With striking styling that looks more Germanic than Japanese, the 2007 Acura MDX succeeds at being bold yet cleanly styled. Inside, the MDX looks just as good thanks in part to top-quality leather, but the control layout is a bit daunting at first.
Acura stylists spent time in Milan and St. Moritz before returning to America and putting pen to paper to design the 2007 MDX, visits to these land-locked European cities having wrought the decision that a futuristic luxury super yacht would be the inspiration for the new SUV because it represented the “purest expression of luxury and performance.” Perhaps you were expecting the four-wheeled equivalent of Atomic skis or a Caraceni suit? Whaddaya think, mon, these guys went to the Carribean?
Acura wanted the MDX to be bold and clean, a luxury sports sedan combined with truck-like utility. The front end is certainly bold, with a distinctive Acura five-point grille, coupled with a tapered profile and tail that evoke the Audi Q7 and Mercedes-Benz GL-Class in equal doses. Add in the sexy fender blisters (and really, how often are blisters referred to as sexy?), and the end result is an SUV that looks anything but Japanese. Standard wheels on the MDX are decorative brushed aluminum, while Sport models have a unique design in a tinted silver, which I don’t like much because they just look dirty all the time.
Longer and wider than the competition from BMW, Lexus, and Volvo – and lower than the old MDX – this new Acura is riding on a completely new platform that isn’t shared with any other Acura or Honda product…yet. Profitability in the automotive sector is usually dependent on platform and component sharing, and we wouldn’t be surprised to see the next generation Honda Pilot’s DNA strand imprinted with MDX. The Acura’s body makes healthy use of high-strength steel and aluminum; 60.4 percent vs. 13 percent for the old model. People concerned about the environment should know that 90 percent of the MDX’s parts can be recycled.
For the MDX’s interior design, stylists spent months in Antarctic research labs to see how complex electronics could successfully intersect with austere, simple environments. Nah, just kidding. They did, however, devise a “4+3 philosophy,” though technically the MDX seats eight if two people are unfortunate enough to get crammed into the center sections of the second and third rows. Speaking of the third row, it comes with nested headrests so there’s no need to remove them before flattening the seatbacks for added cargo space.
As for the dashboard, Acura wanted it to be stylish, but not at the expense of functionality. Designers settled on a driver-focused cockpit and what they called a “personal passenger zone.” In practical everyday use, getting used to the control layout is a bit daunting at first. There are many buttons and labels on the MDX’s instrument panel, but an owner would quickly acclimate to the simple, well-marked buttons and control knobs. The stereo – which in the Technology Package rocks with crisp, clean, crystal clear sound – and the climate control are not bundled with the navigation system, a design choice that adds to the perceived clutter. Still, I’d rather have a bunch of hard keys and knobs to push and twist than menus through which to scroll and sift.
For its part, the navigation system is very easy to use and program, more so than expected given the real estate separating the controller and the eight-inch screen. Once you learn the proper voice prompts, the navigation system can be programmed by voice, but a control toggle, and by the touch-screen – your choice.
Acura infuses the 2007 MDX with quality materials, but the wood trim is obviously fake. For a price that can approach $50,000, we think real wood should be on the menu. What’s not on the menu is a keyless ignition system, which is no big deal to the people on our staff but might not meet the needs of the people who might actually buy the MDX. Leather upholstery is standard – sorry, PETA – and Acura went out of its way to ensure that the hides possessed a natural texture. Sport models get perforated leather that Acura says is the best quality in its class.