Acura had alot riding on its shoulders when it unveiled the 2022 Acura MDX Prototype. While the MDX was arguably the more family focused offering of Acura’s SUV lineup, it was also losing ground to some of its rivals in the three row luxury SUV segment. Even though the MDX Prototype is a thinly veiled concept, it does appear to show that the MDX is about to take a big step up in terms of what it can bring to customers. There’s alot to unpack here, but here are some of the key essentials that you should know about the 2022 MDX Prototype.
Design is once again paramount at Acura:
The outgoing MDX had its own interpretation of modern styling, but it wouldn’t be much of a stretch to say that it looked awkward from some angles. The 2022 Prototype’s design is a much more polished affair, with the concept showing alot more curves and creases than ever before. Acura designers chose to make a bold styling statement, with the Prototype being shown in Liquid Carbon and Performance Red. The bold hues also seamlessly sync with the muscular looking hood and the upright grille design that has become synonymous with other recent Acura models. In addition to the grille, the MDX Prototype also arrives with the latest iteration of the company’s signature JewelEye LED headlights and the “chicane” styled LED daytime running lights.
The MDX Prototype also has a bold profile thanks in part to the 21-inch wheels which have been pushed as far towards the corners as possible. This helps create an extra three inches in wheelbase which not only helps improve ride quality, but it also gives passengers in the two rearward rows more room to stretch out and relax.
“The new MDX marks a turning point for Acura as our new flagship and the most far-reaching effort yet to deliver on our Precision Crafted Performance brand promise,” said Jon Ikeda, vice president and Acura brand officer. “We knew we needed to deliver something more emotional and premium with performance at its core. This new MDX builds on the past 20 years of success and elevates the model to an even stronger position in the market.”
Revamped interior relishes in world class details
The MDX has always been viewed as Acura’s flagship SUV offering, and with company reps recently confirming that the MDX will also be the flagship of the brand as a whole (making us concerned about the NSX supercar in the process.) It’s only fitting that the interior has also been reworked to help fit this expanded role even better. It starts with a much cleaner design that also makes use of far higher quality materials, versus other members in the Acura lineup. If it looks like it’s real, chances are it is with the MDX Prototype featuring a tasteful mixture of warm Milano leather accents, shiny metal trim, and even a splash of wood here or there to formally help set the mood. The heated and cooled leather front seats feature 16-way power adjustability and elaborate quilting that really pops with the bold contrast stitching that comes with it. Meanwhile, the instrument cluster features a blend of Ebony and Light Orchid accents, with the treatment also extending its way to the steering wheel (very classy Acura.)
Lighting is also a very paramount design feature in the MDX. While North Korea’s ongoing lighting festival (it exists believe it or not) may be trying its best to bedazzle the world’s eyes, we think that the sheer customization of the MDX’s suite of lights will certainly outclass the Hermit Kingdom. That’s because all of the MDX’s cabin is adorned in LED lighting, and drivers can choose from up to 27 different lighting schemes that are not only tied into the various driving modes, but also reflect select locations from around the world.
But don’t think that the MDX has retreated too far towards the old world luxury that commonly defines Bentley and Rolls Royce products, because there is also a whole platter of new technology that aims to keep the MDX fresh in the minds of young buyers. The Prototype is the first application of Acura’s all new Precision Cockpit technology, which replaces all the physical instruments with a customizable “Driver’s Meter.” The MDX also comes to town with the latest iteration of Acura’s True Touch Pad Interface, with the highlight being a massive 12.3 inch HD capable screen. Acura also claims that a new CPU has helped improve response times when accessing various menus, which would be a welcome bit of progress over some of the lag we experienced in the smaller RDX CUV.
But our favorite feature has to be the all new ELS 3D Studio “Signature Edition” premium audio system that will also make its first appearance in the MDX. Boasting 1000 watts of power and 25 speakers, this system aims to rewrite the way people approach Acura’s stereo technology, and deliver a listening experience that is sharper, clearer, and even more life like than ever before. When we last met Acura’s ELS 3D Studio technology, it was in the RDX prototype, and on that occasion we had the opportunity to have our resident audiophile Emily on hand, who promptly fell in love with it when she had a chance to listen to it. Will that mean a repeat performance when we have the chance to sample an MDX? Only time will tell.
Type S model and refined V6 performance are coming:
All of this wouldn’t mean very much if the MDX didn’t have the muscle to help broadcast its world shattering expectations, and here, Acura delivered. The Japanese luxury car brand did not release horsepower numbers, but did confirm that the 3.5 liter V6 will resume its role as the base engine in the MDX lineup, with the engine being paired to a 10 speed automatic transmission. However, the company was willing to share a bit more in regards to the Type S model which will arrive with a 3.0 liter turbocharged V6 which is good for 355 horsepower and 354 lb-ft of torque. This engine will have the distinction of being the most powerful engine to be ever equipped to an Acura product, and the spunky six cylinder will be paired to a new iteration of the company’s Super Handling All-Wheel Drive system (SH-AWD.)
The 2022 MDX will debut an all new light truck based platform that has been built tor truly be the best of all worlds. Not only will it deliver sharp athletic handling, but also the smooth ride quality and quiet that luxury buyers expect from a luxury SUV. The MDX Prototype also confirms something of an innovation for the MDX, with this iteration being the first one in the brand’s history to come equipped with double front wishbone suspension. Acura reps claim that they wanted the MDX to be able to handle Type S levels of performance, and it would seem that they are very serious on achieving that goal with additions like this.
When Can I Buy One?
As is the case with Acura’s other prototype concepts, the MDX should appear in its final production form later this year, before eventually going on sale early next year. We hope to hear more about pricing for the production version of the MDX, as well as final fuel economy numbers. For the moment, it appears that this generation of MDX will not offer a hybrid option like the outgoing one, so it will be interesting to see how Acura engineers have managed to make the departure of that particular variant not as noticeable.
Carl Malek has been an automotive journalist for over 10 years. First starting out as a freelance photographer before making the transition to writing during college, his work has appeared on numerous automotive forums as well as websites such as Autoshopper.com.
Carl is also a big fan of British vehicles with the bulk of his devotion going to the Morgan Motor Company as well as offerings from Lotus, MG, and Caterham. When he is not writing about automobiles, Carl enjoys spending time with his family and friends in the Metro Detroit area, as well as spending time with his adorable pets.