The Super Handling All-Wheel Drive unit still shifts power from 90-10 to 30-70 front/rear bias, as well as full emphasis on either the left or right side. The system also now uses the brakes for torque control when entering a corner, then transitions to engine throttle torque vectoring when exiting the corner.
The old hydraulic steering system has been replaced with an electronic power-steering rack, with a thicker steering shaft that has reduced friction and a quicker turning ratio.
Notable features: Acura shaved 123 pounds from the body in white, 26 pounds from the rear suspension, 44 pounds from the seats, 15 pounds from the subframes and 10 pounds from the climate control systems. The MDX now weighs 1,046 pounds less than an Audi Q7.
Nearly 60 percent of the car is high-strength steel, as Acura chose not to use expensive and exotic materials such as aluminum. The front door structure is a one-piece, hot-stamped frame. Most other crossovers' frames use separate pieces that are hot-stamped and then welded together.
Answering a customer complaint, the 41 buttons in the center console were reduced to nine, thanks to a touch-screen and scroll-wheel setup.
The second-row seats have 6 inches of travel, with a third-row access button on the side and back of the seat. The second- and third-row seats fold flat, rather than undulating as in the old MDX.
Acura beefed up the noise, vibration and harshness countermeasures, using 28-volt active engine mounts, as well as noise cancellation and active sound control acoustics in the cabin. The sealing in pillars, floor and doors was increased. Acoustic glass is standard.
What Acura says: Despite the lower horsepower, the 2014 MDX is eight seconds faster around the Nurburgring circuit than its predecessor. "We don't use it for PR purposes," said Jim Keller, MDX large project leader. "We don't use it for advertising. It's just another test track for us."
Compromises and shortcomings: The third row is still really only habitable for children. The "normal" suspension setting is too softly sprung. Some of the interior materials still feel a bit plasticky compared with the European brands.