I looked forward to every drive in the 2024 Acura MDX Type S—not something I often say when it comes to mass-appeal cars. The Type S treatment doesn’t turn the MDX into a road-eating monster, but it hits a great note between comfortable and characterful, making it an outstanding daily driver. It’s a decent dog taxi, and given the Type S upgrades don’t alter its physical interior dimensions, a base MDX will be just as animal-compatible.
Welcome to “Will It Dog?” The Drive’s monthly car review for canine owners. In this series, we look at how a vehicle performs as a dog taxi. You can expect some high-level notes about driving dynamics, but mostly what we’re looking at are things like how well the interior might hold up against claws, how much usable room you really get inside, and what life might be like with a certain car if you have a dog or two (or three or more).
This review of the MDX Type S features two Australian Shepherd/Retriever mixes, Bramble and her brother Silas. Their goofy dad Cal the Golden Retriever also stopped by.
2024 Acura MDX Specs for Dog Owners
Interior Materials and Layout
This is a premium three-row on-road SUV. It has two spectacular seats and a broad center console up front, a second-row bench with a wide flip-down center armrest, and a fold-away way back when you need to haul six or seven people. There’s a bit of luggage space behind the third row, but when you put those seats down, you get a really generous cargo hold.
Materials generally feel high-end, and accent lighting looks great though the look is more “elite ergonomic” rather than “nightclub” like a Mercedes. The leather is pretty taut and seemed robust—it was tough to watch a muddy paw hit that white material, but it was pretty easy to clean. The hard plastic surfaces don’t look quite as upscale as what I’ve seen in some other luxury cars but they’re solid.
The MDX feels like a nice car, but it’s not so anxiety-inducingly nice that you’d be pained to let your pooch climb around in it. Well, maybe a little if you get that gorgeous Orchid leather. But seat covers aren’t expensive.
Climbing In and Out
Self-seating requires some spryness from your dog. The trip from the ground to the seat took our animals a little forethought; the young ones vaulted themselves up without issue but big ol’ Cal needed a boost every time he was asked to board. The back seats are deep, though, so dogs have a nice big landing pad.
The cargo bay is a little tougher. The lip of the bumper protrudes a bit, so a dog needs to clear quite a few inches of metal and plastic to make it from the ground to inside the SUV. A lot of pet owners might want to tote a little ramp.
Reasonably athletic animals will be able to hop in and out, but bigger and clumsier ones will need help. Small ones will probably have to get picked up and plopped in, too.
Driving With the Dog
The distance between the back seat and the center console up front is pretty significant, which made our dogs much less inclined to try and climb into the front. A seat belt helps with this even more and is recommended.
You’ve got a lot of options for where you put your pooch depending on how the seats are configured. But even a decent-sized dog would fit behind the third row if you had to haul a sizeable family and a pet. You’d need a cargo box if anyone was carrying more than a purse, though.
Driving in General
The front seats of this thing are among the best I’ve been in recently. So well sculpted and just the right level of firmness. Acceleration isn’t quite enough to blast you back into them when you step into the throttle, but the 3.0-liter turbo engine has some excitement to it at full noise and the paddle-shift experience is reasonably satisfying. Braking feels extremely effective.
Handling is very good in a vacuum; great considering the height and heft of this car. In Sport+ mode especially it feels responsive, but the MDX Type S is ultimately optimized for comfort with a dash of flavor. That’s not really a bad thing if you’re spending serious hours in this vehicle.
But more than the car’s relationship with the road, I appreciated the car’s relationship with the driver. The buttons are well-placed, nice-looking, and fun to use. The infotainment screen is run from a trackpad that’s being phased out for a touchscreen in the upcoming MDX refresh, but I honestly kind of like it the way it is. The ELS stereo is incredible, too, although that is also being replaced next year with a Bang & Olufsen unit.
The only real detractor for me is unfortunately kind of a big one: The MDX Type S claims 21 mpg on the highway, and even with a few long gentle stints I was stuck in the high teens. Many six-plus passenger cars are thirsty, but man that’s pretty brutal in 2024. If you don’t need the third row of seats, you might want to seriously consider something smaller if you’re concerned about fuel burn. Where’s that RDX Type S, Acura?
Pack Hauling—Multiple Dogs On Board
Three rows of seats give you a lot of options, especially if you mostly just transport dogs and not people. I liked putting two dogs in the way back and one in the regular back when I had a pack to haul. Frankly, I was surprised at how comfortably two decent-sized dogs fit in the third row. If you really wanted to, five or six sizable pooches could be packed into here.
A medium-sized kennel fits on the second-row bench or in the cargo bay. You would think two kennels could fit side-by-side, but it would actually be pretty tight. Our inflatable kennel fit very well in the middle of the back, but not with the third-row seats in place.
Five people and a kennel are workable, and if you only need to carry three plus a driver you could drop most of the back seat and really make a lot of room. But the way you can segment the car’s interior with the seats lets you pen a dog in pretty well without a kennel—just buckle them into a seat and they’ll be pretty well tucked in.
Acura MDX Type S Dog-Friendliness Verdict
The Acura MDX Type S is a nice, sporty luxury vehicle for hauling a lot of passengers of any species. It doesn’t feel particularly optimized for dogs, or better at dog-taxi duty than anything else this size. But it does ride and feel great, looks sharp, and will likely be easy to maintain. So if you’re looking for a comfortable car with a little personality, and need something big for a family of people and/or animals, this is not a bad way to go if you’re willing to pay for that 355-horsepower propulsion with old-school SUV fuel burn rates.
Featured Dog Car Gear and Travel Accessories
Harness: Säker Ascension Extended ($99.95 at sakercanine.com)
Leash: Säker Sentiero 2.0 ($33.95 at sakercanine.com)
Seat Cover: Dickie’s Repreve ($29.88 at Walmart)
Portable Kennel: Enventur Travel Kennel (starts at $425.00 at Diggs.pet)
More Cars Tested by Dogs, for Dogs
2023 Honda HR-V
2023 Acura Integra
2023 Genesis G70
2023 Toyota Corolla GR
2003 BMW 330ci (E46)
2019 BMW i3
2023 Volvo V60 Cross Country
2023 Audi RS Q8
2023 Toyota GR86
2024 Chevy Trax
2023 VW Golf GTI
2023 Toyota Prius Prime
2023 Aston Martin DBX707
There was too much cute to tuck into this story, so here are a few more images of these animals enjoying the MDX.