DETROIT--Acura showed off the next generation of its MDX luxury SUV at the 2013 Detroit auto show. Although the company called it a prototype, the production version should be coming out this summer, leaving little time for changes. Even with the upcoming production model, Acura would not show the interior during the auto show.
The new MDX benefits from Honda's Earth Dreams initiative, which developed the direct-injection 3.5-liter V-6 slated to power the vehicle. Acura released no specifications for this engine, merely stating it would use variable valve timing and a single overhead cam, but a similar engine going into the new RLX sedan makes 310 horsepower, a figure that seems about right for the MDX.
The prototype was shown with these LED headlights, which Acura calls Jewel Eye. Concept cars often come with LED headlights that do not make it into an ensuing production car, yet Acura will produce its RLX sedan with these LED headlights, suggesting they could be, at the least, optional on the new MDX.
From its length, it looks like the MDX remains in a two-row, five-seat configuration, which has proven very popular in the luxury SUV market. The styling shows few contours, emphasizing simplicity. Acura says it tested the design in a new wind tunnel, and managed to improve aerodynamic efficiency by 16 percent, which should lead to improved fuel economy.
The MDX retains its Super Handling All-Wheel-Drive system, as indicated by the SH-AWD badge on the car. However, Acura says it will also offer a front-wheel-drive version of the MDX for the first time when this new model comes out. The front-wheel version should get better fuel economy and cost less than the SH-AWD version. Acura says it redesigned the front and rear suspension to improve handling, but does not say whether it will still offer the active suspension of the current model, which adds considerably to its cornering ability.
The MDX will be available with a wide array of driver assistance features, becoming de rigueur among luxury vehicles. Lane drift prevention complements lane departure warning and a blind-spot monitor. Adaptive cruise control comes with a feature Acura calls Low-Speed Follow, which most likely controls braking and acceleration in stop-and-go traffic.