By Derek Price
CNHI News Service
— Since the dawn of the automotive industry, car companies have used two words to sell their newest vehicles: More horsepower.
That's especially been true among luxury cars, where over-the-top gobs of power become bragging rights and nuclear weapons in advertising wars.
The all-new MDX bucks this trend for 2014, though. It doesn't have more horsepower or a bigger engine. It has smarter horsepower.
Its power output has dropped from 300 to 290 this year, but you can't feel that from the driver's seat because Acura did such a good job giving this car a tight, zippy feeling.
It accelerates with confidence and has a syrupy smooth response from its 3.5-liter, Honda-derived V6 engine. But thanks to the new powertrain — and lots of little engineering refinements to reduce weight and wind resistance — it is now rated for up to 28 mpg on the highway and 20 in the city.
It also accelerates faster from 0-60 mph and has recorded lap times at the Nurburgring racetrack in Germany that are eight seconds quicker than before.
See what I mean? It's not more horsepower, but it's smarter horsepower.
The MDX also gets an all-new body for 2014, but many people won't be able to tell that at first glance. It's a very conservative redesign for an all-new car, presumably because Acura didn't want to mess with a good thing. The MDX is its top-selling car, after all.
If you want to spot the new MDX on the road, the biggest giveaway is its new "Jewel Eye" LED headlamps. They look like faceted diamonds rather than the traditional, single-element headlights on older car designs.
Inside, there are lots of updates to the technology, both standard and optional.
The Advance Package upgrade includes lane-keeping assist and adaptive cruise control — the same features that make the RLX sedan nearly autonomous — along with remote engine start, an ultra-wide DVD screen in the back, and front and rear parking sensors.
Even the base model, starting at $42,290, gets a long list of luxury features.
New standard equipment includes keyless access with push-button start, LED lighting inside and outside, and second-row seats with an extended slide length and one-touch operation to make it easy for third-row passengers to climb inside.
All those things combine to make it a great value, especially for a luxury SUV with three rows of seats. You'd have to pay $10,000 more for the BMW X5 or $20,000 more for a Mercedes-Benz GL, for example.
Considering the new MDX is more efficient, faster and has more technology than before — and comes with a base price that's $990 less than last year's MDX, to boot — it looks like one of the best luxury values on the market today.