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Auto blogWed, 10 Jul 2013 11:57:00 EST
This Is Not The Acura You're Looking For
Mid-level luxury brands have always had to do a bit of leg work to distance themselves from their more common cousins. Thanks to generation after generation of pervasive badge engineering (much of it from the Big Three), buyers can't be blamed for looking at brands like Buick, Lincoln, Infiniti, Lexus and yes, Acura as tarted up versions of Chevrolet, Ford, Nissan, Toyota and Honda products. For much of its lifetime in the automotive landscape, however, Acura has excelled at putting distance between its offerings and that of its parent company thanks to cars with superior driving dynamics, quieter cabins and clean, attractive aesthetics.
Yes, outliers and dull spots can be found in the company's recent track record, but by and large, Acura products remain situated well above the Honda rabble. When the brand announced it was getting serious about the luxury small car game with the ILX, those of us with a set of the company's keys in our past couldn't help but envision an honest successor to the long-dead Integra. Turns out, that wasn't what Acura had in mind.
Yep, it's the new MDX. And despite being totally redone, it looks exactly like we expected. That is, it's an up-sized version of the RDX crossover with fancy LED lights stolen from the RLX sedan. And while that might not sound too exciting, we have to say, it is handsome - certainly a more cohesive, refined design than the angular, beak-tastic model that's currently on sale.
Acura is calling this 2014 MDX a prototype, but that's only because it isn't 100-percent finished. Everything you see here will likely carry over to production, maybe with a couple small tweaks. Under the hood is the same 3.5-liter V6 that we know and love from the Honda group, and while we don't have power figures just yet, Acura says it will deliver more torque while improving efficiency. In redesigning the MDX, the Japanese automaker has managed to lighten and stiffen the chassis, improving driving dynamics. More interestingly, for the first time Acura will offer a front-wheel-drive version of the MDX, but don't worry, the automaker's SH-AWD all-wheel drive will be available.
Inside, the usual smattering of tech goodies will be on hand, including the next-generation AcuraLink system, satellite radio, tons of comfort amenities and every single alphabetic safety device known to man (okay, maybe not all of them).
Mariano Rivera, considered one of Major League Baseball's best relief and closing pitchers, bought an Acura when he debuted in the major leagues in 1995, and has owned nothing but Acuras since. So it was only natural for the New York Acura Dealers group to strike up a partnership. The fruits of the deal can be seen in the latest New York Acura commercial, called "Legends," which stars Rivera and Acuras new and old. It's narrated by actor Steve Schirripa, who played Bobby "Bacala" Baccalieri in HBO's The Sopranos.
"The spots are a nod to Acura's history and the years it overlapped with Mariano's career," says Scott Rodgers, chief creative officer at Tier10, the ad agency that developed the campaign's concept. With the "Legends" campaign, Rivera and the New York Acura Dealers continue a partnership that has provided $800,000 to the pitcher's charity, the Mariano Rivera Foundation.
The hardest part of the commercial was was finding the cars to star in it, according to Douglas Sonders, co-founder of 8112 Studios, the production company that shot the commercial. "Social media saved the day for us," he says. "After days of cold calls and e-mails to all of our contacts, we ended up sourcing everything we needed in 24 hours after asking our online contacts for assistance."