Friday, January 28, 2022
Reviews 2022 Acura MDX A-Spec Review: Very Good if Only Overhyped

2022 Acura MDX A-Spec Review: Very Good if Only Overhyped

Acura wants everyone to believe that the new MDX is a performance SUV. It is, but not exactly


  • The 2022 MDX is priced from $56,405 in Canada, $47,200 in the US.

  • The MDX is Acura’s true flagship vehicle.

  • The 2022 model year SUV is the 4th generation of the MDX.


Acura launched the MDX some 20 years ago and before long, they knew they’d done the right thing. Premium SUVs flourished in the early 2000s to a point where most offerings from automakers rose to best-seller status or nearly. In fact, Acura would probably not be the Acura we know had it not been for the MDX – for better or worse…

2022 Acura MDX A-Spec | Photo: Olivier Delorme

I’ve extensively driven every generation of the MDX, covering thousands of kilometers over the years. Like most Acura vehicles from the late 2000s, the MDX lost some of its lustre but because the original was so good and that segment alternatives were also just as good, I enjoyed it quite a bit. The third-generation MDX no longer was trying dynamically but was still a generally refined and comfortable luxury SUV.


Ignore the marketing campaigns and see for yourself

For this new 4th generation SUV, Acura wants to remind all where they come from. Most of the publicity surrounding the MDX features the A-Spec and engine noises under load. The motivation behind the advertising is clear; they want everyone to think it’s a high-performance SUV. The fact of the matter is that it’s not quite sportier than the new 2022 Nissan Pathfinder and it won’t outrun the Lexus RX 350 and leave it for dead.

2022 Acura MDX A-Spec | Photo: Olivier Delorme

The new 2022 Acura MDX is still quite pleasing to drive, however. The Honda Odyssey-sourced (among others) naturally-aspirated 3.5-litre V6 is as creamy-smooth as it has always been. Its 290 horsepower and 267 lb.-ft. of torque provide plenty of get-up-and-go but there’s no reason to get too excited. The sound pumped into the cabin is more for show than go. What does go well with the V6 is the new 10-speed automatic transmission and Acura’s rear-biased Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD).


Great chassis, controls need a tweak or two

The driving experience is the MDX’s best feature. The newly reinforced structure is fitted with a double-wishbone front- and a new multilink rear suspension. The new mounting points along with the adaptive dampers deliver a ride quality that is nearly equal parts comfort and dynamic handling. The MDX is surefooted, confident, and, above all, extremely refined. In fact, on this point, the big Acura may be one of the better-handling large midsize SUVs.

2022 Acura MDX A-Spec | Photo: Olivier Delorme

The included SH-AWD system plays a strong role in the MDX’s heightened drivability. The rear axle is always overdriven creating the rear-wheel-drive bias. As well, the layout includes built-in torque vectoring capabilities that are designed to provide sharper turn-in responses. Unfortunately, I found steering feel to be overly light and lacking all-important feel, and this, despite switching through the drive modes.

Another element that fell short of my expectations were the brakes. Acura boasts that the new MDX features improved braking performance thanks to larger and thicker front discs. However, and unfortunately, once more, the brake pedal’s travel was far too long and overly spongy. On a number of occasions, I found myself pumping the pedal to increase resistance and limit how far down the pedal would go. 


Stylish once more

2022 Acura MDX A-Spec | Photo: Olivier Delorme

Acura’s styling department was reanimated lately, or so I must believe, after nearly a decade of misguided mistakes. The first indication that Acura had corrected itself was the new 2019 RDX. The true “aha” moment came when the TLX was launched for 2020. And now, the new MDX is the best expression of the brand’s current design language which heavily focuses on cab-rearward proportions. The hood is long, the windshield is heavily raked, and the longer wheelbase all highlight more powerful and upscale lines. The tested A-Spec benefits from unique 20-inch wheels, LED fog lights and looks dashing in Performance red pearl.

The new 2022 Acura MDX’s cabin, like in the TLX, is a series of hits and misses. The touchpad interface continues to be extremely distracting and non-user-friendly – I’ve said this far too many times already. Right around the pad are the push-button transmission controls which remain irritating to use. Combined, they use up far too much real estate which should serve as storage, something that is lacking up front. Lastly, the Integrated Dynamic System (IDS) wheel which chimes when toggling through drive modes should be replaced by a simple button or something less kitsch.

2022 Acura MDX A-Spec | Photo: Olivier Delorme

Everything else about the MDX’s interior, thankfully, is upscale and pleasing. The seats are, as always, supportive, and comfortable and there’s plenty of room in the second row for adults or baby seats. The driving position is excellent and controls, though numerous, are accessible. Standard with all MDX SUVs is a 12-inch screen and a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster.


It’s a top choice

As a family vehicle, the MDX brings plenty of capability with seating for up to eight passengers and a capacious especially when the third row is stowed. And generally speaking, it’s good to drive but not that great.

In the segment, the MDX squares off with the soon to arrive Infiniti QX60, the Audi Q7, Buick Enclave, Jeep Wagoneer, Lincoln Aviator, and a number of non-premium brand entries. Of the lot, I have high hopes for the new QX60 as the new 2022 Pathfinder surprised me with its level of refinement and comfort. The Audi Q7, although considerably more expensive, is difficult to overlook.

2022 Acura MDX A-Spec | Photo: Olivier Delorme

2022 Acura MDX A-Spec | Photo: Olivier Delorme

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Matt St-Pierre
Trained as an Automotive Technician, Matt has two decades of automotive journalism under his belt. He’s done TV, radio, print and this thing called the internet. He’s an avid collector of many 4-wheeled things, all of them under 1,500 kg, holds a recently expired racing license and is a father of two. Life is beautiful. Send Matt an emai

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