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Auto blogFri, 31 May 2013 11:57:00 EST
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.
The fully redesigned 2014 MDX goes on sale in July, and Acura has now confirmed that its largest crossover will be priced at $42,290 (*plus $895 for destination). Unlike previous MDX models, Acura will offer the 2014 model with both front- and all-wheel drive (the automaker's fantastic Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive, at that), and this base price is for the standard, two-wheel-drive MDX model. At the base level, this new pricing represents a $990 decrease over the outgoing, AWD-only 2013 model.
Four trim levels will be offered across the range, all of which use Acura's direct-injected 3.5-liter V6 engine good for 290 horsepower and 267 pound-feet of torque, mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. Standard features include things like push-button start, Acura's fancy new Jewel Eye LED headlights, the next-generation AcuraLink system, an eight-inch multi-function display screen, blind spot monitoring and a premium sound system.
Moving up from there, the Technology package ($46,565) gains 19-inch wheels (18s are standard), forward collision warning, lane departure warning, a color TFT display, rain-sensing wipers and more. The Entertainment Package (bundled into one $48,565 model) adds rear seat entertainment to all of that. At the top end, the MDX Advance model gets unique wheels, remote engine start, 12-speaker ELS premium audio, adaptive cruise control and more. Adding Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive to any of these models results in a $2,000 price jump.
Honda today confirmed that the forthcoming Acura NSX hybrid supercar will be built at a brand-new facility in Ohio. This will be the company's third plant in Ohio, and will come as the result of a $70 million investment. Honda first hinted that NSX production would be coming to Ohio when the original concept car was revealed at the 2012 Detroit Auto Show.
Honda's new facility, called the Performance Manufacturing Center, will encompass a 184,000-square foot space inside of the automaker's former North American Logistics building and will employ 100 associates. As you might expect, the Performance Manufacturing Center is located just a few miles from Honda's American-based R&D facility, as well as the Marysville auto plant, where production of the 2014 Accord Hybrid will kick off this fall.
"The location of this facility is in the midst of one of the greatest collections of engineering and production talent in the world. So it makes sense that we will renew the dream and build this high-tech, supercar in Marysville, Ohio," said Hidenobu Iwata, president and CEO of Honda of America, in a press release.
Honda plans to storm the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb on June 30, entering ten cars in nine classes at the race to the sky, and signing on as a corporate sponsor. Part of the company's return to grassroots racing - if that's what you can call factory-backed efforts - the banners of Honda R&D and Honda North America will fly on these entries: a first-gen Acura NSX, an Acura TL SH-AWD, Honda CR-Z, Honda Fit EV, one CRF450R and two CRF250R motorcycles, a CBR1000RR motorcycle and a TRX450 ATV.
One more entry, details of which are to be announced later, will be driven by IndyCar pilot Simon Pagenaud of Schmidt Hamilton HP Motorsports. LoveFab (pictured above during practice last year) will be there with its new, NSX-based Enviate, but as a privateer entry.
Honda's been to the mountain before, with high-powered gear in 2012 and record-setting EVs in 1994 and 1999, but it's never made noise like this. Have a read of the press release below for more info.
We're not saying Acura should off their Concept SUV-X for sale as-is, we're just saying we'd like to see Acuras that are interesting to look at on the outside, rather than just being packed full of technology on the inside. Revealed at the Shanghai Motor Show, the Concept SUV-X joins other compact high-rollers like the MG CS concept as an entrant for China's compact SUV segment.
But this won't be a concept forever. Acura says that the SUV-X is the precursor to a production offering from the brand in China that will come "in about three years." A presser below sheds a little more light on this and the Chinese version of the RLX that will go on sale in a few months, and there's a short video detailing some of the concept's finer points, as well.
Honda has announced a recall over a possible rollaway risk that affects 204,169 crossover and minivan models. The specific vehicles in question are the 2012-13 Honda CR-V and Odyssey, as well as the 2013 Acura RDX.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, "the brake-shift interlock blocking mechanism may become slow and allow the gear selector to be moved from the Park position without pressing the brake pedal." In other words, these vehicles could unintentionally roll away.
NHTSA states that this scenario may only happen during sub-freezing temperatures, but notes that this means the vehicles fail to conform with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 114: Theft Protection and Rollaway Prevention. Honda will notify owners of the problem, and dealerships will install an updated interlocking mechanism free of charge.
The short life of the Acura ILX has been vexed by one glaringly odd standard equipment choice, mediocre reviews, getting outsold by its competition as it posted slower-than-projected sales and a pledge by Honda to upgrade its supposedly upgraded offering. Therefore, when Automotive News reports that just 91 of the Civic-based Acura sedans were manufactured last month - after a string of production months in double-digits - it would be easy to press the button for the alarm bells.
But that would be hasty, because it is actually the 2013 Honda Civic that is crimping the production pipeline of the ILX. The vastly higher sales numbers of the Honda meant that all three North American plants that produce it needed to crank up output to satisfy dealer inventory needs, including the Greenburg, Indiana plant that makes both the Civic and the ILX. As the classic guns-vs-butter Economy 101 lesson taught us - in which making more of one necessarily means making less of the other - well, the Civic is the gun.
Honda prepared for this eventuality by cranking out the Acuras while it got ready for Civic production. The ILX has held steady at about 500 units shy of company projections every month, and the current inventory represents about 90 days worth of sales. That makes Greenburg's ostensibly low numbers in line with the realities of the ILX, and the situation probably won't change much as Acura gets ready for the improved 2014 ILX.
Coming off a complete redesign for 2013, the second model year the second-generation Acura RDX has received a few tweaks to its equipment packaging and a slight increase in pricing for 2014. With all models receiving a price hike of $200, the 2014 RDX will now have a base price of $34,520 (*not including $895 for destination).
New for the 2014 RDX, Acura has included even more technology to the standard models, including a push-button starter, rear-view camera and an updated audio system that delivers Pandora Internet radio, SMS text messaging and Active Noise Control. Buyers will still be able to add all-wheel drive and the optional Technology Package. Scroll down for a press release breaking down more features of the 2014 RDX and complete model pricing.
With the Shanghai Motor Show coming up later this month, Honda has released a couple of teaser sketches for two concept vehicles that will be making global debuts. Aside from the renderings, there is no information about either the Honda or Acura concept vehicles, but we can tell that both are some sort of utility vehicle, be they of crossover or people-mover variety.
The text for both images indicates that both concepts show future products that will be launched in China, but there is no mention as to what other markets the automaker has planned for these vehicles. In addition to these two concepts, the NSX Concept and 2014 RLX from Acura will make their Chinese debuts, and Honda says it "will display models substantially identical to the mass-production version of the Concept C and Concept S." The Concept C is will be a "middle-class" sedan built for China, and the Concept S, an MPV that will primarily serve China as well.
LoveFab had a rough run at Pikes Peak 2012. During qualifying on Day Two, owner and professional driver Cody Loveland launched his car off of the course at nearly 60 miles per hour. Never ones to be dismayed by a few bruised ribs and some busted body panels, LoveFab is headed back to the hill climb for 2013, and this year, it's bringing Garrett along as a title sponsor.
Loveland's chariot of choice is officially dubbed "Turbo by Garrett/LoveFab Pikes Peak Enviate" and is loosely based on an Acura NSX. All of the stock Japanese components have been swapped for LoveFab-built pieces with the exception of the subframes and suspension.
With a dry-sump LS1 V8, chromoly-tube chassis and a full carbon fiber body, the car is about as wild as they come. With around 800 pound-feet of torque on hand and a curb weight of under 2,000 pounds, the machine should give the mountain a run for its money. The team is expected to begin testing Enviate beginning May 1. You can check out a quick interview with Loveland in the video below along with the full press release.