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Why the 2014 Acura MDX Prototype Matters:
Honda’s luxury division has often struggled for both sales and relevance in this country, but last year, leveraging the launch of its all-new 2013 Acura RDX crossover, the Acura brand actually was the fastest-growing luxury make in America. But as much as that says about the brand, it also says a lot about U.S. consumers’ continuing hunger for crossover vehicles as a whole. And that’s where the 2014 Acura MDX Prototype comes into play.
Previewing the next-gen production model of Acura’s top-selling entry, the 2014 Acura MDX Prototype will be counted on to boost volume as the division’s range-topping cars—like the all-new 2014 Acura RLX flagship sedan and the forthcoming Acura NSX supercar—burnish the brand’s reputation. Just as importantly, it also will provide a necessary rival to competitors like the 2013 Infiniti JX and 2013 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class, which are injecting a new level of excitement into the premium three-row crossover segment.
The party line from Mike Accavitti, vice president of national marketing operations for Acura: "Our goal is to advance on MDX's already great dynamic performance while improving fuel economy and luxury comfort. Building on the great momentum we established in 2012 with the launch this year of our flagship RLX, followed later this year by a terrific new luxury SUV in MDX we are very excited about the direction of the Acura brand. And we are truly looking forward to a great 2013."
The 2014 Acura MDX Prototype matters to the U.S. economy, too, since the brand is moving MDX production to the United States and will build the vehicle in its plant in Lincoln, Ala.
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What’s New for the 2014 Acura MDX Prototype:
- Fresh “Aero Sculpture” styling
- “Jewel Eye” LED headlights, a new Acura design cue that will become a hallmark of the brand’s latest generation of vehicles
- The MDX’s first front-wheel-drive model
- A stiffer, yet lighter, chassis
- Redesigned front and rear suspension layouts
- Best-in-class fuel-economy marks from an all-new 3.5-liter V6 engine with direct injection, i-VTEC valve-train technology and variable cylinder management
- Acura’s next-gen AcuraLink connectivity and infotainment system, with integrated Pandora and Aha audio interfaces
- A long list of driver-assist and safety features, including both tech-oriented systems, like forward collision warning and blind-spot detection, as well as an upgraded version of the Advanced Compatibility Engineering (ACE) body structure
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New 2014 Acura MDX Prototype: Styling and Design
The clean, uncluttered exterior of the 2014 Acura MDX Prototype is born of a new approach to design for the brand, called “Aero Sculpture.” True to its name, the theme delivers not just a sleek and sophisticated exterior, but also a shape that is 16 percent more aerodynamic than that of the current MDX—which also will help further boost the fuel-efficiency performance of the new one.
Now, it’s hard to tell from the photos, but the smooth flanks of the MDX Prototype actually show some subtle yet effective character lines, and it’s clear that Acura designers have put much thought into developing a style language that will inform the future of the brand. Also characterized as “Alluring Modern Edge,” the new appearance scheme will focus on creating vehicles with low, wide and sleek proportions, modern surfaces, and detailed accents.
Also, although the brand didn’t reveal the cabin of the 2014 Acura MDX Prototype at the show, Jon Ikeda—chief designer at the Acura Design Studio in California—promised it would be equally at home transporting both kids and clients.
“I can assure you it will further improve the already great functionality in the cabin and cargo area while really amping up luxury, comfort and quiet," Ikeda said. “And that's really the focus of this new MDX, delivering outstanding luxury performance and family capability in a more refined and alluring package."
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New 2014 Acura MDX Prototype: What’s under the Hood
Talking points around the new V6 engine for the 2014 Acura MDX Prototype were few, but Autobytel is happy to connect the dots: Motivation here will come from the same 3.5-liter Earth Dreams V6 that powers the 2013 Honda Accord and was named to the most recent list of Ward’s 10 Best Engines of the year. The powerplant makes 278 hp and 252 lb.-ft. of torque in the Accord, but is likely to offer more oomph in MDX. Acura’s expectations are for “improved torque and more spirited performance,” as well as “a significant increase in fuel efficiency to class-leading levels.”
However, readers should keep in mind that a big chunk of that increase will come from the new front-wheel-drive-only model that swaps Acura’s Super Handling-All Wheel Drive system for higher EPA grades.
On the other hand, the engine does supply some cutting-edge features, including direct injection, Acura’s intelligent variable valve timing and lift control (i-VTEC), and a cylinder-deactivation system that shuts off power to three cylinders in certain driving conditions.
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New 2014 Acura MDX Prototype: Features and Technology
The Acura brand originally worked to differentiate itself from the competition by a sharp focus on technology and engineering, and that’s still evident in the 2014 Acura MDX Prototype. High-tech safety measures abound, for example, and include:
- A next-gen Advanced Compatibility Engineering (ACE) body structure
- Forward Collision Warning
- Lane Departure Warning
- A Multi-Angle Rearview Camera
- Acura’s Blind-Spot Information system
- Lane Keeping Assist
- Active Cruise Control with Low-Speed Follow
The 2014 MDX also will standout for its robust infotainment and connectivity offerings. Among the highlights: A new iteration of the cloud-based AcuraLink system, providing built-in access to Pandora and Aha streaming-audio services, SMS text-messaging capabilities, SiriusXM satellite radio, and security features like automated crash notification and an emergency “panic” button. Then, it’s all topped off by Acura’s 24/7 concierge services, handled by trained professionals.
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New 2014 Acura MDX Prototype: What Autobytel Thinks
As mentioned, you really have to see the 2014 Acura MDX Prototype in the flesh to appreciate its new, well-executed exterior design, but once the brand gets customers to notice the vehicle, it shouldn’t have any trouble increasing sales volume. And that’s especially the case now that Acura will offer the FWD model that will boost fuel-efficiency while also enjoying a nice price advantage as compared to the versions with SH-AW
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