The fourth-generation Acura MDX has finally made its debut in the United States after being briefly teased and previewed by a prototype previously. Set to arrive in dealerships from February next year, the MDX is the company’s flagship SUV with three-row seating, and has undergone a thorough redesign.

Four trim levels are offered, starting with the base MDX that is priced at USD46,900 (RM190,813), or USD51,600 (RM209,935) with the Technology Package. Moving up the range, the MDX in A-Spec guise costs USD57,100 (RM232,311), while the costliest trim is the MDX with the Advance Package for USD60,650 (RM246,754).

All trims are powered by a 3.5 litre direct-injected i-VTEC V6 engine rated at 290 hp and 362 Nm of torque, paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission that replaces the nine-speed unit previously. Acura’s Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) system is the default for the A-Spec and Advance Package, but is USD2,000 (RM8,137) option for the base trim and Technology Package.

This range will be expanded to include the performance-focused Type S in late summer 2021, which packs a 3.0 litre turbocharged DOHC V6 putting out an estimated 355 hp and 480 Nm. The range-topper will get a 10-speed auto and SH-AWD as standard, along with 21-inch wheels, Brembo brakes and a 25-speaker, 1,000-watt ELS Studio 3D sound system.

Compared to its predecessor, the latest MDX rides on a new platform and occupies a larger footprint with a length of 5,039 mm (+56 mm) and width of 1,999 mm (+25 mm), while being taller at 1,704 mm (+15 mm). The wheelbase has also grown by 71 mm to 2,890 mm, with both the front and rear tracks increased by 35 mm.

The multi-link rear suspension is retained, but the front ditches the MacPherson struts in favour of double wishbones, which the company says allows for better road handling and a smooth ride. The new platform also comes with enhancements in rigidity thanks to a rigid-mounted subframe that replaces the previous floating-type subframe.

This is said to contribute to a 7% increase in lateral torsion rigidity, while the front dampers are connected to a new cast aluminum housing that is 45% stiffer overall for better noise isolation. The rear body uses a new dual-balanced load path for the rear damper mounting points, contributing to a 41% improvement in stiffness for better noise isolation, and 80% torsion improvement that benefits handling.

Also fitted is an electric power steering system with variable ratios, along with beefier brakes that see the front discs become 2 mm thicker and 30 mm larger in diameter. This provides an 18% increase in heat capacity to better withstand repeated hard stops without brake fade. A new electric brake booster also allows the Collision Mitigation Braking System (CMBS) to react 230 mm faster, reducing the stopping distance from 48 km/h (30 mph) by 12 feet.

All of the above is packaged in a body that has an increased dash-to-axle ratio of four inches, which gives the MDX a cab rearward profile. The more dynamic look is paired with the company’s signature Diamond Pentagon grille, which is flanked by four-element JewelEye LED headlamps with integrated “chicane-style” daytime running lights.

Meanwhile, sculpted sections below the headlamps give the MDX a wider stance and they blend into the fog lamp housings located at the bottom of the bumper. Along the sides, the prominent crease between the wheels were inspired by the wind-shaped rocks in Arizona’s Antelope Canyon, while a prominent shoulder line visually links both ends of the vehicle.

The standard wheels are 19-inch units, but can be upgraded to a 20-inch set on higher trims, the latter featuring in-wheel resonators to reduce road noise when driving over uneven surfaces at highway speeds. Further NVH improvements come from a new tyre developed exclusively for the MDX, featuring a revised rubber compound, construction and tread pattern to reduce rolling resistance by 17%.

The MDX will come in two non-metallic and six premium colours, including two new offerings: Phantom Violet Pearl and Liquid Carbon Metallic. The A-Spec gets an exclusive Apex Blue Pearl finish, along with gloss black accents, darkened lighting units and Shark-Grey wheels.

Moving inside, the MDX gets an entirely new dashboard that bears some similarity to the latest TLX. Clean, horizontal lines create a more cohesive look, which is complemented by pleasant materials used throughout the cabin, such as open-pore wood, brushed aluminium and soft-touch Milano leather.

The previous dual-screen configuration is also gone, with just a single 12.3-inch display for the infotainment system that is linked to a touchpad on the centre console. The system boasts a more powerful CPU and supports AI-driven shortcuts for quick and predictive access to common tasks, as well as Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

Below the largest infotainment screen ever fitted to an Acura are the climate controls and Integrated Dynamics System knob for switching between the Snow, Comfort, Normal and Sport drive modes. Drive-by-wire technology also sees buttons being used to select P, R, N and D/S.

The driver also gets Acura’s Precision Cockpit, where a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster can be configured to display a variety of information. The Advance Package adds on a head-up display that can show critical vehicle alerts, collision warnings, navigation instructions, vehicle speed, and incoming calls and texts.

Other technologies include a 27-scheme ambient lighting system, a wireless charger, plenty of USB charging ports, app-powered CabinControl, CabinTalk, AcuraLink, Alexa support, powered front seats and three speaker setups to choose from.

On the last bit, the base MDX gets a nine-speaker, 350-watt system, while the Technology Package includes an upgraded ELS Studio 12-speaker, 550-watt setup. The fanciest of the bunch comes on the A-Spec and Advance Package, with an ELS Studio 3D system featuring 16 speakers and 710 watts. Both ELS setups are tuned by eight-time Grammy award-winning music producer and sound engineer, Elliot Scheiner.

Of course, the main draw of the MDX is its three-row seating, which can be arranged to accommodate up to seven people with a traditional bench for the second and third rows. If a capacity of six is all you need, the middle seat on the second row can be removed to provide a wide pass-through to the rearmost bench, or folded down to become an armrest with drink holders.

Acura says the third row has been improved with an additional 0.4-inches of headroom, 2.4-inches of legroom and a seating position that’s 2-inches higher from the floor compared to the outgoing model. The standard panoramic sunroof also provides a light and spacious feeling.

There’s also 462 litres of boot space (+42 litres) than before, which expands up to 2,022 litres (+85 litres) with the second- and third-row seats folded down. Adding to the practicality is expanded under-floor storage and the boot floor panel can be dropped lower for even more storage space.

Acura is targeting a five-star NHTSA safety rating, so all MDX trims get the AcuraWatch suite of system as standard. This includes Road Departure Mitigation, Traffic Jam Assist (TJA), Traffic Sign Recognition (TSR), Pedestrian Detection, Driver Attention Monitor, Adaptive Cruise Control with Low Speed Follow, Traffic Jam Assist, Low Speed Braking Control and the aforementioned CBMS.