2014 Acura MDX SH-AWD Long-Term Update 2
I recently had to make multiple trips up to Lake Arrowhead, a local mountain community here in SoCal, and I took the opportunity to sample the differences between the MDX's Comfort and Sport IDS (Integrated Dynamics System) modes, as well as D and S transmission modes. The differences were quite significant.
In a lot of vehicles, pushing the S or Sport button means little more than an audible exhaust note change, maybe a slightly more aggressive throttle. But selecting Sport in the IDS settings and pulling the shifter all the way down to the S position completely transforms the MDX compared to having it in IDS Comfort with normal transmission settings, or even IDS Normal settings for that matter. (IDS gives you three setting choices that adjust steering effort, throttle response, torque proportioning, and engine note.) What's even better: While the transmission's in S, pulling a paddle on the wheel puts you in a redline hanging manual mode, where pulling a paddle in D gives you manual, but it will eventually upshift automatically.
My first run up the mountain was made in IDS comfort mode and the transmission in D and it performed exactly as expected. I drove aggressively, but in these settings, the MDX fought me at every turn -- literally. The transmission was constantly gear hunting and upshifting when I didn't want it to, the throttle was soft, and I had to flatfoot it to get the car to downshift. Don't get me wrong -- I'm not faulting the MDX, just reporting on how it acted. And without the engine or transmission helping when going into corners, the brakes got an excessive workout. They never got soft but they sure did smell when I got to my destination. The drive down would have been even worse had I not taken over control of the transmission.
The second run up the mountain was made in IDS Sport and the transmission was in S. Once you initiate IDS Sport is initiated, the throttle immediately become more sensitive, more aggressive. I left the transmission in S for a little bit, and it does a pretty good job of being in the right gear at the right time, but I eventually took over the shifting duties because the car wasn't doing exactly what I wanted. I was entering corners a little easier so I didn't eat up the brakes, then took advantage of the SH-AWD to power through and out of the turns. The MDX is engaging and fun to drive despite being a large, non-sport vehicle. I would love to make the same run again, with a good set of tires, see what the MDX really is capable of.
|Service life||14,556 mi|
|Average fuel economy||20.5 mpg|
|CO2 emissions||0.99 lb/mi|
|EPA City/Hwy/Comb Fuel Econ||18/27/21 mpg|
|Energy consumption||172 kW-hr/100mi|
|Maintenance cost||$97.03 (oil change, tire rotation, inspection)|