Styling Showdown: 2013 vs. 2014 Acura MDX
Familiar, but New
Having just driven the 2014 Acura MDX, we came away impressed with the refinements made on the 2014 model, and its sleeker, trimmer, more sophisticated design. If you want to know what it's like behind the wheel, read our first-drive review first drive review here.
In this installment of Styling Showdown, we're going to focus on the more superficial differences between Acura's new SUV flagship and its predecessor. Honda and Acura have a reputation of playing it safe when it comes to the styling of their vehicles, and the new MDX doesn't rock the boat too much by retaining some trademark Acura styling cues such as a more refined, subtle rendition of the Acura "shield" grille, and horizontal taillights. Overall, the look borrows a lot from the redesigned RDX, which itself borrowed some inspiration from the previous MDX.
The most immediate styling cue linking the MDX and RDX is the triangular rear-quarter window, which has a steeper, more pronounced angle than the more upright window on the 2013 model. But the two models part ways in proportions and details. The RDX has more aggressive vertical surfacing on its wheelwells, whereas on the MDX, it's more subdued. Likewise, the MDX has a much longer rear door, due to its 5.3-inch longer wheelbase.
With LED lighting being the current signifier of "premium" styling and aspiration, the new MDX goes all-in with full LED Jewel Eye headlights, a design shared with the flagship RLX sedan. The taillights are mixed LED and conventional lights.
Compared with the last-generation MDX, the new model is 2.0 inches longer overall and rides on a 2.8-inch-longer wheelbase. Height has been lowered by 1.5 inches, and rear step-in height is 1.8 inches lower. The 2014 model is 1.3 inches narrower than its predecessor, but from the driver's seat, seems about a foot narrower, in a good way.
Which gets us to the subject of the interior. The 2013 MDX was chock full of luxury goodies and features, but their presentation left something to be desired. Whereas the previous model's interior was characterized by a button-riddled center console and angular detailing for surfaces and designs, the 2014 shows more refinement in the surfacing and radically reduces the number of buttons by migrating many of those functions to the new touchscreen display. And as noted previously, the new model's narrower body and cabin translates into a more tailored feel, rather than the last model's broad expanse of woodgrain and buttons. The fake wood accents remain in the 2014 model, but in a much more restrained, tasteful application.
Having seen and driven the new MDX up close, we think it's a big improvement over its predecessor in almost every area, and while beauty is in the eye of the beholder, we like the styling of the 2014 better too. Which is your favorite, the chunky, wide, and bold 2013, or the trimmer, more refined 2014?