First introduced in 2001, Acura released the MDX into a market full of luxury SUV's. Sharing the same platform as the Honda Odyssey, the MDX shares much in common with the Honda Pilot. The MDX was built to compete with the BMW X5 and the Mercedes M-class. A luxurious vehicle, the Acura MDX featured leather seats and wood trim within a plush interior that had a dashboard full of cutting-edge electronics. Other features included heated power front bucket seats, a power sunroof, 17-inch alloy wheels, front side airbags, antilocking all-disc brakes, rear AC, heated mirrors and a CD player.
The upscale division of Honda designed and built this all-wheel-drive midsize sport-utility vehicle to compete against the very popular Lexus RX 300 and other car-based SUVs. MDX stood for ‘Multi-Dimensional Luxury' and was about 5 inches longer in length than a BMW X5 and 8.5 inches longer than a Lexus RX 300. The Acura MDX also holds up to seven passengers, while competitors only had seating for five.
The MDX featured a more powerful version of the Odyssey's 3.5-liter V6 that produced 240 horsepower and was attached to a five-speed automatic transmission rather than a four-speed. Normally the Standard Variable Torque Management (VTM-4) four-wheel drive powers the front wheels, and it's designed to sense impending wheel slippage and directs up to 52 % of power to the back wheel when necessary. Though no low-range gearing was included, a rear-wheel locking device kicks in for maximum traction below 6 mph. The Acura MDX is capable of towing a 3500-pound trailer or a 4500-pound boat.
The Touring package was optional and featured a driver's seat/mirror memory, roof rack, and a six disc in-dash CD changer. Also optional was a navigation system with a dashboard screen. Both second and third-row bench seats were standard, and much like the Odyssey, the third-row seat folds into the rear cargo floor. An SUV ‘first', the second-row seat also folds into the rear cargo floor. Since both seats were split, the sections can stow individually to suit passenger/cargo loads.
For the 2002 model year, noise-reduction measures were taken in the '02 edition of Acura's SUV. The windshield glass was produced thicker and sound dampening material was added to the roof and other areas. The door mirrors and roof rack were also repositioned. In this year the rear wiper/washer was made standard and child-seat anchors were installed.
The following year the MDX engine received an additional 20 horsepower along with an antiskid system that became standard. The MDX featured a shorter body than the Pilot, with very unique styling and a somewhat smaller cabin. Rain-sensing wipers and a new electronic ‘drive –by-wire' throttle were installed. Both the steering and suspension systems were revised for 2003 along with some structural stiffening occurring and wheels being restyled. The navigation system was now operated with voice control and 3-D graphics, and the screen served the newly optional rearview camera. Models that didn't have Acura's navigation system could install a new DVD-based rear-seat entertainment system.
For 2004 Acura featured new head-protecting curtain airbags along with a tire-pressure monitoring system on the MDX. The front and rear styling was also slightly altered.
The following year more entertainment options were added for the 2005 Acura MDX that included standard satellite radio on all models along with a larger fuel tank. Newly standard with the navigation system is OnStar assistance. For 2006 the Acura MDX received updated interior trim for the top-line model.
Celebrating its 20th year as a brand, Acura debuted a concept version of the all-new MDX luxury sport-utility vehicle on April 12th 2006 at the New York International Auto Show and released an artist's rendering of the new vehicle. Later during the 2007, the second generation of Acura's luxury SUV would be designed, developed and manufactured exclusively in North America. Nearly two-thirds of all Acura vehicles sold in America are designed, developed and manufactured in North America today.
At the same time as the release of the new Acura, the groundbreaking for a new Acura-exclusive facility – the Acura Design Center – was also scheduled to open in same summer, 2007. Located in the company's Torrance, California headquarters, the new facility will play an important role in the research and design of future Acura products.By Jessica Donaldson