2002 Acura MDX -- Interior - Part 2

After analyzing competitive SUVs, it was clear to MDX engineers that significant strides could be achieved by offering climate control comparable to a luxury sedan instead of merely matching existing truck comfort standards. The resulting climate control system became a primary attribute of the Acura MDX.

The patented dual Synchronized Climate Control systems are normally linked in operation to improve heating and cooling performance by a full five minutes (17-percent) over use of the front system alone. The result is that comfortable conditions are achieved in every seating position in the shortest possible time after start up in hot or cold weather.

The ventilation control panel is positioned centrally on the instrument panel above the trip computer and navigation system display screen. It consists of eight buttons that operate the front and rear heating and cooling units. One button controls full automatic operation in conjunction with up and down temperature-select buttons and a set-temperature display window. Alternatively, the "Rear A/C Manual" button can be pressed to give the second-row passengers control of the ventilation system in their area. Rear controls include a temperature-set knob, upper or lower air flow select buttons, and another knob to adjust fan speed.

Cooling and heating equipment for the rear seat is neatly packaged in the lower part of the center console. There's a blower capable of moving up to 392-cubic yards of temperature-controlled air per hour, a 2500-watt air-conditioning evaporator, and a 2800-watt water heater core. Concealed ductwork provides heated air to both second and third row passengers, and cool air to second-row occupants.

Total capacity of the linked front and rear systems is 19,000 BTUs which slightly exceeds the heating and cooling capacity found in the average American home. Tests by the MDX development team indicate that overall climate control performance is clearly best in class. And unlike some rear-, or roof-mounted climate control systems, MDX's equipment doesn't intrude on cargo or head room or interfere with the sunroof.

As a focal point of the interior design, MDX's center console is an extraordinarily versatile design. It is neatly integrated with the instrument panel design, it houses heating and air conditioning equipment for the benefit of rear-passenger comfort, and it provides a long list of storage and convenience features.

Additional details include a storage area for small objects ahead of the shift lever, two covered cup holders for front passenger use, and a climate-control vent and switch panel on the rear-most surface. For a luxury appearance, lower side surfaces are carpeted and wood-patterned panels trim the forward horizontal surfaces. A mat in the bottom of the forward bin is removable for cleaning.

The main storage compartment lid is padded to provide a comfortable armrest surface. This lid opens either to a 95-degree position for access to the interior compartment or to a 180-degree position to act as a second-row serving tray. Two cupholders and a wide depression to hold snacks are molded into the lid's inner surface.

Inside the storage compartment, a hinged top tray offers a convenient storage location for tissues, writing materials, or a cellular telephone. An access hole located in the rear corner of this tray provides a path for the phone's power cord to plug into a 12-volt power outlet below. Clearance is also provided to permit closing the top tray while the phone is in use. Below the top tray is a second large-volume storage compartment. A mid-level shelf is an ideal location for credit card or magnetic access (key) card stowage. The remaining volume is large enough to swallow either a home-size tissue box or up to 13 compact discs inside their jewel cases.

As in other Acura vehicles, the driver's cockpit is organized ergonomically to avoid distractions from the task of driving. Exterior lighting and turn signals, cruise control, and moonroof controls are positioned to the left of the steering wheel to prevent operation by passengers, while wiper controls are mounted on a right-side column stalk. Radio and cruise control switches are positioned just below the horizontal steering wheel spokes for easy use. Secondary switches are spotted near the instrument cluster.

A three-dial instrument cluster conveys vehicle system information to the driver: engine rpm, vehicle speed, fuel level, coolant temperature, and shift-lever position. The three-dial cluster prevents glare and provides an attractive appearance. An array of indicator lights is positioned at the bottom of the tachometer and at the top and bottom of the combination temperature gauge and fuel level display. The speedometer is marked in both mph and kph to a full scale reading of 140 mph / 225 kph.

The centerpiece of the instrument panel is a large multi-function display screen. MDX models not equipped with the Acura Navigation System feature trip computer, compass and climate control information in this highly visible location. The seven-inch (diagonal) LCD screen is flat with a curved bezel. It displays current and average fuel economy, range remaining, compass heading, outside temperature, time of day, climate control mode, air-conditioning on/off, and fan speed. A trip button to the left of the display cycles between trip and mileage information. A separate button resets fuel economy, trip mileage, and elapsed time registers. There's also a slide switch to adjust the brightness of the display screen.

One of the few options offered on MDX is a factory installed DVD-based and satellite-linked Acura Navigation System. Similar in function to systems offered in Acura RL, TL, and CL models, this equipment receives Global Positioning System (GPS) data. That information is combined with signals from an onboard inertial guidance system and information from a Digital Versatile Disc (DVD) database to pinpoint the vehicle's location and help guide the driver to selected destinations.

The 48-state continuous coverage is conveyed to the driver by both audio and visual cues - designed to aid navigation without causing distraction. A moving map in combination with direction arrows, detailed street names, turning instructions, and driving distances are provided on the LCD touch control screen.

A picture-in-picture capability permits simultaneous display of a large-scale map with detailed turning instructions. The driver always knows the vehicle's current position and a balloon function instantly reveals the address of any selected location on the map. Points of interest can be searched by inputting that destination's telephone number. The volume of voice guidance instructions can be adjusted through eleven settings and the audio system's front speakers are automatically muted when direction commands are issued.

A matte finish is used on the display screen to enhance legibility while resisting fingerprints. The same screen used for navigation also displays trip distance, average fuel mileage, remaining range (miles to empty), elapsed time, outside temperature, time-of-day, and climate control setting information.

Only a few key strokes are needed to enter destinations and route calculations are made expeditiously. If desired, a route with up to five destinations can be pre-programmed. The moving map can be instructed to display fuel stations, restaurants, and automated teller machines (ATMs). The on-board DVD system contains not only maps of all major metropolitan areas but also freeway networks and a nationwide directory of 3.7-million points of interest, restaurants, hotels, ATMs, and a number of other categories. One new function introduced with MDX is the ability to track vehicle position by means of dots on the screen for those areas not covered by DVD map data - especially helpful when driving off-road. A log of up to five trip histories is retained in memory.

Pressing an on-screen mode button varies the direction of air flow through the front climate-control system. Pressing an A/C button switches the A/C compressor on and off. The fan button selects from five speeds.

Adjacent to the central display screen are two adjustable vent registers, a master light switch, a hazard switch, and a small control panel for managing the synchronized front and rear climate control systems.

MDX engineers conducted a major cupholder R+D program to make the MDX extremely occupant-friendly. The first thing they learned was the daunting array of beverage containers in daily use - rectangular juice boxes, 12-ounce cans, 20-ounce bottles, various-sized paper cups from fast-food outlets, insulated coffee cups, and bottled water vessels galore. Ten beverage holders were designed into the MDX's interior to accommodate a variety of passenger needs.

Real innovation was necessary to accommodate as many different sizes and types of containers as possible and to securely hold them during stopping and cornering maneuvers. For example, pockets built into the bottom portion of the rear door trim are purposely deep to hold either a 20-ounce soda bottle or larger bottled water containers. Cup holders molded into the armrest areas adjacent to the third-row seat feature notches necessary to accommodate juice boxes. Cup holders positioned near the center of the vehicle (two ahead of the storage console, two built into the console lid's inside surface, and two more integrated with the fold-down, second-row armrest) have stepped bottom surfaces to grab and hold different-diameter containers. Front-seat cup holders are a three-tier design with a rubber lip to help restrain a teetering container. Third row cup holders are also a three-tier design, but without a rubber lip, while second-seat cup holders are a slightly shallower, two-tier design.

MDX sound systems are engineered for optimum performance and tuned specifically for this vehicle's acoustical characteristics. The standard system provides premium sound quality and clarity with an emphasis on the first and second seating rows. A head unit integrated into the center-dash features AM/FM stereo, cassette, and a single-disc CD player. A micro antenna positioned at a discreet center-rear location on the roof receives radio broadcasts. Switches mounted below a left-side steering wheel spoke allow the driver to adjust play volume, choose another radio station, or select a different CD track without shifting attention from the road.

Four integrated, 30-watt amplifiers and one 35-watt amplifier drive a total of seven speakers. A 16cm midrange speaker is mounted in each door. There's also a 2-inch tweeter in each front door and a 10-inch sub-woofer in the right-rear interior trim panel.

The MDX with Touring Package is equipped with an Acura/Bose® Music System that provides superb entertainment in all seating positions thanks to a more complete speaker array and extra amplifier power. The attractive head unit is curved in two directions to coordinate with the center-dash design. This system offers AM/FM, cassette, and a 6-CD in-dash changer. The steering wheel mounted controls described above also command the system.

A special six-CD changer function allows the unit to conveniently store extra discs ready for playing without a separate magazine. Touching a load button once opens the changer's door to permit inserting one CD. Holding that button down facilitates loading up to six CDs. Since the door opens only during loading and eject operations, there's less likelihood that foreign objects will jam the mechanism. This sound system can select any desired CD track or shuffle through stored material at random to provide hours of audio entertainment.

The premium Acura/Bose® Music System adds a rear-mounted 2.5-inch twiddler speaker to the array described above for a total of eight speakers. Four integrated 25-watt amplifiers drive the mid-range, tweeter, and twiddler units while a separate 100-watt amplifier is provided for the 10-inch sub-woofer.

Overhead lamps are provided for all three rows of seating. An additional cargo light mounted to the tailgate provides ample illumination both inside the vehicle and on the ground for convenient loading at night. When the lamps are switched off by closing the doors or inserting a key in the ignition switch, they fade out over a six-second period. All power window switches are illuminated for convenient night-time operation.

To avoid interference from cellular telephone and pager transmissions, MDX's keyless security system communicates via FM (instead of AM) signals. When doors are unlocked remotely, outside mirrors and the driver's seat automatically move to pre-selected memory positions on models with the Touring Package. (Two fobs are provided to distinguish one driver in the family from another).

The fob itself has three buttons. At the top, there's a large triangular-shaped button to command the lock function. A smaller round button with a raised nib for tactile identification commands the vehicle to unlock all doors. Operation of the locks is confirmed by an audible chirp. The third button at the bottom of the fob is recessed; pressing this "panic" button activates dual loud trumpet horns to signal distress.

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