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Auto blogFri, 31 May 2013 11:57:00 EST
Refinement Rather Than Revolution
Before we get into the meat and potatoes of the 2014 Acura MDX, let's pause for just a moment and talk about the current, still-sitting-at-dealerships 2013 model. It's a pretty good machine. Perhaps guilty only of falling to the backburners of our minds in recent years because, well, the old girl's not gotten any younger. But every time we drove this second-generation MDX, our thoughts were the same - good to drive, pleasant to sit in and a pretty decent value.
Acura's customers felt the same way, and so when it came time to design and engineer the third-generation MDX, the vehicle's formula wasn't shaken up at all. Despite the fact that it uses a brand-new platform and offers a host of upgrades, the key points addressed by the company's engineers were the specific requests of customers and shoppers in the segment - changes that amounted to nothing radical. After all, if it ain't broke, don't fix it.
Acura (and parent company Honda, for that matter) doesn't always leave a lot to be left to the imagination when they unveil prototypes at auto shows. Case in point: Take a gander at the Acura MDX Prototype that debuted at the Detroit Auto Show this past January, and then look at the production-spec 2014 MDX pictured above. See what we mean?
Design-wise, there frankly isn't a whole lot to get excited about with this MDX. Sure, a lot of the chiseled, sharp lines from the previous-generation model have been smoothed out in favor of something that will likely have more mass-market appeal, but to our eyes, the MDX has simply lost a lot of its visual flair in the process. To quote Autoblog senior editor Seyth Miersma, this new one just looks like the old one after melting by 10 percent. The end result is something that more closely resembles the company's smaller RDX crossover than anything else, with other subtle design elements mimicking what we've seen on the ILX and RLX sedans. It's all fine, but again, not exciting. The good news, however, is that thanks to the use of new lightweight materials, the 2014 MDX is 275 pounds lighter than the outgoing model.
Updates to what's underneath the MDX's new skin are hardly surprising, but still welcome. Power comes from a direct-injected 3.5-liter V6 making 290 horsepower and 267 pound-feet of torque, mated to a six-speed automatic transmission with both front-wheel drive and Acura's Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive on offer. Acura estimates that front-drive models will achieve 20/28/23 miles per gallon (city/highway/combined), and says that adding the SH-AWD drops those numbers to 18/27/21. Acura will offer a new Integrated Dynamic System that allows the driver to choose between normal, sport and comfort settings, and the new MDX will ride on a choice of either 18- or 19-inch alloy wheels.
Honda is in hot water due to an airbag glitch that is causing it to recall 405,400 vehicles. According to the campaign, the supplemental restraints might fire for no apparent reason. 342,000 of the affected vehicles are 2003 and 2004 Odyssey minivans, which gels with a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration investigation we reported on in June.
Joining the Odyssey in the recall is the Acura MDX, with 63,400 units covered from the 2003 model year. Unlike the van, though, the MDX's recall covers Japan and Australia, in addition to the US and Canada. Both vehicles are suffering from an airbag control unit that is prone to malfunction when exposed to electrical noise, a condition that can cause the airbags to deploy without warning. Although no crashes have been reported in such scenarios, there have been some injuries typical of airbag deployment - abrasions and such.
Honda will be mailing recall notices to owners near the end of October, asking them to bring their vehicles into the dealership for installation of an electrical noise filter. The repair will take about an hour and be free of charge. Scroll down for the official announcement from Honda.