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Review: 2014 Acura MDX Tech Entertainment


William Maley

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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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  • 3 weeks later...

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.

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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    • By William Maley
      There are some cars I will not turn down the opportunity to spend time with again. A prime example is the Mazda MX-5 Miata, a car that brings a smile to my face. This past fall, I had a chance to spend some time in a soft-top version and to figure out whether I would have this or the RF.
      What has changed since our last visit with Miata? Only a few things such as the addition of Mazda's i-Activsense suite of active safety features (automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, and lane-departure warning) as standard; and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto for the Club and Grand Touring models. I find myself drawn more to the standard Miata than RF because it looks a bit neater. The hardtop makes the Miata look somewhat bulky.  The 17-inch wheels finished in dark silver help set the car off. The addition of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto makes using the MazdaConnect infotainment system a bit more bearable to use. I found myself using CarPlay more due to its easier interface layout and brighter graphics. Power comes from a 2.0L Skyactiv-G inline-four with 181 horsepower and 151 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with a six-speed manual, while an automatic is optional. As I noted in my review of the RF, the new 2.0 makes a dramatic difference to the Miata's performance. Leaving a stop, the engine freely revs and delivers a smooth rush of power. I think this version is slightly faster than the RF, mostly due to it not having the foldable hardtop. The six-speed manual is still one of the sweetest transmissions I have used. It feels smooth and precise when running through the gears. Handling is still one of the Miata's strong points as it eagerly changes direction and shows little body roll. Steering is sharp and provides the right amount of weight when driven hard. Ride quality is slightly better than the RF I drove last year due to the Grand Touring not having as stiff as a suspension setup. Yes, you will still feel several bumps and imperfections. But not at the rate as you'll experience in the Club. The Miata is one of those few cars I find myself still being impressed with every time I get the chance to drive one. It offers a level of driving fun that very few models can match, along with a price tag that won’t break the bank. If you were to ask which Miata I would choose, it would be the soft top. Disclaimer: Mazda Provided the MX-5 Miata, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2020
      Make: Mazda
      Model: MX-5 Miata
      Trim: Grand Touring
      Engine: 2.0L Skyactiv-G DOHC Four-Cylinder
      Driveline: Six-Speed Manual, Rear-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 181 @ 7,000
      Torque @ RPM: 151 @ 4,000
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 26/34/29
      Curb Weight: 2,341 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Hiroshima, Japan
      Base Price: $31,670
      As Tested Price: $32,790 (Includes $920.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Grey Cloth Roof - $200.00
    • By William Maley
      I rarely get the opportunity to drive two different flavors of the same vehicle within a short timeframe. But that's what happened in the fall when I had the chance to drive the new Hyundai Sonata in its standard and hybrid forms. The Sonata has always been a favorite of mine as it offered a lot for a midsize sedan, with a surprising price tag. It has also come very close to being at the top of the class, but falling somewhat short due to one thing or another. This new version has the chance of changing that.
      Very Polarizing Design

      The consensus from several readers on Cheers & Gears and various social media sites on the Sonata's design was of dislike. Many found the design to be a bit much and overdone. I found myself in the minority as I was impressed by the lengths Hyundai went. The flowing lines and raked roofline reminded me of the 2012 Sonata which gave notice to other automakers to step up their game. Little details such as the bars the run along the outer edge of the hood to the headlights to a distinct rear-end treatment make the Sonata stand out.
      If there is an issue I have with the Sonata's design, it is the grille. I find it to be slightly cartoonish due to the large size and shape.
      Simple, Yet Elegant Interior
      If you're worried that the polarizing ideas from the exterior make their way inside, don't. The interior is surprisingly sedate with clean lines and a simple design. Hyundai should be commended for using a lot of soft-touch plastics and leather on various surfaces. It makes the Sonata look and feel more premium than its price tag may suggest.

      Despite the coupe-inspired roofline, the Sonata's interior space is quite spacious. Most no one will have any complaints sitting in the back as there is ample head and legroom. Taller passengers should be aware that the optional panoramic sunroof for the Sonata will take away some headroom. The Sonata Hybrid doesn't worry about that as it doesn't offer the sunroof.
      Tech Galore!
      Both of the Sonatas on test came in the Limited trim which means a bountiful selection of technology. It begins with a 10.2-inch TFT display for the instrument cluster which provides all of the key information needed at a glance. A clever trick is when you engage the turn signal, the respective 'dial' brings up a camera mounted underneath the side view mirrors to provide a blind-spot view. I found this system to be helpful as it gave me an extra set of eyes whenever I needed to change lanes.

      Next up is another 10.25-inch screen housing Hyundai's latest infotainment system. I like the three-window layout on the home screen that you can customize to your needs. Navigating around the system is a breeze with a response touchscreen and capacitive touch buttons sitting on either side. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard.
      The next two tech features are exclusive to the standard Sonata. First is what Hyundai calls a digital key. Using the BlueLink application on a compatible smartphone, you can use this instead of the key to start the car and drive away. At the time of this writing, this is only available on Android phones. Hyundai did provide a loner Samsung Note smartphone for the week to try this out. I did not have the best experience with this feature at first because I found you need to be pretty close to the vehicle to make a connection. Trying to connect from my room upstairs, just above where the vehicle was parked, the application would throw up a connection error. I found that if I moved to the living room or just outside the front door, the phone was able to make the connection. This sours some of the appeal of this feature. 
      At least using the phone as the vehicle's key does work a bit better. It only takes a few seconds for the phone to make the connection to the vehicle and you can start it up. Although, I found myself wondering wouldn't it be easier and faster to have the key. The only feature that makes any sense to me is the ability to share the key with other people, but lock down certain aspects.
      Second is Smart Park (or smart parkh as made famous by the Super Bowl commercial from last year). Using the key, you can have the Sonata move forward or back out of the parking spot to allow for easier access to get into the vehicle. It's simple to operate, just hold down one of two buttons for a few seconds; the Sonata starts up and goes into the correct gear to move in the desired direction. I can see the appeal in urban areas where space is limited. But in the current pandemic times all of us find ourselves in, this seems to be more of a gimmick.
      Power Selection
      Hyundai offers two engines for the regular Sonata; a naturally aspirated 2.5L four-cylinder or a turbocharged 1.6L four. A more potent turbocharged 2.5L four-cylinder is available on the upcoming Sonata N Line. My tester featured the turbo 1.6 which produces 180 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque. That puts it in line with some of the base engines found in the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry.
      I wouldn't call this engine quick, but it handles most driving situations with aplomb. This comes down to most of the torque being situated at the lower end of the rpm band. The only area where you might be wishing for more power is merging onto a freeway or keeping up traffic. The eight-speed automatic does an excellent job of maximizing the engine's output.
      Under the Sonata Hybrid's hood is a system comprised of a 2.0L four-cylinder and electric motor to provide a total output of 192 horsepower and 151 pound-feet of torque. The Sonata Hybrid feels just as fast as the standard Sonata around town and on country roads. It does struggle slightly on the highway due to the smaller torque figure. The six-speed automatic doesn't stumble when the change over from electric-only to hybrid mode like I have experienced on other Hyundai/Kia hybrid models.

      Opting for Limited on the Sonata Hybrid brings a solar panel for the roof which acts as a trickle charger for both the 12-volt car battery and 1.6-kWh lithium-ion pack for the hybrid system. Hyundai says that the panel can add an extra two miles of range with adequate sunlight. I can't attest to this claim, but will say the solar panel did add an extra bit of charge to the battery, even on an overcast day.
      Fuel economy for both models are as followed,
      Sonata 1.6T: 27 City/36 Highway/31 Combined Sonata Hybrid: 45 City/51 Highway/47 Combined My week saw an average of 29 mpg in the Sonata and 39 mpg for the Sonata Hybrid.
      Calm and Collected
      Hyundai has done some work on the Sonata's chassis and suspension to make it more rewarding to drive. It shows on a winding road as both versions show little body roll and feel more agile than the outgoing model. Steering feels direct and has a decent amount of weight. I will say the Mazda6 is still the one to beat if driving pleasure is your key goal.
      But the Sonata has an ace up its sleeve. It is also one of the most comfortable cars in the class. Driving over some of the roughest roads in Metro Detroit, the Sonata's suspension soaks up most bumps and imperfections to provide a serene ride. The minimal amount of road and wind noise that comes inside also helps.
      Rising To The Top

      The previous generations of the Sonata were always so close to being at the top of the class. But there always something that held it back whether it was the design, handling, or powertrains. But this new model shows how much Hyundai has put in. There is a nice balance between ride and handling; powertrains are very competent, and the interior is best in the class. Plus, the Sonata still retains Hyundai's trademark of offering a lot for not much money.
      Where most people will stumble on the Sonata is the exterior. It is very much a love or hate it affair. Plus, some of the tech features feel more like a party trick to show to friends than something you'll use. 
      Nevertheless, I think Sonata moves up to the top of the midsize sedan pecking order. 
      But there is one more question to answer. Between the regular and hybrid versions, which one I would drive away with. The answer which surprised me is the hybrid. I found it to be a little bit more well-rounded and deliver some excellent fuel economy figures during my time.
      Alternative:
      Kia K5: Like the idea of the Hyundai Sonata, but not to sure on the design? Then the Kia K5 may be the answer. Based on the same bones as the Sonata, the K5 takes a more evolutionary approach to the design. The basic shape may remind you of the previous-generation Optima, but its the little details such as a new grille and revised rear deck lid that help it stand out. From reviews, the K5 proves to be a bit sportier. We hope to get our hands on this challenger in the near future. Disclaimer: Hyundai Provided the Sonatas, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2020
      Make: Hyundai
      Model: Sonata
      Trim: Limited 1.6T
      Engine: Turbocharged 1.6L GDI DOHC 16-Valve Inline-Four
      Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 180 @ 5,500
      Torque @ RPM: 195 @ 1,500-4,500
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 27/36/31
      Curb Weight: 3,336 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Montgomery, AL
      Base Price: $33,300
      As Tested Price: $34,365 (Includes $930.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Carpeted Floor Mats - $135.00
      Year: 2020
      Make: Hyundai
      Model: Sonata Hybrid
      Trim: Limited
      Engine: 2.0L GDI DOHC 16-Valve Inline-Four, Permanent Magnet Synchronous Motor
      Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 150 @ 6,000 (gas); 51 @ 1,800 - 2,300 (electric motor); 192 (total output)
      Torque @ RPM: 139 @ 5,000 (gas); 151 @ 0 - 1,800 (electric motor)
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 45/51/47
      Curb Weight: 3,530 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Asan, South Korea
      Base Price: $35,300
      As Tested Price: $36,430 (Includes $975.00 Destination Charge)
      Options: 
      Carpeted Floor Mats - $135.00

      View full article
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