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When Acura first came to life in the late 1980’s, it was a brand that would shake up the German premium, luxury car segment by offering a fun-to-drive vehicle with a side of a caviar lifestyle and reliability to boot. When compared to Mercedes-Benz or BMW at that time, it was even quite the bang for your buck. Now some 30-years later, the Acura mantra may still offer better reliability over the luxury brands, but the question now lies, does it stand up to the expectations of a premium, luxury brand or are they just blending in?

When we start to peel back the layers of the mid-size, three-row crossover segment, we start to find that there really isn’t much to play with against the “premium, luxury badges”. Oh sure, we’ll find third-row seating in the Mercedes-Benz GLE, Genesis GV80, BMW X5 and the Volvo XC80 – but there’s a reason why it’s not a top priority in these brands. A third-row in these vehicles is merely a convenience feature – when we start to asset the ideology of what a large three-row crossovers tasks, it’s a family vehicle, meant to succumb to the daily torture of unforgiving sticky finger passengers and their disregard for nice things. Being stuck between a family crossover and a premium lifestyle, the all-new Acura MDX is mindful of the already grown up family that can appreciate the finer things of a premium vehicle.

As the MDX starts to grow up and out in size, it carries a fair deal of perks with an increased interior space. All three-rows of seating see a dramatic increase in space over the previous generation, including the rear cargo area. Most importantly however, that third row can now accommodate a full-size adult without feeling like we had to saw off a limb to fit. With more room comes more comfort… allegedly. For the front passengers, comfort is all the business and where we find Acura delivers on its premium surcharge – our A-Spec trim featured heated and ventilated, 16-way power adjustable front seats with memory settings. Falling to the rear occupants however, the premium nature of the badge is all but lost and forgotten – while we can accept the uncomfortableness for the third-row seat, as no third-row is ever really comfortable, the second-row seat was a surprise feeling hard and flat – even the leather seemed as if it’s the kind of quality that would be seen in a Honda Civic or Accord.   

With an upscale dash design – there is a futuristic feel to the whole cockpit. Some elements are intriguing like the floating, leather wrap wrist rest and user infrastructure. Unfortunately, the unique design of the dash is overshadowed but several tedious flaws. Like the wireless charging pad that is located under the wrist rest that makes it cumbersome to place and extract your phone – the charging pad in our subject vehicle also resulted in erroring out during multiple attempts at charging our device. While we can appreciate the cleverness behind the integrated pop-up charging port – functionally, we don’t see a point as it will most likely always stay erected and full of exposed chords. Then we have the finishes – piano black is all rage in both premium and non-premium brands – while it can provide an uplifting atmosphere, here it almost seems like a cost saving attribute that, with a family vehicle will get heavily scratched within a year.

The MDX takes a whole new approach on being tech savvy. Its execution on the other hand isn’t without its fair share of headaches. The infotainment system for example is fully customizable allowing the owner to rearrange nearly everything they need for quick easy access of their favorite menu options – getting there is another story. Using the infuriating touchpad to navigate is about as about as difficult as drawing the Effiel Tower on an etch-a-sketch with it resetting its touch point every time we let our finger off the pad. The MDX does feature Alexa capabilities but in the sake of going old fashion, we tried our hand at the voice command system to input a destination into the navigation – that was about as helpful as explaining to my parents why I’m still single. Avoiding the voice command required us to input the address manually by drawing each letter and number – now I know I’m not exactly Picasso here, but surely my ‘4’ did not look like an ‘A’. Needless to say we dropped the whole thing and used the wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality. The same concept follows into the digital instrument cluster – while a nifty feature in the Honda Civic, using the same system in the MDX feels like a shortcut.

When it comes to the performance side of things, we can’t discard there is something raw about a naturally aspirated V-6. Here in the modern times, Acura’s 3.5-liter V6 starts to feel antiquated and not as refine as some of the more turbo-powered alternatives. It uses a hardy does of 290-horsepower and in terms of straight-line acceleration, it will get from 0-60-mph in under 6-seconds. The newly added 10-speed automatic manages the power to the best of its ability but we can feel the struggle of the engine and transmission working to handle the heavier design of the MDX. And following the trend of family haulers, the MDX stuck to the memo other automakers received – giving it a plush ride with soulless driving precision. The steering felt numb and the body motion seem lifeless. We expected a little more oomph given our A-Spec trim.

The overall kicker to the MDX is its price, our A-Spec was stickered at $58,625. With the MDX starting at $49,200 – its starting price is where several other “non-premium” badges finish off. For example, Kia Telluride SX AWD – $45,815, Hyundai Palisade Calligraphy AWD – $48,390, Nissan Pathfinder Platinum AWD – $50,010, Toyota Highlander Platinum AWD – $51,150 – you get the point. While these brands may not hold a premium name plate, the higher priced Acura MDX is having a hard time standing out.

Vehicle:2022 Acura MDX A Spec
Base Price:$48,000
Engine:3.5-liter V-6
Horsepower/Torque:290-horsepower | 267 lbs-ft of torque
Transmission:10-Speed Automatic
Drivetrain:Super Handling All-Wheel Drive
MPG:19 | 25 | 21 (City | Highway | Combined)
As-Tested MPG:21.0-Combined MPG


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