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2014 Acura MDX


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Blockbuster sequels are all about one-upmanship—more explosions mean more popcorn sales. Luxury-car makers generally follow Hollywood’s lead, with horsepower standing in for special effects. So when Acura introduced a redesigned but less powerful MDX, we were puzzled. Then it said the three-row SUV would, for the first time, be available in a dumbed-down, front-wheel-drive model. The whole thing sounded like The Expendables 3rewritten as a Katherine Heigl romantic comedy.

Acura didn’t have a front-drive MDX at our preview, but a few hours behind the wheel of the four-wheel-drive 2014 MDX convinced us that we needn’t have worried.

The old MDX had 300 horsepower that bellowed, “Prepare for glory!” like so many Spartan warriors in a Gerard Butler movie that, while critically panned, has lately developed a cult following. Anyway. That 3.7-liter V-6 has been supplanted by a version of the 3.5-liter V-6 from the RLX sedan. Here it’s rated at 290 horsepower and 267 pound-feet of  torque and still mounted transversely. With variable valve timing and lift (a.k.a. VTEC), direct injection, and cylinder deactivation, the new V-6 screams efficiency nearly as loudly, helping the MDX’s EPA-combined rating jump from 18 mpg to 21, with highway fuel economy hitting 27 even with four-wheel drive.

 

A new platform makes its debut here, developed just for the MDX (at least for now). Cutting ties with the rest of Honda’s light trucks, which had shared an architecture with the Odyssey minivan, helped the MDX drop 275 pounds compared with the old model. The body-in-white saw 123 pounds trimmed thanks to the increased use of high-strength steel. A new rear-suspension design also netted a 26-pound weight savings. The diet means that the MDX’s power-to-weight ratio actually improves despite the reduced output of the smaller engine.

The carryover six-speed automatic isn’t great. Whether in sport mode or through the steering-wheel-mounted paddles, shifts aren’t as quick as those executed by state-of-the-art seven- or eight-speed automatics offered by German competitors. Acura replaced the old MDX’s dual exhausts with a new single pipe hiding behind the rear bumper, a disappearing act that mirrors what happened to most of the noisiness of the old MDX. Better sealing and insulation and thicker acoustic glass quiet the cabin enough that you’ll be able to hear the kids whispering insults to each other in the third row, at least up until 4950 rpm. That’s the threshold where VTEC kicks in for a 1850-rpm howl to the redline.

Both the middle and rear seats now fold flat, and one-touch third-row access means kids can climb aboard unassisted. Pressing either of two buttons—one on the back of the seat or one on the side, both lit at night—slides the second row all the way forward on tracks that permit fore-aft adjustment. Two optional DVD screens, one of which is able to display two programs side by side, make the MDX a veritable multiplex.

Article Credit: Car And Driver

Updated 6 Years ago
 

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