The Acura MDX is a three-row luxury crossover SUV with seating for up to seven passengers. The MDX, which is the largest vehicle in Acura’s lineup, debuted for the 2001 model year and its popularity has been both consistent and impressive (the MDX holds the enviable spot as North America’s best-selling three-row vehicle of all time). After skipping the 2021 model year, the 2022 Acura MDX returns as an all-new model with a new platform, fresh exterior, redesigned interior, and more. Pricing for the 2022 Acura MDX will start at around $47,000.
Acura has elevated the MDX’s styling to a new level, with more elegant proportions and a longer and lower look. Acura was aiming for a “more emotional and sophisticated” design, according to the automaker, and they have achieved it. Thanks to a longer hood, a stretched wheelbase, and more overall length, the MDX’s silhouette is now sleek — a visually pleasing wagon-like appearance, as opposed to a utilitarian SUV. The attention to detail is noticeable, and Acura’s elevated level of fit and finish is impressive.
The changes for 2022 are more dramatic inside the passenger cabin — and the results elegant and visually striking. The layered dash is low, with a deliberate horizontal emphasis, leading to the impression of a spacious and wide cabin.
The center console and center stack are equally as modern — the shift-by-wire automatic transmission is fitted with a gear selector that looks like it came off a spacecraft (buttons and levers are grouped in a brushed aluminum corral). The controls require a bit of familiarization, like any new interface, but it works well and takes up little space.
A 12.3-inch infotainment display resides at the top of the dashboard. The display is not a touchscreen, which is good, because it’s a little too far away from the driver for a comfortable reach. Instead, Acura has inset a square touchpad control for the infotainment system, with the all-important audio volume knob at its side (for comfort, there’s a small hand rest above). Other buttons and controls are smartly grouped elsewhere on the center stack, with redundant controls on the steering wheel for convenience.
Instead of a traditional instrument panel with analog gauges, Acura has installed a 12.3-inch HD display they call “Acura Precision Cockpit.” It’s an all-digital instrument panel with two built-in appearance packages: Advanced and Crafted. The panel is fully configurable by the driver and provides crisp, glare-free information.
As a three-row crossover, MDX pays close attention to the comfort and space of second-and third-row passengers. The second row now has up to 12 degrees of recline, and the middle seat is removable, which make getting into and out of the third row easier. The third row has gained some legroom and a slightly higher seat but is still a place for kids, not grown-ups. There’s 16.3 – 18.1 cubic feet of luggage space behind the third row, plus 1.8 cubic feet of hidden storage underfloor. Fold-down the third row, and you can fit 39.1 – 48.4 cubic feet of items; fold down the second row and open up a warehouse capable of swallowing 71.4 – 95.0 cubic feet of gear.
There’s just one available engine for MDX (at least until the promised high-performance Type S arrives later this year), and that’s the company’s venerable 3.5-liter V6 engine (290 hp/267 lb-ft of torque). Note the new output — it has been lightly massaged for the 2022 model year with a new intake system, reduced emissions, and other incremental enhancements. A 10-speed automatic transmission with steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters is standard across the board. This transmission can downshift up to four gears at a time on-demand, to make power available immediately for passing and other situations.
Front-wheel drive is standard, but we highly recommend Acura’s impressive Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD). While most AWD systems are tuned to deliver additional grip only on slippery surfaces, SH-AWD has been engineered to improve grip under all conditions — it improves vehicle performance on wet and slippery roads, plus it improves performance on dry roads, too.
MDX is rated to achieve between 19 mpg city and 26 mpg highway based on the driveline. Premium gasoline is recommended for best performance.
We put the MDX through its paces on highways, suburban streets, and rural back roads in southern Michigan — an areas with a well-earned reputation for rough pavement and monster potholes. Updates and changes to the MDX’s suspension system improve road feel, handling, and reduced harshness that can be communicated from tough roads.
The updated engine is smooth, refined, and lively in its delivery of power (we estimate that the 0-60 mph sprint will take just over 6.0 seconds, which is quick for this segment). The 10-speed automatic transmission is buttery-smooth. The default driving mode is perfectly acceptable, but those seeking a bit more excitement may use Sport mode, which livens up the engine. The MDX’s V6 puts out a pleasing engine note, especially under heavy throttle.
Befitting a luxury crossover, the MDX’s cabin is whisper quiet on the road, except when you choose to engage the fantastic ELS Studio 3D sound system, which is a true delight. The cabin can be loaded with electronic goodies both standard and optional, as you’d expect from a vehicle in this class and price level, including Amazon Alexa, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, an available head-up display (HUD), wireless device charging, and new CabinTalk, a minivan-like interior PA system.
Acura’s packaging and trim philosophy is simple: There are themes and packages rather and only a few stand-alone options.
- MDX (starting around $47,000 FWD/$49,000 AWD) – This is the base model, still well-equipped.
- Tech (starting around $51,500 FWD/$53,500 AWD) – As the name implies, this model adds technology, including navigation, real-time traffic, rain-sensing windshield wipers, and more.
- A-Spec (starting around $57,000 AWD only) – This is the sportiest-looking trim, with interior and exterior cosmetic extras.
- Advance (starting around $60,500 AWD only) – This is the loaded model, with all of the luxury, comfort, and convenience features Acura can muster.
If you are looking for a more accurate idea of pricing, you can build and price an MDX on Acura’s official web site.
The ELS Studio 3D Premium Audio system (part of the A-Spec and Advance packages) is one of the best car audio systems we’ve ever heard. We liked it when it first became available in the 2021 Acura TLX, and we enjoy it even more in the MDX. We are also impressed by the available SH-AWD. The torque-vectoring system on all-wheel-drive versions of MDX is very well-sorted and will reap benefits in good weather and bad.
This is one of those occasions when we recommend checking all of the boxes, and going for the Advance package to get the ELS Studio 3D Premium Audio, heated steering wheel, heated second row, surround-view camera system, open-pore wood trim, and more.
Like its competition, MDX comes to the table with a comprehensive suite of active and passive safety and driver-assist systems. AcuraWatch is included with every trim level. A new advanced front passenger airbag is fitted to MDX, and the new front end is designed with enhanced pedestrian protection and an impact-absorbing design. Tech trim level models get low-speed braking control, excellent for quicker stops in traffic, and also includes collision mitigation throttle control, which suppresses throttle input if you accidentally hit the gas instead of the brake when your MDX is going 6 mph or slower.
The MDX is designed for active families who are seeking a smart balance between luxury, utility, safety, and reliability.
Priced for a more affluent buyer, the MDX is a logical step-up for families outgrowing their Acura RDX. It is also a wise upgrade for those seeking more technology and luxury appointments than their current domestic or import crossover, without sacrificing all-wheel-drive capability, seating capacity, or utility.
Despite the three-row luxury crossover SUV segment being more saturated, more competitive, and more expensive than ever before, Acura has found a nice uncrowded niche for itself — slotted above the entry-level models from North America and Korea, yet below the pricey entrants from Europe.
Buyers in this narrow price range are spending money for premium styling, technology, luxury, innovation, and safety, but they are not obsessed with the cachet of a hood ornament. For these discerning buyers — focused on capability, reliability, and value — the all-new 2022 Acura MDX is a perfect fit.
The 2022 Acura MDX is on the CarExpert Recommended list.
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Photos by Jason Fogelson