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NerdWallet: The new 4th-generation Acura MDX is roomy and elegant; the high-performance model shines on twisty roads


All-new chassis

Roomy, elegant interior

Excellent tech & safety suite

Wireless Apple

CarPlay/Android Auto

Also available as a high-performance MDX Type S with 355 horsepower


Tires thump on rough freeways

Not especially fuel-efficient

No hybrid model

Touchpad controller is an acquired skill

What’s new?

The Acura MDX is all-new for 2022. (There wasn’t a 2021 model)

New MDX Type S is also on sale now.

Price: The 2022 Acura MDX starts at $48,000.

The MDX has been around since 2001, and this luxurious 3-row SUV has been a consistent solid seller for Acura. In fact, in 14 of the last 19 years, Acura has sold more than 50,000 MDXs a year. All, for the record, built in East Liberty, Ohio.

Problem is, the luxurious 3-row SUV segment has expanded so rapidly in recent years that the Acura MDX has begun losing a bit of its luster. What to do? Well, Acura gave the MDX a year off (there is no 2021 model) and concentrated on crafting an all-new fourth-generation model that’s better in multiple ways.

The all-new 2022 Acura MDX went on sale in February of 2021. Acura calls it a new flagship model, one that is based on Honda’s

brand-new light-duty truck chassis. It’s slightly longer, lower, and wider than the outgoing MDX, and its more robust unit-body chassis profits from double A-arm front suspension and a multilink rear, both mounted to stout subframes. The chassis uses a generous amount of ultra-high-strength steel and structural adhesives, plus weight-saving aluminum for the hood, front fenders, front shock tower mounts, and bumper beams.

The Acura MDX


Under the aluminum hood is a familiar sight: a 3.5-liter V-6 engine that sends 290 horsepower to the front (or all four) wheels via a 10-speed automatic transmission with shift paddles. Among small refinements like active engine mounts, the 3.5-liter powerplant has a new intake system for quieter operation.

Super-Handling all-wheel drive (SH-AWD) is optional on the base model and the MDX with the Technology package. It’s standard on the A-Spec and Advance models. This advanced AWD system sends as much as 70 percent of the power rearward if needed, and clutches at the rear differential can apportion as much as 100% of that power to either side if needed. This allows for torque vectoring, which helps keep the MDX from pushing wide in corners. On top of that, this latest SH-AWD has greater torque capacity and is faster acting.

There’s also an extra-sporty model for 2022 called the MDX Type S. Powered by a turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 with 355 horsepower and 354 lb-ft of torque, the new MDX Type S features SH-AWD with torque vectoring, Brembo front brakes, and an exclusive Sport+ driving mode.

As a sporty but luxurious 3-row SUV, the 2022 Acura MDX competes against a broad smattering of rivals that range from the Audi Q7 and BMW X5

to the new Genesis GV80 and the Volvo XC90
American competition comes from the likes of the Cadillac XT6 and Lincoln Aviator.

The 2022 Acura MDX


2022 Acura MDX pricing

In front-wheel-drive (FWD) base form, the 2022 Acura MDX starts at $48,000. While that’s $3,500 more than the outgoing 2020 model, this all-new MDX is significantly better equipped than before.

The destination charge for all 2022 Acura MDXs is $1,045. SH-AWD (Super Handling All-wheel drive) adds $2,200 to the base and Technology versions, the two MDXs that don’t come with it already standard.

The Acura MDX Technology, a trim level equipped with premium Milano leather, a nav system, and 20-inch alloy wheels, starts at $52,700. The Acura MDX A-Spec, with standard AWD and a dramatically sportier appearance, begins at $58,400.

At the top of the standard 2022 Acura MDX lineup is the Advance trim. This luxurious Acura SUV is fitted with premium Milano leather and a surround-view camera, plus a head-up display and massaging 16-way power front seats. Price: $61,950.

As a new Type S model, the 2022 Acura MDX — which has new Lift and Sport+ driving modes — starts at $66,700. The Type S with Advance Package starts a bit higher, at $72,050.

How does the new U.S.-designed and built 2022 Acura MDX compare to its luxurious 3-row SUV competitors? Let’s take a look:

The 2022 Audi Q7, fitted with a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine, starts at $55,800. Volvo’s XC90, also equipped with a turbo-4, starts at $49,900, while the Cadillac XT6, packing a 3.6-liter V6, begins at $48,595. The new Genesis GV80, recently named the KBB Best Buy Midsize Luxury SUV, starts at $49,700 for a 4-cylinder model. Last, there’s the 2022 Lincoln Aviator and its 400-horsepower twin-turbo 3.0-liter V6, which starts at $50,995.

Given Acura’s stellar reputation for reliability, the new MDX is expected to have high resale values. And let’s not forget that the 2020 Acura MDX took home an award as KBB’s lowest cost-to-own 3-row midsize luxury SUV.

See: Check out the new and redesigned SUVs coming this year, plus future concept cars

Driving the 2022 Acura MDX

We like the MDX’s 3.5-liter V6. It’s more relaxed in its duty than a typical turbocharged 4-cylinder as found in so many of its competitors, aided by a smooth-shifting 10-speed automatic transmission. You can use paddles behind the steering wheel for crisp upshifts, but we find them more valuable for downhill downshifts to make life a little easier for the MDX’s brakes, which are more than an inch larger in front. And despite the switch to a new electric brake booster, the MDX’s pedal retains a good feel.

Also good is the MDX’s ride quality, neither too hard nor too cushy. Interestingly, Comfort mode is no softer than Normal because the Integrated Dynamics System settings don’t actually alter the suspension tuning. Rather, in the transition from Normal to Comfort, it’s the MDX’s steering effort, interior sound, interior lighting, and gauge appearance that get adjusted.

Also notable: Acura tells us that the Bridgestone

Alenza tires (size 255/55R-19 or 255/20R-20) have sidewalls that are 10% stiffer than usual. While this may sharpen steering response, the Alenzas make a loud drumming sound on bumpy freeways, despite alloy wheels equipped with special noise attenuators for that apparent reason.

At 70 mph on the highway, the MDX’s 3.5-liter V6 runs at a relaxed 2,000 rpm in 10th gear. In Sport mode, though, 10th gear is locked out for snappier downshifts and acceleration, such as when pulling out of your lane to make a pass on the highway.

A few other observations: The MDX’s head-up display is clearly seen, and it has enough up/down adjustability for tall drivers. The True Touchpad Interface on the center console is tough to use while driving, but standard wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto brings the welcome familiarity of your phone to the MDX.

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Moreover, the heated and cooled leather seats of the Advance model we sampled proved all-day comfortable, even without using any of the nine different massage settings. Lastly, the 16-speaker ELS stereo sounded terrific, far better than the sound systems most of us have at home.

While the 2022 MDX had ample power for all situations, the new Type S, powered by a turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 with 355 horsepower, is on another level altogether. Fed by a quick-reacting twin-scroll turbocharger, this 60-degree V6, the same engine in the Acura TLX Type S, puts out 354 lb-ft of torque at only 1,400 rpm.

Of note, the Type S V6 has Variable Cylinder Management (VCM), which shuts off three of the cylinders in light load conditions to reduce fuel consumption. When you’re driving the new Type S, you can’t feel this switch-over happening, thanks in part to a new active engine mount that detects and cancels vibration.

What’s most notable about the new MDX Type S, other than its extra power? Its air suspension and active dampers. These allow the Type S, in its Comfort setting, to be softer and plusher than the standard MDX, with smaller front and rear anti-roll bars. But when it’s in Sport — or particularly Sport+ mode — this MDX Type S has the firm springing and damping you appreciate when driving aggressively on twisty roads. With this air suspension, the first on an Acura, the Type S also can be lowered 15 mm for easier passenger loading, or raised by 50 mm for extra clearance in off-road situations.

The paddle-shift 10-speed automatic of the MDX Type S also has been enhanced. It has beefier gears, a stronger clutch, and a new torque converter to handle the increased torque. The shifting also has been improved — upshifts are 30% faster in the Sport+ driving mode, and manual downshifts are 40% quicker in all the available driving modes.

Also notable: The MDX Type S’s sticky 21-inch Continental tires — size 275/40R-21 at each corner — have excellent grip. What’s more, they are self-sealing. Any puncture 5 mm or smaller gets permanently sealed by a thick layer of glue that coats the interior side of the tread. This substance, the consistency of which is not unlike that used in a glue rat trap, also helps make the tire quieter and less thumpy than the 20-inch rubber used on the standard MDX.

With its impressive new powertrain, suspension that can be softer or sportier than a standard MDX, plus big front Brembos brakes and a healthy dose of other upgrades inside and out, the attractive new Type S underscores its claim as the flagship SUV in Acura’s lineup.

In short, the new 2022 Acura MDX Type S shines as a new model that’s more comfortable and more sporty than a standard Acura MDX. That’s a rare combination.

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Interior comfort

With its added size, the 2022 Acura MDX is a bit roomier in each of its three rows. While the third row is still best for kids or small adults, it benefits from 0.6 inches more headroom and a significant 2.4 inches of extra legroom. The shoulder room is up by a half-inch back there, too.

In front, the new MDX profits from 0.4 inches more headroom and 0.2 inches of extra legroom.

The center row, which features a removable center seat, offers roughly the same headroom and legroom as before, but with 1.2 inches more shoulder room. When the middle seat of the second row is removed, the MDX turns into a 6-seater with center-row captain’s chairs and an easy walk-through to the rear bench. With the middle seat in place, its backrest can be folded forward to serve as a wide center armrest with a pair of integrated cupholders. The second-row seats also slide forward individually to facilitate access to the third row.

The MDX dash is handsome, with its large digital instrument panel and prominent horizontal infotainment screen. It’s a luxurious cabin, for sure, and the quality of the leather, wood, and aluminum trim in the Advance model sampled by KBB was top-notch.

Although there are seemingly countless switches and buttons for the multiple standard features, the new MDX avoids looking too busy inside, and the wireless charging pad on the center console is located in a great spot, right where you’d typically leave your phone.

On the other hand, we’re not big fans of the MDX’s True Touchpad on the center console. We wish the MDX had a standard touchscreen instead, but the True Touchpad does get easier with practice. Our advice: Don’t be too careful with it. Instead of swiping your finger lightly and getting frustrated with the somewhat erratic response, use distinct movements with constant pressure. On a positive note, a physical volume knob on the new MDX’s center console is much appreciated, along with the accompanying rocker switch for changing stations.

And speaking of easy, the MDX’s standard new onboard Amazon

Alexa allows you to ask all sorts of questions without taking your eyes off the road. You can even ask about the MDX itself and say something like this: “Hey, Alexa: Tell me about your True Touchpad Interface.” It’s seamless, just like the standard wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto operation.

Also see: The 25 bestselling SUVs

Standard versions of the 2022 MDX Type S get Milano leather seat upholstery with Ultrasuede inserts, plus a flat-bottom steering wheel, metal pedal covers, and a hand-wrapped upper dash with contrast stitching. When you order the MDX Type S with Advance Package, it comes with full-leather seats, plus nine massage modes, a head-up display, and a 25-speaker ELS premium audio system with carbon-fiber speakers that includes six overhead speakers in the headliner and a pair of bass speakers mounted on the sides of the front center console. (The standard 2022 Acura MDX MDX Type S gets by with a 16-speaker sound system with only 710 watts.)

The interior of the MDX Type S looks particularly sharp in Azurite Blue, a dark color that can be mistaken for a dark gray or black in low light conditions.

Cargo capacity is important in a midsize SUV, and the MDX represents a small improvement. There’s 16.3 cubic feet of space behind the 3rd row (+1.5), 39.1 behind the 2nd row (+2.2), and 71.4 behind the first row (+3.0). There’s also more underfloor storage in the back, covered by a reversible cargo floor.

Exterior styling

The fourth-generation MDX was styled at the Acura Design Studio in California. Still immediately identifiable as an MDX but with changed proportions, the 2022 MDX is 2.2 inches longer than the 2020 model, with a wheelbase that has grown by 2.8 inches. These increases, together with a 1.4-inch-wider track and a dash-to-axle distance that has grown by more than 4 inches, make for a new MDX that’s longer, lower, and wider, a crossover SUV that has taken a step in the wagon direction.

According to Acura, the MDX exterior design was inspired by the wind-shaped rocks of Arizona’s Antelope Canyon. We think its sweeping silhouette is especially attractive. Noteworthy exterior details include Acura’s Diamond Pentagon grille, 4-element LED headlights, and a sculpted front fascia with 3-element LED fog lamps and prominent but strangely nonfunctional vertical vents beneath each headlight.

Viewed from the side, the new MDX shows off a longer hood, a raked roofline, black B- and C-pillars, and a strong shoulder line connecting the front and rear LED lighting elements. Twenty-inch wheels fill out the wheel wells nicely, and the back of the new MDX is highlighted by a low character line and dual exhausts.

In sporty A-Spec form, the 2022 Acura MDX profits from a black grille and abundant other black trim, plus A-Spec badges and 20-inch Shark Gray wheels with a machined finish. Apex Pearl Blue paint is exclusive to the A-Spec, but five other colors are available on this model: Liquid Carbon Metallic, Platinum White Pearl, Majestic Black Pearl, Performance Red Pearl, and Lunar Silver Metallic.

Active shutters in the MDX’s lower grille, along with specially shaped A-pillars and 2-piece front strakes (that bend airflow around the front tires), further improve aero efficiency.

Two paint colors are new on the 2022 Acura MDX: Liquid Carbon Metallic and Phantom Violet Pearl. They join a color palette that also includes red, white, silver, black, and blue. The new MDX Type S looks especially sharp in Tiger Eye Pearl.

The new 2022 Acura MDX Type S, available in six colors, is distinguished visually by an open-surface diamond pentagon grille, which improves engine cooling with 14% better airflow. It also has large side intakes on its nose, which feed cooling air to a pair of auxiliary cooling radiators, one per side. Yes, that means the new MDX Type S has three radiators — a large central one flanked by two auxiliary units — to help this turbocharged powerplant shed the heat when it’s working hard, such as when towing a 5,000-pound trailer.

Other distinguishing Type S characteristics include a body-color grille-surround, red front-brake calipers, and quad exhaust outlets (with active valves).

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Favorite features

The MDX A-Spec model
Primarily an appearance package, the MDX A-Spec looks great with its black grille, black trim around its headlights and taillights, and Shark Gray 20-inch wheels. Inside, the seats are covered in red or black Milano leather, with black inserts made of a synthetic suede. The A-Spec also has a flat-bottom steering wheel, metal sill plates, and a black headliner. The only suspension difference is a slightly larger rear anti-roll bar, which makes for sharper steering response.

Dynamic mode dial
This dial, below the MDX’s climate controls, allows the driver to choose among Normal, Sport, Comfort, and Snow driving modes, or select an Individual mode that allows a unique mix of personalized settings. The throttle, transmission, steering, and SH-AWD are all adjusted with these modes, and the MDX’s digital instrument panel changes its appearance for each. In Sport mode, for instance, the gauges go red, and a tachometer gets displayed prominently across the top of the instrument panel.

Standard features

Owing to the 2022 MDX’s upscale focus, it’s not surprising that even the base model is generously equipped. A front-drive model with synthetic leather interior upholstery, the entry-level MDX comes with power front seats, tri-zone automatic climate control, a power tailgate, a panoramic sunroof, 19-inch alloy wheels, a 12.3-inch digital instrument panel, and a 12.3-inch infotainment screen that works in conjunction with Acura’s True Touchpad Interface on the center console.

Other standard technology on the base MDX includes wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, Amazon Alexa, a wireless charging pad, a 9-speaker audio system, and USB charging ports for the first two rows of seats. The new MDX also borrows the CabinTalk technology from the Odyssey minivan, which uses the audio system to amplify front-seat passengers’ voices so they can be heard better in the back seats.

Safety is addressed not just by the stronger new chassis, but also by AcuraWatch. This standard safety suite includes a forward-collision warning, automatic emergency braking (with pedestrian detection), road-departure mitigation, a lane-departure warning, lane-keep assist, adaptive cruise control, a blind-spot monitor, a rear cross-traffic monitor, and a driver attention monitor.

In addition to its powerful engine and sport-tuned transmission and AWD System, the new Acura MDX Type S benefits from air suspension with active shock absorbers and adjustable ride height. The Type S is also fitted with 14.3-inch Brembo front brake rotors and 21-inch alloy wheels that wear self-sealing high-performance tires.

Also standard in the new MDX Type S is an ELS Studio 3-D premium audio system with 710 watts of power and 16 speakers. If you order the Type S Advanced Package, this MDX gets a 1,000-watt ELS Studio 3-D Signature Edition audio system with 25 speakers and illuminated speaker grilles. The Advanced Package also brings with it massaging front seats (in full Milano leather), plus a head-up display, heated rear seats, a hands-free power liftgate, a surround-view camera, acoustic laminated rear glass, and ultra-plush carpeting.

Factory options

Acura’s Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) is available as a $2,000 option on the base MDX and the Technology model. SH-AWD is standard on the A-Spec, Advance, and Type S models.

In Advance trim, the 2022 MDX positively drips with luxury. In addition to Milano interior leather with contrast stitching, the Advance is graced with open-pore wood trim, a 10.5-inch head-up display, a surround-view camera, a hand’s free power tailgate, roof rails, and even outer door handles with LED lighting.

Not enough for you? It also has massaging 16-way power front seats, heated front and rear seats, a heated steering wheel, an AC outlet in the second row, a pair of USB ports in the third row, and a concert-quality ELS audio system with 16 speakers.

Note to kids: If you download the CabinControl smartphone app, you can use your phone from your back-seat position to adjust the MDX’s audio settings, rear climate control, navigation, and even the position of the overhead sunshade.

On the Type S, rich colors such as Performance Red Pearl or Tiger Eye Pearl are a $500 option. You can also order a $1,927 Black Utility Package that includes black roof rails with black crossbars, running boards, and a cargo net.

Engine and transmission

The new 2022 Acura MDX is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 with 290 horsepower and 267 lb-ft of torque. The transverse-mounted direct-injected engine, which has a 3-cylinder mode that saves fuel, mates to a 10-speed automatic transmission with push-button controls on the center console and shift paddles behind the steering wheel.

Front-wheel-drive (FWD) Acura MDXs are rated by the EPA at 19 mpg city/26 mpg highway/22 mpg combined, exactly the same as the outgoing 2020 model. With AWD, the EPA fuel economy of the 2022 Acura MDX drops just a bit, to 19 mpg city/25 mpg highway/21 mpg combined.

A pity, but there’s no Acura MDX Hybrid model, as there was in 2020. However, we wouldn’t be surprised to see an MDX Hybrid in the future, especially since Acura has told KBB that the MDX’s all-new chassis has been designed with multiple power plants in mind.

The Acura MDX Type S is powered by the same engine used by the TLX Type S sedan — a turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 that puts out 355 horsepower and 354 lb-ft of torque. Boost from the single twin-scroll turbo arrives quickly, and a maximum of 70% of the power can go to the rear wheels for a sporty feel.

The 2022 Acura MDX Type S is rated by the EPA at 17 mpg city/21 mpg highway/19 mpg combined.

Of note, the MDX’s 3.5-liter V6 needs no scheduled maintenance for 100,000 miles or more, other than occasional inspections and typical fluid and filter replacements. The timing belt and sparkplugs get replaced at the first tuneup.

Also noteworthy: The torque transfer unit on the new MDX’s front transaxle has been lowered. This reduces the angle of the drive shaft to the rear wheels and helps give the 7-seat MDX cabin a flatter floor.

The recommended fuel for both engines is premium 91-octane gasoline. Also notable: The battery of the Type S has been moved from under the aluminum hood to a spot in the back for better vehicle weight distribution.

3.5-liter V6 (MDX)
290 horsepower @ 6,200 rpm
267 lb-ft of torque @ 4,200 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/26 mpg (FWD), 19/25 mpg (AWD)

Turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 (MDX Type S)
355 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm
354 lb-ft of torque @ 1,400 rpm-5,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 17/21 mpg

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