Being that I am a secret Honda fanboy, that also means I am a secret Acura fanboy. I’ve always wanted some sort of a Type S. Granted the cars that come to mind are 15 years old every time I hear the name. Like so many other manufacturers, Acura has sought to expand the Type S line into things that traditionally wouldn’t have a sport trim level. Care for a Type S with a bit more meat on the bones? Say no more, they’ve S Type’d the MDX. It’s blue, it’s spirited, and it makes a good noise.
You can get the NSX and TLX in the sporty Type S trim, but it’s with the MDX where the realities of the modern car buyer have met with the bean counters in the ‘maximum profit’ department. Acura has seen fit to dilute the Type S name in the spirit of capturing the unabashed motorist who wants to show up to the company party in their new Type S. “Yeah, I’ve got one of those too,” they’ll say when parking next to the bosses new NSX in Gotham Grey Matte. They just better hope that someone else has a Macan or X3 M40i to try and fit in.
For a purist like myself, the name is unsettling. An MDX Type S? But that’s an SUV..? Uttering the words feels like cursing in front of your grandmother. Such disrespect. That is until you drive it. This thing has 355 horses from a turbo V6, air suspension, Super Handling All-Wheel Drive, adaptive dampers, and Brembo front brakes. It has selective drive modes, with Sport+ being the most unbridled and therefore, the most fun. The shifts are snappy, the throttle responsive, and the quickness is more than enough. As all cars morph into bigger, fatter, and taller examples of the sedan ancestors, this MDX Type-S is what you want them to become, at least partly.
Spirited driving and a good-looking face are this car’s highlights. The low points became apparent as I perused the interior. The quality isn’t the problem, it’s the layout. And sweet baby Jesus is it terrible. Firstly, as I drove around, head firmly stuck in the clouds with Sport+, I decided to pump up the radio; I reached for where the volume knob should be and changed the drive mode. That’s a bad layout. I shouldn’t have to hunt for the volume. Sure, it’s on the steering wheel too, but that button never cranks up the tunes quick enough!
I then tapped on the infotainment screen, which is a long reach, only to learn it wasn’t a touch screen. Acura has seen fit to forgo the standard touch screen and fit some touchpad-thingy and clicking function. They’ll tell you it’s ‘award-winning,’ but I’d like to see the focus group that decided this was better than a touchscreen—probably full bean counters with their abacuses (which is practically the equivalent of an Ouija board for accountants). They then added a hand rest separate from the armrest and shoved a wireless charging pad between them. The word “afterthought” comes to mind, which is exactly what the charging pad had to be during the design process.
I was fully upset at the layout of this interior. This is a car that is best looked at and driven fast—not used slowly or sat in to keep it from floating away. Even the lane departure assist is a bit wonky. It just didn’t keep the lane very well—a complete failure in name. This antiquated mommy-market-mobile made me truly angry. That was until I put it back into Sport+. It’s unusual that a car can be so bad, but with the push of one button it becomes one of the best—it becomes a Type S.
Until next time,
M. T. Blake (IG @_mtblake / www.mtblake.net)