By Eric Peters
Here is a fun fact: The only new Acura — besides the NSX supercar — that comes standard with more than a four-cylinder engine under its hood isn’t a car .
It’s the MDX — which is a three-row crossover SUV.
What It Is
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The MDX is a mid-sized, luxury-brand crossover that comes standard with third-row seating (it’s optional in several rivals, including the Lexus RX350 and Benz GLE), a huge panorama sunroof, built-in smartphone charger and Alexa — Amazon’s voice-command virtual assistant.
Prices start at $46,900 for the base front-wheel drive trim; with Acura’s Super Handling All-Wheel-Drive (SH-AWD) system, the price rises to $48,900.
There is also an A-Spec version, which gets sportier exterior and interior cosmetic touches, including perforated suede sport seats with bun coolers and warmers, a cabin intercom system and an excellent 16-speaker, 710-watt ELS audio rig.
That one lists for $57,100.
After a year’s absence — there was no 2021 MDX — a larger, longer and roomier ’22 MDX debuts. It has a revamped suspension underneath (including a new-design double wishbone suspension up front), updated styling outside and a new 10-speed automatic transmission, replacing the nine-speed automatic used in the previous generation MDX.
The V6 hasn’t been replaced by a turbo’d four.
Many premium features — such as the panorama sunroof, a configurable LCD main gauge cluster and a 12.3-inch LCD display for the infotainment system — are included in the MDX’s extremely competitive base price, which is under $47,000.
A much bolder look on the outside — and noticeably more room for people and cargo on the inside.
What’s Not So Good
The V6 doesn’t have the low-end lazy torque produced by the turbo fours that are supplanting V6s in practically everything.
Some premium features — such as the heated steering wheel — are only available if you get the A-Spec trim and then buy the advanced package, which bundles it with other features you may not want or might prefer not to have to buy in order to get the one thing you want.
It’s max tow rating is modest for the class: 5,000 pounds.
Under The Hood
It is a sad signpost on the road we’re currently traveling that Honda’s brilliant 3.5-liter V6 no longer comes standard in any of the cars made by Acura, which of course is Honda’s luxury line.
But thankfully, it is still standard in the MDX — where it makes 290 horsepower.
And it makes that power without the combustion-engine equivalent of steroids, i.e., a turbo.
Turbos have their merits, but they also add parts — and pressure. Both of which come with additional costs, actually and potentially. There’s a reason why the MDX is one of the best deals going in this class. Acura can sell it for less because it costs less to build a V6 (without a turbo) than a smaller four with one.
On The Road
Before there were Acura crossovers — or crossovers, at all — there were Acura sport sedans such as the Integra, if anyone remembers. These had fours — without turbos, usually — that begged to be revved. The Integra’s VTEC four could spin to almost 8,000 RPM, but it only made 128 pounds of torque — and not until it was spinning north of 6,000 RPM.
But it was a joy to spin that thing. And to hear it. You just had to work it.
The same tradition carries over to the MDX. Its V6 is also a revver — to north of 7,000 RPM — and you’ll love the sounds it makes on the way. No turbo’d four can match that, no matter how much low-RPM grunt it makes.
But you do have to work it — which is something some people may not appreciate.
At The Curb
The new MDX has been upsized to almost full-sized.
It is now 198.4 inches end to end versus the previous generation MDX’s 196.2 inches. That makes it competitive with full-sized crossovers, in terms of the room you’ll find inside. Especially in terms of back seat and third row legroom and cargo room.
The old MDX had a fairly tight second row, with 36.6 inches of legroom back there. The ’22 MDX ups that to 38.5 inches, and those extra inches also make the third row more roomy by making more room for it.
And there’s more room behind it, too. Cargo space with the third row up is now 18 cubic feet, up from 15 cubic feet previously. And the total available cargo space with the second and third rows folded has been expanded to 95 cubic feet, a huge uptick from the old MDX’s 68.4 cubic feet.
The MDX’s LCD screen is not a touchscreen, which means you have to use the trackpad on the center console. It suffers from the inherent problem that all such systems suffer from in a moving vehicle: As the car moves, so does your finger, which then “overwrites” the track you were aiming for. Acura does improve this inherently problematic system with better-than-most pressure sensitivity as well as haptic feedback, but there is still no functional substitute for knobs and switches that you can’t overwrite and which you can more easily operate by feel, without having to look.
The Bottom Line
It’s a shame that V6 engines are becoming optional — even in vehicles that cost more than $50k just to start. Here’s one that costs less — and comes with one standard.
To find out more about Eric and read his past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com. Eric’s latest book, “Don’t Get Taken for a Ride!” is available now.
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