PORTLAND, Ore. -- Honda says current Acura MDX owners asked for simpler controls, a lighter steering touch, a quieter interior with higher quality materials and better third-row access.
A front-wheel-drive version would be nice, too.
For the 2014 redesign, which goes on sale in July, American Honda's luxury brand says it has done all that, while stretching the wheelbase by nearly 3 inches, adding 2 inches in overall length and narrowing the MDX by 1.3 inches.
The basics: The MDX seven-seat crossover is the lead platform vehicle for the next generation of Honda light trucks, including the Honda Pilot and Odyssey.
The 3.5-liter, 290-hp V-6, mated to a six-speed automatic, gets 20/28 mpg in front-wheel-drive setup and 18/27 mpg with all-wheel drive.
The rear suspension design has changed from a trailing-arm setup to a multilink design with amplitude reactive dampers and hydraulic subframe bushings. In addition to improving packaging, the suspension design change also allows the second-row step-in height to be lowered by 2 inches.
The Super Handling All-Wheel Drive unit still shifts power from 90-10 to 30-70 front/rear bias, as well as full emphasis on either the left or right side. The system also now uses the brakes for torque control when entering a corner, then transitions to engine throttle torque vectoring when exiting the corner.
The old hydraulic steering system has been replaced with an electronic power-steering rack, with a thicker steering shaft that has reduced friction and a quicker turning ratio.
Notable features: Acura shaved 123 pounds from the body in white, 26 pounds from the rear suspension, 44 pounds from the seats, 15 pounds from the subframes and 10 pounds from the climate control systems. The MDX now weighs 1,046 pounds less than an Audi Q7.
Nearly 60 percent of the car is high-strength steel, as Acura chose not to use expensive and exotic materials such as aluminum. The front door structure is a one-piece, hot-stamped frame. Most other crossovers' frames use separate pieces that are hot-stamped and then welded together.
Answering a customer complaint, the 41 buttons in the center console were reduced to nine, thanks to a touch-screen and scroll-wheel setup.