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Monday, February 6, 2023

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Test drive: The 2022 Acura MDX is big on sport and utility

Acura is going back to its roots. Quickly.

Its latest make have been instilled with plenty of the sporty attitude the brand was born with over three decades ago.

2022 MDX Advance

2022 MDX Advance

That includes the 2022 MDX three-row crossover, which follows the recently redesigned RDX and TLX down this performance-oriented path.

Pricing starts at $47,925, which puts it on the low end of a range of competitive vehicles that includes the Cadillac XT6, Lincoln Aviator, Audi Q7 and BMW X7.

2022 MDX Advance

2022 MDX Advance

The all-new MDX gets a platform that better sets it apart from the Honda Pilot it is related to. Key among the changes is the use of a double-wishbone front suspension like the ones used on many high performance and racing cars.

It’s also longer, lower and wider than the outgoing model with more chiseled bodywork and a stretched hood to create a more athletic profile.

Under that hood you’ll find a 290 hp 3.5-liter V6 sending power through a 10-speed automatic transmission. The MDX is offered with front-wheel-drive or Acura’s excitingly named Super Handling All-Wheel-Drive, with respective tow ratings of 3,500 pounds and 5,000 pounds.

2022 MDX Advance

2022 MDX Advance

It is primarily a luxury vehicle, however, and the interior is finished in LED accent lights, piano black trim and leather worthy of its price. Seven passenger seating is standard, but the second-row middle seat can either be folded down and used as a console with cup holders, or completely removed to create a faux-captain’s chairs layout, unfortunately without inner armrests.

2022 MDX Advance

2022 MDX Advance

The third row gets a boost in legroom compared to the previous MDX, making it suitable for adults on short trips, and the cargo area is also larger, the stylish raked roofline trimming a bit off the top.

2022 MDX Advance

2022 MDX Advance

The front seats feel big and wide, but in my fully-loaded $61,675 test car were equipped with adjustable bolsters to help you get a tailored fit.

(Acura)

The MDX comes standard with a panoramic sunroof and a suite of driver aids that includes automatic emergency brakes, lane-keeping assist, adaptive cruise control and a Traffic Jam assist that can control the speed and help with steering in stop and go conditions.

Three step-up packages are available that add comfort and convenience features like a head-up display, 360-degree parking camera, a voice amplifier to help talk to the back seat passengers and a 16-speaker ELS Audio system that’s as crystal clear as the MDX’s full-digital instrument cluster and 12.3-inch infotainment system display.

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The latter isn’t a touchscreen, however, and relies on Acura’s True Touchpad Interface on the center console that can be tricky to use. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration are provided, however, and are as good as you consider those platform’s voice recognition systems to be.

All of this provides the “premium” experience expected of an Acura, but what about that sporty thing?

You’ll have to turn up the drive mode dial to find out.

Twist it to Sport and it amps up the aggressiveness of the steering feel, throttle response, transmission action and sound as the MDX’s shocks provide a blend of comfort and handling through progressive levels of stiffness.

It doesn’t completely transform the MDX into an oversized Integra, but does liven things up and offers a hit at what’s to come.

Later this year, Acura is putting an exclamation point on the performance thing by introducing a 355 hp MDX Type S model later this year with a turbocharged 3.0-liter V6.

Current MDX owners should be more than satisfied with the run-of-the-mill 2022 model, however, which doesn’t mind going for a run.

———-

2022 Acura MDX

Base price: $47,925

As tested: $61,675

Type: 7-passenger, 4-door all-wheel-drive SUV

Engine: 3.5-liter V6

Power: 290 hp, 267 lb-ft

Transmission: 10-speed automatic

MPG: 19 city/25 hwy

This story has been updated to more accurately describe the MDX suspension design

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