row does too.
Of course, there are also tethers in the back of each seat so that you can install child seats. And believe it or not, the MDX is pretty good at towing too. It maxes out at 5,000 pounds of maximum towing capacity. Now, that's not class leading, because the Audi Q7 can do up to 7,000 pounds. But it is pretty good for a luxury three row SUV. So for small boats or camper trailers, have at it. Overall, cargo and utility is a splash.
Don't just take it from me, our whole team of editors drove the MDX. Here's what they had to say about it.
REX TOKESHI-TORRES: Our long-term MDX had a really strong engine, comfortable ride, really good seats, and a really good interior. However, smartphone connectivity was usually the issue for me.
JONATHAN ELFALAN: Overall, I'm a fan of the MDX. And unlike some of my colleagues, I don't think the true touch interface is a deal breaker. In fact, I think there are some advantages to the system over some of the systems that use a rotary dial or are just purely touchscreen based. The one issue I do have with that system is when using the smartphone projection, like Apple CarPlay, which I tend to use a lot. That turns the true touch pad into more of a touch pad.
So you're having to scroll and use it more like a mouse, which makes it really clunky. I think a simple solution to this without having to overhaul the entire system is just to make the screen, the main screen, a touchscreen. That way when you're using something like CarPlay, it becomes more of like a phone. And I think that would solve a lot of the pain points with this system.
JOSH SADLIER: So what is 95 cubic feet of cargo space really look like? Well, one answer is right there. That is a futon that used to belong to Editor in Chief Alastair. He handed it down to me. We fit that thing in the back of the MDX with really not much problem. Folded down the second and third row seats and collapse the wooden frame and it just went right in.
So one question is, how about the Audi Q7 rival to the MDX? 70 cubic feet of cargo space. Would that fit? We don't know. We didn't test it. But certainly it's a feather in the MDX's cap that it's got all that extra space back there.
BRENDAN THOMAS: I've actually got a lot of luggage to pack into this SUV. So let's go around and have a look at it. I think I'm quietly confident that all of this will fit in there. And there's also going to be three adults. And there we have it. All that luggage has been packed in.
Had utilize a little bit of this seat here. We put the seat down there. And it folds flat as well. And one last thing, we probably should check that it closes. Here we go. Is it going to close? Is it going to close? Come on. No warnings that it's jammed or anything, so we're good to go.
RYAN ZUMMALLEN: Acura didn't issue any recalls for the 2022 MDX, so let's move on to maintenance. Now, the MDX has an automatic maintenance notification system that tells you when it thinks you should go in for service. That sounds like it could be sending you into the dealer all the time. Well, it didn't. It only recommended one service, a pretty comprehensive one at 6,000 miles. And that costs us about $120 bucks. All in all, a pretty good deal.
Otherwise, there were two things. One time we got a brake system warning, but didn't affect the way the car drove and no problem was ever found. Also, the heads up display on two occasions showed that the speed limit was 100 miles per hour when it definitely wasn't. We didn't listen to it though, officer. Also, we got to get that steering wheel fixed. But that's it.
Like I said earlier, Acura lent us this car, which means we can't sell it for cold hard cash. What if we did anyway? As you're probably aware, the used car market is absolutely on one right now. So we expected MDX to retain a lot of its value.
Unfortunately, since it's so new, the Edmunds appraisal tool couldn't provide us with an offer for it but CarMax can. They provided us with an estimate somewhere between $44,000 and change and $55,000 and change. Now, that's obviously a pretty wide range depending on things like the condition and mileage and things like that. But compared to the original starting price of $62,000, that's holding its value pretty well. Acura SUVs have a reputation for doing that and at least in this case, it's legit.
Today, we wave goodbye to the MDX. No, no, no. It's OK. It's OK. No time to get sentimental, we've always got new cars coming in to the Edmunds fleet, so check out our long-term page to see what we just got in and what we're driving now.
But back to the MDX. Did it live up to its high price tag? In many ways, yes. It's a spacious and comfortable SUV that definitely stands out in a crowd. There's also cutting edge tech and lots of standard features. The all wheel drive system works like a dream. There is plenty to wow you here, but there are hiccups. That clunky transmission threatens to overshadow everything, frankly. And the fuel economy we observed was pretty far off what we were expecting.
Finally, that cutting edge touch pad is doing a pretty good job of cutting out a large swath of potential buyers. But you know what? The MDX leaves an impression. In our rankings, we put it in second place just below the Audi Q7. And to be honest, the MDX stands out, just like it does out here.