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2022 Acura MDX gets much better with age

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Building on an already good driving vehicle, the 2022 Acura MDX gets better in nearly every way. A week behind the wheel showed the MDX is now a much more competitive vehicle. Here’s why.

Improved driving dynamics

One of the big improvements you’ll notice immediately is the improved driving dynamics after engineers did a complete swap of the suspension. 

Starting up front, the 2022 Acura MDX has a new double wishbone setup with a new rigid subframe improving handling and ride comfort through making it stiffer. Basically, a stiffer suspension means less movement of various parts allowing engineers to better dial in the vehicle for better performance.

The same thing happened in the rear with a new multi-link suspension. Engineers were able to revise the rear subframe layout allowing them to see similar improvements to the ride comfort and handling.

What does this mean? The new MDX has a better ride and can drive through the corners better with less sway.

Sportier feel for 2022 Acura MDX

Besides a better ride, the MDX sees improvements when driving at low speeds as well as stopping power through a new electric brake booster and larger front disc brakes.

Starting with steering, the SUV feels much sportier thanks to mechanical improvements to the electric power steering with a new high output motor, quick steering ratio and a stiffer torsion bar resulting in better maneuverability at low speeds. 

Next, the changes to the braking system mean a more confident stopping feeling as well as the ability to drive more aggressively without feeling out of control.

With these improvements, I’m not saying it drives like a sports car, but it is damn close.

Safety still paramount

MDX once again achieves Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Top Safety Pick + status, with improvements to the front body structure in order to pass the front overlap safety test.

This test, the newest IIHS test meant to push automakers to make their vehicles safer, is meant to simulate a vehicle traveling 40 MPH toward a barrier with 25% of the vehicle’s front end overlapping the barrier.

Basically, this test mimics what happens when you hit an obstacle — like a tree or telephone pole — on the front driver-side corner. This type of accident happens quite often.

Engineers also changed the hood design to make it better for pedestrians in an accident, added next generation front passenger airbags as well as improved access to the child seat lower anchors and tethers — a sore spot on the 2020 MDX IIHS rating.

Finally, the new traffic sign recognition, driver attention monitor, better pedestrian detection and traffic jam assist (an automated system moving the vehicle forward when the one in front moves) — along with a host of additional safety and driver assist technologies — puts the 2022 Acura MDX along the top of the segment for safety.

2022 Acura MDX

This thing rocks, literally

Inside the cabin has been completely redone with a new 12.3-inch HD digital cluster replacing the analog behind-the-wheel gauges, a first for Acura. Plus, a 12.3-inch HD display for the infotainment screen replaces the old two screens with one. Combined with a slew of new tech features, over-the-air updates, standard in-car Wi-Fi and wireless charging plus Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and Amazon Alexa, the 2022 Acura MDX sees a massive improvement in all areas as well as pumping up the volume. Literally. 

If you opt for the A-Spec with the Advanced audio package you are in for a treat. It is a ELS Studio 3D system with 16 speakers, 16 channels with 710 watts of power. Plus, Acura says this award-winning system also has Acoustic Motion Control which optimizes each of the 16 speakers for maximum sound quality.

While I’m not a huge audiophile, even my amateur ears picked up on the amazing sound quality from the cabin, and I might have had AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck” on repeat. 

New 10-speed transmission, enhanced 3.5L V-6 engine

Last, but certainly not least, are the improvements under the hood, and I had a lot of fun with these changes.

A new 10-speed automatic transmission leads off the big changes, and it has a slew of benefits, such as better off-the-line speed, better performance — especially when doing a highway pass — and improved shift performance. Basically, the engineers wanted it to be smoother, faster and more spirited. Mission accomplished.

Next, the 3.5-liter, V-6 gets some refinement to make it quieter and emit less emissions. Other than that, the engine is the same. It still puts out a good amount of power with 290 horsepower and 267 pound-feet of torque — all while offering up to 5,000 pounds of towing capacity. 

Finally, and interestingly, fuel economy sees a change with 19/26/22 MPG for city/highway/combined for the FWD model and 19/25/21 MPG for the AWD model. This is down 1 MPG for the FWD on all accounts versus the 2020 model, and 1 MPG less in highway driving for the AWD version.

The bottom line on the 2022 Acura MDX

While there are a slew of other features I could mention that are all new, the reality is the 2022 Acura MDX is improved in so many ways, it really is now a distant cousin to the prior generation. And that’s a good thing. 

The Acura MDX may not have the name recognition of say Mercedes Benz GL Class or a Lexus RX, yet it is one of those hidden gems automotive journalists like myself tell people about when they ask for the best luxury 3-row SUV starting for less than $50k (the 22 MDX starts at $47,200). It is definitely worth the test drive.

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Tim Esterdahl

Automotive Journalist Tim Esterdahl has been a lover of trucks and SUVs for years. He has covered the industry since 2011 and has pieces in many national magazines and newspapers. In his spare time, he is often found tinkering on his '62 C10 pickup, playing golf, going hunting and hanging out with his wife and kids in Nebraska.

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