Last Update: Thursday, December 05, 2013
|MAYNARD'S GARAGE- Fast Friends: 2014 Acura MDX Has a Wild Side|
|Written by Dr. David Lipschitz Creative Syndicate|
|Thursday, 17 October 2013 03:26|
Photo Credit Creative Syndicate
The Acura MDX is larger but sleeker and more luxurious. Starting prices range from $43,185 to $57,400.
The re-engineered, 2014 Acura MDX may look buttoned- down and upper crust, but there's an attitude altering wild side just a computer setting away.
There's an old dirt road near my house that I like to tear up when testing all-wheel-drive vehicles. The washboard spans the track, from ditch to ditch, so you have to get up speed and skip along the tops of the ridges or go slow and get your teeth rattled loose. There are some snaky curves along the way that are greased with powdery dust that softens the ride and makes your hands sweat.
While most AWDs strap down vehicle control and give better handling than two-wheel drive, they still dance and rotate in the corners. It's like steering a boat to stay on track.
The Acura MDX was different. Its Super Handling All-Wheel Drive was a calming event to the tendency toward slip and slide. The MDX clenched the bit and channeled horsepower and traction as if on pavement. I saw the jagged washboard but I didn't feel the impact that I was expecting. It almost felt like cheating. I'd steer into a corner and the seatbelt would gently cinch and the traction control would feather the ABS to let me maintain speed and direction.
The input made me smile and the MDX and I became fast friends. The MDX also has driver-adjustable performance settings -- Integrated Dynamic System -- for normal, comfort or sport. The system adjusts suspension firmness, steering weight and throttle response. Sport mode is sharp but not painful. It is a pleasure to feel the system help the driver by holding shifts or mainlining speed. But in standard mode, the MDX is as dutiful and behaved as a family crossover.
Now in its third generation, the 2014 MDX is a complete makeover that makes major advances in richness and luxury. And that includes a more relaxed usability to the electronic interface of cabin controls. A touchscreen takes the place of a multitude of buttons in close formation, but it still takes a glance from the road to adjust the fan speed.
The MDX is 2 inches longer on a 2.8-inch longer wheelbase, but it's about an inch narrower and not as tall for smoother aerodynamics and improved fuel economy.
Sold in eight trim levels in front- or all-wheel drive, starting prices range from $43,185 to $57,400 for the MDX AWD with Advance and Technology packages, which is today's tester. All models use a 290-horsepower, direct-injection, 3.5- liter V-6 with variable cylinder management and six-speed automatic transmission with sport mode and steering wheel shifters.
The power is adequate, not wasteful, but it is hefting 4,332 pounds. Fuel economy ratings are 20 mpg city, 28 highway and 23 mpg combined for frontdrive models and 18/27/21 mpg for AWD. Premium fuel is recommended, not required. Variable Cylinder Management switches the engine between three and six cylinders, which you'll never notice.
For current owners ready to trade-in, this is graduation day. The new MDX will sell itself by how quiet the cabin maintains composure over varied surfaces and at Interstate speeds. There is more luxury to the appearance of interior design and the materials that shape the cabin. The wide shoulder room gives everybody breathing room, though the third row is still ondemand seating.
$57,000 is a lot for a sevenseat SUV, but the MDX is essentially a sport sedan with plenty of family space and a 5,000- pound tow rating. The turning circle of 37.6 feet makes it more manageable than most large sport sedans. And the compliant four-wheel independent suspension makes molehills out of speed bumps. Head toss is minimized.
The MDX has the space to grow with a family. The front seats are thronelike for a good view and access to plenty of storage areas. The longer body helps back seat room and access. The rear door opening was widened by 4.5 inches and the step-in height is 1.8 inches lower.
The flat second-row floor gives good footroom with a little more than three of feet of legroom. The second row seatback has five-position recline and nearly six inches of fore-aft adjustment. It's also easier to slide the seats to climb into the third row, which folds flat when not needed.
Cargo space behind the third row is a useful 15.8 cubic feet (large sedan capacity) and there's a shallow storage well under the cargo lid that is ideal for corralling grocery bags. Fold the third row and there is 45.1 cubic feet of gear and luggage space for the family vacation.
Acura has gone through several years of a brand re-imaging. There have been some abrupt along the way and fans left in the dust along the way. I get it now and so will anyone testing the new MDX.
2014 Acura MDX AWD
■ Body style: midsize, 7-passenger, AWD crossover
■ Engine: aluminum, direct-injectio290-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 with variable cylinder management; 267 foot-pounds torque at 4,500 rpm
■ Transmission: 6-speed automatic
■ Fuel economy: 18/27 mpg city/highway; premium recommended
■ Fuel tank: 19.5 gallons
■ Cargo space: 15.8 to 45.1 cubic feet
■ Front head/leg/shoulder room: 38.1/41.4/61.1 inches
■ 2nd row head/leg/shoulder room: 38.3/36.6/59./1 inches
■ 3rd row head/leg/shoulder room: 35.6/28.1/54.7 inches
■ Length/wheelbase: 193.6/111 inches
■ Curb weight: 4,332 pounds
■ Turning circle: 37.6 feet
■ Tow capacity: 5,000 pounds
■ Standard equipment includes: keyless locking and push-buttoignition, multi-angle rearview camera, touchscreen, 10-way power driver's seat with lumbar, heated and cooled front seats, power tailgate, power moonroof, navigatiowith voice-recognition, 12-speaker audio system with satellite and Pandora radio, LED puddle lights, 19-inch alloy wheels, 16.2-inch rear entertainment screen, heated second row seats, rear door sunshades
■ Safety features include: Seveair bags (including driver's knee bag), ABS, brake assist, brake-force distribution, stability and tractiocontrols, Agile Handling Assist Dynamic Braking, blind-spot warning, lanekeeping assist, adaptive cruise control with low-speed follow
■ Base price: $57,400, including $895 freight charge
■ Warranty: 4-years/50,000-miles bumper to bumper; 6-years/70,000-miles powertrain