Kelley Blue Book: The new 2022 Acura MDX is sporty and luxurious

  • Stronger, all-new chassis

  • Roomy, elegant interior

  • Excellent tech & safety suite

  • Double-wishbone front suspension

  • Wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto

  • Designed and built in Ohio

  • High-performance MDX Type S coming

  • Tires thump on rough freeways

  • Not especially fuel-efficient

  • No hybrid model

  • Touchpad controller is an acquired skill

What’s new?
  • The Acura MDX is all-new for 2022. There wasn’t a 2021 model

  • Look for the all-new MDX Type S to arrive later this year

The MDX has been around since 2001, and this luxurious 3-row SUV has been a consistent solid seller for Acura. In fact, in 14 of the last 19 years, Acura has sold more than 50,000 MDXs a year. All, for the record, built in East Liberty, Ohio.

The 2022 Acura MDX


Problem is, the luxurious 3-row SUV segment has expanded so rapidly in recent years that the Acura MDX has begun losing a bit of its luster. What to do? Well, Acura gave the MDX a year off (there is no 2021 model) and concentrated on crafting an all-new 4th-generation model that’s better in multiple ways.

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The all-new 2022 Acura MDX went on sale in February of 2021. Acura calls it a new flagship model, one that is based on Honda’s

brand-new light-duty truck chassis. It’s slightly longer, lower, and wider than the outgoing MDX, and its more robust unit-body chassis profits from double A-arm front suspension and a multilink rear, both mounted to stout subframes. The chassis uses a generous amount of ultra-high-strength steel and structural adhesives, plus weight-saving aluminum for the hood, front fenders, front shock tower mounts, and bumper beams.

Under the aluminum hood is a familiar sight: a 3.5-liter V-6 engine that sends 290 horsepower to the front (or all four) wheels via a 10-speed automatic transmission with shift paddles. Among small refinements like active engine mounts, the 3.5-liter powerplant has a new intake system for quieter operation.

Super-Handling All-wheel drive (SH-AWD) is optional on the base model and the MDX with the Technology package. It’s standard on the A-Spec and Advance models. This advanced AWD system sends as much as 70% of the power rearward if needed, and clutches at the rear differential can apportion as much as 100% of that power to either side if needed. This allows for torque vectoring, which helps keep the MDX from pushing wide in corners. On top of that, this latest SH-AWD has greater torque capacity and is faster acting.

The 2022 Acura MDX


Later this year, look for an all-new 2022 Acura MDX Type S to arrive. Powered by a turbocharged V6 with 355 horsepower and 354 lb-ft of torque, the new MDX Type S features SH-AWD with torque vectoring, Brembo front brakes, and an exclusive Sport+ driving mode.

As a sporty but luxurious 3-row SUV, the 2022 Acura MDX competes against a broad smattering of rivals that range from the Audi Q7 and BMW X5 to the new Genesis GV80 and the Volvo XC90. American competition comes from the likes of the Cadillac XT6 and Lincoln Aviator.

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2022 Acura MDX pricing

In front-wheel-drive (FWD) base form, the 2022 Acura MDX starts at $46,900. While that’s $2,400 more than the outgoing 2020 model, this all-new MDX is significantly better equipped than before.

The destination charge for all 2022 Acura MDXs is $1,025. Super Handling All-wheel drive adds $2,000 to the base and Technology versions, the two MDXs that don’t come with it already standard.

The Acura MDX Technology, a trim level equipped with premium Milano leather, a nav system, and 20-inch alloy wheels, starts at $51,600. The Acura MDX A-Spec, with standard AWD and a dramatically sportier appearance, begins at $57,100.

At the top of the new Acura MDX lineup is the Advance trim. This flagship Acura SUV is fitted with premium Milano leather and a surround-view camera, plus a head-up display and massaging 16-way power front seats. Price: $60,650. The upcoming Acura MDX Type S will begin at a higher price.

How does the new U.S.-designed and built 2022 Acura MDX compare to its luxurious 3-row SUV competitors? Let’s take a look:

The 2021 Audi Q7, fitted with a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine, starts at $54,950. Volvo’s XC90, also equipped with a turbo-4, starts at $49,000, while the Cadillac XT6, packing a 3.6-liter V6, begins at $47,995. The new Genesis GV80, recently named the KBB Best Buy Midsize Luxury SUV, starts at $48,900 for a 4-cylinder model. Last, there’s the 2021 Lincoln Aviator and its 400-horsepower twin-turbo 3.0-liter V6, which starts at $51,100.

Given Acura’s stellar reputation for reliability, the new MDX is expected to have high resale values. And let’s not forget that the 2020 Acura MDX took home an award as KBB’s lowest cost-to-own 3-row midsize luxury SUV.

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Which model is right for me?

2022 Acura MDX

3.5-liter V6/10-speed automatic
Optional AWD
Synthetic leather upholstery
Power tailgate
19-inch alloy wheels
Wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto
Panoramic sunroof
Wireless smartphone charging
Amazon Alexa
Touchpad interface with 12.3-inch screen

2022 Acura MDX Technology

3.5-liter V6/10-speed automatic
Optional AWD
Milano leather upholstery
Passenger-seat memory
Navigation w/real-time traffic
20-inch alloy wheels
Front and rear parking sensors
Power-folding side mirrors
12-speaker ELS premium audio
Ambient LED interior lighting w/27 themes

2022 Acura MDX A-Spec

3.5-liter V6/10-speed automatic
All-wheel drive
A-Spec exterior package
A-Spec interior package
Milano leather w/perforated Ultra Suede inserts
Vented front seats
Flat-bottom steering wheel
Stainless steel pedal covers
LED fog lights
16-speaker ELS 3D audio
Stitched dash

2022 Acura MDX Advance

3.5-liter V6/10-speed automatic
All-wheel drive
Milan leather w/contrast stitching
Surround-view Camera
Heated front & rear seats
Open-pore wood trim
Roof rails
16-way front sport seats
10.5-inch head-up display
LED outer door handle lights
3rd-row USB ports
Hands-free power tailgate

Driving the 2022 Acura MDX

We like the MDX’s 3.5-liter V6. It’s more relaxed in its duty than a typical turbocharged 4-cylinder as found in so many of its competitors, aided by a smooth-shifting 10-speed automatic transmission. Paddles behind the steering wheel can be used for crisp upshifts, but we find them more valuable for downhill downshifts to make life a little easier for the MDX’s brakes, which are more than an inch larger in front. And despite the switch to a new electric brake booster (in place of a typical vacuum unit), the MDX’s pedal retains a good, if a bit soft, feel.

Also good is the MDX’s ride quality, neither too hard nor too cushy. Interestingly, Comfort mode is no softer than Normal because the Integrated Dynamics System settings don’t actually alter the suspension tuning. Rather, in the transition from Normal to Comfort, it’s the MDX’s steering effort, interior sound, interior lighting, and gauge appearance that get adjusted.

Also notable: Acura tells us that the Bridgestone Alenza tires (size 255/55R-19 or 255/20R-20) have sidewalls that are 10% stiffer than usual. While this may sharpen steering response, the Alenzas make as loud drumming sound on bumpy freeways, despite alloy wheels equipped with special noise attenuators for that apparent reason.

At 70 mph on the highway, the MDX’s 3.5-liter V6 runs at a relaxed 2,000 rpm in 10th gear. In Sport mode, though, 10th gear is locked out for snappier downshifts and acceleration, such as when pulling out of your lane to make a pass on the highway.

A few other observations: The MDX’s head-up display is clearly seen, and it has enough up/down adjustability for tall drivers. The True Touchpad Interface on the center console is tough to use while driving, but standard wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto brings the welcome familiarity of your phone to the MDX.

Moreover, the heated and cooled leather seats of the Advance model we sampled proved all-day comfortable, even without using any of the nine different massage settings. Lastly, the 16-speaker ELS stereo sounded terrific, far better than the sound systems most of us have at home.

While the 2022 MDX had ample power for all situations, we look forward to driving the Acura MDX Type S, which should arrive later this year. We expect it to be powered by a twin-turbo 3.0-liter V6 with 355 horsepower. Or possibly more.

Interior comfort

With its added size, the 2022 Acura MDX is a bit roomier in each of its three rows. While the third row is still best for kids or small adults, it benefits from 0.6 inches more headroom and a significant 2.4 inches of extra legroom. The shoulder room is up by a half-inch back there, too.

In front, the new MDX profits from 0.4 inches more headroom and 0.2 inches of extra legroom.

The center row, which features a removable center seat, offers roughly the same headroom and legroom as before, but with 1.2 inches more shoulder room. When the middle seat of the second row is removed, the MDX turns into a 6-seater with center-row captain’s chairs and an easy walk-through to the rear bench. With the middle seat in place, its backrest can be folded forward to serve as a wide center armrest with a pair of integrated cupholders. The 2nd-row seats also slide forward individually to facilitate access to the third row.

The MDX dash, with its large digital instrument panel and prominent horizontal infotainment screen, is handsome. It’s a luxurious cabin, for sure, and the quality of the leather, wood, and aluminum trim in the Advance model sampled by KBB was top notch.

Although there are seemingly countless switches and buttons for the multiple standard features, the new MDX avoids looking too busy inside, and the wireless charging pad on the center console is located in a great spot, right where you’d typically leave your phone.

On the other hand, we’re not big fans of the MDX’s True Touchpad on the center console. We wish the MDX had a standard touchscreen instead, but the True Touchpad does get easier with practice. Our advice: Don’t be too careful with it. Instead of swiping your finger lightly and getting frustrated with the somewhat erratic response, use distinct movements with constant pressure. On a positive note, a physical volume knob on the new MDX’s center console is much appreciated, along with the accompanying rocker switch for changing stations.

And speaking of easy, the MDX’s standard new onboard Amazon Alexa allows you to ask all sorts of questions without taking your eyes off the road. You can even ask about the MDX itself and say something like this: “Hey, Alexa: Tell me about your True Touchpad Interface.” It’s seamless, just like the operation of the standard wireless Apple

CarPlay and Android Auto.

Cargo capacity is important in a midsize SUV, and the new MDX represents a small improvement. There’s 16.3 cubic feet of space behind the 3rd row (+1.5), 39.1 behind the 2nd row (+2.2), and 71.4 behind the first row (+3.0). There’s also more underfloor storage in back, covered by a reversible cargo floor.

Exterior styling

The 4th-generation MDX was styled at the Acura Design Studio in California. Still immediately identifiable as an MDX but with changed proportions, the 2022 MDX is 2.2 inches longer than the 2020 model, with a wheelbase that has grown by 2.8 inches. These increases, together with a 1.4-inch-wider track and a dash-to-axle distance that has grown by more than 4 inches, make for a new MDX that’s longer, lower, and wider, a crossover SUV that has taken a step in the wagon direction.

According to Acura, the MDX exterior design was inspired by the wind-shaped rocks of Arizona’s Antelope Canyon. We think its sweeping silhouette is especially attractive. Noteworthy exterior details include Acura’s Diamond Pentagon grille, 4-element LED headlights, and a sculpted front fascia with 3-element LED fog lamps and prominent but strangely nonfunctional vertical vents beneath each headlight.

Viewed from the side, the new MDX shows off a longer hood, a raked roofline, black B- and C-pillars, and a strong shoulder line connecting the front and rear LED lighting elements. Twenty-inch wheels fill out the wheel wells nicely, and the back of the new MDX is highlighted by a low character line and dual exhausts.

In sporty A-Spec form, the 2022 Acura MDX profits from a black grille and abundant other black trim, plus A-Spec badges and 20-inch Shark Gray wheels with a machined finish. Apex Pearl Blue paint is exclusive to the A-Spec, but five other colors are available on this model: Liquid Carbon Metallic, Platinum White Pearl, Majestic Black Pearl, Performance Red Pearl, and Lunar Silver Metallic.

Active shutters in the MDX’s lower grille, along with specially shaped A-pillars and 2-piece front strakes (that bend airflow around the front tires), further improve aero efficiency.

Two paint colors are new on the 2022 Acura MDX: Liquid Carbon Metallic and Phantom Violet Pearl. They join a color palette that also includes red, white, silver, black and blue. The new MDX Type S looks especially sharp in Tiger Eye Pearl.

Favorite features

The Mdx A-Spec Model
Primarily an appearance package, the MDX A-Spec looks great with its black grille, black trim around its headlights and taillights, and Shark Gray 20-inch wheels. Inside, the seats are covered in red or black Milano leather, with black inserts made of a synthetic suede. The A-Spec also has a flat-bottom steering wheel, metal sill plates, and a black headliner. The only suspension difference is a slightly larger rear anti-roll bar, which makes for sharper steering response.

Dynamic Mode Dial
This dial, below the MDX’s climate controls, allows the driver to choose among Normal, Sport, Comfort, and Snow driving modes, or select an Individual mode that allows a unique mix of personalized settings. The throttle, transmission, steering, and SH-AWD are all adjusted with these modes, and the MDX’s digital instrument panel changes its appearance for each. In Sport mode, for instance, the gauges go red, and a tachometer gets displayed prominently across the top of the instrument panel.

Standard features

Owing to the 2022 MDX’s upscale focus, it’s not surprising that even the base model is generously equipped. A front-drive model with synthetic leather interior upholstery, the entry-level MDX comes with power front seats, tri-zone automatic climate control, a power tailgate, a panoramic sunroof, 19-inch alloy wheels, a 12.3-inch digital instrument panel, and a 12.3-inch infotainment screen that works in conjunction with Acura’s True Touchpad Interface on the center console.

Other standard technology on the base MDX includes wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, Amazon Alexa, a wireless charging pad, a 9-speaker audio system, and USB charging ports for the first two rows of seats. The new MDX also borrows the CabinTalk technology from the Odyssey minivan, which uses the audio system to amplify front-seat passengers’ voices so they can be heard better in the back seats.

Safety is addressed not just by the stronger new chassis, but also by AcuraWatch. This standard safety suite includes a forward-collision warning, automatic emergency braking (with pedestrian detection), road-departure mitigation, a lane-departure warning, lane-keep assist, adaptive cruise control, a blind-spot monitor, a rear cross-traffic monitor, and a driver attention monitor.

Factory options

Acura’s Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) is available as a $2,000 option on the base MDX and the Technology model. SH-AWD is standard on the A-Spec and Advance models.

In Advance trim, the 2022 MDX positively drips with luxury. In addition to Milano interior leather with contrast stitching, the Advance is graced with open-pore wood trim, a 10.5-inch head-up display, a surround-view camera, a hand’s free power tailgate, roof rails, and even outer door handles with LED lighting.

Not enough for you? It also has massaging 16-way power front seats, heated front, and rear seats, a heated steering wheel, an AC outlet in the second row, a pair of USB ports in the third row, and a concert-quality ELS audio system with 16 speakers.

Note to kids: If you download the CabinControl smartphone app, you can use your phone from your back-seat position to adjust the MDX’s audio settings, rear climate control, navigation, and even the position of the overhead sunshade.

Engine & transmission

The new 2022 Acura MDX has but one powerplant: a new 3.5-liter V6 with 290 horsepower and 267 lb-ft of torque. The transverse-mounted direct-injected engine, which has a 3-cylinder mode that saves fuel, mates to a 10-speed automatic transmission with push-button controls on the center console and shift paddles behind the steering wheel.

Front-wheel-drive (FWD) Acura MDXs are rated by the EPA at 19 mpg city/26 mpg highway/22 mpg combined, exactly the same as the outgoing 2020 model. With AWD, the EPA fuel economy of the 2022 Acura MDX drops just a bit, to 19 mpg city/25 mpg highway/21 mpg combined.

A pity, but there’s no Acura MDX Hybrid model, as there was in 2020. However, we wouldn’t be surprised to see an MDX Hybrid in the future, especially since Acura has told KBB that the MDX’s all-new chassis has been designed with multiple powerplants in mind.

The upcoming Acura MDX Type S is powered by the same engine used by the TLX Type S sedan — a turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 that puts out 355 horsepower and 354 lb-ft of torque. It’s too early to have EPA fuel economy for the 2022 Acura MDX Type S.

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Of note, the MDX’s 3.5-liter V6 needs no scheduled maintenance for 100,000 miles or more, other than occasional inspections and typical fluid and filter replacements. The timing belt and sparkplugs get replaced at the first tune-up.

Also noteworthy: The torque transfer unit on the new MDX’s front transaxle has been lowered. This reduces the angle of the drive shaft to the rear wheels and helps give the 7-seat MDX cabin a flatter floor.

3.5-liter V6 (MDX):
290 horsepower @ 6,200 rpm
267 lb-ft of torque @ 4,200 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/26 mpg (FWD), 19/25 mpg (AWD)

Turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 (MDX Type S):
355 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm
354 lb-ft of torque @ 1,400 rpm-5,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: N/A

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