Nearly six years have passed since the second-generation Acura MDX debuted, and a little more than two since it was overhauled and wrapped with a mild facelift. If it feels like high time for a new MDX, you’re in luck: an all-new model is just around the corner, and our spies caught an early Acura MDX prototype undergoing testing in Europe.
It’s hard to see much of the new MDX’s exterior styling in these photos, as the next-generation crossover wears both heavy cladding and makeshift head- and taillamp assemblies, but a few cues up front suggest Acura’s next three-row crossover will take a page from its new 2013 RDX compact crossover. Not only does the “beak” grille seem softer and a bit more conservative, but the lower edges of the tapered headlamp assemblies will be in line with the lower edge of the V-shaped grille. The lower front fascia, which presently boasts a smattering of unusual apertures and intakes, appears cleaner on this tester, and more in-step with that applied to the latest RDX.
Beneath the skin, expect the MDX to continue sharing its Accord-derived platform with both the Honda Pilot and Odyssey. Expect the MDX to retain six-cylinder power: we hear rumbling’s that a revised 3.5-liter V-6, revamped under the company’s Earth Dreams powertrain program, will gain direct fuel injection and a number of other tweaks to boost power and fuel economy. Early estimates suggest the V-6 could produce somewhere in the neighborhood of 310 hp, which is about 10 hp more than the current MDX’s 3.7-liter V-6.
We’ve heard rumblings that the MDX could adopt a ZF-sourced nine-speed automatic in the years to come, but there’s still a chance that the next-gen MDX could initially launch with the six-speed transmission it presently employs. Another unknown lies with Acura’s Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) system: although the torque-shuffling driveline aids handling and is something of a hallmark, there’s a chance Acura could ditch it for a lighter, less expensive driveline. The automaker did just that when revamping its 2012 RDX, citing a lack of demand for the technology in this family-centric segment. It’s also fairly unlikely that the company’s new hybrid SH-AWD system, which will be used in both the upcoming RLX luxury sedan and the NSX sports coupe, will be used in this particular application.
These remaining details will likely emerge in due course – and we won’t have to wait all that long to see them unfold. The next-generation Acura MDX should make its public debut in late 2013, possibly even as a 2014 model year vehicle.