Acura MDX
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Overview

Lighter, stronger, quicker and more fuel-efficient? How did Acura do it?

Drivetrain

Front-wheel-drive is a new thing for the MDX and all-wheel-drive becomes an option; 290-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 replaces the 300-horsepower 3.7;
Fuel economy is close to 30 percent better on the highway.

This premium-grade seven-passenger wagon shares nothing with its predecessor and also breaks new ground in content, technology and fuel efficiency. Of course the shape and familial shield-type grille are dead giveaways as to the MDX’s origins. But a slightly lower roofline, a three-inch stretch between the front and rear wheels and a two-inch gain in overall length makes it appear larger than the tape measure suggests. The new MDX conveys a stronger sense of luxury, especially with its “Jewel Eye” headlights that have become the signature styling item for the Acura brand. Although cargo volume has been slightly reduced, functionality has improved with added length behind the third-row seat. There’s also a flatter load floor when both rear rows are folded. Button clutter on the redesigned dashboard and control panel is reduced to nine from 41 as the rest are now incorporated into a console-mounted dial plus a touch-screen display for the audio, communications and climate-control systems. The previous MDX featured a firmed-up ride and sporty (as in high-effort) steering, but customer feedback showed that that’s not the priority. The 2014 model goes the other way, with a more supple ride and lighter steering. The MDX drives like an upscale wagon should, but is in no way bouncy or sloppy over rough surfaces. Acura claims the more aerodynamic body structure weighs 123 pounds less and, combined with other measures, contributes to a total 275-pound weight trimming (for comparison, the Audi Q7 is heavier by nearly 1,000 pounds). A 290-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 replaces the 300-horsepower 3.7. Smaller, yes, but no one will be the wiser since the 3.5′s torque rating is within three pound-feet (267 at 4,500 r.p.m. versus 270 at 5,000 r.p.m.) of the 3.7. It’s also more fuel efficient, with an estimated 18-mpg city rating and 27 mpg on the highway, bettering the previous 16/21 marks. That’s close to 30 percent better on the highway. Those numbers improve to 20/28 for front-wheel-drive MDX, which is a first for the brand and reduces the base all-wheel-drive’s starting price of $45,200 by a further $2,000. The two-grand premium for the improved AWD system seems worth it, considering how well it aids bad-weather grip and works with the braking system to help keep the MDX on its intended path in the turns (called torque vectoring).

Base price (incl. destination): $43,200
Type: Four-door sedan
Engine (hp): 3.5-liter SOHC V6 (290)
Layout: Front-engine, front- /all-wheel-drive
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
MPG (city/hwy): 18/27 (AWD)
Safety: Front airbags; side-impact airbags; side-curtain airbags; anti-lock brakes; traction control; stability control.
Weight (lb.): 4,030