Driving the 2014 Acura MDX is like slicing butter – so, so smooth! I was quite surprised at how well it handled and how the ride stayed consistently enjoyable. The gazillion features loaded on did help. Every bit of new technology seemed packed into this stylish crossover.
The MDX is the larger of Acura’s crossover vehicles. With three rows of seats and lean lines, this is definitely a head turner. When parked, both men and women would take an extra long look at the Acura MDX as they passed by, being impressed by the sleek and modern look of the grill and lights. This was the first time I really noticed people being so awed by a particular car design, especially one that’s built to hold 7 passengers (two in the back).
Tweaking the Acura MDX
As I hurried off to an appointment, I jumped into the MDX and thought I could just do a couple of seat adjustments then get going. Unfortunately, it was not as simple as that. The driver seat could be altered in so many different directions and angles that it took several minutes to find a comfortable. Even then, I would continually tweak my recorded seat position. My husband wasn’t as picky and locked his preferences in the memory on his first try.
It’s a good thing we had the Acura when we attended the 2013 WAJ 5th Annual Symposium on Future Car Technology. During the symposium, we heard about technology like the Lane Keeping Assist System, Collision Mitigation Braking System, and Adaptive Cruise Control. The MDX just happened to have all of these and we were able to try them out right away.
Packed with Technology
The Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) was the coolest feature. When cruising at your desired speed, if the car in front of you slows down, the cruising speed will drop accordingly. As they speed up, so will you. This worked perfectly in light traffic. Then there was the Lane Keeping System. This system would detect the lane lines and gently move the steering to stay in the lane. Coupling ACC and the Lane Keeping System basically allowed for semi-automated driving. For testing purposes, my husband and I would let go of the steering wheel for a couple of seconds (only when it was quiet on the road) and eerily we’d see the wheel turn by itself, even on small curves. Both of these options are easily overridden by manual operation so you still feel in control even when these driving aids are switched on.
Despite the sheer number of options and features, the layout remains uncluttered and easy to access. Most of the controls are self-explanatory. I did have to pull out the thick ‘quick start’ guide to figure out what several acronyms stood for and the exact usage of the Lane Keeping and ACC buttons. Directions, space minimums, music input, etc. are displayed clearly in the instrument cluster area. There were yet more options to change / play with. These were found in the extensive touchscreen menu, which was pleasantly responsive.
As a safety precaution, the driver and passenger seat belts would tighten when going around corners or slowing down. It freaked us out every time it happened. We would be casually driving and all of a sudden our seat belts would jerk. I get the idea but the triggers seemed a bit too sensitive.
Back Seat Drivers
Another set of controls could be found in the second row. My daughter was constantly busy back there saying, “What’s this?” “What happens when I push that?” “Ooh, this has seat warmers!” “Will it burn?” She also discovered the entertainment system remote and wireless headphones. With so many buttons to touch and a private screen to watch her favorite movies on, she was a happy camper. I don’t recall her ever complaining that she was bored while sitting back there.
Fortunately, the DVD player was located in the front dash so only the driver or front passenger could load the movies. The power button was also there to restrict unwanted usage. I, as a parent, appreciated this so whatever kids are sitting there don’t have free reign over the entertainment system.
The only issue I had with the player was the placement of the screen itself. When the screen was down, it drastically reduced visibility in the rear view mirror. How did the design team not notice this?!
Aside from the obvious mirror issue, the other design features were fantastic. The glossy wood-type finish looked great and there was a handy middle console that was even big enough to hold a medium-sized purse or other item that you’d like to keep handy but hidden. Even the headrests can be folded down when the third row of seats are upright but no one is using it. There’s still room in the cargo area for a few bags of groceries or a stroller with the third row in place. When the row is collapsed, there’s a ton of space.
The Third Row
Speaking of the third row of seats, these are pretty much for back-up use only. While they are easy to get into and out of, thanks to a big push button that is even illuminated at night, the legroom is narrow and shallow. My knees were elevated and the second row was right against my shins. The seat depth was also fairly short. There wasn’t enough light for me to get a good photo but I think you get a good idea of what I mean.
The Acura MDX ‘feels’ huge. What do I mean? Well, some cars just feel nimble and easy to maneuver, no matter how big they are. On the other hand, the MDX gives the impression that it’s wider and longer than it really is. Once, I even passed up a parking space two car-lengths long because it ‘seemed’ too small to park in. It was just so hard to get an accurate handle on this car’s dimensions. I’m sure it’s all perception but my husband experienced the same thing. No wonder other Acura MDX drivers always seem to leave a lot of room behind them when backing up or have to try several times to get into parking spaces.
The 2014 Acura MDX is a beautiful car that drives fantastically. It comes with more features than you can shake a stick at, which could be good or bad. It’s as if the designers tried to pack every option in that would fit. Confusing and overkill for some but perfect for the tech-savvy family. The modern conveniences will cost a pretty $54,000 and the 6-cylinder engine (lots of ‘oomph’) will be thirsty for premium gas at an average 23 MPG. The saying, “You get what you pay for” applies to this luxury crossover quite well. It’s comfort that comes at a price.
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