Acura’s MDX luxury SUV has crossed the million sales mark, with over 50,000 annual sales in 15 of its last 22 years. The MDX claims the mantle of best-selling 3-row luxury SUV of all time, helping Acura sell 160,000 vehicles last year, or slightly more than in 2020 despite the supply-chain challenges facing every automaker right now. Acura officials told us they consider the MDX the band’s flagship, and with that sales history backing it up we won’t argue the point. Adding to the Acura MDX’s pedigree is its latest claim to fame: Acura’s first SUV to wear the “Type S” badge.
The Type S enhancements follow last year’s complete redesign of the MDX, which featured an all-new platform riding on a double wishbone suspension, front and rear. Type S upgrades to this platform include the MDX’s first air suspension with active dampers, revised steering and brake tuning, larger brake rotors squeezed by 4-piston Brembo calipers, and a trunk-mounted battery for improved weight distribution. A new 3.0-liter V6 turbo engine, making 355 horsepower and 354 pound-feet of torque, replaces the standard MDX’s 3.5-liter engine, bumping peak power by 65 horses and peak torque by 87 lb-ft. The MDX’s 10-speed automatic has also been re-tuned for Type S duty, as has Acura’s trademark Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD).
Driving the new Acura MDX Type S quickly conveys the impact of these upgrades. The twin-scroll turbocharger delivers up to 15.1 pounds of boost in a responsive-yet-refined manner, while the revised 10-speed automatic selects and shifts gears without hesitation. Acura says the MDX Type S is a full second quicker in zero-to-60 and 1/4-mile acceleration compared to the standard model. It also features variable cylinder management (VCM) to shut off three cylinders and save fuel under light throttle. Power delivery is aided by new sub-radiators behind the front bumper that deliver cool air to the engine.
The increased power is complemented by improved driving dynamics that add confidence without compromising the MDX Type S’ luxury ride quality. The air suspension actually lowers the spring rate when picking the “Comfort” or “Normal” driving modes, compared to the standard MDX, yet substantially increases spring stiffness when in Sport or Sport+ modes. This results in 52 percent more compliant ride quality overall, widening the SUV’s dynamic range. The air suspension can lower the MDX Type S’ ride height by 15 mm in Sport/Sport+ mode (or to aid entry/exit), and it can raise the MDX Type S up to 50 mm in low speed off-road or deep snow driving. Automatic load-leveling, which compensates for added cargo and passengers, is also provided by the new air suspension.
Additional Type S upgrades include a stiffer front stabilizer bar, standard 21-inch wheels and the revised SH-AWD torque vectoring system. This system can send up to 70 percent of torque to the rear wheels, and up to 100 percent of torque to the left or right wheels, based on driver input and sensor readings. This improves handling by sending more torque to the outside rear wheel during turns, allowing the MDX Type S to rotate faster in a corner. Another first for the MDX Type S is the use of self-sealing Continental tires that can seal up to 5 mm puncture without the need to stop or repair the tire.
Inside, the new MDX Type S features standard Milano leather seats with suede inserts, a Type S-exclusive flat-bottom steering wheel, contrasting stitching on the doors and dash, enhanced ambient cabin lighting, and upgraded wood and metal trim. The MDX Type S is the first Acura to offer massaging seats, with a dedicated button on the dash to quickly access massage settings. Audiophiles will appreciate the Type S’ sound options, starting with a standard ELS Studio 3D system using 16 speakers, 16 channels, and 710 watts, or the optional ELS Studio 3D Signature Edition system with 25 speakers, 22 channels, and over 1000 watts. The optional system uses dual carbon fiber bass speakers in the center console and 6 roof-mounted speakers, two speaker layouts we’ve never seen (or heard) before.
The 2022 Acura MDX Type S starts at $67,745 and includes most of the features mentioned above. But buyers seeking the massaging front seats, the upgraded ELS audio system, a head-up display, heated rear seats, open-pore wood trim, a surround view camera, and a hands-free liftgate will have to spring for the Advance Package, which raises the price to $73,095. That package also adds gloss black exterior accents and acoustic laminated rear glass. For $5,500 we think there’s solid value in the advance package features, and we’d like to offer a shout out for thee new Azurite Blue leather interior available on the 2022 Acura MDX Type S, because it’s quite attractive.
As the most important product within the Acura model line, the MDX has to deliver a compelling feature and value story in a segment stuffed with impressive American, European and Asian alternatives. The MDX’s track record confirms its held its own in that battle for over two decades. Now, with a Type S version added to the arsenal, it looks and feels ready rumble for the foreseeable future.