Watch How The Acura MDX Has Evolved Over 20 Years

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Lead Designer Catalin Matei gives us an insight into the new MDX's stunning new design direction.

Acura is on a roll right now. After the next-generation TLX received a radical redesign for 2021, Acura unveiled the MDX Prototype last month, previewing the flagship SUV's bold new design direction. In a new video released by the automaker, lead designer Catalin Matei, who also penned the design for the first-generation MDX way back in 2001, gives us a closer look at the MDX prototype and offers an insight into the design direction.

When it launched in 2001, the Acura MDX was the first luxury three-row SUV built on a unibody platform and became Acura's best-selling model. Nearly 20 years later, an exciting new era for the flagship SUV is about to begin.


"20 years ago when I designed the first MDX, the market conditions were quite different. Buyers perceptions of SUVs was quite different," Matei explains. Its rugged design emphasized the SUV's high ground clearance and aggressive approach and departure angles.

For the MDX Prototype, Matei explained how the SUV's sculpted appearance makes it "look fast even while standing still" to emphasize its performance. A larger grille and aggressive intakes dominate the front in contrast to the original MDX where the grille "was not a main priority." Instead, the original MDX sports a sleeker, "more aero-looking" front-end that help distinguish the MDX against its boxier competitors.


Matei adds that the priority was to make the new MDX look "low, wide, and powerful." Other key design highlights on the new MDX include multi-faceted diamond surfaces on the grille that create dynamic reflections and slim LED headlights and taillights.

Despite the 20 year gap, the first-generation MDX and the new prototype share some design similarities such as a distinct character line that runs along the entire body, which is positioned below the headlights on the original and higher on the all-new MDX.

The production version of the new Acura MDX will go on sale in the US in early 2021, followed by the high-performance Type S version in summer 2021.

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