2014 Acura MDX: Up Close

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Acura pulled an infamous Porsche move with its all-new MDX: It doesn't look very different than the outgoing model despite being a significant redesign. Under the skin, it's got an all-new lighter platform and fresh engine. Now riding on a longer-wheelbase chassis, the extra length allowed Acura to squeeze more room from the inside with added dimensions helping third-row passengers.

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Accessing the third row only requires the press of a button to automatically slide the second row forward — a standard feature on all MDXs. Stepping into the third row is easier with an additional 3 inches of width from the rear-door opening and a drop of 2 inches from the step-in height, but it isn't as painless as in other three-row SUVs, like the 2014 Toyota Highlander we just checked out. Against luxury SUVs like the Infiniti JX and Audi Q7, the MDX should be even more competitive with the added dimensions.

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Once seated in the third row, headroom was tight for my 6-foot frame. Acura added third-row legroom that's most notable when the second row is slid completely rearward; the sliding second row leaves enough room for third-row passenger's legs. Behind the third row, the MDX's cargo area is larger and includes a new under-floor storage space.

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Up front, one of the most notable changes is the center stack; its number of buttons has been cut from 41 to nine. While we'll reserve final judgment until we're on the road using the system, our initial impressions from the auto-show floor are that the controls are well-thought-out and easy to use despite the severe loss of physical buttons. Like other Acura models, there always seemed to be a confusing array of buttons inside the MDX.

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Front occupants also benefit from a massive storage area between the front seats with multiple layers to stash items. There's a coin tray up top, and when lifted, it reveals a deep bin separated by another divider that folds away to show the full storage bin; the latter is capable of fitting a laptop, a pair of iPads or a purse, according to Acura.

The current MDX is no slouch as far as interior quality, and buyers should be happy that the 2014 appears similar to the old version.

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