Friday, October 23, 2015

Long Term Test: 2014 Acura MDX FWD Tech Post #4

Update #4
Current mileage: 12,857

Since our last update, I have not spent as much time with the MDX as some of our other long-term vehicles, but what time I have spent continues to be enjoyable. Despite my aversion for all things SUV, there is no arguing that the MDX is an incredibly capable and comfortable family hauler alternative with as much or as little seating or cargo space as one could possibly need. Of course, one of my favorite features of the MDX has nothing to do with comfort, but everything to do with style and safety.

Our 2014 MDX, along with all of Acura's current line-up, comes with the brilliantly implemented, if awkwardly named, JewelEye LED headlamps. The MDX's five-lamp arrangement is the more prevalent setup in the line-up as opposed to the ten-lamp arrangement that is unique to the RLX. On the MDX, the five individual LED elements are each wrapped in a separate housing with its own focusing lens that is then wrapped up within the larger headlight cluster. During the day, smaller upper elements light up all five elements and serve as a daytime running lamp (DRL). As the sun sets, the low-beams come on and light up the outer three lamp elements. The two inner lamp elements serve as the car's high beams.

Looking at the LEDs, you feel like they are quite small and must not be able to provide all that much light, which was a real concern for me when I first saw the MDX in photos. However, after using the LED headlamps in nighttime driving, I am fully convinced that LEDs are, without a doubt, the right way to go in the future. Similar to xenon high intensity discharge headlamps, LEDs provide a whiter, more natural light. What separates HIDs from LEDs, however, is how that light is dispersed. HIDs are limited by the shape of their reflectors, which is used to disperse the light from the HID bulb and must have a notched pattern cut-off at the top to prevent blinding oncoming traffic. With LEDs, because you have more control of the individual lighting elements, it is possible to tune and overlap the light output of each element to cast just the right amount of light to give you the best balance between distance and side coverage. On the MDX, I feel like the LEDs light up the sides of the road much better than the HIDs of previous generation models and all without sacrificing the visibility down the road. As an added bonus, the LEDs have a much subtler cut-off that feels more natural than the often harsh cut-off necessary with HIDs.

Needless to say, if I am cruising around in the dark of night, I feel like the LED headlamps on our long-term MDX or RLX are at the top of my list of options if given the choice. Plus, it does not hurt that they look pretty cool when they are all lit up.

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