2014 Acura MDX Elite
2014 Acura MDX Elite
2014 Acura MDX Elite
2014 Acura MDX Elite. Click image to enlarge

Review and photos by Jonathan Yarkony

Odometer at pick-up: 13,498 km
Odometer current: 19,770 km (6,272 km by Autos.ca)
Observed Fuel Consumption: 13.3 L/100 km
Costs: $983.086 (Gas)

So ends a happy, safe winter behind the wheel of the Acura MDX. As we wrap up this long-term test, I wanted to look back at our time in it, but also cover the driving experience and some of the high-tech driving aids that we saw in action throughout our months in the sporty crossover.

First of all, the engine: it’s a sweetheart. A 3.5L V6 with cylinder deactivation, direct injection and i-VTEC producing 290 hp and 267 lb-ft of torque is up to the task of moving this 1,970 kg SUV briskly, though the transmission was a little behind the curve. Before we get into that, some more praise for the V6: it’s smooth on its way up through the tach, delivers sufficient low-end pull, and as promised by the i-VTEC variable valve timing and lift control, continues to deliver a second wave of power if you keep pushing, and it makes the right kind of zingy noises to encourage the occasional blast upwards of 4,000 rpm.

On the efficiency side, this V6 is equipped with direct injection and cylinder deactivation, able to shut down half of its cylinders when cruising calmly. Despite EPA ratings that suggest significant improvement over the previous generation (13.1/8.7/11.2 L/100 km city/highway/combined vs 14.7/11.2/13.1, we landed at 13.3 L/100 km as calculated from fuel receipts and odometer reading. I managed 14.0 in a test of the 2012 MDX.

We consistently tracked our fuel consumption at over 13 and often 14 in a mix of suburban commuting and weekend highway runs during this cold, harsh winter. Curiously, the trip computer consistently showed optimistic ratings starting with 11 and 12, and this is the first time the calculated consumption has failed to match the trip computer by the end of a long-term test to within a few decimal points – the MDX was at least a full L/100 km off. While contributors Steven Bochenek and Justin Pritchard both took the MDX to northern destinations, one for a skiing weekend and the other because he lives there, God bless him, this did little to help the overall average, although Justin did manage one pure highway run right around 10.

The six-speed automatic transmission earned numerous complaints from other drivers, namely that it was a bit slow on the uptake, shifting early, taking its sweet time and reluctant to downshift. I generally thought it was just fine in normal Drive mode, unless I was in a big rush, at which point Sport mode quickened the pace by holding gears longer and downshifting at the slightest prod. Racing enthusiasts Jacob Black and Stephanie Wallcraft both thought Sport should be the default, and Steven likewise thought Sport mode “takes the MDX from a sensible family solution to a fun pastime.”

2014 Acura MDX Elite2014 Acura MDX Elite
2014 Acura MDX Elite. Click image to enlarge

Complementing the Sport mode in the transmission is the Integrated Dynamic System (IDS) that adjusts steering effort, throttle response, SH-AWD, and even the sound of the engine to suit one’s mood or temperament: Comfort, Normal and Sport. Honestly, the differences here were subtle, the most noticeable aspect being a slightly more weighty steering. Steven found the steering “well calibrated, becoming firmer with greater speed, as you’d want.” However, Brendan, in a west-coast comparison with an almost identical MDX Elite vs the Lexus RX350, found that “while there’s a very odd slackness to the steering dead on centre, start pushing the MDX a little and it responds.” I’d say it’s okay for an SUV and leave it at that.

Unconnected to the driver-selectable IDS modes, the MDX’s strut front suspension and multi-link rear suspension incorporate an amplitude reactive damper that adjusts damping based on road conditions and driving input, but does not firm up in response to IDS Sport mode being selected. I could have tolerated a bit more firmness in the ride for better control of body roll, but I found the ride occasionally crashy and noisy, moreso than expected at this price point and with such a compliant suspension. Other than that, the cabin was fair at suppressing external noise.

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