Acura preps MDX for major 2017 facelift

Acura promises a heavy refresh of the third-generation, three-row MDX for 2017.

Just a few months after Acura’s Precision Concept sedan made waves with a new design direction for the brand comes plans for the first production vehicle to carry the new styling.

Acura will introduce the 2017 MDX crossover at the New York Auto Show in March. While it’s not an entirely redesigned model, the automaker is promising a heavy refresh of the third-generation, three-row crossover that’s been on sale since 2014.

Acura’s most popular model ever is set to receive a healthy update to exterior and interior styling for the 2017 model year.

The design picks up where the Precision Concept sedan left off at January’s Detroit auto show and foreshadows the look that will eventually spread to Acura’s entire lineup.

“We are sharpening our focus on the Precision Crafted Performance DNA of the Acura brand and the 2017 MDX will integrate new styling elements and powertrain technology that takes us another step in that direction,” John Mendel, executive vice president of American Honda Motor Co., said in a statement.

Honda’s luxury brand could use a shot in the arm. Despite a strong SUV portfolio made up of the MDX and smaller RDX, and a market that gobbled up light trucks, it was Acura’s cars that propelled the brand to a 5.6 percent U.S. sales gain in 2015, with deliveries of 177,165.

Mendel and Jon Ikeda, who was named general manager of Acura last summer, have made it clear they see sedans as a key component to strengthening the brand.

But first Acura needed to tend to its most popular model.

In addition to the new styling, Acura promises the 2017 MDX will have “advanced new powertrain technology,” but declined to elaborate on what that means.

The current model uses a 290-hp, 3.5-liter V-6 engine and nine-speed automatic transmission.

Whether it tweaks that powertrain or adds another to the lineup — perhaps bringing turbocharging or hybridization to the fold — will be known when Acura officially unveils the latest MDX on March 23.

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