The phrase multi-dimensional luxury is intended to come to mind when you hear the acronym “MDX”. Offered in the United States since 2001 by Acura (AKA Honda in much of the rest of the world) the Acura MDX was Honda’s upscale Acura division’s entry into the by-then exploding SUV market. Prior to the MDX, the company had a rather lackluster offering called the SLX, which was really nothing more than an Isuzu Trooper festooned with Acura badges.
When the company decided to do its own SUV, it tapped more into the legendary engineering prowess for which Honda is known and came up with what many consider to be one of the first SUV models more attuned for street usage than trail. Rather than the body on frame construction most SUVs inherited from their pickup truck predecessors, the clean-sheet MDX was instead based on the four-wheel independent suspension platform underpinning the Honda Accord of the day.
This strategy created a fun-to-drive, highly fuel-efficient (relative to other SUVs) vehicle capable of mild off road and soft road duty, with the driving characteristics of a car. This meant easy handling and parking, as well as a more comfortable ride on pavement. Folding in the distinctively angular styling of the Acura MDX created a crossover suv before most of the world even knew what a crossover SUV was.
BTW, if you’re someone who is still unfamiliar with the phrase, a crossover SUV is an automobile with the high seating position and overall profile of a SUV, but is based on a passenger car, rather than a truck. This endows it with all of the carrying capacity and outward visibility enjoyed by SUV drivers, but the road manners of a car. In the MDX’s case there was a downside though — towing capacity was limited to 3,500 pounds.
Still, this was pretty novel back in 2001, when the hottest selling SUV of all was the Ford Explorer whose body-on-frame architecture saddled it with unalienable truck-like characteristics. Whether Honda recognized people wanted their SUVs to act more like cars, or if it simply fell back on one of its strengths to create the MDX and got lucky, is open for debate. What is unarguable though is the vast majority of successful SUVs on the market today are patterned after the MDX’s crossover utility vehicle strategy.
If, by now you’ve arrived at the conclusion the Acura MDX was basically nothing more than a really nice tall station wagon, you’re correct. However back then, anything labeled “station wagon” died an ignominious death on the floor of the showroom to which it became all but permanently affixed.
There have been two generations of the Acura MDX offered since the model went on sale in the U.S. in late 2000, as a 2001 model.