DETROIT, MI – Acura and its Honda parent have a history of keeping new products tightly under wraps until they are close to production. So, showing the 2014 Acura MDX "Prototype" at the North American International Auto Show is in fact showing what the finished product will look like when it arrives this summer, apart from a few minor details.
While the inside of the prototype was blacked out, not yet available for prime time, the exterior showed a softer treatment of the prominent proboscis that has become Acura's signature grille design.
Drawing eyes and attention away from the much-maligned grille are new "Jewel Eye" LED headlights that fan out horizontally.
The new, smoother body was sculpted in Honda’s new wind tunnel at its R&D facilities in Raymond, Ohio, where the MDX is being developed. The new SUV is 16% more aerodynamically efficient, which promises improvements in both fuel efficiency and wind noise.
The 2014 MDX is also 35-mm lower than the outgoing model and it is slightly longer. It will be built on a new and more rigid platform with a longer wheelbase and new suspensions front and rear.
The added length overall, and between the front and rear axles, should be reflected in increased rear seat room and easier access to the third row.
Power will come from a new version of the corporate SOHC 3.5-litre i-VTEC V-6 engine, with direct injection and Variable Cylinder Management (VCM).
No figures yet on output, but the company says direct injection will enable increased torque and "more spirited performance". The same engine in the Acura TL produces 280 horsepower and 254 lb-ft of torque, without direct injection, so look for both numbers to be in the 300 range.
For the first time the MDX will be available with both front and all-wheel-drive. The new FWD version is aimed at warmer markets and will allow the company to lower prices in a very competitive set.
No word on whether the FWD version will be available in Canada.
The new MDX will boast a full alphabet soup of technologies. On the safety front will be: Collision Warning and Lane Departure Warning systems, Multi-Angle Rearview Camera, Blind Spot Information, Lane Keeping Assist and Active Cruise Control with Low-Speed Follow.
In the infotainment area will be: an improved AcuraLink cloud-based connectivity system featuring SMS texting, SiriusXM radio and cloud-based Aha by Harman that will allow owners to import personalized news, information and media feeds via their smartphones and data plans.