Remade Acura MDX to debut in Big Apple

Henry Payne
The Detroit News

Acura will raise the curtain on an all-new, 2017 MDX mid-size crossover at the New York Auto Show on March 23. The 2017 model will boast a significant exterior makeover as well as new features and powertrain upgrades.

Not that the current model is a dog.

The MDX is the second-best selling mid-size luxury SUV in the U.S. market and a rare entry with three-row seating. Priced at $43,785 – more than $5,000 below German competitors BMW X5, Mercedes ML350 and Audi Q7 – the MDX is a rolling bargain with a cornucopia of standard options including leather seats, nine-speed automatic transmission and seven-passenger seating. Acura’s best-selling SUV has attracted customers by the truckload with sales of nearly 50,000 in the last three years. Only the Lexus RX outsells the MDX.

Still, the MDX has not been spared criticism over “the beak” – the bottle opener-like grille treatment shared by all Acura SUVs and sedans. Acura wowed the Detroit auto show this year with an angular post-beak concept, and the lone MDX teaser drawing released by Acura suggests it will follow the concept’s lead.

The new MDX also appears to mimic the Detroit concept with thinner wheel arches, a raked hood and more menacing fascia. Acura’s signature “Jewel-Eye” LED headlights will surely remain. Honda’s luxury division hopes the more aggressive styling will dovetail with Honda’s recommitment to performance – from the nimble, 2016 North American Car of the Year Honda Civic to the 2017 Acura NSX supercar – to give the brand more attitude.

“We are sharpening our focus on the Precision Crafted Performance DNA of the Acura brand and the 2017 MDX will integrate new styling elements and powertrain technology that takes us another step in that direction,” said American Honda Executive Vice President John Mendel in a statement.

Acura’s Super Handling-All Wheel Drive option – SH-AWD for short – has received rave reviews from enthusiasts for torque-vectoring technology that speeds up the outside rear wheel for better rotation through corners.

The new MDX follows on the heels of Honda’s successful redesign of the mid-size Pilot SUV which saw sales soar by 16.2 percent in 2015. Both crossovers share Honda’s small-truck platform. Designed and manufactured in the U.S., the 2017 MDX will add production at Honda’s East Liberty, Ohio facility – expanding from its long-time home in Lincoln, Alabama.

Henry Payne is auto critic for The Detroit News. Find him at or Twitter @HenryEPayne.