By on October 14, 2020

Acura MDX Prototype. Photo: Acura

The fourth-generation Acura MDX is here. Sort of.

Acura hasn’t actually launched the next MDX, but it has taken the cover off a prototype that previews the upcoming re-done crossover. There is a lot new, as we teased before, but the looks remain relatively familiar.

The MDX will go on sale early next year, and the changes include a shift to a lower, wider stance, digital instrumentation in the cabin, the addition of a Type S trim, and a new front suspension.

Let’s start with the exterior styling. It doesn’t appear like a radical departure in photos – the Acura grille that we’ve gotten used to remains, for example. The biggest difference is the lower, wider stance and the greenhouse moving further back, which adds six more inches between the dash and axle.

Acura MDX Prototype. Photo: Acura

The front lights are LED – both DRLs and headlamps – and there are integrated fog lamps.

Acura has lengthened the wheelbase by almost 3 inches, and the prototype sports 21-inch wheels. There are LED taillamps in back.

Inside, the prototype has more legroom in all three rows than the outgoing model, along with more headroom in the first and third rows. There’s a panoramic sunroof. There’s LED ambient lighting that is meant to evoke famous roads and race tracks, and the front seats have a massage function. The gauges go full digital, in a 12.3-inch screen, and 12.3 inches is also the size of the updated infotainment touchscreen that occupies the center stack. That infotainment system also has a touchpad controller.

Acura MDX Prototype. Photo: Acura

There’s a premium audio system with 1,000 watts and 25 speakers, and safety goodies include road-departure mitigation, traffic-jam assist, and low-speed braking control. The last two are new, while the first of those three is “enhanced”.

A double-wishbone front suspension is meant to improve performance, as are Brembo brakes. All-wheel-drive with torque vectoring remains available. Multiple drive modes, including a driver-customizable one, are available.

Acura MDX Prototype. Photo: Acura

A 3.5-liter V6 and 10-speed automatic transmission is the main powertrain choice, but the Type S trim will offer a 3.0-liter turbocharged V6 making an estimated 355 horsepower and 354 lb-ft of torque and have AWD standard.

The next MDX will be built in Ohio, though final assembly won’t be in the same exact town in the Buckeye State as the production of the engine. The engine will be built in Anna, Ohio, and final assembly will be about 40 miles away in East Liberty. Mostly built in Ohio, we should say, since the transmission will be built in Georgia – the American state, not the country. Type S versions won’t ship until summer 2021.

Expect more details to come forth before the launch early next year.

[Images: Acura]

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17 Comments on “Acura MDX Prototype: A Glimpse into the Near Future...”

  • avatar

    Think of it not so much as a trucklet, but as a phat car.

    • 0 avatar

      May have changed but the MDX sat on the same platform of the Odyssey for the longest time, which was appropriate because that’s what it is.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        Allegedly, the upcoming TLX and MDX are on a unique Acura-only platform. That doesn’t mean Acura will move to longitude engine layouts, or anything like that…but it does mean that these are no longer Accord derivatives.

        • 0 avatar

          Cadillacs were also on “Cadillac only” platforms which were enhanced versions of the plebeian ones. The only way those are from the ground up unique is if they are JDM or PRCDM spec and just not sold here.

  • avatar

    An actual higher performance engine ? I’ll believe it when I see it, this is Acura, after all.
    Someone needs to do an intervention…Acura is too much plastic surgery on Honda’s nose.
    A Twin Turbo 3.0 V6 is long overdue, every other company has one……

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    If you told me that was the MDX currently on sale I wouldn’t argue. This is a car that does not register in my world and this prototype is not exactly ground breaking.

  • avatar

    Near future looks grim. What a boredom:(

  • avatar

    1000 Watts and 25 speakers.

    Twenty-five. Speakers.

    The sound bar connected to my living room TV puts 100 watts through 3 speakers, and it gets uncomfortably loud.

    What’s this sound system for? To vaporize anyone with ears? (I am clearly not an audiophile.)

    • 0 avatar

      The point of all the speakers and watts isn’t to blow your brains out, it’s to fine-tune the frequency response and produce a more 3-dimensional sense of space in the music in an attempt to get closer to the sound of a live performance. These systems are meant to accurately reproduce the music, not blow out your windows and dim your headlights with ridiculous bass!

      Each speaker is supplied by its own amp (a more reasonable 40wpc when you do the division) and DSP is used to EQ each one individually and introduce delays and other effects in order to provide full, flat frequency response and produce the most realistic image possible.

      The Acura ELS, Volvo B&W, and Audi B&O systems are about the best ones on the market currently, and sound amazing indeed.

      • 0 avatar

        Thanks for the substantive reply, that was actually interesting to learn.

        One follow-up question: why 25 speakers in a car, when even the most elaborate home systems use just 7 (or 8 with the subwoofer)?

        • 0 avatar
          Craig G

          Home speakers have 2-3 drivers each. My 5.1 system has 14 total drivers. 25 drivers still seems excessive for a car though.

        • 0 avatar


          Thank you for your question (and to Dawnrazor for that excellent response).

          To your follow-up question (I am not an expert):
          – A vehicle is a very “messy” acoustic environment compared to a home listening room
          – You are very close to the speakers (and the passengers are at very different distances vs. the driver)
          – This article walks through a 10-speaker ELS system vs. a 17-speaker ELS Studio system (4 of the new speakers are in the headliner!)

          – See the first two comments (posts #4 and #12) from “the Interceptor” at this link, and especially the ‘ambient lighting’ analogy in post #13

  • avatar

    I don’t like those 2 tone steering wheels, or half wood half leather ones. Other than I’m sure it’s a nice SUV.

  • avatar

    Something about that interior makes it look dated to me.
    Maybe the busyness of it all? Like looking at a late 90s boombox.
    The two-tone and the ambient light strip isn’t helping either.

    It does look like good enough of an improvement over the current car though.
    Seem like there’s less of hodgepodge of model specific powertrain components on top of a normal Honda.

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