For those in the market for a luxury SUV, the all-new third generation Acura MDX is an absolute must for the test drive list.

The 2014 MDX is a gem.

Itís bigger, more fuel-efficient, more powerful and loaded with more features.

And for the first time ever, the seven-passenger SUV is also available in a front-wheel drive version that provides a 28 percent increase in fuel economy over the 2013 all-wheel drive MDX.

For those needing all-wheel drive, the 2014 MDX with Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) features a 17 percent increase in fuel economy over last yearís model ó all while increasing power and performance.

The 2014 MDX features a new 3.5-liter V-6 engine utilizing Acuraís Earth Dreams Technology. Producing 290 horsepower and 267 lbs.-ft. torque, it features standard a Variable Cylinder Management system that seamlessly switches between 3- and 6-cylinder modes, depending on engine load, effectively varying engine displacement to match driving conditions for improved fuel efficiency.

While significant gains have been made in fuel economy, torque has been increased by 8 percent, providing towing capabilities for a trailer up to 5,000 pounds. Itís also more responsive, providing faster 0-60 mph times than last yearís model.

Built on an all-new platform from the ground up, the 2014 MDX is absolutely stunning.

With a base price starting at $42,290, Acura has delivered an exceptional luxury SUV with a high level of value.

Without question, its ride and handling capabilities are impressive. Thereís not a bad seat in the cabin, and from a driverís standpoint, it is an absolute joy to drive.

I was equally impressed with the high level of premium amenities and features included in the 2014 model.

New standard features include keyless access system with push button start, Jewel Eye LED headlights, extended slide second-row seating with one-touch walk-in for third-row access, an 8-inch On-Demand Multi-Information Display touchscreen, expanded view driverís mirror, acoustic glass front windows and windshield, and an absolutely awesome 432-watt Acura sound system. And thatís just a short list of the new features. In addition to front-wheel drive or SH-AWD configurations, the all-new MDX is available in three packages ó Technology, Technology and Entertainment and the Advance Package.

The Technology Package includes the latest generation Acura Navigation System with voice recognition and surface street traffic data, allowing the driver to choose faster, less-congested routes. Using AcuraLink, you can also send destination information to the navigation system via the AcuraLink Connect phone app.

MDX models with the Entertainment package adds a DVD rear entertainment system with 9-inch VGA screen. When it comes to connectivity, the MDX is one of the most connected vehicles on the road. As I mentioned earlier, for those in the market for a luxury SUV, the all-new MDX is a must for the test drive list.

Neal White has been covering the automotive industry for more than 20 years and is affiliated with the Texas Auto Writers Association.

The Nuts and Bolts

MODEL:

2014 Acura MDX

7-seat luxury SUV †

Front-, or all-wheel drive

Trim packages:

MDX, Technology Package, Technology and Entertainment Package, Advance Package

PRICE RANGE:

$43,000-$57,000

ENGINE:

3.5L V6 (290 hp/267 T)

TRANSMISSION:

6-speed automatic

EPA: 20/18 mpg city, 28/27 mpg highway (FWD/AWD)

FUEL: Premium unleaded

STABILITY CONTROL:

Vehicle stability assist with traction control

BRAKES: ABS

LENGTH: 193.6 inches

WHEELBASE: 111 inches

WIDTH: 77.2 inches

HEIGHT: 66.7 inches

WEIGHT: 4025-4332 lbs.

TRACK: 66.3/66.3

(front/rear)

FUEL TANK: 19.5 gallons

TIRES: 18-, or 19-inch

CARGO: 15.8/45.1/90.9 cubic feet (behind 3rd/2nd/1st seating row.

TOWING: Up to 5,000 lbs.