First Drive: 2022 Acura MDX Luxury SUV Adds Refinement and Tech

We welcome the comfortable ride, but the infotainment system is a drawback

All-new 2022 Acura MDX SUV, front driving

The Acura MDX nameplate turns 20 years old this year, and to celebrate, the automaker has redesigned the three-row SUV. But unlike in 2001, when the MDX first arrived, the new model faces tough competition from luxury and nonluxury brands alike.

The MDX has always been a functional, family-friendly luxury midsized three-row SUV that focused on passenger comfort and amenities and was competitively priced. Even with more competitors than ever, it still is popular, and only the Lexus RX and BMW X5 outsold it in 2020. The MDX’s price positions it in between high-end versions of nonluxury brands and luxury ones. 

But in order to differentiate the 2022 Acura MDX in a crowded and ever-growing field, the automaker is reinforcing the SUV’s sporty driving dynamics in addition to its luxury trappings. Helping to achieve those performance gains is the MDX’s new, more rigid platform, which features a double-wishbone front suspension that the automaker says endows it with improved handling without sacrificing ride comfort.

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Like the RDX SUV and all-new TLX sedan, the 2022 Acura MDX comes with a variety of active safety features as standard equipment. It also uses Acura’s new infotainment system and control panel.

We rented an Advance trim MDX from Acura for a brief drive before the MDX goes on sale in early February. Advance is currently the top-level trim line, though Acura will introduce a high-performance Type S version at a later date. The Type S will get a unique higher-output engine along with performance and styling enhancements that set it apart from the rest of the MDX line. Consider it Acura’s answer to the Audi S and BMW M lines. 

If you’re a Consumer Reports member, our initial assessment of the 2022 Acura MDX is available to you here. We will buy our own MDX soon for a road test.

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What we rented: 2022 Acura MDX SH-AWD Advance
Powertrain: 290-hp, 3.5-liter V6 engine; 10-speed automatic transmission; all-wheel drive
MSRP: $60,650
Options: Liquid Carbon Metallic paint, $500
Destination: $1,025
Total cost: $62,175
On sale: February 2021

CR's Take

Like we’ve seen with Acura’s other recently redesigned products (the RDX SUV and the TLX sedan), the MDX is a mixed bag. It’s a stylish, handsome model that’s still easily recognizable as an MDX. The V6 engine and 10-speed automatic transmission combine to form a strong, willing, and well-behaved powertrain. It has comfortable, supportive seats and good outward visibility, and the cabin is very quiet. The suspension delivers an impressive ride. 

Yet it suffers from some of the same faults we’ve pointed out in its siblings. Interacting with the infotainment system continues to frustrate, and some of our staff said it would be a deal breaker if they were considering buying the MDX. It doesn’t stand out as a particularly agile SUV, though routine handling is appropriate. Despite larger dimensions than the previous-generation MDX had, the new model feels snug inside. And cabin storage isn’t optimized. 

At first glance, the 2022 Acura MDX may have its work cut out for it. In addition to the established luxury models from Audi, BMW, Lincoln, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, and Volvo, the new Genesis GV80 appears to be a worthy competitor. And that’s before you consider the top-trim versions of nonluxury SUVs such as the Hyundai Palisade, Kia Telluride, and Mazda CX-9, which offer a lot of features and performance for the money.

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