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Watch: Acura MDX Prototype design lead details old and new MDX


Catalin Matei, principal designer at Acura, was the exterior design lead for the original 2001 MDX and had the same job for the new MDX Prototype. That’s just plain cool, and it makes him the MDX person of record when it comes to design. 

Thankfully, Acura put him in front of a camera with the original and the new Prototype to talk design. That video is at the top of this post.

Matei’s background gives him a unique perspective on how MDX design has changed throughout the years. In the video, he walks us through his and Acura’s thinking and rationale for the three-row crossover’s design both then and now. It’s a great watch, as you learn how Acura’s crossover design philosophy has changed over the years. Where the original design tried to be elegant and clean, the new MDX takes a stab at sportiness and performance. This line of thinking is in tune with all of Acura’s most recent designs following the “Precision Crafted Performance” mantra.

Specifics on how the car’s design has changed are called out by Matei. For example, grille design — it’s much bigger now! The character line that wrapped around the original MDX has moved upward in the new MDX. This gives the new crossover a broad-shouldered and strong look that the old MDX just didn’t have. And you probably would’ve never guessed this, but the bodyside sculpting was inspired by the rocks in the Antelope Canyon. We’re not totally convinced. 

One downside from the slick and “sporty” design may be unintentionally called out. The third row of seats is almost entirely shrouded by the body, as opposed to the massive windows in the original MDX. Those in the rearmost seats will have a much more claustrophobic experience than everybody else in the car.

If you want all the details we know about the upcoming next-gen MDX, check out our reveal post here. Also, bookmark this page. We’ll check back in with Matei 20 years from now for the 2040 Acura MDX reveal.

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