2014 Acura MDX Road Test Review
By Bob Plunkett
Acura MDX 7-seat CUV comes out with
a spacious new structure
Scooting along curvy blacktop in the Ozark Mountains of southern Missouri, a redesigned and re-provisioned 2014 MDX -- elegant 7-passenger crossover utility vehicle in the motor pool of Acura -- tracks in a tight line through some twisty chicanes.
Dressed in slinky new skin wrapping a new unibody structure and packing a new V6 powertrain, MDX for 2014 represents the third generation of Acura's mid-size CUV.
Producing an agile kind of CUV that's easy to drive and capable of multiple uses is the big idea behind MDX and explains why Acura's wagon has been so popular since the first edition debuted as a 2001 model.
Its name drives home the multi-task nature, with the initials meaning Multi-Dimensional Cross-Trainer, in the image of a toned athlete accomplished in various sports. Acura works it as a refined luxury vehicle with cushy appointments and fancy features, yet the three rows of flexible seats permit different uses as a workhorse hauler.
The monocoque structure of MDX is like a car's platform melding chassis and body into a cohesive entity that's extremely rigid. It measures longer, lower and narrower than the predecessor MDX platform.
A transversely mounted engine in the front bay directs its formidable muscle to the front wheels which also steer.
MDX 2014 offers front-wheel-drive traction for the first time, but all-wheel-drive is available through the spry wheel control of Acura's SH-AWD (Super-Handling All-Wheel-Drive) equipment tied to computer-managed VSA (vehicle stability assist) system to check lateral wheel slippage.
And there's plenty of power at play with MDX, thanks to Acura's forceful new 6-cylinder engine.
The aluminum V6 displaces 3.5 liters with SOHC (single overhead camshaft), direct injection, drive-by-wire throttle and i-VTEC (intelligent variable value timing and lift electronic control) valvetrain technology. It produces 290 hp at 6200 rpm and 267 lb-ft of torque at 4500 rpm.
Further, the 6-pack employs Acura's variable cylinder management (VCM) device to conserve on fuel by modifying the number of engine cylinders at work -- it can switch from six down to three cylinders, depending on the power demand at any particular moment.
Federal EPA fuel burn numbers on the MDX engine look good -- up to 28 miles per gallon for highway travel.
Sole transaxle is an electronically controlled automatic 6-speed with Acura's sequential SportShift override for manual shifts via hand paddles mounted on the steering wheel. This shifter has a unique "grade logic" shift point governor that selects top gear settings after measuring variables like throttle position, road speed and the rates of acceleration and deceleration.
A big disc brake applies at every wheel, with ABS (anti-lock brake system) plus EBD (electronic brake distribution) and BA (brake assist) units, TCS (traction control system) and VSA to correct lateral skidding.
The base edition MDX rolls on 245/60R18 tires mounted on 18-inch alloy wheels, while top models (MDX Technology Package, MDX Advance Package) bump up to 245/55R19 rubber with 19-inch alloys.
Bold new body styling mark 2014 editions of MDX. The streamlined shell, bereft of plastic cladding and flank trimwork, features a low hood line to enhance forward visibility for the driver and Jewel Eye LED lamps on front corners of a prow crowned by Acura's pentagonal grille.
The driver-oriented cockpit features a leather-wrapped steering wheel, instrument cluster with LED backlit gauges and an 8-inch touchscreen Multi-Information Display.
Two bucket seats covered in leather occupy the front row of the cabin on either side of a floor console. A leather bench split 60/40 goes to the second row and slides fore and aft by 5.9 inches for comfort adjustments or power-slides forward with the touch of a button for easy access to third-row seats that split 50/50 and fold.
Row 2 seats drop forward and Row 3 seatbacks fold into the floor for a quick disappearing act to make room for more cargo. With all second and third seatbacks down, MDX offers 90.9 cubic feet of flat-floored storage space.
Standard gear on MDX ranges from a sunroof and power liftgate to keyless entry/ignition, 3-zone climate controls, power for windows and door locks and mirrors, 8-way power heated front seats, leather upholstery and a 432-watt premium 8-speakers audio system with AM/FM/CD/HD/XM/MP3/WMA.
Also standard, the IDS (Integrated Dynamics System) allows a driver to choose a suspension mode (Comfort, Normal, Sport) to suit mood and driving conditions.
MDX Technology package brings a navigation system, rain-sensing wipers, Lane Departure Warning, Blind Spot Warning, Forward Collision Warning, Bluetooth, AcuraLink and a 10-speaker Acura/ELS audio system. MDX Advance and Entertainment package adds front/rear parking sensors, Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Keeping Assist and Collision Mitigation Braking plus rear DVD kit with 16-inch screen.
Acura's price points for the 2014 MDX begin at $42,290.
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