2022 Acura MDX First Look: A Popular Three-Row SUV, Reborn

The 2022 Acura MDX is finally here and, to the surprise of absolutely nobody, the new three-row luxury SUV looks nearly identical to the prototype that broke cover earlier this year. That means the 2022 MDX is longer, wider, and more spacious than the car it replaces. And while more than one million of the luxury crossovers have been sold over the last 20 years, according to Acura, the 2022 model represents the biggest generational leap the popular MDX has ever made.

So, What’s New About the 2022 Acura MDX?

The short answer is: literally everything. Long answer? The platform, chassis, body, and interior share nothing with the current SUV. The new sheetmetal was designed specifically to help bring the MDX’s look more upmarket and up front, the new MDX has a larger, more commanding grille flanked by LED headlights and “chicane” style LED daytime runners. The rear of the car looks more elegant than before, and features LED tail lights.

Underneath the sleek new sheet metal sits a host of chassis improvements, including a more rigid body structure. But the big news is found in the nose of the MDX, which adopts a new double A-arm suspension setup. (As before, there is a multi-link setup out back.) Why go through the trouble of fitting a more sophisticated suspension setup more typically seen on sportier vehicles on a family SUV, instead of the simpler, easier-to-package MacPherson strut layout on the previous MDX? It’s all in an effort to make the MDX both a more capable handler without sacrificing comfort.

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The MDX will also feature a variable rate steering rack that should make the car more maneuverable at lower speeds and more agile at higher speeds. As for stopping, the new MDX features beefier brakes and a new brake booster to help haul the big SUV down in a hurry. Even though foot-stomped-on-the-floor braking isn’t often on the minds of SUV buyers, a reassuring sense of braking power helps in, say, an emergency avoidance maneuver and shorter braking distances—if delivered by the new braking setup—are invaluable for vehicle safety.

Same Base Engine, a New Optional Engine

The entry-level 2022 MDX will use a carryover 3.5-liter V-6 familiar to followers of the Honda and Acura brands. As in the previous-generation MDX, this powertrain makes 290 horsepower and 267 lb-ft of torque, though it now bolts up to a 10-speed automatic instead of the old model’s nine-speed unit.

In its relentless pursuit of “Precision Crafted Performance” Acura is also going to offer a spicier MDX Type S, a sportier variant that will be powered by a turbo 3.0-liter V-6. As in the new TLX Type S sedan, the turbo six makes 355 horsepower and 354 lb-ft of torque, enough to qualify the 2022 MDX Type S as the most powerful MDX ever. Even so, the Type S lacks the outright grunt of segment competitors such as the Lincoln Aviator (400 horsepower) or the Volvo XC90 T8 (also 400 horses).

In the base 2022 MDX, power is sent to the front wheels, but the fourth generation of Acura’s Super-Handling All-Wheel-Drive (SH-AWD) is available as an option; SH-AWD is standard on the Type S. The system can now send 40 percent more of the engine’s available torque to the rear wheels and can vector an additional 30 percent of that power to either the left or right sides of the car depending on traction needs, helping precisely nudge the rear end around tight corners under power. Again, Acura’s aspirational, sporty marketing aside, SH-AWD has proven helpful in the past for tackling slippery conditions, its ability to direct power front to back and side-to-side a boon for finding traction in, say, deep snow.

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Acura has yet to confirm if the new platform accommodates a hybrid system or if there are plans to make an all-electric version of the MDX. Even though the march toward electrification and hybridity have taken hold of nearly every other manufacturer, and the previous MDX was available in a Sport Hybrid form with electric motors driving the rear axle and a hybridized V-6 spinning the front axle, so far Acura is only showing off gas-fed fourth-generation MDXs.

Despite gaining an extra forward gear in its transmission, the 2022 Acura MDX sees its EPA-estimated fuel economy drop slightly. The front-drive, non-turbo MDX is rated for 19 mpg city, 26 mpg highway, and 22 mpg combined; the AWD version carries EPA estimates for 19 mpg city, 25 mpg highway, and 21 mpg combined—a drop of 1 mpg across the board for both. (For what it’s worth, the last-generation MDX Sport Hybrid was EPA-rated for 26 mpg city, 27 mpg highway, and 27 mpg combined. ) The Type S has yet to be EPA rated, but figure on it delivering slightly worse fuel economy than the non-turbocharged MDX.

2022 Acura MDX: New, more luxe insides

Acura isn’t just trying to make an SUV that handles like a sports sedan—the MDX remains a three-row luxury crossover meant to coddle. To that end, the interior has been spruced up with new tech and new materials. It also simply is a bigger car in every dimension than the one it replaces, and that results in significantly more interior volume. Max available room behind the third row grows from 15.8 to 18.1 cubic feet, and with all the seats down the number swells from 90.9 to 95 cubic feet.

The new MDX debuts Acura’s Precision Cockpit, a digital gauge cluster to rival the likes of Mercedes-Benz’s MBUX system and Audi’s Virtual Cockpit. A customizable 12.3-inch display sits in front of the driver and can display information like navigation, the trip computer, tire pressures, and even a G-force meter. Spring for the MDX Advance Package, and you’ll be treated to a 10.5-inch full-color head-up display that projects onto the inside of the windshield. This, in tandem with yet another 12.3-inch infotainment display that rests atop the dashboard means the new MDX is going to be able to throw a lot of information your way. The new infotainment system will be familiar to current customers, and is controlled by a touchpad similar to the one in the current RDX.

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The center console that touchpad rests in is similar in look and feel to the one in the new 2021 TLX. There are physical buttons for all of the primary controls—including a volume knob—but right in the middle of the HVAC controls sits a drive mode select knob similar to the one found in the NSX supercar. Modes on offer are Snow, Comfort, Normal, Sport and Individual. The drive modes change the weighting of the steering, the responsiveness of the engine, the transmission behavior, and where and when the SH-AWD system sends power when so equipped.

A noticeable jump in interior quality is joined by a ton of new tech, including the option for a 710-watt ELS 3D Audio system, wireless charging, and 27-way ambient LED lighting. There are six color options for the Milano leather throughout the cabin, and cars with the Advance Package will get contrast piping on the seats as well. Sport-themed A-Spec cars will get suede insets on the seats and will be trimmed in either red of black leather with suede inserts.

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How Much Does All This MDX Newness Cost?

The standard front-wheel-drive MDX will starts at $47,925 when it hits dealers early next year, a $2,400 jump from the base price of the third-gen model. Prices go up from there, with Technology Package-equipped front-drive models priced from $52,625. If you want Acura’s SH-AWD on either the base or Technology Package cars, tack on another $2,000.

Move up from there and the lineup becomes all-wheel-drive-only. The MDX A-Spec will start at $58,125 and the top-of-the-line (until the Type S comes out) Advance Package model will be priced from $61,675. The MDX Type S will eventually be the flagship of the MDX lineup, but for now, Acura is keeping its lips sealed on pricing and other details until early in 2021.

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