Honda Fumbles The Ball With The 2022 Acura MDX

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Today, Acura announced its new 2022 MDX, but disappointed. Not only did it miss an opportunity to enter the EV or PHEV market with its flagship crossover, but the company dropped the ball completely and decided to stop making a hybrid version at all.

2022 Acura MDX
2022 Acura MDX

This was especially disappointing as an MDX owner. Yes, it’s an older model and I don’t drive it a lot, but it’s a decent car for its age. Unlike the Chevy I used to have of the same model year, the MDX has power everything, memory seats, and even came from the factory with Bluetooth (and this was just before smartphones were a thing). The handling is great for a vehicle its size, the AWD helps a lot with feeling like a real SUV (especially with accelerating), and it’s got Honda dependability.

The car is my wife’s pride and joy, and she really, really wanted to buy another one in the next couple of years. At least she did until today.

Because my wife loves Acuras, I’ve test driven a number of them, and I’m probably Acura’s biggest unwitting fan. The 2015ish MDX we considered a couple years ago used is a great vehicle for a gas car, and gets great mileage for a vehicle with 7 seats. More recently, we looked at a few of the current generation sport hybrid models, and I was very impressed. It almost feels like an EV in the more mild modes and feels like a big sports car in sport mode. As a long-time auto enthusiast, the sound of that V6 with the beautiful exhaust they still included with the hybrid was excellent. It even has VTEC, yo!

We were really expecting the next generation MDX to come with at least a plugin hybrid option we could consider. After the great work they did on the current generation sport hybrid, further electrification would have been the next logical step. Truth be told, we probably would have bought one. Sure, I’d prefer a Tesla, but being able to use electric drive around town and get the vehicle my wife has been wanting for years would have been a great compromise. I do 90% of my driving locally anyway, so the gas would have only rarely been used if they included a reasonable battery pack.

After today’s reveal, some auto journalists were holding out hope that a hybrid version would be introduced, but at a roundtable later in the day, they told us to not expect any hybrid models. Now, any question about whether we get its non-existent PHEV or a Tesla are now put to bed.

It Would Have Been A Great Vehicle…A Decade Ago.

The long-time auto enthusiast in me does appreciate what they did, though. It’s just about 10 years late.

The car’s styling looks great, and it appears that the company did improve the aerodynamics a bit, which may give some good highway economy numbers. It looks sporty and aggressive, and gives a modern look. The interior looks sharp as well. Safety technology, ADAS, and other features are also all up to 2020 expectations (with the exception of autonomy). Safety-wise, having a few physical controls is also a welcome sight.

Family-wise, it doesn’t disappoint. One of the things that disappointed us about most of the Sport Hybrids on dealer lots was the lack of a seventh seat. Acura seems to have listened to input, and includes a removable middle seat in the second row to give both the captain’s chair experience with the ability to install that seventh seat for those times an extra passenger is along. For a family of six, that’s a great, versatile move.

Better third row seat room and the panoramic sunroof are also welcome improvements. It’s also loaded with a lot of family friendly features and has better cargo room behind the third row, even when it’s up.

Unlike many crossovers and SUVs these days, Acura didn’t just cram a powerful engine in and leave the rest of the platform feeling like a marshmallow. Knowing that the company put a lot of thought into the suspension, and knowing that previous generations had decent handling, I know we can expect something good from the vehicle.

In some ways, it’s shocking that Acura would overlook electrification in a time when Tesla is one of their biggest competitors. I would have understood if it had gone PHEV and not full EV, but completely abandoning electrification altogether is a real sucker punch to the gut.

The platform does appear to be at least a little ready for electrification. It has electric power steering, for example, and wouldn’t need an iffy pump system like EV conversions sometimes do. In other words, the company wouldn’t have to make a plugin hybrid system a complete afterthought if it came to its senses and offered a plugin hybrid.

I’m hoping that Acura does the right thing here and puts the MDX back on the map.

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Jennifer Sensiba

Jennifer Sensiba is a long time efficient vehicle enthusiast, writer, and photographer. She grew up around a transmission shop, and has been experimenting with vehicle efficiency since she was 16 and drove a Pontiac Fiero. She likes to get off the beaten path in her "Bolt EAV" and any other EVs she can get behind the wheel or handlebars of with her wife and kids. You can find her on Twitter here, Facebook here, and YouTube here.

Jennifer Sensiba has 1947 posts and counting. See all posts by Jennifer Sensiba