By Zach Vlasuk
KBB Expert Rating: 8.6
When it debuted for the 2001 model year, the Acura MDX established itself as the quintessential luxury crossover SUV for the soulful-yet-sensible family car shopper. While staying true to its original formula, the completely redesigned 2014 Acura MDX displays a number of incremental improvements, including easier access to the third row, class-topping fuel economy and an entirely new body structure that yields significant reductions in NVH (noise, vibration and harshness). The 2014 MDX also bucks the "bigger is better" trend by shedding over an inch in height and width. The upmarket Audi Q7, stylish Infiniti JX (renamed the QX60 for 2014), and 5-passenger Lexus RX are strong alternatives, but for those who seek the ideal middle ground, it doesn't get much better than the MDX.
Looking for a no-compromises luxury SUV with comfortable accommodations for seven, exceptional urban maneuverability and a sticker price that won't break the bank? The 2014 Acura MDX won't disappoint. Above all, the MDX's reputation for long-term reliability, low maintenance costs and upstanding resale value equates to one of the most rewarding ownership experiences in the business.
If you can do without the premium badge, the recently refreshed Mazda CX-9 deserves your attention, delivering a near-equal measure of athleticism and versatility for thousands less. On the other end of the spectrum, enthusiasts might tilt toward the dynamically superior but notably more expensive 2014 BMW X5 (available late 2013).
Now in its third generation, the Acura MDX is all-new for 2014.
Driving Impressions Thanks to a thoroughly reworked suspension, increased structural rigidity, and an extensive diet of high-strength steel, the 2014 Acura MDX settles into corners with the aplomb of a vehicle half...its height. We're big proponents of the single calibration suspension, as the MDX's ride quality strikes the right balance between the sofa-soft Lexus RX and high-strung BMW X5 without the complexity, weight and cost associated with electronically actuated systems. And while damping forces are non-negotiable, the 2014 MDX comes standard with Acura's Integrated Dynamics System, which lets you tailor the throttle response, steering effort, and all-wheel-drive (AWD) settings (if so equipped) by way of three driver-selectable modes. In terms of acceleration, the new 3.5-liter V6 dishes out plenty of passing power throughout the rpm range, while gearchanges from the long-refined 6-speed automatic go virtually unnoticed. Around town, the use of additional sound-deadening materials, acoustic front glass and active noise cancellation help make this MDX the quietest ever.
JEWEL EYE LED HEADLIGHTS
Designed to recreate the color of daylight, the MDX's standard LED headlights deliver greater contrast to help lessen eyestrain and improve reaction times.
PUSH-BUTTON 3RD-ROW ACCESS
Though its "wow" factor may not thrill, the MDX's new one-touch walk-in function will tug at the heartstrings of on-the-go parents everywhere. For quick 3rd-row access, simply press a button located on either side of the vehicle to slide the 2nd-row seats forward and fold the seat backs.
As is the case with most Acuras, drivers will find a restrained show of luxury inside the 2014 MDX, wherein the key emphasis is placed upon comfort and ease-of-use. Interior materials are of a higher quality than those found in the Infiniti JX, and on par with the Lexus RX and BMW X5. On the other hand, faux wood, dull textures and basic shapes fail to evoke the rich ambiance of the JX, RX and Audi Q7. Instead of a sea of dash buttons, the 2014 MDX directs most vehicle functions through a pair of LCD displays, bringing the total number of center stack buttons to nine (down from a staggering 41 last year). And, unlike some competitors, the MDX's 2nd-row seat slides and folds with minimal effort.Exterior
Save for the multi-projector "Jewel Eye" headlights, you'd be hard pressed to distinguish the 2014 Acura MDX from its 2013 predecessor. Nevertheless, the overall look is by no means dated. The spec sheet shows, dimensionally, that the 2014 MDX measures about 2 inches longer, 1.3 inches narrower and 1.5 inches shorter than the outgoing model. Because of its leaner proportions, the new MDX easier to maneuver through narrow spaces than the Audi Q7, and you won't have to think twice about squeezing into tight parking spots.
The 2014 Acura MDX is offered in one trim level with four progressive options packages. In base form, the MDX offers the longest list of standard equipment in the segment. Highlights include energy-efficient LED headlights, keyless access and start, a backup camera, leather, 3-zone climate control, heated front seats, a power liftgate and an 8-speaker audio system with Aha Radio and Pandora connectivity. The Audi Q7 and Lexus RX don't include heated seats, a backup camera or non-halogen headlights as standard fare. Safety features consist of seven airbags, Acura's reinforced ACE body structure, and trailer stability control for AWD models. Moreover, Acura anticipates the 2014 MDX will earn top crash-test scores.
The $4,200 Technology Package includes goodies like Acura's next-generation navigation system with class-exclusive surface street traffic overlays, 19-inch alloy wheels, rain-sensing windshield wipers, and a forward-collision warning system that uses visual and aural alerts to warn you of a potential impact. For those who want it all, the Advance Package adds such high-tech goodies as a rear-seat entertainment center with a 16.2-inch split-screen display, a 12-speaker ELS premium audio system, full-range adaptive cruise control that employs millimeter wave radar to maintain a specified following distance behind the vehicle ahead, and Acura's new Lane Keeping Assist System, which provides automatic steering assistance to gently nudge the MDX back into its lane.
The sole powertrain combination in every 2014 Acura MDX is a new 3.5-liter V6 matched with a carryover 6-speed automatic transmission. The V6 mill features Variable Cylinder Management, which "shuts off" three of the engine's six cylinders during cruising and deceleration to improve fuel economy. And speaking of efficiency, a 275-pound weight-loss regimen together with refined aerodynamics and a 19-percent reduction in rolling resistance qualify the 2014 Acura MDX as the most fuel-efficient non-hybrid SUV in the category. Lastly, to the delight of those living in Sunbelt states, Acura will, for the first time ever, offer the MDX with front-wheel drive in addition to the automaker's sophisticated Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive system for the snowbirds.
290 horsepower @ 6,200 rpm
267 lb-ft of torque @ 4,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/28 mpg (front-wheel drive), 18/27 mpg (AWD)
At just over $43,000, including destination, the 2014 Acura MDX starts about $1,000 less than the 2013 model. The 2014 lineup also includes a more generous serving of standard equipment, though all-wheel drive has been removed from the standards list. Adding the Technology and Entertainment Package will set you back an extra $6,200, while a top-of-the-line model equipped with all-wheel drive and the Advance Package checks in right around $57,000. The 2013 BMW X5 and Audi Q7 start in the $48,000 range and flirt with the $80,000 mark when fully optioned. The Lexus RX and Infiniti JX start at $40,000 and $42,000, respectively, but can't match the MDX when it comes to standard features. Before signing on the dotted line, be sure to take a look KBB.com's Fair Purchase Price at the bottom of this page to see what others in your area are actually paying for the 2014 Acura MDX. As a long-term investment, the 2014 MDX is expected to maintain some of the highest residual values among luxury SUVs.
By Revrob on Sunday, May 25, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 8,500overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Amazing car, great price and value."
Cons: "None really."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"This is hands down the best midsize luxury I have owned or driven. I purchased this after test driving the BMW X5, Audi Q7, Q5, and the Lincoln MKX. The BMW is more of a performance vehicle, it handles the roads great and great driving experience, more expensive than the Acura. Great SUV not for me. The Audi Q7 was just to big and it rides big. Maybe its the long wheelbase but it just seem to big. It handles great and has a great driving experience but just too big for me. The Lincoln I like the least, I actually test drive the Ford Edge and liked it better than the Lincoln. The Audi Q5 is an exceptional car and I really had a hard time choosing between this SUV and the Acura. My wife loved the Acura slightly more than the Q5. It came down to size and we were not ready to downsize just yet. I really like the Q5. The MDX does everything well and for the right price. The 2014 is a dream to drive. It is super quiet, it handles bumps in the road perfectly. Great passing speed and acceleration. Every time I drive another car and get back into the MDX I am amazed on how great this car is. The touch screen that people complain about is very easy to use. I also have a 2006 BMW 550i and the idrive is very, very difficult to use and learn. The only people who can't learn to use this in the MDX don't own a computer, iPhone or any smart phone. I am 56 years old and the touch screen in the MDX is very simple to use. I took out a Lexus RX350 the other day and i still prefer the MDX. Every one has a preference but IMHO this has to be one of the best SUV on the planet."
12 people out of 17 found this review helpful
By mgtz on Friday, April 25, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 500overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Maneuverability, space, comfort, value"
Cons: "No front/rear sensors, no surround cameras"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Evaluated Infinity QX60, Audi Q7, BMW X5 but the Acura MDX beat them all for value, handling, and size. Traded in my VW Beetle for more room and didn't loose on maneuverability. Need to be in Sport mode to get the right amount of pick-up when passing on the highway, but it doesn't seem to change the fuel economy much. No big blind spots and love the blind spot warning, lane departure warning, and brake warning. The dual display, touch screen and menus have not bothered me like other reviewers, but the new requirement that navigation and settings can't be changed while driving has driven my husband crazy when he is trying to help as a passenger. The only nit is that other cars had surround cameras and front and back sensors/warnings at comparable packaging. Needed to get the Advanced and pay about $6K more for that on the MDX (have the tech and entertainment package with SH-AWD). But, I find that it's been easy to see and park, so I don't miss it. (But still Jones for it since my husbands Audi Q5 has it and that does make things really easy). Overall, love my new MDX."
11 people out of 16 found this review helpful
By Mav on Thursday, March 13, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 60overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Tech Package, sound system and spacious cabin"
Cons: "No touch screen Nav, Adaptive CC should be incl."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I strongly suggest that if you are in market for an SUV you test drive this vehicle. I've been doing my research for roughly six months. I've stacked it up against the Q60, Audi Q7,BMW 5, Mercedes 350 and Lexus RX - If you just want a status symbol for north of $55K be my guest. The MDX blends fuel economy, safety and other features into a well balanced package. It's not perfect, no vehicle is but for value for your dollar you can't beat it if your looking to buy a luxury badge."
15 people out of 17 found this review helpful
By Josh on Saturday, February 22, 2014
I don't own this caroverall rating 1 of 10rating details
Pros: "easy access to third row , ke"
Cons: "no touchscreen or motion enabled navi"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"With almost $55000 value vehicle with out a motion enabled navi and no touch screen ? even with a passenger to control navigation ? Get out of here Annoying .. Not worth it."
7 people out of 47 found this review helpful
By Howard on Sunday, February 09, 2014
I don't own this caroverall rating 7 of 10rating details
Pros: "It will last forever if you do regular maintenance"
Cons: "nav screen not touch screen"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"I elected not to buy this car because of the changes in the nav system. I own the 2005 MDX and have 205,000 miles on it and love it. the nav screen is totally touch screen and I have tried the knob system in the 2014 and find it a kluge. I wish they had left it all touch screen. Other manufactures of lesser grade cars have all touch screen nav units. I would have bought this car in a second, had that not been the problem. I am in the real estate business and travel to many places each week only once so a flexible and easy to use nav screen is critical to my work and general riding enjoyment. i see others have complained about this as well but I think I am the only one who has declined to buy the car because of this issue. Acura, PLEASE go back to the old touch screen."
15 people out of 19 found this review helpful
By jlazc on Monday, January 20, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 3,500overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Power, SH-AWD, acceleration, comfort"
Cons: "hard to use navigation system"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I bought this to downsize from a Suburban now that the kids are grown. I wanted something that would still pull the boat, carry 7 people (on rare occasions), and had a spirited driving experience. I test drove competing SUV's by Mercedes Lexus, BMW, and Infinity and this came out on top because of the driving experience, acceleration, gas mileage, handling, size, towing capacity (5,000 lbs with AWD and towing package) and price point. I researched other options (Buick, Jeep, Mazda, Volvo, VW), but they didn't have everything I was looking for. After driving my MDX for 3 months, I am very happy with the decision. I highly recommend the SH-AWD and Tech package because it truly enhances the driving experience (I also added entertainment pkg). I think the Advanced package is mostly overkill, but if an extra 5K+ doesn't bother you, go for it. The car is quiet and handles about as close to a sports car as an SUV can get (SH-AWD does make a difference). The faults are commonly pointed out and I agree....driver seat adjustment may not work for short drivers and the NAV system interface is complicated. (these are the main reasons for 9's instead of 10's in my rating) Overall, I would still make the same purchase today and I have no regrets."
27 people out of 29 found this review helpful