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  • William Maley
    William Maley

    Review: 2014 Acura MDX Tech Entertainment

    What Is Acura Doing Right With The MDX?


    American Honda CEO Tetsuo Iwamura told reporters at Tokyo Motor Show in November that his biggest challenge is Acura. Sadly, it's easy to see why Iwamura says this. Most of Acura's lineup are either half-baked ideas or showing their age. Even with those issues, sales for the brand were up 5.9 percent at the end of 2013. Thats thanks to Acura's refreshed SUV lineup which includes the MDX and RDX. These two models made up 59 percent of Acura's total sales for 2013. This begs the question of what is the automaker doing right with their SUVs. To find out, I spent a week with the 2014 Acura MDX.

    There are two ways to describe the 2014 MDX's design. Its either a last-generation MDX that has been smoothed over or the RDX hit with an enlarging ray. Either way, the MDX's design is not as polarizing as the last-generation model which in my eyes is a very good thing. The front end still has the bread-slicer/bucktooth grille, although a bit toned down. There is also a set of jewel-eye headlights sitting on either side of the grille. There is some RDX influence in the back as the two models have a similarly styled tailgate.

    2014 Acura MDX Tech Entertainment 8

    Moving inside, Acura has made massive improvements to the MDX. The most noticeable one is the center stack. With the previous-generation MDX and a few other Acura models, the center stack was filled to brim with buttons to control the climate control and infotainment system. Trying to find the button for the certain function you wanted was a nightmare. To solve the button overload, Acura is using a dual screen setup. There is a seven-inch touchscreen on the bottom that features haptic-feedback and an eight-inch screen that is controlled by a knob at the bottom of the stack. This setup is very easy to use since Acura made the interface very understandable and has kept certain buttons and knobs. But Acura's setup isn't all flying colors. For example; if you want to enter an address into the navigation system, you have to use the knob and top screen to enter it. There is no option to punch in the address on the lower touchscreen which would be much easier. Also, do I really need to see my presets on both screens when changing a station?! This new setup shows Acura going in the right direction, but it needs some more work.

    2014 Acura MDX Tech Entertainment 15

    Aside from the center stack improvements, the 2014 MDX really shows a step up in design and materials. The interior is appointed with leather and wood trim throughout making it feel very special. Comfort is up as well with supportive seats and loads of head and legroom. There is a third row, but its best reserve for small kids or folded into the floor.

    See the next page for impressions on the powertrain and handling.


    A peek under the MDX's hood reveals a brand new 3.5L Earth Dreams V6 with variable cylinder management. The engine is rated 290 horsepower and 267 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with a six-speed automatic transmission and a choice of either front-wheel or Acura's Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD). While the 2014 MDX is down 10 horsepower and 3 pound-feet when compared to the 2013 model, the engine is more than powerful to handle it. This comes down to two things. One is that the 2014 MDX is 275 pounds lighter than the outgoing model thanks to new platform which is comprised of high-strength steel, aluminum, and magnesium. The other reason comes down to the six-speed automatic which is lightning fast on up and downshifts to keep you right in the power. One other item of note: I had a front-wheel drive MDX and was worried that torque steer would be a problem. I can say that there were no signs of it at all with the MDX during the week. Well done Acura.

    2014 Acura MDX Tech Entertainment 10

    The EPA rates the 2014 Acura MDX FWD at 20 City/28 Highway/23 Combined. During my weeklong test, I hit the combined number. This is partly thanks to the variable cylinder management system which can cut the 3.5 V6 from running on six-cylinders to three.

    The Acura MDX was known for being a fun to drive crossover and the 2014 model continues that. Acura has fitted the Integrated Dynamics System (IDS) which alters the electric power steering, throttle response, suspension, and even the engine note. There are three different settings to choose from; Comfort, Normal, and Sport. Put the MDX into Sport and it becomes a joy to drive. The steering and suspension firm up and make the MDX feel like a sports sedan and not a crossover.

    2014 Acura MDX Tech Entertainment 5

    We Come In Peace..

    Click to enlarge.

    Even more impressive was the balancing act Acura was able to do MDX's suspenion. Put IDS into Normal or Comfort and the MDX becomes a very relaxing crossover. The suspension softens up to provide a comfortable ride that is very capable of smoothing over bumps and imperfections. The MDX is also very quiet. Acura worked hard on improving the NVH levels on the MDX with such items as Active Noise Cancellation and special engine mounts.

    The 2014 Acura MDX is marked improvement over the previous model. Acura kept the items that worked on the MDX and focused on the areas that needed to be improved. With that mindset, the 2014 Acura MDX stands out as being one of the best luxury crossovers.

    That's my big takeaway with the 2014 Acura MDX. They focused on the parts which needed to be changed and kept what worked pretty much the same. If they can apply this to their other models, then maybe Acura can enjoy the sweet success all around.

    Disclaimer: Acura Provided the MDX, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas

    Year: 2014

    Make: Acura

    Model: MDX

    Trim: Tech Entertainment

    Engine: Earth Dreams 3.5L SOHC V-6 W/Direct-Injection

    Driveline: Front-Wheel Drive, Six-Speed Automatic

    Horsepower @ RPM: 290 @ 6,200

    Torque @ RPM: 267 @ 4,500

    Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 20/28/23

    Curb Weight: 4,063 lbs

    Location of Manufacture: Lincoln, Alabama

    Base Price: $48,465.00

    As Tested Price: $49,550.00 (Includes $985.00 Destination Charge)

    Options:

    N/A

    William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.comor you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster.


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    Auto is nice, but not my cup of tea. This is what I figure you get when you take a biologist who ended up working in the auto industry and cross bred their ideas. An ugly plain Jane of a bug eyed auto. Over all while fit and finish look to be as expected to a high level, their design language just does nothing for me both external and internal. Just Blah, no big deal and will be forgotten in a few years.

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    7 months into the design of the all new 2014 MDX, and we still cannot get enough of them to sell. It's a nonstop vehicle, period. The only ones that do not sell are those without navigation, so Acura is adjusting production to minimize those and focus on AWD Tech models, the top model.

    It's an incredible crossover. No vehicle this size offers what it does, or is rated anywhere near to 27mpg with AWD...or actually get it, which this one does. It's fun to toss around and back in the summer, I clocked 31.4mpg in a 26 mile highway trek home.

    Great car. And yes, what you see here and the good bits of the RLX will carry over into next models. I met the lead engineer of the MDX in June in Ohio R&D, and that was a telling time.

    There are so many competitors, yet even this fall, we still had customers trading "newer" Infiniti's, Mercedes', BMW's, Audi's, etc on previous gen MDX's. The new one now tripled that.

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    Caddy Cruiser, if you are constantly sold out, you should ask to have some transferred from the Seattle area. There are ton's on the lots and they do not sell that well. Then again, in a Hi Tech city, you see plenty of MB, BMW, Audi and Cadillac SUV's everywhere.

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    Caddy Cruiser, if you are constantly sold out, you should ask to have some transferred from the Seattle area. There are ton's on the lots and they do not sell that well. Then again, in a Hi Tech city, you see plenty of MB, BMW, Audi and Cadillac SUV's everywhere.

    Not constantly sold out, but it's in batches everywhere. Sometimes you have them, then again you don't. Right now everyone mostly has a full inventory of AWD base models, but not Tech, Tech/Entertainment or Advance and those 3 are in constant demand.

    Once you get a batch, the batch is gone pretty quickly, base models aside.

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    Thanks for the clarification, that blows is all the Acura CUV's sitting around here are just base models. I cannot think why in a High Tech City they would not have all the electronic options that most workers would want.

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    Thanks for the clarification, that blows is all the Acura CUV's sitting around here are just base models. I cannot think why in a High Tech City they would not have all the electronic options that most workers would want.

    Built a mix of all of them, but what's happened is 80% sold are Tech models. Production is adjusted, but you still have to sell all the AWD non-Tech models to earn more AWD, AWD Tech, etc.

    Once they sell, you build more, and they sell as soon as they arrive. Thankfully Acura/Honda are quick at adjusting production. All things balance in time. Build a hot vehicle that doesn't need incentives to sell. Good move. Really, the only thing we've done from time to time is a special finance rate on base models. Otherwise, not necessary. That's how you keep resale and build value, without cash buckets and over produced inventory.

    Edited by caddycruiser

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    Are they still producing out of balance or is it adjusted now?

    No, it was balanced pretty quickly. But as we were doing a split of all models before, and Tech's were selling nonstop as they arrived and continue to, most dealers still have more non-Tech base inventory from before.

    Not as many bases will be produced, but we have to sell all the base models to earn more MDX's overall. Not really an issue.

    The MDX without Tech still has more "tech" than it ever did before, and is incredibly well decked out for almost everyone. My mother used to her Terrain with Intellilink where she streams and plugs iPhone/iPod in anyway is a perfect example of who one would be perfect for.

    On the opposite hand, the RDX that was new for 2013 continues to sell nonstop through today, however the "hot one" lately again is the AWD car without Tech. Different price level all together, and when you're in the mid $30k's there are so many small crossover choices, it's a no question choice to get the Acura vs. what else is out there.

    It fluctuates back and forth. Probably in a few more months, we will move back to more Tech RDX's and more FWD models as well. I've sold a lot of FWD MDX's even in PA, by request, even with the recent weather. Makes sense when you consider, even if people don't realize, how large the volume of FWD large crossovers is vs. AWD, especially vehicles like the Lambda's and others.

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    And as quickly as things change...in the course of a week, now we're selling a LOT of AWD non-Technology models. There's no rhyme or reason, except people realizing how great of a vehicle it is for the dollar. There's no way shape or form I would buy or lease an Explorer, GM Lambda, Pilot, Infiniti, Nissan, etc. crossover against the new MDX and we see the comparisons daily.

    Non-Tech, with the large screens, Bluetooth streaming, USB, Pandora, AHA Internet Radio, etc. I'm back to getting a lot of "that's all I need anyway, I use my phone for nav and that's rare as it is" comments.

    Oddball? We've had a lot of people recently, "in between" ready to buy an MDX then for whatever bizarre reason debating a new Explorer. No comparison. Mostly lease customers too. That huge discount and Ford marketing draw attention. Then you drive the Explorer...or realize, as we just looked up, an example MDX has a 60%+ 3-year lease residual...the Explorer? 45%. At that rate, you better be getting a coupon for owning a horse, a discount card, a credit card, a dance, and a bag of money to make it cheaper.

    Interesting stuff, what people compare and why.

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    Is that a real lease residual on the MDX or a subsidized one?


    I could see myself leasing an Enclave if I were in that market, but none of the others you list. The Grand Cherokee is still the highest on my list.

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    Is that a real lease residual on the MDX or a subsidized one?

    I could see myself leasing an Enclave if I were in that market, but none of the others you list. The Grand Cherokee is still the highest on my list.

    That's a real residual. Acura's, especially the SUV's, hold incredible value and even with 60%+ residuals, every time they come in to be turned in we buy them out and there's equity. We don't do funny business of lease cash, cap cost mystery cash, etc. Not necessary if the car truly holds value.

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    egads! the acrua lease calculator seems to be a bit off. 36 month/12k lease $749 a month for a MXD-AWD with 10% down? A slightly higher MSRP Jeep GC is $220 a month less than that.

    The calculator is always off, I wish it would update to be closer to correct...but alas. That's why the national special programs are advertised and dealers can be emailed easily.

    To give an example, the last MDX AWD lease I just did stretching a bit at a loss, with $2500 down and PA suburbs tax, 12k per year I made it $499 monthly with tax included and new license plates. No funny money, no incentives needed, and Acura Financial. At the end of 3 years after 12k, it's a 62% residual on that car.

    Great stuff.

    Edited by caddycruiser

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