2022 Acura MDX: Not The Revolution We Expected

Published on March 12, 2021 in First Drives by Germain Goyer

After successfully redesigning the RDX for 2019 and the TLX for 2021, Acura is launching a brand new MDX for 2022. It’s already on sale in Canada even though we’ve yet to reach the end of the first quarter of 2021.

The Car Guide recently spent quality time behind the wheel of this fourth-generation model in top-line Platinum Elite trim. Were we impressed? Find out below.

Trusty Engine

No one will be shocked upon lifting the hood of the 2022 Acura MDX. Once again, the 3.5-litre i-VTEC V6 engine is there with 290 horsepower and 267 pound-feet of torque. Shifting is handled by a 10-speed automatic transmission—one more gear than the previous unit.

The MDX has always been a strong performer and it remains that way with the new generation. Acceleration and passing manoeuvres are more than satisfying.   

Photo: Germain Goyer

Looking at a glass half full, we’re glad that Acura didn’t replace the V6 with a turbocharged four-cylinder as many competitors do. If you prefer to see the glass as half empty, we’d say the company really skimped on innovation and drivers will pay the price—literally—at the fuel pump.

After 400 kilometres with the 2022 Acura MDX, the on-board computer returned an average of 13.9 L/100 km. Granted, our road test took place in early March with temperatures hovering around the freezing point, but we have a hard time believing in the 11.2 L/100 km rating advertised by Acura. By the way, premium gasoline is recommended.

Sharp AWD System

The slippery conditions we encountered along the way allowed us to assess the performance of the Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) system. Compared to the previous MDX, more torque is sent to the rear wheels, but the effectiveness of the system is never in doubt.

Steering is precise in typical Acura fashion, which makes the drive fairly pleasant. Don’t be fooled by the automaker’s marketing efforts, though: the MDX is still a large, family-oriented SUV, not a sports car like the NSX or Integra Type R featured in the same commercial.

Photo: Germain Goyer

Nice Looks

Aesthetically, the 2022 MDX is more of an evolution than a revolution. We do like the new diamond-shaped grille up front, which is becoming Acura’s signature. It resembles a starlit sky and proves much more elegant than the ginormous spindle grille on the Lexus GX.

Acura’s conservative approach with the powertrain is mirrored in the cabin. Again, we’re talking about a three-row SUV, so don’t expect any miracles. Similar to virtually all competitors, access to the third row is tight and comfort is limited once you get there.

Up front, the most defining feature—and the vehicle’s biggest weakness—is the infotainment system. Instead of relying on a touchscreen as is customary nowadays, Acura is once again opting for a touchpad on the centre console. This thing is awful, plain and simple. We dare you to perform a few quick searches or navigate your way through the various menus without pulling your hair out. It’s just impossible.

Photo: Germain Goyer

Making matters even worse, the system crashed on two separate occasions during our 400-km test drive, so we had to stop and start the vehicle again. On a positive note, the fully digital instrument panel is great and the interior layout is beautiful.

Four Trim Levels

The base 2022 Acura MDX starts at $56,405 plus destination and handling charges of $2,075. Our Platinum Elite tester had LED fog lights, the practical CabinTalk system and a colour head-up display. This one retails from $67,405.

In-between them is the MDX Technology at $60,405, which features navigation, ELS Studio Premier audio and heated second-row seats. The most attractive model is arguably the A-Spec ($63,405) due to its black accents and sportier overall appearance.

Photo: Germain Goyer

Stay Tuned for Type S

The launch of the 2022 Acura MDX also comes with the promise of a high-performance Type S model. It will have a turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 engine rated at 355 horsepower and 354 pound-feet of torque. We can’t wait to take it for a spin when it arrives in the fall.

Ultimately, though, the new MDX is not the revolution we expected. While it will certainly please former or existing MDX owners, we’re not sure it will make that many new fans.

Test drive report
Test model 2022 Acura MDX
Price range < $67,405
Price as tested 67 405 $
Warranty (basic) 4 years/80,000 km
Warranty (powertrain) 5 years/100,000 km
Fuel economy (city/highway/observed) 12,6 / 9,4 / 13,9 L/100km
Options N/A
Competitive models 2021 Audi Q7, 2021 BMW X5, 2021 Cadillac XT6, 2021 Lincoln Aviator, 2021 Lexus GX, 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLE
Strong points
  • Strong, proven engine
  • Sharp AWD system
  • Beautiful looks
Weak points
  • Impossibly annoying infotainment system
  • Disappointing fuel economy
  • Tight third row
Editor's rating
Fuel economy 2.5/5 Our winter test may be a bit misleading. Officially, the MDX is rated at 11.2 L/100 km.
Comfort 3.5/5 Access to the third row is tight and comfort is limited once you get there. The driver has no reason to complain, though.
Performance 3.5/5 The trusty old 3.5-litre V6 returns and does a nice job overall.
Infotainment 1.0/5 Is there a more annoying infotainment system? Possibly not.
Driving 3.5/5 With a strong powertrain, excellent SH-AWD and precise steering, the MDX is pleasant to drive.
Overall 3.5/5 While Acura skimped on innovation, the new MDX is still an attractive and competent SUV.
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