While the new 2021 TLX helped usher in an all-new design language for Honda’s luxury division, it’s the next-generation Acura MDX that will really give the brand some much-needed momentum.
Acura has been teasing the fourth-generation SUV for several months, starting with the reveal of a thinly disguised “prototype” in October. Now, however, we’re getting ready to see the final product, the 2022 Acura MDX set to make an online debut on Tuesday Dec. 8 at 2:30 p.m. EST.
“The fourth-generation MDX joins RDX, the best-selling model in its segment, and the recently launched TLX sport sedan as the latest model to be designed from the ground up around Acura’s Precision Crafted Performance brand DNA,” the automaker said in a statement today, noting the “best-selling” tag is based on Motor Intelligence’s records of total sales volume 2006-2020 CYTD October.
The MDX was Acura’s first SUV when it debuted in 2001, and the first three-row utility vehicle based on a unibody platform. All told, the automaker has sold more than 1 million of them during the past two decades.
(Acura reveals the MDX Prototype.)
While we don’t have a final image, we know that the production model will borrow liberally from the design cues we’ve seen with both the new TLX, as well as the NSX sports car. It’s lower, wider and longer, with its wheelbase stretched three inches and the dash-to-axle distance pulled back a full six inches. Along with the more sculpted hood and side panels, the overall appearance is wider, better planted and more muscular.
Rather than the slab-like faces many recent SUVs have adopted, the front end has a more three-dimensional appearance, with a larger version of the familiar Acura “Diamond Pentagon Grille.” It’s framed within four-element LED “Jewel Eye” headlamps and “Chicane” running lamps.
While Acura isn’t ready to discuss the off-road manners of the new MDX, both the luxury brand and parent Honda have been enhancing the capabilities of their latest products. What we do know is that the new MDX will ride on an all-new light-truck platform. Among other things, it will mark the first time the MDX gets a double-wishbone front suspension.
One question is whether the production MDX will carry over the 21-inch wheels and tires seen on the Prototype — at least as an optional upgrade.
For those who prefer to focus on on-road performance, meanwhile, the MDX will join other recent models getting the Type S treatment. The base car will feature a 3.5-liter V-6 making 290 horsepower and 267 pound-feet of torque. The sportier Type S will be motivated by a turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6 bumping the numbers up to 355 hp and 354 lb-ft of torque. Both engi
nes will be mated to a 10-speed automatic.
(Acura rolls out 2021 TLX and revives Type S performance models.)
Among other features, the Type S also will come with four-piston Brembo brakes on all four corners, finished in ivory.
As with the exterior, the cabin of the new MDX Prototype picks up on the horizontal design cues of the NSX and TLX. We expect it to feature plenty of room for three rows of passengers, with plenty of high-end detailing, such as its optional 16-way front seats, leather, metal and open-pore wood trim and detailed accent stitching. Motorists also will be able to select from an ambient lighting system offering a choice of 27 different pre-set colors.
The instrument panel is likely to hew closely to that of the concept which featured twin 12.3-inch displays, one a reconfigurable LCD replacing traditional analog gauges, the other handling infotainment duties. Like the TLX, the new SUV will features a computer-style trackpad to operate the system.
The MDX also borrows the aurally impressive ELS audiophile technology offered on the new sedan. That includes the premium ELS Studio 3D, a 25-speaker system that has generated some (high-fidelity) buzz.
From a safety standpoint, the next-gen Acura MDX will deliver the latest take on the AcuraWatch suite of advanced driver assistance systems, as well as a new airbag system first introduced on the TLX. It’s designed to reduce the risk of passengers bumping heads during a side impact.
The automaker is saving some key details on the production model until closer to launch, including fuel economy and pricing. The outgoing model starts around $44,000 and, if the new TLX is any indication, Acura will stick close to that despite all the added content.
(Check out the Acura Type S Concept.)
We’ll see the main versions of the new Acura MDX in U.S. showrooms early next year as a 2022 model. The Type S will follow over the summer, the automaker now confirms.