Acura is the luxury division of Honda, a company that does not build trucks. That forced Acura to rely on Isuzu to supply versions of the Trooper sport utility vehicle through 1999, an arrangement that produced miniscule sales. Acuras research indicated most defectors from its brand bought SUVs from competing manufacturers.
Acura hopes to stop that defection with the MDX, its first in-house SUV, which goes on sale fall 2001. The midsize MDX is based on the Honda Odyssey minivan, which uses a passenger-car platform and will be built at the same plant in Ontario, Canada. The fully equipped MDX will be in the $35,000 to $40,000 range, and the only major options are a DVD-based navigation system and a Touring Package with comfort and convenience features. Primary targets are the Lexus RX 300 and Mercedes-Benz M-Class.
Styled in California, the MDX has sloping rear roof pillars like the ones on the Lexus RX 300 but creates its own look with bold creases in the hood and along the body sides. The grille is similar to those on Acuras sedans. The standard wheels and tires are 17 inches in diameter.
The seven-passenger MDX has three rows of seats with two front buckets, a three-place split middle bench and a two-place split rear seat. The middle and rear seats fold flat into the floor to create enough space to carry two mountain bikes or a 6-foot ladder.
Standard equipment includes leather upholstery, remote keyless entry, a power moonroof and a seven-speaker audio system with an in-dash CD player.
Under the Hood
The MDX uses Odysseys 240-horsepower 3.5-liter V-6 and a new five-speed automatic transmission.
A new all-wheel-drive system powers the front wheels on smooth, dry roads and automatically transfers power to the rear wheels as needed to maintain traction on slippery surfaces.
Dual-stage front airbags, side-impact airbags for the front seats and antilock brakes are standard.