FARMINGTON, Pa. -- When Acura introduced the RDX crossover in August, its executives said they were going after BMW customers. Now the redesigned MDX is stalking the same customer.
"All-wheel drive is the cornerstone of dynamic driving on this vehicle," engineer Jason Widmer said at a press event here. The BMW X5 is the "key competitor."
The basics: The MDX, designed in the United States, is on a new light-duty truck platform. The predecessor shared a platform with the Honda Odyssey minivan. The exterior, inspired by the WallyPower 118 performance yacht, is longer, lower and wider than its predecessor and sits on 18-inch wheels. The aggressive fascia sports a grille that is 30 percent larger than the 2006 model.
Notable features: The engine has the largest displacement of any Acura. It makes 300 hp and 275 pounds-feet of torque and is mated to a five-speed automatic transmission than can operate in the manual mode.
The all-wheel-drive system is similar to the one on the RL sedan and the RDX. It distributes torque between the front and rear axles and between the left and right wheels.
Towing capacity is at 5,000 pounds vs. 2,000 for the 2006 model. A sensor detects and corrects load sway.
The MDX seats seven. The first and second rows have two heated bucket seats. The second and third rows fold flat, providing 83.5 cubic feet of storage.
A new humidity control system can monitor interior and exterior air to maximize use of the air-conditioning system, boosting fuel economy.
What Acura says: "A family sport luxury SUV is what we're trying to achieve," chief engineer Frank Paluch said. "We want driving excitement, prestige and stealth utility."
Compromises and shortcomings: Acura still is not likely to attract those BMW customers who want a V-8. The X5 offers two V-8s: a 315-hp 4.4-liter and a 355-hp 4.8-liter.
The market: The MDX is in the midpremium crossover segment, which Acura expects to grow about 26 percent by 2011.
Besides the X5, Acura benchmarked the Volvo XC90 for utility and packaging and the Lexus RX 330 for luxury.
Paluch said the No. 1 customer of the 2006 model was a mom who bought the vehicle for packaging, safety and value. With the new model, he wants to keep the mom and attract more men and performance enthusiasts.
The MDX reaches showrooms Sept. 28. Prices will range from an estimated $41,000 to $48,000. The company expects annual sales of about 60,000.
The skinny: The 2007 MDX comes to the table with good looks, lots of power and safety. It's an open question whether that's enough to convert the BMW crowd.
You may e-mail Kathy Jackson at [email protected]