2022 Acura MDX Review

Christian Wardlaw, Independent Expert | Feb 03, 2021

Introduction - Find the best Acura deals!

Acura's spiritual North Star might be the NSX sports car, but the brand stands on two sales pillars known as the RDX and the MDX. These are crossover SUVs with athletic driving dynamics, meant primarily for use on pavement instead of dirt. The Acura RDX is the compact 2-row model, while the Acura MDX is the midsize 3-row model. And for 2022, the MDX is all new.

Though redesigned, the 2022 Acura MDX sticks to the successful formula that has made it the best-selling 3-row luxury SUV in history. Initially, it comes only with a 3.5-liter V6 engine, your choice between front-wheel drive and torque-vectoring all-wheel drive, and upgrade packages called Technology, A-Spec, and Advance.

Highlights of the 2022 MDX redesign include a new platform with a more sophisticated suspension, a new transmission, a next-generation Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) system, upgraded infotainment and safety systems, additional interior space, and more standard equipment. Acura wraps it all in more expressive styling that adds a much-needed dose of character to the SUV.

Later this year, the 2022 Acura MDX Type S arrives. This performance-tuned version of the SUV will have a turbocharged V6 engine, a unique look inside and out, and additional exclusive equipment such as massaging seats and a 25-speaker audio system.

What Owners Say About the Acura MDX - Find the best Acura deals!

2022 Acura MDX A-Spec Liquid Carbon Gray Front Quarter View

Photo: Christian Wardlaw

According to data collected from verified owners for the J.D Power 2020 Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study, 64% of previous-generation Acura MDX owners are male (vs. 57% for the segment), and the median age of an MDX owner is 57 years (vs. 61).

Owners say their favorite things about the previous-generation MDX were (in descending order) the:

  • Driving feel
  • Exterior styling
  • Feeling of safety
  • Driving comfort
  • Powertrain

Owners indicate their least favorite things about the previous-generation MDX were (in descending order) the: 

  • Interior design
  • Setting up and starting
  • Getting in and out
  • Infotainment system
  • Fuel economy

In the J.D. Power 2020 APEAL Study, the MDX ranked number seven out of seven midsize premium SUVs.

What Our Independent Expert Says About the Acura MDX - Find the best Acura deals!

In the sections that follow, our independent expert provides an analysis of an MDX equipped with the following options:

  • SH-AWD
  • Liquid Carbon Metallic paint
  • A-Spec Package

The price of the test vehicle came to $58,625, including the $1,025 destination charge.

Getting In and Getting Comfortable

2022 Acura MDX A-Spec Red Leather Front Seats

Photo: Christian Wardlaw

Open the new Acura MDX's driver's door, and you'll find an interior representing a dramatic departure from the previous-generation model. 

The dual-cockpit dashboard design, with its narrow, jutting, waterfall-style center control panel and dual display screens, is gone. Instead, a low, wide, technology-oriented dashboard replaces it, complete with 12.3-inch digital instrumentation and 12.3-inch high-definition infotainment system displays. Iconic Drive ambient lighting is standard in all but the base version of the MDX, while a new full color and configurable 10.5-inch head-up display is part of the Advance Package.

This change is more than welcome. But it does come with some compromise. Chief among them is a loss of center console storage space. Acura elects to emphasize style over practicality, and this forces the deletion of the old MDX's huge center console bin with its sliding armrest in favor of a smaller and more typical storage area with a fixed armrest.

Additionally, the infotainment system does not include a touchscreen. However, improvements to the True Touchpad Interface (TTI) and voice recognition technology make this approach easier to accept. Besides, in terms of appearance and operation, the TTI is light years ahead of what Acura used to offer in the MDX (see our TTI review in the next section).

Seat comfort was a highlight of the previous MDX, and that continues in the new SUV. They coddle yet support you, and the test vehicle had heated and ventilated 16-way power-adjustable front seats, second-row climate controls, and second-row side window shades. A heated steering wheel and heated second-row seats are offered only with the Advance Package.

Second-row comfort is excellent, and the seats slide on tracks to help make room for people who might ride in the third-row seat. Acura wisely includes a minivan-style removable second-row seat section, giving owners the option of having a 3-person bench seat, individual seats separated by a console with cupholders, and captain's chairs with a pass-through to the third-row seat.

That pass-through should make it easier to load kids into the rearmost seat. Adults will be happier, too, but not by much. It's still a cramped location, but if the people in the second-row seats slide forward and the removable seat is stored elsewhere, grown-ups can ride in the third-row for short trips.

2022 Acura MDX True Touchpad Interface Infotainment System Review

2022 Acura MDX A-Spec Interior Dashboard

Photo: Christian Wardlaw

Acura installs an all-new infotainment system in the 2022 MDX, and it represents an enormous leap forward in terms of technological sophistication. Highlights of the 2022 MDX's standard infotainment system include:

  • 12.3-inch high-definition display screen
  • Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
  • Amazon Alexa Built-in
  • 15-watt Qi-compatible wireless smartphone charging pad
  • USB-A and USB-C charging ports
  • AcuraLink connected services with 4G LTE Wi-Fi
  • CabinControl (allows passengers to control infotainment functions via smartphone app)

Depending on the selected package, infotainment system upgrades include:

  • Navigation system with real-time traffic
  • CabinTalk (projects driver's voice through the rear speakers)
  • 12-speaker ELS premium sound system
  • 16-speaker ELS 3D premium surround sound system
  • Surround-view camera system

Acura is one of the few automakers that does not offer a touchscreen infotainment system. As an alternative, the company's True Touchpad Interface (TTI) supplies a rectangular touch-sensing pad on the center console. 

The intent is to offer "absolute positioning," a one-to-one relationship between your fingertip and the screen. Touch the TTI in the lower-left corner, for example, and the action should correspond with whatever virtual button or menu is located on the lower left part of the display.

This method of operation is different from, say, the touchpad on a laptop computer. Replicate the TTI process on your MacBook Pro, and it won't place the cursor on the lower left part of the screen. You'll need to move it there. As such, you may need to retrain your brain to think differently whenever you're in your new 2022 Acura MDX.

With this said, the TTI is a vast improvement over the yester-tech dual-screen setup in the previous-generation Acura MDX. Furthermore, once you take the 20-30 minutes to go through all of the menus and set everything up to your preferences, you need not interact much with the TTI.

That's because Acura provides power, volume, and tuning controls next to the TTI pad and on the steering wheel. Drivers can also use genuinely helpful voice commands to program the navigation system. Zooming the navigation map still requires the use of the TTI, though. 

Pairing to the MDX's Bluetooth is fast and easy, and the wireless smartphone mirroring and charging systems eliminate a tangle of wires. Additionally, the voice recognition technology is helpful rather than aggravating, and the navigation map's graphics look like they were coded in this decade, let alone century.

Amazon Alexa Built-in works well, but if you've got a kid with that name, it could cause problems. Say "Alexa," and you wake the digital assistant similarly to how if you utter "Mercedes" in a modern Benz, the "Hey, Mercedes" assistant asks how it can help.

Acura also offers new artificial intelligence-powered Smart Shortcuts to provide what the automaker says is "quick and predictive access to common tasks" based on what it learns about your habits. The new 16-speaker Acura/ELS 3D premium surround sound system is terrific, and it includes both classy metal speaker grilles on the door panels and new ceiling-mounted speakers.

Next-generation AcuraLink brings the MDX's connected services offering into the modern age with a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot, over-the-air software update capability, safe teen driver functions related to speed and geo-fencing, a car finder, and more.

Overall, the new MDX's infotainment system is light years ahead of the previous model's.

What It's Like to Drive the 2022 Acura MDX

2022 Acura MDX A-Spec Liquid Carbon Gray Side View

Photo: Christian Wardlaw

Though it continues to offer familiar fare such as a 3.5-liter V6 engine, push-button transmission controls, and available SH-AWD, Acura thoroughly reworks the new MDX under its hood and skin. 

Highlights of the changes include:

  • Updated V6 engine with reduced noise, vibration, harshness, and emissions
  • New 10-speed automatic transmission developed and built in-house, replacing the ZF-sourced 9-speed automatic in the old MDX
  • Next-generation SH-AWD with faster torque-transfer response time
  • Enhanced Integrated Dynamic System (IDS) with Snow, Comfort, Normal, Sport, and Individual settings
  • New light-truck platform boasting a 32% increase in torsional rigidity
  • More sophisticated double-wishbone front and improved multi-link rear suspension design to maximize the MDX's athleticism
  • New variable-ratio steering system supplying quicker response and lighter effort at lower speeds for improved maneuverability
  • Upgraded brakes with improved heat resistance, and an electronic brake booster for faster response 
  • Larger and wider standard 19-inch wheels, with 20-inch wheels in the Technology, A-Spec, and Advance option packages
  • New all-season performance Bridgestone Atenza tires with a 25% increase in contact patch size and a 10% reduction in rolling resistance

That's plenty to unpack, but the summary is that the new 2022 MDX remains one of the more enjoyable vehicles in its segment to drive.

The V6 offers 290 horsepower and 267 lb.-ft. of torque, and it remains a smooth and satisfying revver. When properly equipped, it is capable of towing up to 5,000 pounds. 

A new Acura-engineered 10-speed automatic transmission drives the front or all four wheels and replaces the previous (and troublesome) ZF-sourced 9-speed automatic. Paddle shifters give drivers more control over gear changes, but the software does an excellent job of picking gears on its own.

Acura discontinues the MDX Sport Hybrid this year, which means the more powerful and efficient 3.0-liter V6, 7-speed dual-clutch automatic, and 3-motor hybrid system is gone. Rumors suggest a plug-in hybrid may join the lineup soon.

Coming in the summer of 2021, the MDX Type S gets a turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 good for an estimated 355 horsepower and 354 lb.-ft. of torque. Acura will equip it with 21-inch wheels, performance-oriented Brembo brakes, and more.

The tested MDX A-Spec provides satisfying acceleration accompanied by a pleasantly guttural engine note enhanced by Active Sound Control. The 10-speed automatic behaves beautifully, and it offers a Sport mode that the driver activates by pressing the Drive button on the center console.

We used the Normal transmission and Integrated Dynamics System (IDS) modes for most of our testing, switching to the Sport modes for mountain driving. Acura also offers an Individual mode that allows for customization of six different dynamic characteristics, including powertrain response, steering effort level, and the standard amplitude reactive dampers' behavior.

A $2,000 upgrade with standard specification and the Technology Package, the MDX's torque-vectoring SH-AWD delivers added traction and a genuine thrill. Pitch the MDX into a corner or a curve, accelerate as you clip the turn's apex, and you can feel the outer rear wheel dig in and point the SUV's nose in the direction you want to go. This behavior is more evident and pronounced in the new MDX and perfectly underscores Acura's "precision-crafted performance" brand ethos.

If you're familiar with the outgoing MDX, you'll immediately notice a couple of things about the new SUV. First, when you're sitting still or driving in a parking lot, the variable-ratio steering feels as light as a feather. Don't worry. It firms up nicely as the SUV gathers speed. The low-speed lightness is to help make the MDX easier to park.

Additionally, the new MDX suffers far less head-toss than the previous-generation model. It feels more stable and smoother over undulating pavement, street drainage channels, and driveway aprons. The result is a more satisfying daily-driving character.

Confidence-inspiring brake pedal feel, response, and performance add to the MDX's list of positive driving characters, while the new Bridgestone Atenza tires offer an appealing balance between ride comfort and handling capability. However, they do appear to contribute to more road noise than might be expected in a luxury SUV.

AcuraWatch Review

2022 Acura MDX AcuraWatch Menu

Photo: Christian Wardlaw

AcuraWatch refers to the core collection of advanced driving assistance systems (ADAS) in the 2022 MDX. This year, Acura improves it in numerous ways, ranging from accuracy and smoothness to an expanded range of functions. 

AcuraWatch includes the following features:

  • Adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go capability
  • Collision Mitigation Braking System (forward-collision warning, improved pedestrian detection, automatic emergency braking)
  • Road Departure Mitigation (lane-departure warning with lane-keeping assistance)
  • Lane Keeping Assist (lane-centering assistance)
  • New-for-2021 Traffic Jam Assist (low-speed adaptive cruise control paired with lane-centering assistance)
  • New-for-2021 traffic sign recognition
  • New-for-2021 driver attention monitoring

Additionally, blind-spot warning and rear cross-traffic warning are standard on all MDXs, while a new low-speed automatic braking function is part of the Technology, A-Spec, and Advance option packages. It works at speeds under six mph to prevent contact with stationary objects.

Like the new TTI infotainment system, the 2022 MDX's AcuraWatch technology is far more refined, accurate, and sophisticated than the previous-generation MDX. Acura employs a steering wheel wobble instead of a preferable steering wheel vibration when the Road Departure Mitigation system issues a warning, and the blind-spot warning light is on the interior trim instead of the mirror glass. Otherwise, the SUV's alerts align with industry standards.

While Acura improves the adaptive cruise control compared to the old MDX, it's about average compared to today's luxury vehicles. It can occasionally brake too much when another car cuts into the gap ahead of the SUV, and it can seem a little uncertain in tighter traffic on narrower lanes. False warnings are infrequent, but they do happen. 

Acura also does not offer as many safety technologies as some competitors, and the company hasn't announced any Level 2+ ADAS along the lines of Ford Active Drive Assist or General Motors Super Cruise.

2022 Acura MDX FAQ - Find the best Acura deals!

2022 Acura MDX Cargo Space

Photo: Christian Wardlaw

How much cargo space does the 2022 Acura MDX have?

Acura reports two different sets of cargo volumes, both of which adhere to the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) standard J1100. However, the larger set of figures includes the floor space between the front and second-row seats, with the front seats moved all of the way forward. You could pack the SUV like that, but then how would you drive it?

Therefore, we're reporting the smaller values of the set. Behind the third-row seat, the MDX offers 16.3 cubic feet of volume. Fold the third-row seat down, and you've got 39.1 cu.-ft. of space. With both rear rows of seats folded flat, the MDX carries 71.4 cu.-ft. of cargo.

Acura includes a deep well to the left of the cargo floor, perfect for carrying things you'd rather didn't tip over or roll around in the cargo area. A large 1.8 cu.-ft. storage bin is also located under the cargo floor and doubles as a great place to put grocery sacks for the trip home from the market.

Does the 2022 Acura MDX get good gas mileage?

According to Acura, the 2022 MDX SH-AWD should average 21 mpg in combined driving. We got 19.4 mpg on our testing loop. Multiply that by the MDX's 18.5-gallon fuel tank, and maximum driving range is almost 360 miles. Keep in mind that we did drive the MDX with enthusiasm, so your results are likely to prove better.

Is the 2022 Acura MDX safe?

Because of the 2022 MDX's redesign, crash-test ratings were unavailable as this review was published. However, Acura has long taken safety seriously, perhaps most notably with its Advanced Compatibility Engineering (ACE) approach to vehicle architecture design.

The new MDX boasts a more robust safety structure for improved collision protection. For example, Acura says the new MDX offers improved pedestrian and occupant safety, including a 34% reduction in side-impact intrusion based on Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) testing protocols.

Furthermore, the 2022 MDX has a new front passenger airbag design that Acura says can control head rotation in oblique-angle frontal collisions and reduce brain tissue injury in a collision by 75%.

Whether these improvements help the MDX earn top ratings from the IIHS and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) remains to be seen. However, Acura targets the highest overall scores with the new MDX.

How much is the 2022 Acura MDX?

Acura MDX prices start at $46,900 for a base model with FWD and top out at $61,150 for an MDX equipped with SH-AWD and the Advance package. Acura had not released prices for the MDX Type S as this article was published, but they are likely to start at about $65,000. The destination charge is $1,025.

What are the 2022 Acura MDX competitors?

In the J.D. Power 2020 Initial Quality Study (IQS), the previous-generation Acura MDX did not rank among the top three midsize premium SUVs. The Lexus GX was the highest-ranked model in the segment. 

In the J.D. Power 2020 Automotive Performance, Execution, and Layout Study (APEAL), the previous-generation MDX did not rank among the top three models for overall appeal. The Land Rover Range Rover Velar was the highest-ranked model.

Other competitors to the 2022 MDX include the BMW X5, Lexus RX, and Volvo XC90.

Independent Expert Opinion - Find the best Acura deals!

2022 Acura MDX A-Spec Liquid Carbon Gray Rear Quarter View

Photo: Christian Wardlaw

Acura has made numerous significant improvements to the MDX. From design and engineering to safety and technology, it is a better vehicle than the one it replaces. And it remains among the more enjoyable midsize premium SUVs to drive, though there certainly is room in the lineup for the upcoming MDX Type S.

There are casualties, though. In addition to reduced interior storage space, the Sport Hybrid model disappears without an immediate replacement. Acura also reserves some features for the Advance Package that should be available at a lower price point, such as a heated steering wheel, heated rear seats, a surround-view camera, and remote engine start using the key fob. Additionally, Acura is still playing catch up with some luxury brands in terms of the depth and breadth of the MDX's connected services and safety technologies.

What's important to remember, though, is that even with the Advance Package, which includes SH-AWD, the 2022 Acura MDX is a compelling value compared to many other midsize premium SUVs.

Christian Wardlaw is a veteran digital automotive journalist with over 25 years of experience in test-driving vehicles. In addition to JDPower.com, his work has appeared in numerous new- and used-car buying guides, newspapers, and automotive industry trade journals.

The opinions expressed in this review are the author’s own, not J.D. Power’s.

No portion of these reviews may be reproduced, distributed, publicly displayed, or used for a derivative work without J.D. Power’s written permission. © 2021 J.D. Power

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