2 Ways the Acura MDX Type S Lives Up to the Badge (and 2 It Doesn’t)

Kyle Patrick
by Kyle Patrick

Acura’s sporty three-row makes sense—if you accept its limitations.

We recently spent some time with the 2024 Acura MDX Type S as part of a three-row, three-way comparison. The Acura didn’t fare well, earning the wooden spoon against the Lexus TX and Infiniti QX60. We weren’t surprised: as the clear athlete of the three, the MDX was simply too compromised to vie for the overall title.

That's not to say it lacks appeal. On the flip side, the Type S in particular occupies a very unique spot in the segment. As the first Acura SUV to boast the badge, here are two ways the MDX Type S lives up to the name—and two ways it could improve.

Point for: approachable performance

The original Type S models of the early aughts were never powerhouses. They didn’t chase the Germans in the horsepower arms race, instead settling at “more than adequate for daily use.” The MDX (and TLX) Type S sticks to that script, with a 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 producing a strong—but not overpowering—355 horsepower. A torque figure that very nearly matches that makes for smooth, authoritative acceleration, the sort of reassuring oomph that builds driver confidence early. There’s no scrappiness, no struggle to put the power down—the MDX just gets on with gettin’ on.

Adding adaptive suspension to the mix only improves this all-rounder appeal. Even on big alloys and rubber band tires, the MDX is capable of cosseting when set to its most pliant drive mode. Twist on over to Sport or Sport+ and the Acura gets up on its toes, encouraging drivers to lean on it. There are distinct personalities at play here, ensuring the MDX is suited to nearly any situation.

Point against: huge price tag

All this capability comes with a hefty price tag. The MDX Type S was nearly the most expensive model we tested in the afore-mentioned comparo, clocking in at $75,750 ($88,775 CAD). That’s a serious chunk of change, and around $18,000 ($22,000 CAD) more than a TLX Type S. Sure, everything is more expensive these days, but the situation is compounded with Honda pricing all of its wares at the top end of the mainstream market. Acura has to sit above it, after all.

Point for: …but a comparative bargain

Wait a minute, how can the price be both a positive and a negative? It’s pretty easy: name another performance-oriented three-row SUV for this price.

It’s a tough one. Now that BMW has ditched the way-back in the X5, your only Bavarian option is the X7, and that’s getting very close to six figures. Mercedes GLE? It still offers a third row, but to get the sort of focus on performance the Acura offers, you’re looking at AMG money. Porsche, Jaguar, Alfa Romeo? None of them even offer a third row anything.

We’re not saying the six-passenger, high-performance market is a big one, but for those who are shopping within it, the Acura is one of only a handful of choices, and the most accessible.

Point against: It’s the wrong Acura SUV

As fun as the MDX can be, there’s always a nagging voice in the back of one’s head: this isn’t the right SUV for the Type S treatment.

With just four models in the current stable—and the ZDX on the way—only the RDX does without the vaunted badge. Maybe it’s simply too old; a new one is almost surely on the way in a year or two. But just imagine it: this sweetheart powertrain in something smaller, lighter, and more agile. An RDX Type S would take the fight to the compact crossover class, a larger pool within which it could shine. As an added bonus, it could stick to a more approachable price. Basically, it would be the TL Type S for a new, high-riding generation.

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Kyle Patrick
Kyle Patrick

Kyle began his automotive obsession before he even started school, courtesy of a remote control Porsche and various LEGO sets. He later studied advertising and graphic design at Humber College, which led him to writing about cars (both real and digital). He is now a proud member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC), where he was the Journalist of the Year runner-up for 2021.

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