Three-row SUVs live thankless lives. They are the automotive equivalent of the old puffer jacket you keep at the back of the closest because it’s good to have when you really need it. They are the scratched and dented Oris diver you wear on days you know you’ll be doing some heavy lifting. They are the pair of boots that get you through the slushiest, nastiest winter days. You get the picture: Three-row SUVs are workhorses, the thinking man’s minivan.
Except, it seems that nobody told Acura because their all-new, three-row MDX looks capital-P Plush. Just look at the intricate, immaculate, perfectly symmetrical “curvilinear” stitch work on the perforated leather seats. Nice, right? Now look at the third-row seats. They have the same level of craftsmanship – nobody does that. It’s like the Raptors paying their bench warmers the same as they pay starters like Lowry. Everywhere you look, that’s the story with the new MDX.
The whole cabin, featuring the next-gen version of Acura’s Precision Cockpit, is a bit… extra. The centre console has more buttons and twist knobs than your dad’s old stereo receiver, and they’re all built into a high-tech-looking, sculptural console. The open pore wood trim is sprinkled with miniscule metal flakes.
But now, the Precision Cockpit has gone fully digital, too. New tech, like the the 12.3 inch customizable screen replacing analog instrumentation, and another high-def 12.3 screen mounted on the dashboard, makes for a sleek experience. It’ll all run seamlessly thanks to a faster CPU.
The flagship stereo should sound as good (or better) than what’s in your living room. The “Signature Edition” ELS STUDIO 3D premium audio system has more than 1,000 watts, 22 discrete channels and 25 speakers, including six ceiling-mounted speakers and six carbon-fibre coned mid-range woofers, two of which are in the front console. It’s all been tuned by eight-time Grammy winning producer and engineer, Elliot Scheiner. (Google him)
The new MDX doesn’t just look plush inside, but outside, too. We were pleasantly surprised by the new design direction the brand is taking. It’s clean, but not boring; fresh, but not ridiculous. (See also: the new TLX). The matte Liquid Carbon paint is very pretty, as are those 21-inch rims.
For such a large machine – the wheelbase is stretched three inches compared to the previous version – it seems lower and wider with a more athletic stance, especially compared to other three-row utes. The extra size benefits legroom in all three rows, as well as giving more headroom to the driver.
Under the hood is a big V6, paired with a 10-speed ‘box and all-wheel drive. A Type-S version is the one we’d really want though, with a 3.0-litre turbocharged V6, good for 355 hp and 354 lb-ft of torque.
Now, this whole story does come with an asterisk since, technically, the MDX you see here is the MDX Prototype. But, Acura Prototypes have a long history of making it into showrooms as-is with only the most minor of tweaks. What you see here is roughly 99 per cent what you’ll see in showrooms early next year when the all-new MDX arrives for real.