Honda Motor Co. is planning to invest $85 million to give its East Liberty site in Ohio the capability to build a fourth nameplate – the Acura MDX. The investment will result to the addition of new welding equipment, conveyors and other gear that will enable the plant to assemble the Acura MDX crossover starting early 2017.
The plant East Liberty currently builds the Honda CR-V crossover and Crosstour hatchback, and the Acura RDX crossover. Honda will still produce the MDX at its Lincoln plant in Alabama that also builds the Honda Pilot crossover, Ridgeline pickup and Odyssey minivan.
According to John Mendel, executive vice president of American Honda, adding a second production site for the MDX will provide the Japanese carmaker flexibility as its expects truck sales to rise, adding that the company is bound to roll out a redesigned Pilot this year and a redesigned Ridgeline in 2016.
He remarked that the redesigned Pilot "will really raise the stakes” in the midsize SUV segment. He quipped that once the carmaker starts selling the Pilot and the MDX remains a strong seller, it would be in a position to hike output of both models to cater to growing demand.
Compared to the previous-generation MDX, the 2014 iteration is longer both in terms of overall length (plus 2.0 inches) and wheelbase (plus 2.8 inches). With its width reduced by 1.3 inches, the new MDX is also lower by 1.5 inches, with its rear step-in height lowered by 1.8 inches. In addition, the front and rear tracks of the new MDX are 1.4 inches and 1.2 inches, respectively, narrower than on the previous model.
Thanks to its new configuration, the new MDX has a 2 percent smaller frontal area to the wind, thereby enhancing its aerodynamic efficiency. Its narrower body helps the MDX to easily fit into garage, while its longer wheelbase improves cabin roominess and ride quality. Meanwhile, the passenger hip points in the first and second rows are now lower by 1.2 inches while in the third row, the hip point is lower by 1.4 inches.
As made possible by its longer wheelbase and its new, more compact rear suspension, the new MDX offers a 4.5-inch wider foot entry point and 1.8-inch lower step-in height for the rear cabin, making it easier to enter or exit the rear compartment. Second-row passengers benefit from seats with five-position reclining seatbacks. Thanks to a new Extended Slide feature, these seats offer up to 5.9 inches of fore-aft seat travel.
When the middle-row seats are in their rearward-most position, the first- and second-row tandem seating distance is now longer by 1.1 inches. Meanwhile, a new One-Touch Walk-In feature allows for a one-button operation of the second-row seats, which makes it easier to enter or exit from the third row.