The MDX is Acura’s flagship model and for 2021 – as a 2022 model – it receives a host of new updates. New front suspension, new design, new transmission, new AWD system, and so on. However, it’s also a bit heavier than the outgoing generation. So does that hamper it’s performance?
Engine – While most of the SUV received updates, the engine didn’t see the same amount of attention. It’s the same 3.5L V6 from the old MDX, albeit with a few very minor tweaks, and power remains the same at 290 hp & 267 lb-ft of torque (216 kW & 362 Nm). This is a pretty good engine. In everyday driving situations, the engine has plenty of grunt at lower rpms. From time to time the short gear ratios of the transmission allow the engine to rev close to the 3,000 rpm mark but that’s usually when setting off from a stop at a brisk pace. On highways, the engine rpms remain low for improved fuel economy but should you need to pass, there’s more than enough grunt without needing to let the rpm needle hit 3,000. However, should you want to drive the MDX quickly, the peak power figure is reached at the 6,200 rpm mark and then the transmission upshifts whether you like it or not. If you do want a more powerful engine, the Acura MDX Type-S will be available with a turbocharged V6 engine and around 350 hp (261 kW).
As for fuel economy, the 2022 Acura MDX is rated for 12.6 L/100km (18.6 MPG) in a city and 9.4 L/100km (25 MPG) on a highway. During my time with the SUV, I averaged 11.6 L/100km (20.3 MPG).
Transmission – The new 10-speed automatic transmission does a good job of changing gears when it’s left to its own decisions. The shifts are smooth and reasonably quick. It’s only when you try to take over control that things start to “fall apart” a bit. As mentioned earlier, the transmission will upshift at the redline whether you’re in manual mode or not. Probably to protect the engine & preserve the longevity of the powertrain. Also, there is just the slightest of delays when using the steering wheel mounted paddle shifters.
Braking – The 2022 Acura MDX receives thicker and larger diameter brake discs for better heat dissipation & stopping performance. Under emergency situations, the 2,077 kg (4,579 lbs) SUV stops quickly and remains in control. However, the brake pedal doesn’t provide much feel under light applications. The 2022 MDX utilizes a new electronic assisted brake booster that is meant to aid the automatic emergency braking system in reacting more quickly. But it has an adverse effect when lightly applying pressure to the brake pedal. It feels as though you’re stepping on a balloon. The MDX does slow down, for sure, but it doesn’t give you the feedback through your foot. Apply more brake pressure and the pedal feels firmer.
Handling – The 2022 MDX receives a 4th generation SH-AWD system (Super Handling All Wheel Drive) as standard across all trims in Canada. In the United States, lower models are available with front-wheel-drive. The updated system has 40% more rear torque capacity and 30% quicker front-to-rear torque transfer. In other words, it can send more torque to the rear wheels and it does it more quickly. The rear differential uses torque vectoring to try and rotate the rear of the MDX on corner exit so that more of the engine’s power is used to accelerate the car. The SH-AWD system works very well to also reduce understeer. With the MDX being such a big SUV, you think that it can’t go around corners as quickly as it actually can do. But at the apex of a corner, you can start to roll on the throttle quite aggressively and the SH-AWD system will manage the power very well to curb understeer and get the MDX quickly out of the turn. Much more quickly than you expect.
The steering also sees updates with a new belt-driven electric power steering system. It is a variable ratio system that is very precise and quick to respond to driver inputs. However, it feels a bit too overly assisted. It’s great for maneuvering around parking lots or alleyways but it lacks a bit of feel on a twisty road. It does firm up a bit in Sport mode but not enough for my liking.
Ride Comfort – The 2022 Acura MDX is equipped with standard adaptive dampers regardless of trim level. The dampers are very well tuned to provide a smooth & comfortable ride. Even when you switch the drive mode to Sport, the dampers are still soft enough to absorb big bumps without transferring the shunts into the cabin.
The well contoured seats also aid in providing comfort to your bum. They don’t have a whole lot of side bolster support for twisty roads but for commutes and long trips with the family, they are great.
Interior Space – First and second row occupants have a generous amount of space. Tall adults like myself at 6’4” can easily find a comfortable seating position in the front seats. The second row seats have just enough legroom behind my driving position for someone of my height. Also, you can remove the center seat for a pass-through. The third row, however, is to be only used by children. Legroom & headroom is extremely tight for an adult, even an average height adult. But getting into the back is super easy because there’s a button at the bottom of the second row seat. Push it and the seat springs into its most forward position. Best of all, when you push it back, it returns to the position it was rather than a default position.
Further behind the 3rd row, the trunk has quite a bit of cargo capacity. 513 L (18.1 cu-ft) with all rows of seats up, 1,368 L (48.3 cu-ft) with the 3rd row folded, & 2,690 L (95 cu-ft) with the 2nd & 3rd rows folded. There’s also a pretty sizeable compartment underneath the floor that will easily fit a backpack and camera equipment.
Noise, Vibration, & Harshness – For a luxury flagship model, you’d expect the MDX to have a quiet cabin. To my surprise, it’s not as quiet as I was expecting. Wind noise on highways is virtually non-existent but road noise is quite evident. Engine noise is also noticeable when accelerating and unfortunately, the V6 doesn’t sound the greatest.
Odds and Ends
Gadgets – This particular demo vehicle of the 2022 Acura MDX is the top spec Platinum Elite trim (Advance Package in the United States). As such, it has every feature that one would ever ask from a premium vehicle. Features such as surround view cameras, head-up display, premium 16-speaker audio system, leather upholstery, ventilated front seats, and navigation are all available on this top trim MDX. Best of all, it costs a smidge over $67,000 CAD ($60,650 USD). You’d have to spend an additional $10,000 CAD to get a base BMW X5.
At the other end of the spectrum, a base 2022 Acura MDX is not completely bare bone. You get features such as wireless Apple CarPlay & Android Auto, panoramic sunroof, heated seats, heated steering wheel, adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, wireless phone charging, lane departure warning, and blind spot sensors to name a few.
The 2022 MDX receives Acura’s latest infotainment system which is controlled by a True Position touchpad on the center console. Basically wherever you place your finger on the touchpad, that position correlates onto the infotainment screen (it is not a touchscreen). It is a steep learning curve but this is my 3rd Acura model that I’ve tested with this new infotainment system and I’ve gotten used to it now. However, this touchpad does not work as well when navigating through CarPlay or Android Auto. When using those systems, the touchpad reverts to a more traditional touchpad like how you’d use on a laptop.
Interior Design – The 2022 MDX takes a lot of inspiration from the updated RDX & TLX. The MDX has the same steering wheel, same gear selector, same infotainment screen, same drive mode selector, and same volume & tuning controls. Where it differs a bit is with the climate controls and the MDX has a raised wrist rest to make using the touchpad a bit more comfortable. The cabin also has subtle ambient lighting that changes depending on the drive mode or you can set it to a specific colour.
Exterior Design – The exterior design language is instantly recognizable as an Acura. The headlights & taillights are slimmer than the older generation and are more inline with the look of the TLX sedan. Overall the MDX doesn’t look quite as sporty as its RDX little brother but instead a bit more elegant and like as though it belongs outside of an exclusive dinner party.
Warranty – The 2022 Acura MDX has a 4 year / 80,000 km new vehicle warranty which is the same as its German rivals. But the MDX also comes with a 5 year / 100,000 km powertrain warranty. This powertrain warranty is 6 years & 70,000 miles in the United States. For more information on Acura warranty, click here.
In the end, the new 2022 Acura MDX received a lot of updates that make it a comfortable, spacious, and feature filled 3-row SUV. It doesn’t drive quite as well as a BMW X5 but it has a whole lot more features for the price which is why it makes for an excellent choice for those that are looking to get into a premium luxury SUV without breaking the bank.
Thank you to Acura Canada for providing the vehicle. www.Acura.ca