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Honda's heavy hitter

Heavyweight contender: Honda's MD-X will compete against the established full-size off-roaders

Honda is gearing up to take on the outright contenders in the off-roader segment

27 Dec 1999

HONDA will take on the likes of the Land Rover Discovery and Mercedes-Benz ML320 with its new full-size off-roader, due to make its debut at the 2000 Detroit motor show.

The wraps will be pulled off the MD-X concept on January 11, with production versions likely to start rolling off the line in mid-2000.

It is likely to go on sale here towards the end of the year or in early 2001. Pricing is yet to be announced, but expect to pay at least $55,000.

The newcomer shares some of its platform components with the latest Odyssey people-mover, but its suspension and drivetrain elements will be different.

It is expected to be powered by a modified version of the 3.2- litre V6 available in the latest Odyssey.

The four-wheel drive system will be fully automatic, and the ride and handling have been benchmarked against the Lexus RX300 - which is sold primarily in the US.

A Honda spokesman has been quoted as saying the MD-X will also tackle the Mercedes-Benz ML320 and BMW X5, although positioned nowhere near the "stratospheric price" of the latter.

The MD-X concept features a four-seat cabin layout, but production versions will have at least five or six seats.

The concept car's 19-inch wheels and tyres will also be scaled down for production variants.

Honda plans to build 40,000 MD-Xs a year initially, with the lion's share going to the US.

The Japanese car-maker will have a comprehensive off-roader lineup when the MD-X joins its ranks alongside the CR-V and HR-V.

The mid-size CR-V has been selling up a storm of late, eclipsing even the popular Toyota LandCruiser over the last couple of months.

The HR-V has also been a steady performer in the lower end of the off-roader segment, notching up 2605 sales since its launch in January, 1999.

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