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Reviews First Drive: 2022 Acura MDX A-Spec

06:41  17 february  2021
06:41  17 february  2021 Source:   driving.ca

2022 Acura MDX gets a major glow-up

  2022 Acura MDX gets a major glow-up Acura's redesigned MDX offers more luxury, style and tech than ever.The MDX might not have the same brand cache as an Audi Q7 or BMW X5 , yet it's just as stylish. The production model is essentially the same as the prototype that impressed us back in October, with the longer, lower, wider proportions, highlighted by a lengthened dash-to-axle ratio. The hood is longer, the standard 19-inch wheels are pushed out toward the corners and there are some serious creases along the doors that highlight the SUV's silhouette. Add in the slim LED headlights and multifaceted grille and you've got a far more sophisticated MDX than in years past.

a car parked in a parking lot: 2022 Acura MDX A-Spec © Provided by Driving.ca 2022 Acura MDX A-Spec

One of the better bits of car shopping advice out there is to make a list of the features you care about most to help you maintain focus during your research.

That’s helpful most of the time, but if your list is full of attributes that just aren’t easy to find together—say, for example, a premium SUV with three rows that’s sporty, fun to drive, and reasonably priced—you may find it doesn’t take long before you’re deciding where to compromise.

Historically, the vehicle that would check more of these boxes than most has been the Acura MDX A-Spec. But while the previous generation MDX hit the marks reasonably well mechanically and on price, its rounded looks and staid character didn’t exactly inspire its owners to head off in search of winding roads.

acura mdx 2022

  acura mdx 2022 Don’t forget that the MDX was an originator. When it debuted way back at the turn of the millennium, it was the first three-row unibody crossover—a form factor that’s ubiquitous today. Since then, the MDX has proved hugely successful for Acura, and helped define the premium three-row SUV segment. It’s now fully redesigned for 2022, aiming to become more spacious, luxurious, sporty, and high-tech in its new fourth generation.What's NewThe MDX is fully redesigned for 2022, with standout features including: Angular, attractive exterior stylingPremium interior with nicer materialsStandard 12.

Enter the 2022 Acura MDX A-Spec. Built on a new platform with an updated body, chassis, and suspension architecture, this family-friendly three-row has been nipped and tucked in just the right places to put it credibly in contention to make that list into a clean sweep. No, it’s still not going to set the Nurburgring on fire. But it will get your family of six around while making you want to take the long way home once in a while, which is an unusual combination in a vehicle with a premium badge and a base price of $56,405 (or $63,405 as equipped in this A-Spec model).

a car parked in a parking lot

Exterior styling improvements are noticeable with a longer hood, elongated headlamps, a larger and more emphatic grille, and updated air intakes. (The side vents here are cosmetic and fitted with plastic inserts; this likely previews some of the aerodynamic upgrades that will go into the Type S variant being released later this year.)

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On the side profile, a gloss black accent line and upward angle on the rear quarter window work to square things off and add some drama. The rear looks sleeker as well thanks to narrower taillamps, a black accent line across the bumper, and rectangular tailpipes. The base trim comes equipped with 19-inch wheels, while the rest of the model line includes 20-inch wheels with the shark grey finish seen here being exclusive to the A-Spec.

Under the hood, the engine is unchanged as a 3.5-litre i-VTEC V6 making 290 hp and 267 lb-ft of torque available at 4,700 rpm. That’s not an enormous amount of power for an SUV of this size—the 2022 model gains 114 kg in curb weight for a total of 2,059 kg (4,539 lb)—but it now feeds through a 10-speed automatic transmission, which gets the MDX moving through lower gears quickly. Acura’s Super Handling All-wheel Drive system is standard and is also now in its fourth generation, claiming faster response times in distributing between 10 to 70 percent of available torque to the rear axle and 100 percent of that power to either the left or right rear wheel to manage traction and aid with cornering.

2022 Acura MDX

  2022 Acura MDX The three-row luxury SUV segment is about to welcome a reinvigorated competitor in the form of the 2022 Acura MDX. New this year, the 2022 MDX is the Acura SUV when you’ve gotta have a third row and the five-seat RDX just isn’t big enough. Like the new-for-2019 RDX, the MDX has gained a reputation as delivering sportier dynamics than the average luxury SUV, and we look forward to finding out whether that still holds true for the new model.When Does the 2022 MDX Come Out?Expect the new Acura to reach dealers early in the 2021 calendar year. This is the fourth-generation MDX, one the automaker first previewed in prototype form.

All that being said, the most important updates here are in the suspension, which now has a double-wishbone setup in the front to go with multi-link configuration in the rear. Plus, an adaptive damping system is standard equipment. Put together, this combination keeps the MDX riding flat with sharp responsiveness and little perceptible body roll. I’m not ashamed to admit that I threw this thing into some twisties decently hard, complete with frigid temperatures and winter tires, and I had a blast doing it. The one thing that takes a bit of joy away is the new belt-driven variable-ratio electric power steering, which works well in most situations but creates a slight disconnect for me between input and output angles in higher-speed long curves. But given that we’re not talking about a sports car here, this is a relatively mild complaint.

All MDX models are equipped with the same drive mode selector system that can also be found on the smaller RDX, which toggles through sport, normal, comfort, snow, or individual settings. In the higher-priced trims, switching between these modes adjusts the interior lighting from blue in comfort mode to white in normal and red in sport, and 24 alternate colours are also offered. Switching modes matches these same colour schemes with the fully digital instrument cluster, which is also standard equipment. Its graphics are easy to read and can be displayed in one of two styles, though it won’t overlay things like navigation maps as other systems do. There is a head-up display available, but not on this A-Spec grade. To get that, you’ll need to go all the way to the Platinum Elite package. To be honest, I didn’t miss it.

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Measurements are up slightly across the board: the new MDX is 5,039 mm long (55 mm longer overall than the previous generation), 1,999.99 mm wide (which must be a class-related thing because missing an even number by .01 mm is too bizarre; at any rate, this is 24.99 mm wider than the 2020 model), 1,724 mm tall (up by 11 mm), and has a wheelbase of 2,890 mm (70 mm longer). This has the natural side effect of making the interior more spacious in most dimensions as well.

Cargo measurements are increased to 461 litres behind the third row, 1,107 litres behind second row, and 2,021 behind the first. Since the donut spare is mounted externally behind the rear bumper, there’s an additional covered storage space underneath the rear load floor. The third and second row seats all drop manually, but the action is smooth and relatively easy, and the seats lie nicely flat when both rows are retracted.

Heated front seats, steering wheel, and side mirrors are standard on all grades, plus heated outboard second-row seats are included at one level above base, and ventilated front seats are equipped on this A-Spec model. The interior is visually interesting with red accent stitching and faux-metal inserts (yes, faux: they look good, but they’re plastic), and the large amount of black upholstery is nicely brightened up in the first two rows by the massive panoramic sunroof. Passengers can be given control of the sunroof’s shade setting plus music, navigation, and rear climate control through the CabinControl smartphone app.

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The second row’s middle position has three different modes. Upright, it can accommodate a child seat, meaning that all three LATCH positions are in the second row and can be used together if you can find child seats that are narrow enough. The middle backrest can also be dropped to create a centre console for the outboard seats, or this section can be removed entirely to create easier access and more leg room for the third row. This is a unique option, though it does leave some ugly floor hooks exposed, and not throwing a couple of cupholders in under here is a missed opportunity.

While the third row is easy to access with the one-button retracting second-row seats, it still feels like a penalty box despite an added 10 mm of headroom, 60 mm of legroom, and 50 mm higher gap from the floor to the seat cushion. As a result, the 2022 MDX is still best thought of as a 2-plus-1 with a third row that’s best suited to occasional use. USB ports can be equipped in the third row with the Platinum Elite package, but they’re not included at lower price points.

A wireless smartphone charging pad sits underneath a wrist rest on the centre console, which is positioned just behind what may be the new MDX’s sole deal-breaker: a touchpad that operates the dash-mounted 12.3-inch HD infotainment screen. This screen itself is not touch-operated, meaning that inputs largely need to go through this touchpad, and this is so unintuitive to operate while driving that it borders on distraction. That said, I find that my most-often-used functions are the volume and the track or station skip buttons, and I was very pleased to find that these buttons cycle through SiriusXM stations in numeric order and not solely by favourites, which is by far my preference. That small detail makes this system easier for me to live with than it would be otherwise, though I still find I need to wait until I’m stopped to accomplish more complicated tasks, which clearly isn’t optimal. On the plus side, wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are standard equipment, and Amazon devotees can use the Alexa Built-in feature to connect the MDX to a home Alexa account.

A quick scan across the luxury three-row segment shows that pricing on the 2022 Acura MDX A-Spec hits below or at where pricing starts in similar German products, and that’s before even beginning to contemplate performance options. The touchpad infotainment system is a significant downside, but with so many more upsides and pricing below $65,000, the value proposition here is strong enough that I would seriously consider learning to live with it. For drivers with family obligations who also want to enjoy some spirited fun behind the wheel, the upgrades to the 2022 model take the Acura MDX A-Spec overnight from afterthought to serious contender.

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