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Car Tech Video: 2014 Acura MDX
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Car Tech Video: 2014 Acura MDX

8:48 /

It's Acura's best-selling vehicle, revised just enough for 2014 to keep it familiar but make it better.

-Acura's MDX, very important to the company. It's almost a third of their sales. Added to the little brother RDX and you're basically talking about the company right there. So when they did this revision for 2014 they had to get it right. It's still highly recognizable, but there's been a lot of things changing on the tech and underneath. Let's drive this 2014 all-wheel drive with the advanced and entertainment package and check the tech. Now you'll notice the MDX is still very much the same kind of look, a little softer and thicker to my eyes, little more Audi to be honest. It's 2 inches longer but it didn't go to leg room for the front row passengers more to the rear cargo space. Now to my mind it is like so many vehicles in its class, a 2-1/2 row vehicle. There is a so-called third row of seating but it's actually seeding. Luckily if you do need to use it for like groceries it's easier to get to now they have an easier sliding second row technology. Now if you haven't been in an Acura lately this is pretty cool. Stacked large LCDs and they've revised the interface rather substantially. This down here on the bottom is a really good looking and major improvement over what Honda Acura used to do for presenting media and such. Here are your sources, take a look at these. AM and FM with HD radio, satellite radio, optical disk, that's CD and DVD on this rig, 15-gigabyte hard drive, USB that can also handle iPod, Bluetooth streaming, Pandora and a Aha support are built into the car and of course aux jacks front and rear. As you can see touchscreen here, not up here. The one above is driven by either menu buttons down here or this kick, turn, and click controller. Whatever you're listening to, 2 audio systems, bass or ELS audio which is a big deal with Acura. And of course you've got a lot of settings for that including different types of surround, subwoofer. There's speakers in the ceiling for the rear entertainment system. They really jacked this one up. And you can't see this but there's haptic feedback on the screen, you know, you get a little buzz or a bump when you touch something, but I haven't found that it makes a big difference in the vehicle. It can all get to be a bit complicated though. There are 2 or 3 ways to do almost everything in this car. Here's the one that infuriates me the most an example of over-interface. This is where you go to set the seat heater. In some cars you got a little plastic switch. On this one you got the most amazing multilevel. There's one ribbon for heat, a ribbon below that for cooling, and then you've got an off and an automatic mode that I guess follows the cabin temp too much. And the navigation interface has not been dramatically revised, but I still struggle with it for a couple of reasons. They've got this thing called AcuraLink now under local search. It's a little pokey, but in this case I was trying to get to the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco. I know how to get there. I wanted the best route under traffic conditions. So I search for Fairmont. First of all you can't do any of this while you're moving so neither myself or anyone else in the car can enter using the keyboard so then I was stuck with voice command. -After the beep, spell the place for category menu one letter at a time. -F-A-I-R-M-O-N-T. -Spell the place for category menu one letter at a time. -H-O-T-E-L. -Press the talk button to select the command list. -Seriously, F-A-I-R-M-O-N-T. -Pardon, no command is heard. Press the talk button and say a command. -It didn't ask for a command. It asked for a place name and then when I gave it a place name it wanted a command. This was the most infuriating system ever for entering a destination while driving. Voice simply does not work and it's fully locked out when you're rolling. And even when I pulled over, used the knob, entered Fairmont and specified hotels, it didn't find the one in San Francisco. It found a bunch all over the country. The one is San Francisco is world famous. How can it not find that especially when it knows where I am? Big fail. Bottom line it's gonna be a big toss every time you drive this car. Are you gonna use that nav or this nav? This works better and that one is supposed to be less distracting. I don't think so because I was really infuriated while I was driving. Now back here is one of the new breed of more innovative larger entertainment system. First of all look at the screen. This is optional on the full trim MDX but look at that thing. It's 16 inches super wide and you say well wide. How much do you stretch a DVD? You see it doesn't fill up most of the screen. However, what I can do I can turn this into a dual screen watching 2 things on there at once. So I hit this dual guy right here. That moves my DVD to the right. I now choose my left source. I'm gonna go HDMI which is also very cool. And what I've got hooked up there is my Android phone which has an HDMI output port. So there it is. I'm using mirroring mode on my Android OS and there's the desktop of my phone. That's kind of interesting so this can become kind of the ultimate remote desktop as you're working in the back or just go to YouTube and your phone becomes your all-in-one entertainment system right here on a nice big screen. First of all, Acura gets some kind of an award for the lowest opening hood that I've ever shut under, so pardon me, 3-1/2-liter V6 down from a 3.7 in the last MDX, 290 horse out of this guy, 267 foot-pounds of torque, pretty good numbers, direct injection technology of course. 0 to 60 for this roughly 4300-pound crossover SUV is 6-1/2 seconds or so. Then the all-wheel drive trim, a 6-speed automatic is your only choice. That's a relatively small number of gears by today's standards and the top 2 are overdrive, part of that MPG thing, but I'm gonna wanna see if it hunts out the top gears too much because I always hate that. It kills responsiveness. Okay. So that the MPG 18 city, 27 highway, 21 combined. Quite a bit better than the outgoing model. Look at the old car 3.7 V6, had 300 horsepower and there's 10 more, 270 foot-pounds, 3 more, but much worse MPG, 16/21. Okay, on the road the MDX has a nice smooth power. It doesn't come along with the sporty urgency no matter what I do unless I get on the gears, drop it down a couple, get into sport mode and really get some rev working. You gotta really push it to get this thing to have any urgency. Now let's go to the freeway and have a little bit of fun with our self-driving MDX which is just about is. So I've hit the main button here. I've got adaptive cruise on, lane keep assist on. You can see right there I've got my lane-keeping divider lines and I'm also gonna switch on my adaptive cruise control here. Let's see if I can get into that motor it's really nice, but you gotta really prompt it to wake up. Okay, so now I'm gonna drive along here in these lane lines, and I'm gonna let the car steer its way between the lanes. Okay. Now let's see if it'll take over. There we go. Now my hands are right by the wheel for safety in case this thing doesn't get it right. I'm drifting a little bit in the lane here, and if you look in that overhead camera I think you're gonna see it starts to steer. See that little nibble right there? It's not dramatic, see that? Right there. Now it just beeped to me you must get your hands on the wheel, and it seems to defeat the self-steering when it does that. So it doesn't let you drive along for more than about 10 seconds like this. Coming in to a left turn there. There you go. That's a pretty good turn it's making by itself. It's crazy. Now combine this with the adaptive cruise where the car is working the accelerator, working the brakes quite pronouncedly, and you get a real taste of what at least semi-autonomous cars are gonna be like. Now the other thing I've got on this car it's hard to demonstrate but take my word for it. If you get too close to a vehicle in front of you, it's gonna flash a big light on the dash that says brake and it blinks an orange light in the windshield like a head-up display, but it's just an orange light. It also has collision-mitigating braking which is also going to help you or bring the car to a largely a stop when it sees you closing on something too hard, not gonna demonstrate that. I guess in some I came away from this car expecting it would have a little more driving spirit and also all this self-driving tech. It ends up getting more self-driving tech than joie de vivre as a driver's car. Our MDX is loaded as I mentioned, all-wheel drive with advanced and entertainment packages. That's top of the stacks so $57,400 with destination. About the only option I would add to go CNET style would be the LED fog lamps for 5-1/2, here at just a tick under 58 grand now. If you wanna lot of tech in the cabin as well as helping to keep you in good shape on the road, this is one of the class leaders.

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