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Future models - Honda - MDX

Detroit show: Honda MDX goes front-drive

New look: The “Aero Sculpture” of Honda’s new Acura MDX prototype previews the production model due in the US by mid-2013.

Honda Australia unlikely to introduce new US-market Acura MDX seven-seater

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Honda logo16 Jan 2013

By MIKE COSTELLO

THE next-generation Honda MDX seven-seater SUV will be available in cheaper, more-efficient front-drive guise for the first time when it launches in the US by the middle of 2013, but an Australian launch appears unlikely.

Honda’s US luxury arm Acura this week pulled the covers from a “more refined and alluring” production-ready MDX ‘prototype’ at the Detroit motor show, promising the new model will make advancements in cabin packaging, driving dynamics and fuel economy.

Longer but lower than the current MDX, Acura said the sleeker and more aerodynamic new model would have greater second- and third-row seat space.

No interior images were issued, but the company promises it will be more luxurious, comfortable and quiet.

Power comes from a new 3.5-litre direct-injection V6 petrol engine believed to come from Honda’s new Earth Dreams range. Power will be sent to all four wheels in higher-end variants, and the front wheels only on entry models.

Acura said the introduction of front-wheel drive was a response to strong demand from warmer US states, where the traction benefits of AWD on icy roads are not necessarily needed.

The Canadian-built MDX was sold in Australia between 2003 and 2007 priced from $69,990, but was discontinued when right-hand-drive production ended. The latest model remained left-hook only throughout its model life.

Honda is unlikely to offer the new model – which will be built in Alabama for the US rather than Canada – in right-hand drive, ruling out a return to local showrooms any time soon.

Honda Australia spokesman Lindsay Smalley told GoAuto in December that the prospects of an MDX revival here were “very unlikely unless another very high-volume RHD market picked it up”.

As Honda UK and Honda Japan anticipate only small demand for such a big vehicle in their markets, this is regarded as unlikely.

At present, the compact CR-V is Honda’s only SUV sold in Australia, although Honda’s local arm is known to be keen to import the forthcoming micro SUV previewed by the Urban SUV concept this week in Detroit.

Such a model would slot beneath the popular CR-V, giving Honda a weapon in a burgeoning segment against rivals such as the forthcoming Holden Trax, Ford EcoSport, Renault Captur and Peugeot 2008.

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