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Acura MDX Type S: worthy of the label?

Type S. An appellation, quite simple in appearance, but very important among the circle of Acura fans. Launched at the turn of the century, this sub-brand of Honda’s luxury segment gave us some very evocative proposals, including a fiery RSX coupe and TLs that spoke through their extrovert atmospheric V6s. Sensing a bargain, Acura is now trying to reinvigorate itself by reapplying the label to select models, including the MDX midsize SUV. Futile exercise or really felt?

Contents

Design


PHOTO PROVIDED BY ACURA

The large 21-inch rims with rather beefy tires (275 mm wide) provide the basis for the 2022 Acura MDX Type S.

The approach has been visited and revisited many times by the luxury subsidiaries of German brands to capture attention and… encourage their customers to dig deeper into their wallets. In the case of the MDX Type S, the expressiveness is all in all measured, relying on the greatly improved design of this latest cuvĂ©e by means of more confident lines. Glossy black accents trim some end pieces to break up the monotony of the main colorway. The large 21-inch rims with rather beefy tires (275 mm wide) provide the basis. The grille is not oversized as on some models of the brand and the rear diffuser flanked by the four tailpipes completes a well-balanced presentation free of too many superfluous elements. It’s not revolutionary, but the whole thing will undoubtedly appeal to a wide audience to encourage support.

On board


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The interior of the 2022 Acura MDX Type S

The Type S Ultra livery tested justifies the considerable sum of $87,438 by showing off a refined presentation. Admittedly, it’s not leather everywhere, but the numerous topstitchings describe particularly elegant patterns on the leather-wrapped seats. Exposed pore wood moldings and metal speaker covers ensure a nice variation of materials. The dashboard, placed low and hollowed out in the center to accommodate the multimedia screen, is resolutely Acura, with an emphasis on well-arranged physical controls. However, we appreciate less the keys acting as a gear lever, placed too far and too high, which can cause confusion at times. The brand would benefit from taking inspiration from Mazda, which places its cup holders in front of its levers. In terms of space, its wheelbase of 2890 mm, or 13.5 cm less than a Ford Explorer, limits legroom in the rear, especially in the symbolic last row.

Under the hood


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This supercharged, turbocharged 3.0L V6 is the first engine of its kind to be offered under the hood of the Acura MDX.

Any self-respecting Type S model must invariably have more punch under the hood. In the case of this MDX, the naturally aspirated 3.5 L V6 is replaced by another V6, this one turbocharged and with a smaller displacement (3 L). With its 355 hp and 354 lb-ft of torque produced continuously from 1,500 to 5,000 rpm, it has a much stronger cavalry. On the other hand, this supercharged approach has a direct effect on the erased character of this mechanism, forcing Acura to use a synthetic sound. It shows a nice aplomb at the start and climbs a range of limited revs around 6000 rpm gently. However, the sportier modes make the pedal much too sensitive. The reworked 10-speed transmission does an acceptable job, synchronizing the revs on downshifts.

Behind the wheel


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The steering, well dosed in its assistance, places the MDX in curves with great ease.

The efforts of the engineers with regard to the development of this chassis are palpable. Benefiting from a double wishbone suspension at the front and air springs which make it possible to increase or lower the ground clearance according to the driving modes and the pitfalls in front of the vehicle, it makes this MDX float downright above the above the bumps without falling into an unpleasant softness. The various driving modes have a tangible effect on its behavior, relying on a very rigid skeleton to ensure its holding. What impresses above all, however, is the precision of the front end. The steering, well dosed in its assistance, places the SUV in curves with great ease. The all-wheel drive completes the whole thing, which has the ability to send up to 70% of the torque to the rear axle, making it possible to limit the effects of predictable understeer. The only real reservation concerns the modulation of the brake pedal, which is not perfect.

Embedded technologies


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The 2022 Acura MDX Type S multimedia system screen

Technologically, this MDX obviously features the latest generation of the brand’s infotainment system. It relies on a touchpad to navigate the menus, an approach already seen on board Lexus models. There is inevitably something polarizing in this way of doing things. It’s still entertaining at first, but you get used to it in the long run, without claiming that it’s the recipe to follow. The 12.3-inch horizontal screen provides good image definition and the menus are well structured. The all-digital instrumentation completes it with a typeface that some might consider too small. We would also have liked a slightly more configurable layout. Finally, the optional 25-speaker ELS system does an exemplary job in its rendering.

The verdict


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The 2022 Acura MDX Type S is a much more successful product than the previous generation, but it is probably a little late as the automotive world turns to electrification.

But one question remains in conclusion of this test drive: is the MDX competent enough to attract the attention of a clientele naturally interested in the trio of German brands? The latter have a much stronger reputation than Acura, but the MDX Type S can come forward as a relevant in-between if we exclude the pure performance variable. Its chassis can compete head-on with German rivals and its list of features is more comprehensive at the same price. It is a much more successful product than the previous generation, but which undoubtedly arrives a little late as the automotive world turns to electrification. A big step forward, in short, for a balanced model that we gain to know, but which is probably a little too expensive for its own good.

Notebook

The sum of the details

Acura engineers have gone so far as to reposition the battery at the rear to ensure better weight distribution, an attention that reflects the model’s dynamic aspirations.

A braking system like no other

Using four-piston front Brembo calipers pinching 14.3-inch discs, the MDX Type S relies on a system with an electric booster that can continuously vary the distribution of braking force. This technology is borrowed from the NSX supercar.

Japanese with Ohio accent

From engine to final assembly and all-wheel-drive parts, the Acura MDX is built entirely in the US state of Ohio.

It can tow modestly

Despite its sportier vocation, the MDX Type S can tow a load of up to 2268 kg.

Mind your head

Rear passengers have to deal with a thick roof that limits headroom. This is both the result of a descending roofline and the integration of a panoramic glass roof.

Technical sheet

  • Model tested: Acura MDX Type S Ultra
  • Engine: Turbocharged 3.0L DOHC V6
  • Power: 355 hp at 5500 rpm
  • Torque: 354 lb-ft from 1400 to 5000 rpm
  • Transmission: 10-speed automatic with manual mode
  • Engine architecture: front transverse engine, all-wheel drive
  • Consumption (displayed during the test): 11.2 L/100 km (super recommended)
  • Price (with options, transport and preparation): $87,738
  • Competitors (MDX): Audi Q7, BMW X5, Genesis GV80, Infiniti QX60, Lincoln Aviator, Mercedes-Benz GLE and Volvo XC90
  • New in 2022? Next Generation (MDX)

See also:   Techno Chronicle | A small molecule with great virtues
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