The 2024 Acura MDX Type S Earns Its Name

2024 Acura MDX Type S Ultra

Price: $86,180 CAD

Colour: Performance Red Pearl

The Acura MDX has been with us for nearly 25 years. First introduced for model year 2001 it was one of the early 7-passenger SUV’s from the Japanese carmakers that didn’t have a history steeped in proper body-on-frame 4×4 construction. The MDX was made for city driving and it did that well. That first generation MDX was many things, most of them good. What it wasn’t was pretty. It wasn’t ugly per se, it just felt very bland and didn’t look very dynamic or terribly interesting. It would take over 20 years of development and multiple generations before the MDX shook off its homely looks, emerged from its cocoon of conservative design and blossom into something truly beautiful. 

The current generation of the Acura MDX was introduced for model year 2022. The first thing you notice about this new MDX is just how beautiful it is. It features a lower roofline and higher door sill design that makes it look very sleak. SUV’s truly struggle with actually being sporty, but the MDX definitely looks the part. This test model is the Type S trim. Often trims like this are simply a bunch of badges and stickers people seem more than willing to pay far too much money for. In the case of the MDX though, the Type S model really is special. It’s the only trim of the MDX that features an upgraded power plant in the form of a 3.0L turbocharged V6 which delivers 355hp and 354 lb/ft of torque. This is a significant bump from the standard 3.5L V6 that is available across the rest of the range. The Type S also gets improved brakes and suspension that includes air bags. The whole system combines to give the MDX a respectable driving profile. While it’s not a sports car, it doesn’t drive like a typical SUV either. 

One thing the Type S features can’t fix is the interior space of the MDX. It’s tight inside this car. It only comes in a 7-passenger seating configuration and all those sleek and sexy exterior lines rob from the interior space leaving you a little short if you choose to jam this thing to max capacity. It must be noted that while the two seats in the third row are (as is typical) only suitable for kids, access to this row is actually quite good. The second-row seats slide and tilt a respectable amount to allow reasonable access to third row sardine can. 

The fit and finish of the MDX is top shelf. The interior materials are excellent and feel truly high quality. The second row gets HVAC controls of their own as well as lots of power ports for the requisite myriad of personal devices. Rear window shades also keep the sun out of your passengers’ eyes. The MDX also features this new generation of real wood trim we’re seeing in lots of different cars. I’m amazed at how good this stuff looks. I can’t comment on how well it will hold up over time but from an initial quality perspective it feels very solid.

I drove the Acura RDX last year and really liked the car. No car is perfect of course, and one of the RDX’s big let downs was the retro (and largely unusable) touchpad that controlled the infotainment system. The MDX features that same system and it doesn’t work any better here than in the RDX. I truly can’t wrap my head around how a company as good as Honda can let such a lackluster piece of equipment persist. While you can make it work okay in the native system of the MDX you will play hell getting that touchpad to operate Android Auto or Carplay. It’s not intuitive and makes things like answering the phone a bit of a challenge. If the MDX design was older I’d find a way to work past this but it’s a nearly new design so there’s no excuse for its continued inclusion.

While driving the RDX last year I was struck by how thirsty it was. This has something to do with how I drove the car as it likes to go fast but it still drank more gas than I expected. In a Type S suit, the MDX is even worse. It really likes to be driven hard and this produced some truly astonishing fuel consumption figures. I was pushing 20L/100kms before I reset the gauges and drove like a human for a few days. This produced a figure closer to 17L/100kms. Either way it seems, the MDX has a heavy thirst.  

The Acura MDX competes with many other 7-passenger vehicles in the luxury segment. The Lincoln Aviator, Cadillac XT6, Infiniti QX60, Genesis GV80 and Volvo XC90 are all worthy competitors the MDX. Some like the XT6, QX60, XC90 and Aviator are similarly priced and equipped. None of these cars give you the same driving experience as the MDX regardless of how they stack up on paper. The GV80 is a real pound for pound contender with the MDX. It looks almost as good and properly specified will deliver a driving experience nearly as satisfying. The only caveat attached to the GV80 is the price point. It’s going to cost a little more to get the MDX Type S level. Considering you get a similarly tight interior to the MDX in a 7-passenger GV80 this isn’t an obvious winner either. No matter who you line it up against, the MDX carries itself well.

The 2024 Acura MDX Type S is actually rather special. Nobody is more surprised by this than I. It’s a typical mid-sized luxury SUV like we see from so many other carmakers but it also has the soul of a rampaging stallion that wants nothing more than to have the reigns removed so it can go running and bucking in the wild. I like this car and it’s worthy of your time and attention as well.

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