2022 Acura MDX Review: Big Leap Forward For an Already Desirable Family Hauler

2022 Acura MDX
The face of the MDX exudes athletic confidence. Acura

It's easy to pass off three-row SUVs as the boring stuff that everyday life is made of while you'd rather turn your attention to the heart palpitation-inducing sports cars and brutish trucks. However, more Americans are turning to SUVs each year with high expectations firmly in place. The 2022 Acura MDX rises to the challenge.

This version of the MDX features sharper exterior lines than the previous, falling into the design pattern of the TLX, TLX Type S, and RDX, which have all been brought to market since Acura presented its new exterior and interior design concepts. The looks are appealing and certain sculptural elements give the SUV a unique appearance.

Full LED headlights and taillights come standard, as does a panoramic sunroof and heated side mirrors.

The fourth-generation MDX marks the beginning of a new chassis, body, and platform era for the SUV. This is instantly recognizable upon taking to the road. The 2022 MDX doesn't have nearly as much body lean as the last-generation model. It feels planted but not totally firm. This isn't the MDX Type S after all.

With its double wishbone front suspension and multi-link rear suspension, the new MDX is more agile and willing to push itself through tighter corners with ease, especially when equipped with the available all-wheel drive and the SUV's new, improved braking performance.

2022 Acura MDX
Acura designed the MDX's looks to fall into line with the RDX and TLX, but advanced the narrative with a uniquely sculpted body. Acura

The 3.5-liter V6 engine is a carryover from the 2020 model and paired with a sweetly smooth 10-speed automatic transmission. The power plant achieves 290 horsepower and 267 pound-feet of torque, which is plenty. An SUV of this size isn't meant to blow anyone's doors off.

The SUV's EPA-estimated 21 to 22 mpg combined is less than desirable, but it's pretty status quo for a non-hybrid model of the MDX's size.

Acura bills the MDX as having the "most premium and sophisticated cabin Acura has ever designed". Upon opening the door to the model there is no doubt that this vehicle was created to compete openly with SUVs far pricier and with more typically prestigious brand names.

There's no cloth seating in the MDX. Traditional leather matched with Ultrasuede inserts is the least premium material. Upmarket models get Milano leather and Advanced package SUVs have leather piping on the seats in all three rows.

2022 Acura MDX
Buyers can get a bench seat, captain's chairs, or captain's chairs with a movable middle seat/cupholder and storage area. Acura

High-end appointments extend to other parts of the cabin where open-pore wood and brushed aluminum cleanly take their place in the thoroughly modern interior. The instrument panel is hand-wrapped in leather and top stitching is available, providing an even higher level of sophistication.

The cabin seats six or seven, depending on whether the buyer chooses captain's chairs or a bench seat in the second row. Going with captain's chairs reveals a middle seat option that folds forward to reveal two cupholders and additional small item storage. The third-row seats, while improved in spaciousness from the previous generation, still don't provide the room to make adults comfortable back there for an extended period of time.

Acura's cockpit design has drawn some criticism for the touch pad that is used to control the car's standard 12.3-inch infotainment screen, located at the center of the dashboard. The pad uses direct tap actions like an iPad rather than the typical computer mouse-like drag and select experience.

2022 Acura MDX
The touch pad interface isn't hard to use after a little practice. Acura

Spending some time with the system in the RDX, TLX, and MDX over the last 18 months has proven how easy the pad is to use once a driver gets used to it. At night, driving at speed on the highway with the interior lights turned down, the pad is able to be used without being glanced at. The placement of the pad allows the screen to be positioned near the windshield enabling a more natural eye gaze position, in turn allowing for better situational awareness and less distracted drive time.

The MDX comes packed with a good amount of standard and available technology that's sold in a convenient base model, three-package tiered sales system that is easy for customers to understand. Every MDX has a Wi-Fi hot spot, AcuraLink Connected Services, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Amazon Alexa connectivity, Siri Eyes Free, HD Radio, satellite radio, five USB ports (Type-C and Type-A), Bluetooth, trip-zone climate control, a wireless charging pad, and speed-sensitive volume control.

A 10.5-inch head up display is available in the most premium MDX, as are additional USB ports for third-row occupants, remote engine start, 16-way power-adjustable front seats (12-way are standard), heated rear outboard seats, a heated steering wheel, hands-free power liftgate, roof rails and 27 ambient light color schemes.

Acura's available 16-speaker ELS Studio 3D Audi system is worth the splurge. It provides tremendous sound quality that is rivaled only by the McIntosh system in the Jeep Grand Cherokee L, Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer, and the Bowers & Wilkins system in Volvo's autos.

Where the MDX falls behind the competition is when it comes to safety and driver assist technologies. For 2022, the MDX gets an expanded suite of AcuraWatch technologies that includes lane departure warning with assist, traffic jam assist, traffic sign recognition, pedestrian detection, and driver attention monitor. Adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, and rear cross traffic alert are also part of the tech suite. There is no lane centering technology nor navigator-linked cruise control.

2022 Acura MDX
The all-digital cockpit of the MDX has a cover that is wrapped in leather. Acura

The MDX gets Acura's next-generation airbag, which uses a three-chamber design to catch and cradle a front seat occupant's head to help mitigate injury in the event of an accident.

Pricing for the 2022 Acura MDX starts at $47,200 and rises as high as $61,995 before the $1,045 destination and delivery fee is factored in. That price is comfortably nestled between mass market three-row SUV pricing and more luxurious models.

The MDX's competition has heated up with the introduction of the Grand Cherokee L and Infiniti QX60, and a new Volvo XC90 on the way. Each model brings its own more-premium-than-ever flavor of luxe even if they do sit around the same price point. The MDX is more than worthy of consideration.