Acura MDX Prototype teases new 3-row SUV’s upgrades – and the MDX Type S


The new 2021 Acura MDX is coming, and today we’re seeing a thinly-veiled preview of just what the new three-row SUV will offer in the shape of the MDX Prototype. Officially a tease of what the automaker has in mind, if previous Acura prototypes are anything to go by then the production next-generation SUV is likely to stick closely to the shapely formula we see here. That includes the promise of the first MDX Type S.

It’s a routine we’ve seen Acura run through before, with the new 2021 TLX which was previewed in near-final form with its Type S Concept. Like then, there’ll be a little time to wait before we see what Acura’s factory will be producing. The company plans to have new MDX models at US dealerships early in the new year.

It looks like it’ll be worth our patience, though. The new flagship SUV will get a more striking exterior, with a larger and more upright grille at the prow of a longer, more sculpted hood. Big shoulders, a 6-inch increase in dash-to-axle, and crisper crease lines tap styling cues we’ve seen on TLX and other recent Acura launches.

The Diamond Pentagon grille has four-element JewelEye LED headlamps either side, with Chicane LED daytime running lights. Integrated fog lamp housings are slotted under the side vents. 21-inch wheels combine with a longer wheelbase – pulled out almost 3-inches compared to the third-generation MDX – to give a more imposing side view.

That should also pay dividends in interior space. Acura says there’s more cabin room, and greater trunk capacity too. Open pore wood that has been infused with metallic flakes sites alongside real polished aluminum, along with Milano leather and French stitched detailing. Ebony and Light Orchid leather on the dashboard contrasts with the new sports seats, with their gradient perforation, stitching, and piping. They have 16-way power adjustment and integrated massage, with Acura boasting nine different modes.

Legroom is up across all three rows, and the front and third-row seats get more legroom, too. Adding to that sense of space is an ultra-wide panoramic moonroof, which extends back to cover all of the seats. At night, Iconic Drive LED ambient lighting offers 27 different LED color schemes, themed to different roads and race tracks.
Tech is getting a boost, too. Gone are all of the old analog gauges, replaced by a 12.3-inch fully digital instrument binnacle. The 12.3-inch center display is Full HD resolution and Acura’s largest infotainment panel to-date. It should run faster, courtesy of a new CPU, too, and uses the company’s True Touchpad Interface.

There’s a “Signature Edition” ELS STUDIO 3D premium audio system, with 22 channels, 25 speakers, and 1,000+ watts of power to play with. It features six ceiling mounted speakers, and six mid-range woofers to flood the whole cabin with sound. On the safety side, there’s AcuraWatch active safety tech like road departure mitigation, plus Traffic Jam Assist and Low Speed Braking Control. Acura says all new MDX models will have the new multi-segment front passenger airbag we saw debut on the 2021 TLX.
Under the shapely sheet metal, there’s an all-new light truck platform. It’s said to be Acura’s most rigid to-date, with a new double wishbone front suspension system for the first time on an MDX. Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) is, unsurprisingly, available, with torque vectoring for the rear wheels. The MDX prototype also gets Brembo four-piston brake calipers, with a painted Ivory finish.

Multiple drive modes will be supported, and Acura has two new powertrains for the SUV. As standard, the new MDX will have a 3.5-liter V6 paired with a 10-speed automatic. However there’ll also be a new MDX Type S for the first time, with a special 3.0-liter turbocharged V6. That’s expected to be good for 355 hp and 354 lb-ft of torque, and get SH-AWD as standard.

The reality is that what we see previewed here is likely to be very close to what arrives in dealerships early in 2021. The bad news is that we’ll have to wait a little longer for the MDX Type S, which Acura says will follow on in Summer 2021.

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