BBC Autos

Marginalised, Acura MDX aims for distinction

About the author

Deputy editor of BBC Autos, Jonathan was formerly the editor of The New York Times' Wheels blog. His automotive writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times Magazine, Details, Surface, Intersection and Design Observer. He has an affinity for the Citroën DS and Toyota pickup trucks of the early 1990s.

HIDE CAPTION

The luxury crossover segment has emerged as one of the most cutthroat arenas in the industry.

But as the 2014 MDX demonstrated on 27 March at the New York auto show, a distinctive body is not a prerequisite to compete.

The seven-passenger vehicle was previewed in “prototype” guise at the 2013 Detroit auto show in January, and true to form, Honda’s luxury subsidiary changed little outwardly in the intervening months.

Even to an informed eye, the silhouette seems to copy the outgoing MDX note for note, save for a strip of LEDs here or there. For buyers who can reserve their enthusiasm for engineering, however, the MDX impresses.

More than 230lbs were excised in the 2014 model’s creation, providing the basis for a more nimble and efficient machine. Both front- and all-wheel-drive MDXs are powered by the company’s 3.5-litre V6 engine, rated at 290 horsepower, yielding manufacturer-estimated combined fuel-economy ratings of 23mpg and 21mpg, respectively.

A welcome inheritance from Honda’s renewed interest in cabin design is one of the cleanest centre stacks in the industry, comprised of a 7in touchscreen and just nine hard buttons on its periphery. The takeaway is one of functionality and cleanliness.

Jeff Conrad, vice president and general manager at Acura, likened the MDX during his introductory speech to “an executive-class family jet.” If an Embraer merely represents the notion of a private jet, then the MDX inhabits the generic classifier “luxury crossover” just as smoothly – if unmemorably.

Acura dealerships will take delivery of the MDX this summer, at pricing to be announced closer to its sale date.