The Acura MDX is a mid-size three-row luxury crossover produced by Honda under the Acura luxury nameplate since 2000. The moniker stands for “Multi-Dimensional luxury” and according to Honda, the MDX is the best-selling three-row luxury crossover of all time.
The MDX was the first crossover SUV to have third-row seating, and shares a platform with the Honda Pilot. The luxury crossover seats seven, with two seats in the third row.
First Generation (2000-2006)
Acura introduced the MDX in 2000 as a 2001 model. It is powered by a 3.5L SOHC 24-valve V6 with VTEC. The engine in the first two model years produced 240 HP and 245 lb·ft of torque and was increased to 265 hp and 253 lb·ft for the 2003-2006 models.
The vehicle features an automatic four wheel drive system (named VTM-4) that engages during off the line acceleration as well as when wheel slippage is detected. Additionally, the system offers a lock mode which can be activated and operated at low speeds and provides permanent 4WD and the equivalent of a locked rear differential; designed for climbing steep hills and getting out of stuck situations. To reduce drivetrain noise and increase fuel efficiency, the system runs as front wheel drive during normal driving. The VTM-4 AWD system in the MDX is identical to the VTM-4 systems in the Honda Pilot and Honda Ridgeline.
The navigation system and DVD entertainment system options were mutually exclusive in the 2002 model and then made to be options from 2003 onward. The navigation option comes with a rear view video camera. In 2005 the navigation system began to feature information from Zagat about restaurants and other points of interest. The 2003 model was rated as Ultra Low Emission Vehicle. The United States Environmental Protection Agency estimates 23 mpg highway and 17 mpg city.
Second Generation (2007-2013)
The second generation model’s body has a wider track and longer wheelbase than the previous MDX, but visibility to the rear has worsened from the prior generation. The redesigned Acura MDX’s unit-body was engineered with Honda’s Advanced Compatibility Engineering (ACE) body structure designed to absorb energy from a collision.
The engine was upgraded to a 3.7L V6 tuned for 300 hp and 270 lb·ft of torque. It accelerates from 0-60 mph in 6.5 seconds and is estimated by the EPA to consume 16 miles per US gallon in the city and 21 miles per US gallon on the highway. It is one of the most powerful engines Honda has produced to date. The “VTM-4” all-wheel drive system on the previous generation was replaced by the new SH-AWD “Super Handling All-Wheel Drive” previously debuted on the 2005 Acura RL. This AWD system is one of the most advanced in its class, featuring an active rear differential often found on high performance cars. The MDX is able to tow 5,000 lb.
Like all Acuras, the MDX comes with a high level of standard equipment, including a power moonroof, leather interior, and high-intensity discharge (Xenon) low beam headlights. Three option packages were available:
– The Technology Package includes the Acura/Alpine DVD-based satellite GPS navigation system with AcuraLink satellite communications with real-time traffic reporting (XM NavTraffic), a 410-watt Acura/ELS DTS Surround audio system with XM Satellite Radio, rearview camera, and a remote powered liftgate, operated either from the key’s remote, inside the car or directly from the lift gate.
– The Sport Package featured active suspension dampers (co-developed by Honda and Beijing West Industries) that dynamically improves handling according to road conditions with a button in the center stack to switch to Sport/Comfort modes. This Comfort/Sport mode uses magneto rheological dampers, which change their characteristics when a magnetic field is introduced (usually in milliseconds). The Sport package also includes unique 5-spoke aluminum-alloy wheels, perforated leather seats and the items in the Technology package.
– The Entertainment Package offers a flip-down 9-inch LCD screen with 2 wireless Dolby Digital headphones, second-row heated outboard seats, and a unique center-stack silver trim. The Entertainment Package is only available on Sport or Technology Package models as compared to the 1st Generation MDX where the Entertainment Package was available as a standalone package on Touring Models.
In 2010, the MDX received a facelift adopting to Acura’s new “Power Plenum” grille that debuted on its 2009 model year sedans. The most important upgrades to the 2010 model where a new paddle shift 6-speed SportShift automatic transmission with downshift Rev-matching, and an increased compression ratio to 11.2:1 with forged aluminum pistons to replace the previous 2007-2009 3.7L’s 11.0:1 pistons. An Advance package became available that included Adaptive Cruise Control, blind spot monitor, Active Damper Suspension, Collision mitigation braking system, wider 7-spoked 19 inch wheels and tires, Premium Milano leather ventilated seats and auto leveling headlights. Non-navigation equipped MDX models have a rear view camera monitor located in the rear view mirror.
Third Generation (2014-present)
The MDX is now powered by a 3.5-liter direct injected Earth Dreams V6 with Variable Cylinder Management. A front-wheel drive model is available for the first time in the United States. EPA-estimated fuel economy is improved in the all-wheel drive (SH-AWD) models rated at 18 mpg-city 27 mpg-highway and FWD models are rated at 20 mpg-city and 28 mpg-highway.
Acura reduced interior button clutter by adding a 7-inch touchscreen with haptic feedback. To reduce interior noise an acoustic (PVB layered) windshield, acoustic front door glass and thicker rear glass are used as well as triple sealed door openings. Advance package models include further noise reduction using a thicker carpet base layer and front fender liners. The seating H-point has been reduced and the steering gear ratio is 9% quicker for a more sporty feel. The MDX also rides lower reducing its center of gravity.
According to Acura the exterior is more aerodynamic reducing drag by 16% with the new model lapping the German track – Nürburgring 8 seconds faster than its predecessor. The headlights are Acura’s Jewel Eye LED Headlights (first introduced on the RLX). Each headlamp uses five separate LED sources with three used for low-beam lighting and two for high-beam lighting. LED bumper mounted fog lamps are offered as a dealer installed option.
Structural rigidity is improved and weight reduced through increased use of high-strength steel. Overall, 64% of the total vehicle body mass is high strength steel (HSS). A single ring-like hot stamped HSS component reinforces the A-pillar, roof rail, B-pillar, and lower floor rail encircling the front doors for improved crash protection. Acura states that after conducting a simulated IIHS 25% small offset frontal crash test the front doors will open with normal force.
In terms of safety the MDX adds a standard driver’s knee airbag, optional Lane Keeping Assist System and Collision Mitigation Braking System. The Adaptive Cruise Control now comes with stop and go functionality.
A 3.0L V6, 7-speed dual-clutch hybrid will be added to the lineup. The rear wheels are powered by twin electric motors and lithium-ion batteries. Hybrid versions are available in all-wheel drive only and will begin sales in Spring of 2017.