2025 Acura MDX First Drive Review: The Touchpad Is Gone, the Car Is Even Better

Southern California can be a bit nippy in the morning—even in the summer. So, as I slid behind the wheel of the 2025 Acura MDX Type S, I bypassed the ventilated seats and tapped the heated seat button. For good measure, I turned on the heated steering wheel as well. Then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a third seat-related button and tapped that too. Seat massagers that rolled from my upper back to my hamstrings kicked in. Paired with a hot black coffee in the cup holder, I was as close to bliss as I could get at 6 a.m. 

The early out helped me avoid the morning crush of California traffic so I could get a true sense of the vehicle without any corresponding frustration—though those massaging seats would have gone a long way toward helping me ignore the traffic. The 2025 MDX isn’t a complete redesign but is a nice exterior refresh and some huge tech upgrades that make this handsome three-row SUV even more attractive. And those massaging seats? They aren’t reserved just for the top-tier Type S anymore, kicking in at the mid-level Advance Package trim.

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The Basics

Since this isn’t a complete redesign, the MDX’s basic style and shape remains the same as before, but you’ll notice some design tweaks on the nose, which add an air of elegance—especially on the A-Spec and Type S models with a new frameless grille.

The biggest change, though: Acura does away with the dastardly True Touchpad Interface and replaces it with a 12.3-inch touchscreen. Hallelujah. This screen is placed four inches closer to the driver, and the center console gets restyled with a more accessible wireless charger. Along with this, you get wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as well as the Google built-in operating system. However, buyer beware, this system is free for a three-year trial period. After that, using the Google Assistant, Play Store, and Maps will have a subscription fee, but Acura hasn’t shared pricing details yet. 

Jill Ciminillo

The Acura MDX is an attractive midsize three-row cruiser. Both first- and second-row passengers will get ample adult-sized comfort, but the third row is meant for children. At five feet tall, I often call myself the size of an average 10-year-old, and when I clambered into the back, it was snug. In fact, I’d say this is more of an occasional third row than a reason you’d buy the MDX. Cargo volume behind the third row, however, is solid. With underfloor storage and the ability to lower the load floor, you can fit up to four rollerboard suitcases in the upright position with the third row up. 

Though this isn’t new for 2025, the magic middle seat in the MDX’s second row is worth mentioning. You can flip the seatback down to reveal a couple of cup holders and device holder or you can remove the seat altogether to allow for captain’s chairs. The removal of the seat is intuitive if a bit awkward because the seat itself weighs between 30 to 40 pounds. 

Jill Ciminillo

Driving Experience

In some ways, Acura did the A-Spec dirty by having us drive the Type S first. The 355-horsepower turbo V6 in the top trim MDX is smooth and fast in all the right places. Whether I was merging on the highway or playing around on twisty bits, the Type S had a certain effortlessness that was comfortable and bordering on fun. MDX feels a bit too heavy to be truly sporty, but it does a nice job of pretending. 

As the top-tier trim, the Type S benefits from the new AcuraWatch 360 system, which adds new features such as Active Lane Change Assist and Lane Collision Mitigation. I played around with the former and, thankfully, didn’t need the latter. I have to admit, though the Lane Change Assist worked well, it seems gratuitous. Your hands have to be on the wheel for it to work anyway, so what’s the point? 

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Speaking of driver-assistance tech, one thing that’s hugely improved with the 2025 MDX is the adaptive cruise control. Previous iterations have felt herky-jerky, with the MDX speeding up only to slam on the brakes as it approaches a slower vehicle. But this system feels a lot more natural, slowing down sooner, and inspiring more trust in the system. This system also adds low-speed follow rather than shutting off below 25 mph.

After three hours behind the wheel of the Type S, ditching 65 hp dropping into the A-Spec was a bit of a letdown. When you think about it, a 290-hp V6 is still nice, but I couldn’t help but think if I had driven the A-Spec first, it wouldn’t have felt nearly as lacking. Acceleration is still strong, though the engine noise does creep into the cabin a bit more here. 

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On the road overall, the 2025 Acura MDX feels both comfortable and planted. The seats are comfy enough for long drives, but as a petite driver, I felt like I couldn’t quite adjust the seat high enough to get the visibility I wanted over the hood. Plus, there was just a tad too much road noise creeping into the cabin for a vehicle that sits on the luxury spectrum.

Acura MDX Features, Options, and Competition

Outside of the new infotainment, one of the biggest changes to the this car involves the premium audio system. Acura has ditched ELS in favor of Bang & Olufsen. Starting at the MDX Tech Package trim ($57,650, including destination), this sound system includes 19 speakers and some incredible clarity. But the even more premium 31-speaker system in the Type S Advance ($76,300) is a thing of beauty, maintaining clarity when the volume is cranked all the way to the max.

Acura

The 2025 Acura MDX is well-equipped at base ($52,250), including features such as the 12.3-inch touchscreen, wireless charging that actually works, leather seats, and AcuraWatch. Acura’s so-called Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) system is available as a $2,200 option on the bottom two trims and standard above that. As you level up, you’ll add features such as ambient lighting, the Bang & Olufsen audio, rear USB-C ports, hands-free open tailgate with walk-away close option, massaging seats, head-up display, ventilated seats, 360-degree cameras, and heated rear seats. I tested the top two trims: the A-Spec Advance ($70,250) and Type S Advance ($76,300).

Acura uses the BMW X5 ($66,857 – $78,175), Audi Q7 ($61,695 – $91,145), and Volvo XC90 ($57,895 – $73,095) as benchmarks, and the MDX sits in the middle of the pack. The X5 has sportier driving dynamics, but to me, the MDX bests both the X5 and Q7 in terms of interior materials and overall comfort. The Volvo XC90 has more up-level fit-and-finish and is generally quieter, but is on par with the MDX in terms of ride and handling. One of the benefits of the MDX is there are no real additional options or packages—what you see is what you get at each trim. With the X5 and Q7 specifically, everything seems to be an option, so comparing base to base is hard to do.

Acura

The Early Verdict

Some much-needed tech improvements take the 2025 Acura MDX from really good to even better. Getting rid of the True Touchpad Interface alone makes a huge difference. I also appreciate that Acura added in Google built-in but kept Apple CarPlay and Android Auto intact, giving owners options as free trials expire and paid subscriptions kick in.

The interior amenities and flexibilities also help set this three-row SUV apart. From the comfy seats in every position to the drop floor/underfloor storage in the cargo area, this is a family vehicle that can actually hold people and their stuff—as long as the people in the third row aren’t any bigger than the average 10-year-old. Overall, though, the refreshed MDX is attractively styled, well-crafted, tech-forward, and appropriately priced.

2025 Acura MDX SpecsFWDAWDType S
Base Price$52,250$54,450$76,300
Powertrain3.5-liter V6 | 10-speed automatic | front-wheel drive3.5-liter V6 | 10-speed automatic | all-wheel drive3.0-liter turbo V6 | 10-speed automatic | all-wheel drive
Horsepower290 @ 6,200 rpm<<355 @ 5,500 rpm
Torque267 lb-ft @ 4,700 rpm<<354 lb-ft @ 1,400-5,000 rpm
Seating Capacity7<<<<
Max Towing3,500 pounds5,000 pounds<<
Curb Weight4,268-4,302 pounds4,510-4,544 pounds4,776 pounds
Cargo Volume18.1 cubic feet behind third row | 48.4 cubic feet behind second row | 95.0 cubic feet behind first row<<<<
EPA Fuel Economy19 mpg city | 26 highway | 22 combined19 mpg city | 25 highway | 21 combined17 mpg city | 21 highway | 19 combined
Quick TakeAn appropriately tech-forward and well-styled SUV for the price.
Score8/10

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