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Exterior view of the 2022 Acura MDX SH-AWD

The MDX has been a staple of Acura's lineup for over two decades, and the athletic people mover has been fully redesigned for the 2022 model year. Given the current automotive landscape, it's hard to overstate just how important it is for an automaker to have a competitive crossover in the stable - and customer standards are higher than ever.

Along with sharp-looking sheet metal, luxurious interiors, and great infotainment, there's also the driving component to consider. Because the days when a brand could reasonably market vehicles which sacrificed handling in the name of size are long gone. Modern advances in chassis construction and suspension design, along with increasingly powerful engines, mean many machines in the current crop of crossovers would embarrass the enthusiast cars of old. But performance is always a moving target.

Fortunately for Acura, the company's engineers have long been adept at ensuring that everything wearing the badge is engaging to drive - and the latest MDX is no exception.     

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2022 Acura MDX SH-AWD Exterior

Exterior view of the 2022 Acura MDX SH-AWD

The front clip of the MDX features a massive Acura badge which sits at the center of a diamond-shaped grille. To me, the pattern inside the grille surround looks like a star field during a jump to lightspeed. And if that interstellar description doesn't make it clear? I think it's great.  The LED headlights are fashionably slim, and curve gently around the edges of the body, with an organic flow which nicely complements the aggressive creases on the hood.

In profile, that hood looks a mile long, though it's important to note that it doesn't feel that way when you're behind the wheel. At nearly 200 inches in length, the MDX isn't a small vehicle, but it's still easy to see exactly where it begins and ends, which makes getting into tight city spots a snap. Along the side, there's a crease which runs from the top of the headlight to the top to the taillight, and that bold line gives the whole body a purposeful feel. There's also a large scallop carved along the bottom of the front and rear doors, which keeps things from looking too slab sided. That lower sculpted element complements the crease bisecting the body perfectly, and makes it appear that the sheet metal has been pulled taut over the chassis.

Wheels can make or break a vehicle, and the 20-inch alloy rims on my tester were superb. The multi-spoke design looks complex without being busy or overstyled, and they looked great against the Liquid Carbon Metallic exterior finish of my test vehicle. They'd likely pop even more against a more contrasting hue from Acura's paintbox, like Fathom Blue Pearl.       

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2022 Acura MDX SH-AWD Interior

Exterior view of the 2022 Acura MDX SH-AWD

The cabin of the MDX reflects the refined, athletic style of the exterior. My tester featured tan leather seats with loads of detail, like ridges, contrasting piping, and intricate stitching, and while they looked quite sporty, the fit was - appropriately - more roomy blazer than performance car snug.

From an aesthetic perspective, I particularly liked the two-tone dashboard, and how the top of the driver and passenger footwells were covered to match the seats. Now, with natural-finished wood, piano black trim, metal speaker grates, and customizable LED lighting, there's a lot going on design wise. But even with all those elements at play, visually, it never felt oversaturated, and style never got in the way of the ergonomics. As with other Acura models, the center console is dominated by the push-button transmission stack. The set up is similar to the NSX supercar, and it lends more performance flare to the cabin.   

Wireless Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth connectivity, and satellite radio are all standard, as is Amazon Alexa. And while the inclusion of the digital assistant might seem like more sizzle than steak, since I own several Alexa-compatible devices, I got a kick out of it. Many vehicle functions are controlled by using the touchpad controller to navigate on the crisp, easy-to-read 12.3-inch display at the center of the dash. Importantly, there are physical controls for functions like the climate settings, heated seats, and radio volume. Users accustomed to touchscreens will find there's a bit of a learning curve regarding the infotainment. But the system provides plenty of opportunity for customization, so once drivers get everything dialed in, I'd imagine it'll become second nature.   

One of the hallmarks of a luxury vehicle is space, and the cabin of the MDX delivers here. While the panoramic moonroof on my tester certainly contributed to environs' airy feel, sitting in the back seat proved it was no illusion. I'm 6'3" tall, and even with the driver's seat adjusted for me, I had plenty of room in the second row. Like most vehicles with a third row, the way back is best left to children. 

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2022 Acura MDX SH-AWD Performance

Exterior view of the 2022 Acura MDX SH-AWD

If you've been paying attention to automotive offerings over the last few years, you'll have noticed there's been a major shift toward smaller displacement, turbocharged engines. Most everyone is in on the trend, which makes the naturally aspirated 3.5-liter V6 under the hood of the latest MDX a relative rarity. Aside from more linear power delivery, one of the benefits - at least from an enthusiast standpoint - of foregoing forced induction is a better engine note, and that's evident here. Hammer the throttle, and six-pot responds with a throaty, satisfying growl.

The V6 pumps out 290 horsepower and 267 lb-ft of torque, which is enough to propel this practical people mover from zero to 60 mph in roughly 6.5 seconds. While that's respectable for the segment, the MDX is less about off-the-line grunt than it is cornering prowess. While the response from the wheel-mounted paddle shifters isn't lightning quick, I thought the new ten-speed gearbox performed well without my help most of the time.

That ten-speed automatic transmission supplies power to all four wheels via Acura's excellent SH-AWD system, which can send up to 70 percent of available twist to the rear wheels, and a trick torque vectoring rear differential also means that power goes where it's most needed. Give this baby the beans, and the refined powertrain and adaptive dampers make the MDX surprisingly nimble. Having spent time flogging the previous generation on some of the best twisty roads in the Northwest, I can confirm that while the new platform is both wider and longer than the outgoing model's, the latest version is just as enthusiastic when pushed. But as sporty as the latest MDX might be, the ride quality doesn't suffer. Even with the 20-inch wheels, nothing harsh was transferred to the cabin.

      

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2022 Acura MDX SH-AWD Safety

Exterior view of the 2022 Acura MDX SH-AWD

At press time, the 2022 Acura MDX has not been tested by the National Highway Traffic Administration. But it's worth noting that the last generation of the MDX earned a 5-Star overall safety rating. 

To help prevent accidents, every MDX is equipped with AcuraWatch, a robust suite of active driver aids. The system includes cutting edge technologies like Forward Collision Warning, Collision Mitigation Braking, Lane Departure Warning, Lane Keeping Assist, and Road Departure Mitigation, along with convenient features like Adaptive Cruise Control, Traffic Jam Assist, and Auto High Beams.   

Additionally, I must mention the excellent headlights in the MDX. Groups like the Insurance Institute for Highways Safety have long cited poor illumination as an Achilles heel on modern vehicles, and this machine's units are exceptional. The field of vision is broad, the light is  brilliant white, and importantly, other drivers never flashed their brights at me, so my visibility didn't come at the expense of anyone else on the road.           

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2022 Acura MDX SH-AWD Overall

Exterior view of the 2022 Acura MDX SH-AWD

The cost of entry for the 2022 Acura MDX starts at $47,925*, and if you're looking for all-wheel drive, expect to add another $2,000 on top of that. Since my tester was the range-topping SH-AWD Advance model, and came with the goodies like the 16-speaker ELS premium audio system, the total MSRP was $60,650*. While that's a decent jump from the base price, the SH-AWD Advance is a great value in the segment, and should be on the radar of anyone looking for both crossover functionality and engaging driving dynamics.       

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John Coyle | May 17, 2021

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2022 Acura MDX SH-AWD Specs

Layout

4-door, 7-passenger, AWD

Engine/Transmission

3.5L V6, 290 hp, 267 lb-ft
Ten-speed automatic

Mileage

19/25 mpg (city/hwy)

NHTSA Safety Rating

 N/A


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*MSRP excludes tax, license, registration, destination charge and options. Dealer prices may vary.

**Based on EPA mileage ratings. Your mileage will vary depending on specific vehicle trim, how you drive and maintain your vehicle, driving conditions, and other factors.