- The MDX Type S is the hottest MDX you can buy.
- It successfully elevates the MDX's performance, but it's more than that.
- The MDX Type S is almost certainly the most complete car Acura makes.
2022 Acura MDX Type S Review: The Completed Package
The Type S recipe adds a little something extra that the MDX needed
The MDX is easily Acura's most important car, and for 2022 the Type S is here to add a little hot sauce to the regular MDX's somewhat bland flavor profile. It's got a beefed-up powertrain, more go-fast tech, a clever air suspension, and more aggressive everything else. On paper it looks like the MDX we've always wanted, and after two weeks with the Type S it proved to be even more than the sum of those appealing parts.
What makes a Type S?
Instead of the naturally aspirated 290-horsepower V6 that's under the hood of every other MDX, the Type S gets a turbocharged V6 that cranks out a "that's more like it" 355 horsepower and 354 lb-ft of torque. That engine is hooked up to a 10-speed automatic that's been beefed up from the one in the standard MDX to handle the extra torque. It sends the engine's power to all four wheels via Acura's Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive system, or SH-AWD for short.
Even though the more potent engine does succeed in adding a little extra life to the MDX's powertrain, it isn't quite as big of a change as you'd expect. The extra thrust means the Type S scoots from 0 to 60 mph in 6.1 seconds — that's hardly class-leading. In case you're wondering, the standard MDX made the 0-60 sprint in 7.5 seconds. That's partially due to a launch that isn't all that aggressive and nearly 4,500 pounds to lug around.
Though it's a fair bit quicker than the standard MDX, the Type S really just catches the MDX up, finally, to the more potent versions of competitors like the Genesis GV80 and Land Rover Discovery. The Germans still have the Acura beat in performance terms, though. A BMW X5 in M50i guise would leave a Type S for dead. It's about $10,000 more expensive than the Acura, but that's the type of rarefied territory Acura wants this SUV to compete in.
For sure, the Type S is more engaging to drive than the standard MDX. The steering is more communicative, there's more grip thanks to a more aggressive wheel and tire combo, and the various drive modes mean you can set the steering, throttle response, and suspension up just the way you like via the Individual mode. Our biggest dynamic complaint was the brake pedal. It's a brake-by-wire system, and the best way to describe the pedal is overeager. Light brushes of the brake pedal are met with far more force than you expected, and we found it difficult to come to a well-considered stop around town.
More to it than more power
But the Type S is more than just an MDX with a burlier powertrain and some antsy brakes. Acura's first-ever attempt at an air suspension is well-sorted and there is a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde level of variability between Comfort mode and Sport Plus. Despite being the "sporty one," the Type S can actually be more comfortable than the standard MDX.
In Comfort mode, impacts from road imperfections are well rounded off, and rarely (if ever) do big bumps and lumps result in a thump through the bottom of the seats. There isn't even too much body roll to report, and the extra body control means there's little head toss when cruising over less-than-perfectly-flat surfaces.
The ELS 3D Signature sound system is a delight. It features 25 speakers and is only available in the MDX Type S with the Advance package. The sound stage is nearly perfect, with deep bass and little to no distortion at high volumes. It would be ridiculous to recommend a car solely on its hi-fi, but the Type S is seriously worth considering on these grounds alone. It's just that good. The AKG system in the Cadillac Escalade and the Burmester sound systems in expensive Mercedes-Benz products get close, but this ELS system really is the cream of that crop.
Other tech you'd expect in an SUV that costs $73,595 (as tested) is here, too. The head-up display (also a part of the Advance package) is bright and crystal-clear, the surround-view camera array is a big plus for a car this large, and the 16-way power-adjustable front seats that are heated, cooled, and feature a massage function are a joy to spend time in. It's extra touches like these that make the Type S a much more compelling car than the standard MDX.
We still aren't in love with Acura's True Touchpad (it's like a mousepad you use to navigate through the car's infotainment setup). It presents an unnecessarily steep learning curve that might turn some potential buyers off, but it does at least mean the screen can be mounted low down in the driver's sightline and set back into the dashboard so it doesn't look tacky while it's sitting there.
More like "Type Yes"
The rest of the interior is typical MDX, which is a bit disappointing. We would have liked to see more premium materials for the Type S variant. That said, the whole car seems to be screwed together well, and the brightwork inside helps elevate the vibe. We also appreciate that Acura hasn't followed what seems to be the industry-wide trend of doing away with physical controls for important functions. There are buttons, knobs and switches everywhere, and while it can seem like a cluttered mess at first, we were ultimately glad to have tangible inputs like a button for adjusting the head-up display and a physical controller for the drive modes.
Overall, the MDX Type S isn't a scintillating performance machine like the BMW X5 M or the Mercedes-Benz GLE 63 AMG. But it does keep all of the usability, comfort and value that's offered by the standard MDX and elevates it into something you'd actually want to drive. Better yet, what the Type S treatment really does to the MDX is complete it.
After having sampled everything Acura will sell you right now, we can say that the MDX Type S is the most polished car in Acura's portfolio. Spacious people carrier, concert hall, cocoon from the outside world, comfortable daily driver, enjoyable at a spirited pace — the MDX Type S does it all with aplomb.
Acura gave the MDX exactly what it needed with the Type S treatment, and we can only hope it pulls off the same trick when it comes time to unleash the Integra Type S.