The Acura MDX Prototype previews the next-gen SUV, including a 355-horsepower Type S model

The seven-year-old, third-generation Acura MDX is going out of production in 2020. The Japanese firm is making way for a new-generation model that will debut in 2021 for the 2022 model year. Before we can see the real thing, Acura gives us a preview with the MDX Prototype, essentially a production-ready concept. The prototype SUV showcases a wider, sportier exterior, a more modern interior with better tech, and a new platform with a double-wishbone front suspension.

The next-generation Acura MDX looks bolder, sportier

Acura MDX Prototype - The Future of Acura Has Arrived Exterior
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The upcoming MDX isn’t a radical departure in terms of design

. It remains familiar, even when compared to the outgoing model, featuring the same big grille up front, flanked by angular headlamps.

But the lights are thinner now, while the lower bumper had been reconfigured to include a wider center vent and triangular daytime running lights with chrome trim. The front fascia also feels wider now, which translates into a sportier look.

The profile looks decidedly different thanks to a heavily sculpted side skirt area and slightly beefier fenders. Acura also redesigned the quarter window, now featuring an almost triangular design. The roof retains the coupe-like design toward the back. Just like the front fascia, the rear end boasts narrower taillights. It also features a larger trapezoidal license plate recess and a sportier bumper with a diffuser-like element at the bottom.

Acura MDX Prototype - The Future of Acura Has Arrived Exterior
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The prototype features a three-inch longer wheelbase than the outgoing MDX, a feature that should remain in place on the production model. It rides on 21-inch wheels, likely to be optional on the final product. Although it’s just a prototype, this SUV should go into production with minimal changes.

Brand-new exterior with enhanced luxury and tech

Acura MDX Prototype - The Future of Acura Has Arrived Interior
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While the exterior of the upcoming MDX remains familiar, the interior is a different story.

Redesigned from the ground up, it's more sophisticated and looks a lot better than the usual Acura cabin.

The dashboard is lower to provide a better view of the road, and the upper section is wrapped in leather with high-quality stitching. The SUV features new sports seats with sculpted sides up front and curvilinear quilting for all three rows. Acura previews open-pore wood trim with infused metallic flake, polished aluminum, and soft-touch Milano leather. The steering wheel is wrapped in two-tone leather combining Ebony and Light Orchid.

Acura MDX Prototype - The Future of Acura Has Arrived Interior
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The prototype debuts Acura’s Precision Cockpit, an all-new, all-digital instrument cluster measuring 12.3 inches on the tech front. The display is backed by the True Touchpad Interface, a 12.3-inch infotainment display mounted atop the center dashboard. There’s also a premium audio system with 25 speakers and more than 1,000 watts of power and enhanced safety features like Road Departure Mitigation, Traffic Jam Assist, and Low-Speed Braking Control.

The Acura MDX will feature two engines, include a performance Type S model

Acura MDX Prototype - The Future of Acura Has Arrived Exterior
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The fourth-generation MDX will debut with a 3.5-liter V-6 under the hood.

There are no power ratings available, but it should deliver a bit more than the previous unit, rated at 290 horsepower and 267 pound-feet of torque.

The engine will mate to a 10-speed automatic instead of the old nine-speed gearbox. The other engine is a turbocharged, 3.0-liter V-6. Available for the Type S model, it cranks out 355 horsepower and 354 pound-feet of twist. Delivering an extra 34 horses and 65 pound-feet over the old 3.0-liter, it’s the most powerful engine ever offered in an Acura SUV. The Type S will come standard with SH-AWD system.

The fourth-generation MDX will also ride on a brand-new platform that lighter and provides enhanced comfort and handling. The most rigid MDX to date, it also features a double-wishbone front suspension that delivers sporty handling and improved road holding. Stopping power comes from Brembo brakes at all four corners, but these will be standard on the Type S model only.

The fourth-generation Acura MDX arrives at dealers in 2021

Acura MDX Prototype - The Future of Acura Has Arrived Exterior
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The brand-new SUV will arrive in U.S. dealerships in early 2021. The Type S model will follow in the summer of 2021. Expect it to start from around $46,000, a bit more than the outgoing MDX.

Ciprian Florea
Senior Editor and Supercar Expert - ciprian@topspeed.com
Ciprian's passion for everything with four wheels (and more) started back when he was just a little boy, and the Lamborghini Countach was still the coolest car poster you could hang on your wall. Ciprian's career as a journalist began long before earning a Bachelor's degree, but it was only after graduating that his love for cars became a profession.  Read More
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