The 2003 Acura MDX luxury sport utility vehicle receives a number of performance improvements and additional features designed to enhance its position as the benchmark in the luxury SUV category. Engine modifications including a new free-flowing exhaust system, boost horsepower from 240 to 260. An all-new, more compact 5-speed automatic transmission is quieter, and provides even smoother shifts. Suspension and chassis refinements, the addition of Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA) and a drive-by-wire throttle system derived from the system on the NSX supercar combine for a smooth ride and ultra responsive handling. Inside, the available Acura Satellite-Linked Navigation System receives several important new features, including voice recognition and a rear view camera. A DVD Entertainment System is now available as a factory-installed option.
"The MDX continues to be the most sought after luxury SUV on the market and the changes we've made for 2003 make it even more desirable," said Dick Colliver, executive vice president, auto sales. "With performance better than most V-8s, retuned suspension and the addition of VSA, the MDX's power, handling and ride quality will be tough for any SUV to match."
The 2003 MDX's 3.5 liter, 24-valve, all-aluminum, VTEC V-6 engine benefits from a retooled exhaust system that includes two close-coupled primary catalytic converters, a secondary underfloor catalytic converter, and larger diameter exhaust pipes. These refinements increase exhaust flow by 40 percent and, when combined with new integrated cylinder heads and a shorter intake manifold port, boost horsepower from 240 to 260 and torque from 242 lb-ft to 250 lb-ft. Combined with new, orifice-type fuel injectors, the new exhaust system makes the MDX the first SUV to meet stringent ULEV-2 emissions standards. With estimated city/highway ratings of 17 mpg city/23 mpg highway, it delivers better combined fuel economy than any of its luxury competitors.
To handle the increased engine power, the 2003 MDX receives an all-new, compact 5-speed automatic transmission. This new 4-shaft gearbox is 60 millimeters shorter than the previous transmission and features increased torque capacity. A unique shaft center design not only reduces size, but also reduces gear noise, clutch drag and hydraulic friction.
The 2003 MDX also features a new drive-by-wire throttle system, evolved from the drive-by-wire system in the NSX supercar that has been custom tailored to meet the unique demands of a SUV. This innovative system eliminates the need for a mechanical connection between the accelerator pedal and the engine, and controls the throttle during transmission shifts for improved smoothness. It also allows for throttle control to be incorporated into the MDX's VSA logic and controls the vehicle's cruise control function.
The 2003 MDX's standard VTM-4 four-wheel drive system has been recalibrated to improve performance, especially on low friction surfaces. Torque distribution to the rear wheels has been increased by up to 30 percent, providing a significant improvement in the MDX's prowess in snow or other slippery road conditions.
In addition to ample power, the 2003 MDX delivers sport sedan-like handling and a smooth, compliant ride. The suspension has been retuned to deliver an even smoother ride while maintaining the vehicle's precise handling. To accomplish this, rear spring rates were increased while damping rates in both the front and the rear where reduced. New rear damper valves were adopted to enable more precise control of damping throughout the suspension movement. At the same time, dynamic torsional rigidity of the body was increased 35 percent by reinforcing the rear wheel house, tailgate and rear subframe.
Handling is further enhanced through the application of a new Vehicle Stability Assist system (VSA) that works in concert with the VTM-4 and drive-by-wire throttle systems to provide enhanced control during acceleration, braking and cornering. This 4-channel system orchestrates the throttle and each of the vehicle's four disc brakes to seamlessly integrate traction control, Anti-lock braking, and stability enhancement for increased driver control during acceleration, braking and cornering.
The MDX features 4-wheel disc brakes with 4-channel ABS, dual piston calipers in the front, standard 17-inch alloy wheels and specially designed P235/65R-17 all-season tires to provide stability and responsiveness. Front and rear stabilizer bars, a wide track and a low center of gravity give the MDX predictable cornering response and help maximize cornering capabilities.
The styling of the MDX strikes a balance between muscularity and elegance. Acura's signature family grille and bright, clean headlight treatment highlight the sharply chiseled front fascia while a wide stance communicates a message of strength and stability. For 2003, the MDX is available in three new colors: Midnight Blue Pearl, Sage Brush Pearl and Sandstone Metallic. In addition, it receives redesigned alloy wheels, standard rear mudguards, auto-on/off headlights and rain sensing windshield wipers (w/touring package).
The MDX's interior emphasizes the vehicle's versatile yet refined character with standard-setting levels of luxury and functionality. For 2003 a variety of enhancements have been made to ensure that all materials and accessories reflect the highest level of craftsmanship and refinement. Three uniquely transformable rows of seats allow the MDX to comfortably seat up to seven passengers. Second and third row seats split and fold flat into the floor providing 82 cubic feet of cargo room. Even with all three rows in use, the MDX still offers 14.8 cubic feet of cargo room behind the third row seats.
The comprehensively equipped MDX comes standard with a host of luxury features, including a seven-speaker AM/FM/Cassette stereo with in-dash CD player, a multi-function digital trip computer and a synchronized climate control system. Standard safety features include dual-stage, dual-threshold driver's and front passenger front airbags. The driver's side airbag adjusts deployment force to one of two rates according to input from sensors, which monitor the severity of the impact, seatbelt usage and, new for 2003, the position of the driver's seat. Front passenger's airbag deployment takes into account the severity of the crash and the passenger's weight. The MDX also offers driver's and front passenger's side airbags with exclusive occupant position sensors in the passenger's seat; and the LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children) system on the second row of outboard seats to simplify child seat attachment.
While the MDX is already one of the most comprehensively equipped vehicles in its class, an optional Touring Package adds a variety of premium features. These features include a roof rack; exclusive alloy wheels; an upgraded 200-watt, eight speaker Acura/Bose Music System with 6-disc, in-dash CD changer; driver's and front passenger's 8-way power seats, and outside door mirror memory system.
For 2003, the optional Acura Navigation System gets a variety of new features and greatly enhanced capabilities including a newly developed voice recognition system, upgraded graphics and an expanded database with more than seven million points of interest. A rearview camera has been incorporated into the tailgate, which transmits a rearview picture to the navigation screen when the MDX is in reverse gear.
A new Acura DVD Entertainment System can now be ordered as a factory installed option. The DVD player mounts below the standard audio system and plays over the MDX's sound system or through a pair of cordless infrared headphones. The 7-inch LCD screen is mounted to the headliner, just behind the front seats for use by rear seat passengers. The system can be controlled either by using the MDX's audio controls or from the rear seats through the use of a remote control or the screen's control panel.
Like all Acura vehicles, the MDX comes equipped with a comprehensive 4-year/50,000-mile limited warranty that includes Acura's TLC (Total Luxury Care) customer service package.
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