It’s hard to believe that Acura, the luxury division of Honda, came into existence 30 years ago. We remember the Acura Legend, and back then questioned the logic behind this. Would people really pay more for a tarted-up Honda? The answer was yes, and Acura is responsible for all the second-channel divisions from the Japanese brands, like Lexus and Infiniti. Mazda took a stab at it with Amati, but it died stillborn. After a while, Acura became the also ran in this category, but now it’s reemerged with a vengeance, focusing on its new tagline: precision crafted performance.
Alas, if only the presenters at the New York International Auto Show had the same emotional appeal as the new lineup of Acura vehicles. If you ignore the passionless corporate heads reading from canned teleprompters, the vehicles revealed are doing a good job showing that Acura is making a serious effort to be a meaningful player once again.
The 2017 Acura MDX made it’s world debut, and although it’s not completely all new, it has been restyled and refreshed to focus on delivering what the tagline promises. The MDX is Acura’s highest-selling model for the past seven years, and Acura claims it’s the best-selling three-row luxury SUV of all time.
Up front, the MDX shows off Acura’s new family face, a signature diamond pentagon grille first seen on the MDX’s tease model, the Acura Precision concept. According to Acura, the face is bold, with restyled jewel-eye headlamps, revised front bumpers and new LED foglamps. The sides and hood are more sharply contoured (á la Lexus), and around back are large, twin exhaust ports to hint at the performance under the hood.
To highlight the performance aspect, on uplevel trim, the MDX will sport 20-inch wheels and tires. Inside, Acura says the MDX will feature the most premium content it’s had in its 15-year history, including real wood, second-row captain’s chairs, SIRIUSXM 2.0, remote start, heated steering wheel, new surround view camera, and more.
For performance, the MDX will feature the 3.5L DI V6 mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission, or the sport hybrid technology, which uses a three motor setup. The bottom line is more refined yet responsive performance. Acura also brags that the sport hybrid will get an estimated seven-mpg bump in city fuel economy over the SH-AWD model. Total system output is 325 horsepower, which is 35 horsepower more than the gasoline model. Other highlights include an electric motor torque vectoring system, designed to deliver sharper cornering, dynamic braking, an active sport suspension with a sport plus mode, and a full complement of safety and driver-assist features as standard across the lineup. No question all these upgrades will make the 2017 Acura MDX much more competitive with the likes of the Lexus RX, Infiniti QX50, and Lincoln MKX.