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).
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.