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Auto blogTue, 16 Oct 2012 18:44:00 EST
While the often misunderstood (and infrequently purchased) Acura ZDX may be going the way of the dinosaur, the company's far more conventional and successful MDX SUV is evolving. In fact, the 2014 MDX seems to be coming along rather nicely, if this latest set of spy images is any indication.
In the camouflaged prototype we see here, it is evident that Acura designers are going for a beefier look for the MDX front end. The current car's pointed and beaked nose are nowhere in evidence on this tester, though some version of Acura's prominent shield grille does seem to remain.
It's a bit difficult to tell if the shape of the glasshouse is much revised on this new car, as the camo is applied in such a fashion as to obscure the post C-pillar design. But it does seem as though, when we look hard at the full-profile shots of the MDX, that the wheel-arch bulges and side character lines of the current vehicle have been replaced with much simpler surfacing.
Honda and Acura North America have announced a major restructuring of operations in hopes of turning around Acura's flagging business. For 2013, sales for Acura's sedans dropped 10.4 percent, while its CUV sales grew by 21 percent. The newly formed Acura Business Planning Office will attempt to right the ship.
As part of the restructuring, Acura is promoting Erik Berkman from President of Honda R&D Americas to lead a new division called the Acura Business Planning Office. Berkman has been with Honda since 1982 and led development of the 2006 Accord. He was also the first US engineer to head North American research and development and has been head of Honda Performance Development since 2008. "Erik's appointment to the new Acura Business Planning Office is a clear indication of the high priority we place on Acura," said Honda spokesperson Jeffrey Smith to Automotive News.
American Honda Motor President and CEO Tetsuo Iwamura is also going to be working to improve the business. He has been elected chairman of American Honda's board, and has simultaneously taken the new position of Corporate Brand Officer to improve the management of the company's brands.
Refinement Rather Than Revolution
Before we get into the meat and potatoes of the 2014 Acura MDX, let's pause for just a moment and talk about the current, still-sitting-at-dealerships 2013 model. It's a pretty good machine. Perhaps guilty only of falling to the backburners of our minds in recent years because, well, the old girl's not gotten any younger. But every time we drove this second-generation MDX, our thoughts were the same - good to drive, pleasant to sit in and a pretty decent value.
Acura's customers felt the same way, and so when it came time to design and engineer the third-generation MDX, the vehicle's formula wasn't shaken up at all. Despite the fact that it uses a brand-new platform and offers a host of upgrades, the key points addressed by the company's engineers were the specific requests of customers and shoppers in the segment - changes that amounted to nothing radical. After all, if it ain't broke, don't fix it.