The Acura MDX Type S Is So Close to Greatness

By automotive-mag.com 7 Min Read

The 2024 Acura MDX Type S is a three-row SUV for drivers. It’s one of the most dynamically enjoyable vehicles in its segment, using lovely chassis tuning, quick steering, and a clever drivetrain to deliver sport sedan-like performance in a much bigger package. None of that matters, though, because the infotainment system is so infuriating to use.

Whereas the vast majority of the industry has moved to touchscreens, Acura, in its infinite wisdom, has decided to stick with its touchpad-style infotainment controls for the 2024 MDX. The big 12.3-inch central screen is not touch-sensitive in any way, instead navigated by using a square pad on the center console you have to click on to choose things like audio source or navigation destination, like a touchpad on a laptop. And it ruins the experience.

Touchscreens aren’t great for navigating through infotainment systems while you’re moving, but Acura’s touchpad system is certainly worse. Learning how it works is relatively straightforward, but using it is never a smooth, easy process, especially while driving. We’re confident owners will get used to the touchpad, but forcing your buyer to “get used” to something that should be easy is not a very good way to approach a product.

Quick Specs 2024 Acura MDX Type S
Engine Turbocharged 3.5-Liter V-6
Output 355 Horsepower / 354 Pound-Feet
Fuel Economy 17 City / 21 Highway / 19 Combined
Base Price $73,500
As-Tested Price $75,295

Mind-boggling infotainment aside, the rest of the MDX’s interior is a pleasant place to spend time. The layout isn’t as flashy as something like a BMW X7 or Mercedes-Benz GLS, but a healthy smattering of real, physical buttons for things like the climate control and volume is welcome. Go for the Advance package and you get a bucket full of useful tech, like a head-up display, a 25-speaker sound system, and 16-way adjustable massaging front sport seats.

The Type S gets even more standard tech, like front seat ventilation, navigation, a wireless phone charging pad, remote start, and a handful of additional active safety systems. But the real extras come under the skin, where the Type S sports numerous chassis and drivetrain upgrades to make it feel far more nimble than it looks. 

Pros: Solid Dynamics, Sharp Looks, Comfortable Interior With Plenty of Luxury Features

The MDX Type S gets air suspension as standard, plushing up the ride without giving it that “never settles” vibe common of other air-ride systems. More importantly, the sporty SUV gets a twin-scroll turbocharged 3.5-liter V-6 making 355 horsepower and 354 pound-feet of torque, paired to a 10-speed automatic and all-wheel drive.

This version of Acura’s “Super Handling” AWD isn’t your standard setup, either. Now in its fourth generation, there’s real torque vectoring at work for the Type S, with the system able to send up to 70 percent of the engine’s torque to the rear, and up to 100 percent of that torque to either the left or right wheel, like the systems found on the TLX Type S and the Volkswagen Golf R.

2024 Acura MDX Type S Review
2024 Acura MDX Type S Review

Chuck the MDX Type S down a twisty road, and the system is easy to feel working for your benefit. You can sense the computer sending all of that power to the outside rear wheel if you accelerate while turning, coaxing the car’s rear end to rotate as you negotiate through a bend. It’s not an especially natural sensation, but it nonetheless makes the experience more fun, and gives the car a far more agile vibe.

The rest of the car is fun, too. Flip the centrally mounted drive mode knob to Sport, and the suspension and steering tighten up, while the throttle pedal sharpens. This SUV is no sports car, obviously, but the combination of well-designed chassis upgrades makes it feel smaller than it is. Combined with the quick-shifting 10-speed and standard Brembo brakes, it’s easy to cut through your favorite back road at a fairly brisk pace without feeling like the car is falling over itself—not bad for something weighing 4,788 pounds. And while the V-6 isn’t the most sonorous engine on sale today, you can’t fault its effectiveness. Keep your right foot buried and there’s real speed on tap here.

2024 Acura MDX Type S Review

Cons: Unacceptable Infotainment System, V-6 Is Effective But Forgettable, Lackluster Fuel Economy

With a vehicle this size, fun isn’t the only objective. Thankfully the Type S can very easily blend into the background and play the part of a normal three-row SUV when you’re not flogging it up your favorite canyon road. While it’s a bit stiffer than your average big SUV, the suspension is perfectly capable of soaking up bumps when in normal mode. The third row is a bit tight, but no passengers had any real complaints during my four days with the car. If you need to transport more than four adults often, we’d suggest something bigger. But keep in mind, anything bigger than this MDX Type S will likely be far less fun to drive.

The MDX’s touchpad interface would be the only thing holding me back from seriously recommending it. But if you’re in the market, you won’t have to wait long until it’s gone. Acura said earlier this year it plans to rid its lineup of the touchpad system starting later in 2024. Our advice? Wait a year. By then, the Type S will get far more appealing.

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