Monday, April 27, 2015

Long Term Test: 2014 Acura MDX FWD Tech post #3

Update #3
Current mileage: 8,374

The MDX continues to serve us well as the beast of burden. Our family vacation to the Monterey Peninsula in Northern California had five of us in the MDX for an extended drive of over five and a half hours, but we arrived in total comfort with a weekend's worth of luggage in tow. However, despite the long stretches on open highway, the MDX's fuel economy continues to disappoint, averaging a rather paltry 24 mpg over the course of the 330 mile drive that took place largely on flat, open, non traffic-congested roads. Admittedly, our average speeds were frequently around 70 mph and the added weight of five adult passengers plus their luggage are likely contributors to that low number. Of course, the massive fuel tank meant we did not have to fill up again until well into the return leg of that trip, although we probably could have done the entire trip on a single tank of fuel.

Unlike our several previous MDXs, this latest one is not fitted with AWD, which might have been a reasonable excuse for the reduced fuel economy. We opted for the FWD version specifically because there is little need for the extra weight and fuel economy penalty of an AWD system here in sunny Southern California and because the extra performance benefits would hardly be appreciated given that this car is basically a daily driver. Still, while it feels relatively spry for such a large vehicle, there is a torpidity to the way the car responds to changes in direction that was not present in the SH-AWD equipped predecessors. And without any kind of mechanical wizardry to try to make the big beast turn better, it simply lumbers through corners, squealing its tires in protest if pushed even a little outside its comfort zone. This behavior exhibited itself in droves when we pressed the MDX with any fervor through the famed 17-Mile Drive, a series of windy coastal roads lined by enormous homes with stunning views of the Pacific Ocean.

Of course, a two-ton SUV should not be expected to handle like a sports car. As a daily driver, the MDX is absolutely fantastic, delivering a comfortable ride with safe and familiar car-like handling characteristics. Even the much maligned infotainment setup, which I discussed in detail in our recent RLX long-term update, is simple enough to operate on a daily basis without any real frustration. If you want a vehicle that can seat seven passengers in relative comfort but do not want the stigma of driving a minivan, but do not mind the glances of scorn for being in an SUV, the MDX stands out at the top of the heap of available choices.