2022 Acura MDX Prototype Previews Brand’s First Type S Crossover, Sharp New Styling

Acura confirms the MDX's performance variant will go into production, packing turbo V-6 power

The Acura MDX will enter its fourth generation next year. (Photos: Acura)

Acura debuted its flagship MDX Prototype Wednesday, previewing the styling and performance that will accompany the fourth-generation model early next year. This model isn’t just a step up in looks and technology, as a turbocharged MDX Type S variant is also coming to strengthen the three-row crossover’s position against its European rivals.

The 2022 Acura MDX offers up more athletic styling than its predecessor, like the new TLX sedan also managed. Its grille is more upright, while the Jewel Eye LED headlights get new “Chicane” daytime running lights as part of the styling revamp. The MDX’s body is longer and lower in this generation, while Acura says the greenhouse has been moved further back. To that end, the new model has a 6-inch longer dash-to-axle dimension than the old crossover. The new MDX also has a 3-inch longer wheelbase, while also pushing the 21-inch wheels closer to the corners of the car.

While we already had a taster of its interior, the 2022 Acura MDX gets a radical overhaul to match its exterior styling. Most of its components will look familiar to those who have seen the new TLX and the current-generation RDX crossover. In this prototype, there’s a mix of Ebony and Light Orchid leather, underscored by adjustable ambient lighting. Acura says the new MDX will have 27 such interior light settings, tied to roads and race circuits from around the globe.

Beyond improved materials, the 2022 Acura MDX also gets a much-needed infotainment update. A 12.3-inch configurable instrument cluster replaces the former analog cluster in front of the driver, while another 12.3-inch center display replaces the stacked, dual-screen system. Acura’s largest screen yet does use a similar control scheme to the RDX, by way of a console-mounted touchpad. At the top end, a 1,000-watt “Signature Edition” ELS Studio 3D audio system is available with 25 speakers. Driver assistance tech permeates the next-generation MDX, with technologies like Road Departure Mitigation, Traffic Jam Assist and Low Speed Braking Control, among the plethora of other systems like forward collision braking and blind spot monitoring.

The 2022 Acura MDX also features the brand’s “catcher’s mitt” airbag technology. The system, created by Honda’s R&D department, debuted with the new TLX as well, and offers greater protection in frontal accidents.

Acura MDX Type S packs turbocharged power

The naturally-aspirated 3.5-liter V-6 engine will carry on in the 2022 Acura MDX. The company did not mention specific power output here, but it’s reasonable to imagine the i-VTEC-equipped engine will push the same 290 horsepower through a 10-speed automatic transmission as before. Perhaps, the model will get a small power boost when it reaches production, though Acura did not elaborate on specific details with the standard engine.

What they did share, however, is the existence of the 2022 Acura MDX Type S. This is the first application of the nameplate on an SUV, and we suspected they would go this route after a trademark application using the name emerged a few weeks ago. What’s more, the company also confirmed it would be expanding the Type S moniker across its entire range, rather than strictly limiting it to sedans. The upcoming MDX Type S will debut in summer 2021, following the standard models. Under the hood, we’ll see the same 3.0-liter turbocharged V-6 that powers the TLX Type S. In both configurations, the powertrain manages an estimated 355 horsepower and 354 lb-ft of torque. All MDX Type S models will get the brand’s SH-AWD system.

As this is technically a prototype, exact pricing is not available just yet. We do expect to know more closer to the new MDX’s 2021 launch, so stay tuned for more updates!