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Old 08-01-2013, 09:04 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Quick Review: Upgrade from 2011 > 2014

There have been a ton of posts and professional reviews, but here is a very quick one from someone who went from 2011 (Tech) to 2014 (Tech + Entertainment). This is my sixth new Acura in a row (TSX > TL > RL > RDX > MDX > MDX).

Styling
Compared side-to-side, the new model is much lower, longer (from A-pillar back), wider, and sleeker. The 2011 model looked "naked" without running boards and roof rails (why Honda doesn't include them standard on a $50k vehicle continues to bother me), but the 2014 looks better without them. In general, the 2014 really looks like a station wagon more than an SUV (this is reinforced with FWD and a low-hanging, mid-mounted muffler). The rear is okay - the chrome-ringed reflectors look odd, but I suppose that this is a Honda/Acura (and Hyundai) trend.

Performance/Fuel Economy
New one is quicker and definitely more fuel efficient (even with 400 miles on the odometer). The "IDS" button (aped from other marques) has a significant effect on steering and throttle (other brands - like our BMW - also adjust suspension settings, but Acura doesn't have this). I was impressed with this.

Coming from a 2011 model (14-16MPG average 70/30 highway/local road split), the 2014 can only be better. Very small sample: I got 25.1 MPG on a drive home from the supermarket last night. Wife got 22MPG on drive to/from work.

Raw performance is better, but will probably degrade as our 2011 did over time. You still need to mash the throttle to get it moving.

Features
Honestly the 2014 would have had fewer features than the 2011 had we not selected the Entertainment package. The blind-spot, collision avoidance, and lane departure warnings are all new to my family (previously we steered clear on BMW and Acuras). CMBS: I didn't realize it was there/on, and scared the crap out of me on my drive home. LDW: helpful, and not annoying/distracting.

The center console is huge - this is a great use of space. Kind of reminds me of my 2008 RDX which could swallow a laptop (this is more "iPad" than "14-inch Dell" in size). Rear seats slide a significant amount - this is nice for 3rd row legroom, cargo space, and keeping kids close.

The haptic touchscreen center stack will be a topic of debate. I wasn't a fan when I saw it in photos, and I'm still not a fan. The screen brightness - even when "synced" with the navigation/info screen - is off. The auto-dimming is distracting (it has to auto-dim at night so it doesn't blind you). It makes things more complicated - just give me the damn buttons back. The *only* advantage is that it becomes a keyboard when entering addresses - but Honda/Acura does such a great job with address entry (compared with German cars) that it wasn't a big leap forward over the dial/knob.

Even with 3D, the navigation system has taken a step back. Again, more complicated, SLOWER, and colors are less professional. 2008 RDX > 2011 MDX was definitely a bigger leap forward in quality and clarity.

Rear-seat entertainment is fine. The headphones border on useless for kids (the headband is a cheap and awkward design). I'm disappointed at Acura's decision to strip the larger 16.2" screen and HDMI inputs from the Tech version - you have to go Advance (+$8k) to get these.

Pandora, Aha, and all the other crap is just that. It's unnecessary. XM music still sounds like low-quality, compressed mud compared to my other cars. Either Honda has to move to the Sirius receivers, or figure out why XM sound so incredibly terrible. Others have figured it out - this system can produce much better sound.

Quality
Without question a step back. Once you get past the single-row "Jewel-Eye" headlights, things take a turn.

Many repeat customers will be disappointed with many aspects of the vehicle. While panel gaps, NVH, and other things are fine, I counted 15 different areas in which Honda lapsed. The headliner has lumps and finishing flaws. The MDX logo isn't on straight. The engine sounds rough (although the common, loud Honda/Acura ancillary fan appears to take longer to come on when I'm parked in my garage). The windshield (with what I believe is acoustic damping) made bright lights (headlights, street lights, etc.) look like a video game - they have a halo and almost "track" through their movement. It's *really* annoying - and dangerous. Finally, the odor of the car is more "Toyota" and "Kia" than "Acura" and "luxury brand".

Time will tell how this thing stands up. I'm happy I leased - these aren't areas of "first model year" slip-up's - they are some real gaps related to cost-cutting. (Note that I didn't compare Alliston, Ontario to Lincoln, Alabama - it's irrelevant).

Value
Factoring everything above, is the 2014 Acura MDX a good value? On a lease, with strong 64-66% residuals, yes. It has all the features to effectively compete with the Toyota Highlander, Nissan Pathfinder/Infiniti JX-now-QX60, and higher-end American brands (Buick Enclave), it definitely falls short of the BMW X5 and Audi Q7.

At $55k, the top-of-the-line model does not seem like a reasonable value.
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Old 08-01-2013, 09:31 AM   #2 (permalink)
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It's interesting you say it's "wider". When we looked at a '14 and '13 side by side, the '14 appeared to be more narrow and that is reflected in all the paper specs- exterior and interior.

Otherwise I agree with a lot of your review. My wife is not a fan of the wagon look and said she much prefers her '12. She traded her last DD after only 18 months but so far is still very happy with this one. One of my concerns when we bought the '12 was that I knew the '14 was coming and I figured she would want to make that switch. If everyone keeps "wagon-ifying" their "SUV's" we may keep this one a long time.
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Old 08-01-2013, 10:10 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Good to read your honest review.

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Old 08-01-2013, 10:23 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Thanks for the informative review.
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Old 08-01-2013, 12:51 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Excellent review...probably the best I have read so far.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lindros2 View Post
You still need to mash the throttle to get it moving.
This is the primary reason we sold our 2010 last year. My wife hated the throttle response off the line. She began to drive our 4Runner more than the MDX. When we started to look for a new car for her, we were not very impressed with the new MDX. We ended up with an X5 diesel. Definitely a step above the MDX in terms of build quality and it is extremely responsive. Getting 23-28 MPG in mixed driving so far. Price was very competitive with the MDX with the BMW ECO rebates on the diesel models.
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Old 08-01-2013, 06:15 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Excellent review...probably the best I have read so far.
Thank you.

Regarding mashing the throttle - on the FWD model, it's definitely better. Everything now (I think) is "by wire". The IMS-Sport Mode makes things better.
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Old 08-01-2013, 06:21 PM   #7 (permalink)
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It's interesting you say it's "wider". When we looked at a '14 and '13 side by side, the '14 appeared to be more narrow and that is reflected in all the paper specs- exterior and interior.
It's bizarre. I drive a 2013 BMW 535i, and we park the two cars next to each other in our relatively mid-size garage. While the 2011 was a *lot* wider than our 2008 RDX, the 2014 makes it much more difficult to open the 5-series doors. Conversely, but to be careful/honest, it's also harder to open the MDX doors, but I'm pretty sure the 2014 has bigger ones due to the stretched platform and improved access to the third row.

The root cause of the issue here might be the mirrors. Since they're so much bigger (all around), it's difficult to pull into our garage without clipping the driver's mirror. This means that even angled in, we park closer to the center of the garage... Hence the issues above with width.

And, yes, the raw numbers say that it's narrower. Professional reviewers (and myself) both find that it feels wider inside...
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Old 08-01-2013, 06:51 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Well, shoot. I've read and watched dozens of reviews regarding the 14 MDX. Most of them are overwhelmingly positive. Due to the good reviews, two test drives and my interest in upgrading from a 2003 Honda Accord to a mid-size SUV luxury vehicle, I was all set to close a deal with Acura. This review has me worried; it's clearly honest and thoughtfully put together. Can I unread it? LOL
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Old 08-01-2013, 06:57 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by lindros2 View Post
The root cause of the issue here might be the mirrors. Since they're so much bigger (all around), it's difficult to pull into our garage without clipping the driver's mirror. This means that even angled in, we park closer to the center of the garage... Hence the issues above with width..
It would make sense if the doors were a little longer, so obviously they will open wider. I also noticed the mirrors are bigger which is a good thing. Besides the "mashing the throttle" issue as well, our other complaint with the '12 is the side mirror coverage. This is possibly the first vehicle I've ever added a blind-spot mirror. The standard mirrors are tiny and have a very deep housing that blocks a lot of your view to the far left. The '14 mirrors appear to be a much better design for this size vehicle.
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Old 08-01-2013, 07:06 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Well, shoot. I've read and watched dozens of reviews regarding the 14 MDX. Most of them are overwhelmingly positive. Due to the good reviews, two test drives and my interest in upgrading from a 2003 Honda Accord to a mid-size SUV luxury vehicle, I was all set to close a deal with Acura. This review has me worried; it's clearly honest and thoughtfully put together. Can I unread it? LOL
You have to make the decision for yourself.

If I had $55k to spend on an SUV, I'd seriously consider a BMW X5. Then again, the one I configured was within $5 of my 535i - which means it was $65k.

The quality thing is the biggest beef - the cheap headliner and general smell of the car is definitely multiple notches below our 2011 MDX.
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Old 08-01-2013, 07:55 PM   #11 (permalink)
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I looked closely at the X5. But as I gave it the same scrutiny I was giving the MDX I realized there were a lot of little things I didn't care for with it either. So to lindros2's point it is your own decision. What matters to you. I knew that if I bought the X5 I would start to notice things. Darn, why did they do that? Why didn't they do that? Why did this do this this way? I wish the whatever was like this or wider or higher or lower or easier.

There are so many things to consider when it comes to actually using a car. Which is why all of the car manufactures manage to 10's of thousands of these things. And why many of us are never satisfied. ;-)
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Old 08-01-2013, 09:49 PM   #12 (permalink)
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I looked closely at the X5. But as I gave it the same scrutiny I was giving the MDX I realized there were a lot of little things I didn't care for with it either.
Are you talking about the 2014 X5? Or the earlier model? Unless you were given exclusive access to the Spartanburg, SC, plant, you probably haven't been in a new one (production started today):

2014 BMW X5 production begins at Spartanburg plant

I also don't care for the (now last) second-generation model. The new one - arriving at dealerships shortly - is light years beyond the earlier ones.

This isn't nickpicking - you have to understand my key point - the 2014 MDX is more Toyota/Honda/Buick than it is 2009-2013 MDX.
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Old 08-01-2013, 10:04 PM   #13 (permalink)
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No. Not the 2014. The 2013. But my point isn't so much about one car vs the other. It is rather what matters to some people and that it is rare someone will find everything to their liking. The '14 MDX is my first MDX. I came from 8 years of driving a Lexus RX's and a Land Cruiser before that. I don't care for the German styling or feel at all. But that again is my point. One care is not better than another - it is better for some people than another.
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Old 08-01-2013, 10:39 PM   #14 (permalink)
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it definitely falls short of the BMW X5 and Audi Q7
Not necessarily but it depends on what someone's looking for. Most of us include the cost in the equation of determining 'value'. It's by no means the only variable or none of us would be MDX owners but it's a part of it. Start pricing the X5 and it gets expensive quickly, especially due to BMW's nature of having tons of options which on one hand is nice for getting it the way you want (although the dealer likely doesn't have it that way) but on the other hand one can get nickel/dimed on cost - ex: $1,700 for the third row seat. Maybe the headliner in the new X5 is nicer than the MDX's but is it worth whatever additional cost BMW charges for it and given that I think the headliner is just fine and isn't anything I really even notice anyway, how much more would I be willing to pay for a nicer one? (just an example)

There's also the poor reliability and high maintenance cost reputation of the BMW. I don't know if it deserves its rep and for those of you who keep your vehicle for 4 years or less it might not be a factor due to the warranty.

I obviously haven't seen the brand new X5 but I did check out the previous model and for things I care about it wasn't even a contender since the third row seat was a joke and something BMW squeezed in just to be able to say they have one. I also don't like their run-flat tires. I like having a real spare. A friend with a BMW wiped out one of those run flat tires, which didn't run when it was flat, and in addition to the inconvenience it cost a fortune for a replacement tire. Maybe they've improved in cost by now. I also didn't like the cost for what it provided.

Given that, I'd consider an X5 but I'd have to look at the relative value - i.e. is the X5 comparably equipped really worth an additional $5k-$10k (approximating) over an already expensive MDX? Some people don't have upper end limits on purchasing cars (a neighbor just bought a $90K plus German sedan) but some of us do regardless of funds available.

I don't think the Q7 is in the same league as the MDX when it comes to handling, power, fuel economy, and probably other factors so I never seriously considered it.

It really all comes down to what people want. There's a reason why there are so many vehicle manufacturers, vehicle types, models, colors, features, price points - we don't all want the same thing. There's nothing about my neighbor's $90k sedan that I'd value enough to pay that much for it but clearly he thought it was worth it. I don't doubt that it has a higher grade of leather than many other sedans as well as perhaps some other features although I doubt it has the reliability of many vehicles that cost substantially less and am I willing to spend extra thousands of $$ for somewhat better leather given the leather I have is acceptable to me? No.

lindros2 - I hope your new MDX grows on you and I hope I don't end up too disappointed with mine although I can say I'll be the first to turn if this vehicle has major problems.
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Old 08-02-2013, 10:52 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by danrhiggins View Post
No. Not the 2014. The 2013. But my point isn't so much about one car vs the other. It is rather what matters to some people and that it is rare someone will find everything to their liking. The '14 MDX is my first MDX. I came from 8 years of driving a Lexus RX's and a Land Cruiser before that. I don't care for the German styling or feel at all. But that again is my point. One care is not better than another - it is better for some people than another.
This is exactly right. It is a particular person's priorities that define what they look for in a vehicle. Everything is a compromise. For us, driving feel and responsiveness are most important, and our research and test drives led us to the X5. It is far from perfect, but it works best for us.
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