Culture / Cars

A Sturdy, Stable and Borderline Sexy SUV — the Acura MDX Type S Brings Some Surprises With Its Practicality

Another Big Step Forward For Acura's Once Humble SUV

BY // 10.13.22

Rarely does an SUV feel both at home navigating the parking lot at Whole Foods and the Texas Motor Speedway straightaway. The Acura MDX Type S Advance does exactly that with aplomb — without missing the three o’clock school pickup.

In a crowded field of German luxury-cum-performance super-utes, the MDX Type S Advance — the first Acura SUV to wear the storied performance badge — remains the strong, silent type. Acura, its Type S models included, have never been about hard-edged aggression. Rather, the brand’s benchmark has been built on providing smooth yet powerful vehicles that don’t sacrifice confidence for performance.

Acura’s wise decision to introduce the Type S package on the MDX brings with it its most substantial addition: a turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 that produces 355 horsepower and 354 lb-ft of torque. Thats a 65-horsepower and an 87-lb-ft bump over the standard MDX. Athough, I found myself fantasizing the euphoria of what 100 more horses would feel like.

Complementing all of this is a silky 10 speed automatic and Acura’s acclaimed SH-AWD (the SH for “Super-Handling”) system that beautifully manages all that extra power by shuffling power front to back and side by side as needed.

At the end of the day, however, real world driving dictates both accomplishment in design and necessary practicality — areas where the athletic MDX Type S excels. The introduction of standard air suspension in the Type S is a true Godsend. Paired with adaptive dampers, the Type S is at once more comfortable and more agile. Our tester, with the Advance package’s 22-inch wheels, with low-profile and self-sealing tires, drove assuredly over city potholes and was a downright blast to tackle winding country roads with.

Soccer moms will no doubt appreciate the steering that is light and agile but never imprecise. No less than seven different driving modes transform the MDX’s personality from mild to aggressive.

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The Advance package’s 22-inch wheels with low-profile, and self-sealing, tires are complemented by eye-catching Brembo brakes painted bright red bring the MDX to a sure-footed stop. (Courtesy Acura)
The Advance package’s 22-inch wheels with low-profile, and self-sealing, tires are complemented by eye-catching Brembo brakes painted bright red bring the MDX to a sure-footed stop. (Courtesy Acura)

Despite its 4,800 pound weight and seven-seater status, the MDX Type S Advance drives like a much smaller — and significantly sportier — SUV. It’s taut without feeling tight, cozy without being claustrophobic. In true Type S fashion, the upgrades are both mechanically and visually dazzling.

Beyond the splurge-worthy Tiger Eye Pearl and Apex Blue Pearl color choices that show off the MDX Type S’s elongated hood and shaper, muscular lines, eye-catching Brembo brakes painted bright red bring the MDX to a sure-footed stop. Opting for the Type S also brings about a distinctive diamond pentagon grille and front air splitter that provides roughly 10 perfect better airflow to the engine. Rounding out the rear are quad exhaust finishers that just wow.

But for the ultimate in power and poise, tick the box for the Advance package and the ultimate goodies come rolling in: a 25-speaker ELS Studio 3D Signature sound system, open pore wood trim (more of this and less of the piano black plastic, please), acoustic laminated glass, fantastic massaging (and ventilated) Milano leather seats with ultrasuede trim, power liftgate and 10.5 inch head-up display.

You know, practical.

For the ultimate in power and poise, the Advance package includes a 25-speaker ELS Studio 3D Signature sound system, open pore wood trim, acoustic laminated glass, massaging (and ventilated) Milano leather seats with Ultrasuede trim and 10.5-inch head-up display. (Courtesy Acura)
For the ultimate in power and poise, the Advance package includes a 25-speaker ELS Studio 3D Signature sound system, open pore wood trim, acoustic laminated glass, massaging (and ventilated) Milano leather seats with Ultrasuede trim and 10.5-inch head-up display. (Courtesy Acura)

Speaking of the P word, the MDX Type S offers a suite of drive-assistance tech that would cost thousands more in many of its German competitors. Forward collision warning, lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control, traffic sign recognition and Acura’s Traffic Jam Assist are all standard. Note to Acura engineers: making the 12.3 inch infotainment screen touch enabled would be most appreciated (the touchpad controller is love or hate).

Now in its fourth generation, the MDX is head and shoulders superior to the humble SUV that first bowed Stateside 22 years ago. Never did gearheads ever imagine the day would come whereby an SUV from Acura — Acura! — would become the automaker’s second fastest production vehicle (behind the iconic NSX). Never say never.

Pricing starts at $68,545 for the MDX Type S. With the Advanced Package, it’s priced at $73,895.

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