HOW IT WORKS

In simple terms, here's how Acura's Super Handling all-wheel drive system works

The Acura RDX comes equipped with the fourth-generation of the company's all-wheel drive system.

Photo courtesy of Acura

The first generation of Acura's all-wheel drive system debuted in 2005 in the RL. The fourth-generation of the system was introduced with the redesigned RDX in 2019, still wearing the SH-AWD badge.

The idea is the same through the generations but with generational enhancements it's come to be generally regarded as one of the best systems you can get.

2019 Acura RDX Drivers can see their AWD system in motion on the SUV's driver information screen. Photo courtesy of Acura

Acura's SH-AWD system is mechanically very similar to a car without all-wheel drive. Models with SH-AWD, like those without, have two axles that each attach to two wheels. The axles are connected by a drive shaft.

In AWD models, at the intersection of the front axle and drive shaft is the transmission and a single speed transfer case. The transfer case is a mechanical device that transfers power from the transmission to the front and rear axles via the drive shaft.

At the intersection of the drive shaft and the rear axle, there is a differential. The differential is a set of gears that allows the car's wheels to revolve at different speeds.

In some vehicles, torque can be delivered to one, two, three, or all four wheels to varying degrees depending on what the road conditions require. When operating in a straight line, the system uses G-sensors to route the appropriate amount of power to the rear wheels. If you're hammering the throttle, more torque is given to the rear wheels. When less power is required due to a slow start or maintenance of a consistent speed, less is given.

The fourth-gen AWD system can distribute up to 70 percent of the system's power to the rear wheels. When moving through a corner, the differential can then move up to 100 percent of that torque to one of the car's wheels, if necessary. Acura says that this system allows the SUV to keep its grip, before it becomes an issue, in challenging driving conditions.

Not all all-wheel drive systems operate all of the time. The ones that don't are called part-time all-wheel drive systems. This allows the driver to receive the benefits of an all-wheel drive system as well as the fuel efficiency that comes with front- or rear-wheel drive when the conditions are right.

The fourth-generation of the system allows the AWD mechanics to react faster and sees a 40 percent increase in maximum torque capacity.

Acura's MDX and TLX still employ the company's third-generation SH-AWD system as they await a redesign.

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All-new SUV

2022 Acura MDX Review

The MDX is all-new for 2022.

Acura

Acura is an interesting company. Its vehicles have long been sort of an afterthought compared to Japanese luxury heavy-hitter Lexus, but the brand offers a sporty, upscale alternative to the plush rollers from elsewhere in the country. The MDX is Acura's flagship vehicle, and though it skipped the 2021 model year altogether, the vehicle that landed for 2022 is worth the wait.

I spent a week testing the 2022 MDX, putting it through its paces, first as a family SUV, and then as a sporty alternative to other traditional luxury options. I liked the previous MDX, but found its infotainment to be too complicated and its third-row seats to be too cramped. The SUV's latest iteration addresses those problems and more – at least partially. Let's take a look at what's what.

2022 Acura MDX Features and Driving Impressions

The MDX starts at just under $47,000, and reaches just over $60,000 in its top Advance Package. My test vehicle landed at the top end of that spectrum, but the base MDX's list of features will likely be enough to make most people happy. The standard 12.3-inch infotainment screen, digital gauge cluster, extensive advanced safety equipment, and spacious interior make the entry-level MDX quite the compelling vehicle.


2022 Acura MDX The 2022 MDX features sleek styling.Acura


Though we're looking at a brand-new SUV here, Acura opted to leave the previous model's engine in place. The tried-and-true 3.5-liter V6 makes 290 horsepower and 267 pound-feet of torque, but now comes with an impossibly smooth ten-speed automatic transmission instead of the nine-speed seen in 2020's MDX. The engine, while unimpressive on paper, is strong enough to pull the three-row MDX to 60 mph from a standstill in 6.4 seconds – quicker than I, or anyone else, should hope to go with a family in tow. Additionally, the engine is so smooth and so well in tune with the MDX's chassis that it's impossible to want for more. Of course, the world being what it is, Acura will give you more. If you're willing to wait, the MDX Type S will hit the streets later in 2021 with 355 horsepower from a turbocharged 3.0-liter V6.

It's easy to assume that the 2022 MDX is just another frumpy family hauler, but that's not entirely the case. Acura gave the vehicle an all-new chassis that the brand says is actually a light truck platform that has been tuned to target the driving dynamics of a sports sedan. That, combined with a double wishbone front suspension and a multilink rear suspension system, help the new MDX handle like a much smaller vehicle while retaining a family-friendly ride in most circumstances. Steering is noticeably assisted, but not to the point of feeling too light or disconnected.

2022 MDX Technology

Acura ditched the overwhelming dual-screen infotainment setup seen in previous MDX models for a single screen and touchpad controller – similar to the system that comes in the smaller RDX. Though it's easier to use than the screen-on-screen system, the touchpad takes longer to learn than it should. Over time, however, it's likely to become more intuitive than I could give it credit for in a short week of testing. The 12.3-inch unit runs wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and comes with a Wi-Fi hotspot, Amazon Alexa capabilities, and Bluetooth. A Qi wireless charging pad is standard as well, but depending on how you like to charge your smartphone you might end up with a confusing pairing situation. My preference is to charge with a cable, which caused wireless Apple CarPlay to disconnect my iPhone in favor of a wired connection, but this didn't happen all the time. The sometimes-connected-sometimes-not situation was frustrating and confusing, so it's probably best to charge with the wireless pad if you choose to use wireless CarPlay.


2022 Acura MDX The MDX's interior is an extremely nice place to spend time.Acura


My tester's Advance Package meant that I had access to even more tech. There was a 10.5-inch head-up display, an ELS Studio 3D premium audio system with 16 speakers, and charging ports in the second and third rows. When it comes to safety tech, however, everyone gets in on the party. Acura includes a load of advanced safety features as standard gear on the 2022 MDX, which includes forward collision warnings, collision mitigation braking, lane departure warnings, lane keep assist, road departure mitigation, adaptive cruise control, traffic jam assist, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alerts, and traffic sign recognition.

2022 MDX Safety

That list of features and stellar crash test scores helped the MDX achieve a Top Safety Pick + designation from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The agency scored the MDX Good in all crashworthiness categories and Superior in both vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-pedestrian crash prevention with the standard safety systems.


2022 Acura MDX The MDX is a solid premium family hauler.Acura


The MDX was already a compelling vehicle with great standard features and attractive styling, and the updates have only made the Acura's case stronger. The new ten-speed automatic transmission and chassis tuning have made the family-hauler an engaging vehicle to drive, but haven't in any way compromised its ability to do the boring "SUV stuff" well. On top of that, the MDX matches or beats many of its competitors on fuel economy, returning up to 26 mpg on the highway, and let's not forget about safety scores, which for any family should be top of mind.


2022 Acura MDX The MDX is sporty but refined.Acura

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New performance sedan

2021 Acura TLX Type S is on sale today

The Type S gets a turbocharged V6 engine.

Acura

Acura released an all-new version of its popular TLX sedan for the 2021 model year. It got new tech and sleek styling, but a much-anticipated performance version of the car is just now becoming a reality. The TLX Type S is rolling out to dealers now, and offers a significant bump in power and capability over its standard TLX counterparts.

After 13 years, Acura is adding a high-performance Type S trim to the TLX lineup. The cars feature a hot turbocharged V6 engine, Acura's excellent Super Handling All-Wheel Drive system (SH-AWD), and true torque vectoring for sticky handling in the corners.

The TLX Type S sees a whopping 355 horsepower and 354 pound-feet of torque from its turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 engine. Acura says the powertrain derives much of that power from tech that was derived from the NSX supercar. The engine uses a single twin-scroll turbocharger, which should reduce turbo lag and improve throttle response. The same engine will power the upcoming 2022 MDX Type S SUV.


2021 Acura TLX Type S The Type S' V6 can shutter three cylinders to preserve fuel economy.Acura


In addition to impressive specs, the engine also carries advanced fuel saving tech. Using a Variable Cylinder Management system, the V6 can shut down three of its cylinders in a variety of situations to conserve fuel. Additionally, the engine has a new active vibration control system, which reduces chassis and engine vibrations when the engine is shifting between three- and six-cylinder operation.

As is the case with many sports sedans, the TLX comes with an active exhaust system. The new feature uses a valve in each muffler that can be opened or closed to provide more flow and a deeper sound. When fully opened, Acura says the exhaust becomes up to seven decibels louder. The system is controlled using the TLX's drive mode select function in the cockpit.

Pricing for the 2021 Acura TLX Type S starts at $53,325, which includes destination. Upgrading to the high-performance wheel and tire package pushes the price to $54,125. The cars start arriving at Acura dealerships today.


2021 Acura TLX Type S The Type S has an active exhaust that can become quieter or louder with drive mode selections.Acura

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