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article details
Author Jeff Palmer
Categories TOV Road Test, MDX
Create Date September 11, 2006 09:05
Last Update September 14, 2006 14:05
Intro

Nemacolin Woodlands Resort, PA
Frank Paluch wants to make an impression. As the Large Project Leader (or Principal Engineer) for the 2007 MDX, he wants the world to know that Acura is serious when they say that the new 2007 MDX is a performer. To illustrate this point, in his presentation to our assembled group of automotive scribes there's lots of talk about how a team of MDX engineers spent several weeks in Germany, fine tuning the chassis on the famed Nurburgring circuit and the autobahn. Additionally, as the souvenir pin on Frank's lapel declares, the MDX team also spent some time shaking down the MDX on the most famous segment of US Highway 129, and coincidentally one of our own favorite test venues - The Tail of the Dragon. Frank laments the fact that their testing on the Dragon concluded only one day before BMW arrived to test their next generation X5. He believes the 2007 MDX would have raised quite a few eyebrows. In any case, we're glad to know that Acura utilized the Tail of the Dragon for such purposes and hope to see this practice continue.

Frank is clearly proud of his latest project. The whole time he's delivering his presentation, a smile is constantly lurking behind his words. When queried about certain aspects of the product, his animated gestures provided emphasis on just how much he has personally invested into the 2007 MDX. Considering the success of the MDX (it's the #2 overall seller for Acura), Frank has good reason to be excited. To the existing formula, the 2007 MDX brings another 47hp and 25lb-ft of torque, not to mention SH-AWD, bold styling, Honda's ACE body structure, a 5000lb towing capacity, a comprehensive list of luxury features, and an available active damper system.

Frank's team hasn't forgotten what made the MDX such a success - its combination of luxury and utility has been fortified with more luxury, style, and performance. Acura calls the seating capacity 4+3 - the outboard seats in the 2nd row are bolstered like bucket seats, to place further emphasis on the sport aspect of the new MDX as well as enhancing comfort. And now, these rear outboard seats are even heated if you opt for the Entertainment Package. While the MDX has grown slightly in every dimension except height, overall interior volume is actually reduced a negligible amount, from 142.9 cu. ft. to 142.2 cu. ft.

Beyond the impressive list of enhancements is the fact that MDX has barely gained any weight, with the heaviest 2007 MDX outweighing the 2006 Touring model by only 41lbs. To achieve this, Acura managed to trim weight in several key areas. The larger motor weighs 17.2lbs less than last year's 3.5L model, thanks to a combination of details including magnesium cylinder head covers, a 2-piece aluminum cast-magnesium intake manifold, integrated exhaust manifolds, and hollow camshafts. An increase in the use of high-strength steel, magnesium, and aluminum components (including an all-aluminum hood and aluminum suspension components) have improved body strength while saving weight as well, helping offset the added mass of the ACE body structure components.

The MDX is offered with more trim levels than just about any Honda or Acura in recent memory, starting with the base package and then layering on "Tech", "Sport" and "Entertainment" packages.

The base model starts out with a lengthy list of standard items, including an excellent 253-watt 8-speaker audio system, tri-zone climate control system with humidity control, power operated front seats (10-way for the driver and 8-way for the passenger) and steering wheel with a memory function for the driver's seat, steering wheel, external mirror positions, Bluetooth handsfree link system, Homelink, SH-AWD, 18" wheels, and a 300hp, 275lb-ft 3.7L V6.

Opt for the Technology Package and to that list you can add Acura's excellent navigation system with a large 8" display, Acuralink and realtime traffic, rear-view camera, and a 410-watt 10-speaker Acura/ELS Surround Sound system with multiformat in-dash 6CD/DVD-Audio changer. If you desire a DVD-based rear entertainment system with a 9" TFT display, wireless headsets, and 110V outlet, be sure to tick the box for the "Entertainment Package". You might be entertained to discover that this package also includes the aforementioned heated outboard rear (2nd row) seats. And if your idea of fun includes watching a tailgate open and close at the touch of a button, then you'll be thrilled to know that the entertainment package also includes a remote power-operated tailgate. The Entertainment Package can be ordered along with either the Technology or the Sport Package. In the "what took so long?" category, on navi-equipped models, the Handsfree Link system finally supports a phonebook import function, with the capacity to store up to 1000 entries with up to 10 telephone numbers per entry.

The one package that carries the single most important feature of all is the Sport Package. The feature of great importance is Acura's wonderful active damper system. But beyond that, the Sport Package includes everything that the Technology Package offers, plus an upgrade to the finest leather upholstery currently offered in any Acura, high-damping front-seat cushion foam, a handsomely exclusive 18" alloy wheel design, auto leveling Xenon HID headlights, and "textured metallic accents" on the radio, cupholder, and shifter console trim.

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