Acura Automobiles: 2012 Acura MDX


The 2012 MDX fuses the model’s traditional virtues of generous space, functionality, safety and environmental responsibility with an exciting visual presence along with excellent handling and ride comfort.

Customers in the luxury SUV arena demand distinctive style. The 2012 MDX is at the top of the class with items such as standard 18-inch aluminum wheels and tires, standard Xenon High Intensity Discharge (HID) headlights and very distinctive front end styling. Driving excitement is equally embraced with a chassis tuned at the Nürburgring circuit and on the autobahn highways of Germany.

The MDX exterior has bold, clean and advanced styling details with European caché, and it was styled to connect with enthusiast drivers from the moment they first see it. Sitting in the vehicle – and then experiencing it – makes the ownership desire even more intense. Besides featuring a 300 horsepower V-6 engine, the MDX includes Super Handling All-Wheel Drive™ (SH-AWD®), an available Active Damper System along with lightweight aluminum components used in the suspension and body. An additional list of build elements earmarks the MDX as top shelf. These include the wide use of LED lighting (including the taillights), plentiful use of aluminum , magnesium and high-strength steel in the vehicle, and convenience features like a standard power rear tailgate. An available Technology Package and Advance Package further enhance functionality and luxury.


The original MDX provided an excellent blend of utility, luxury and style. The 2012 Acura MDX has powerful, dynamic styling that is a continuation of the themes that have been embodied in recent Acura products. Designers found inspiration in a high-powered mega yacht, which features an exceptionally bold, lean and contemporary design. The challenge was to apply the useful elements of the yacht design to an SUV, and designers found their answer in the adoption of large areas of clean surfaces and the addition of decisive line breaks and dynamic surface curvature. Large 18-inch diameter aluminum wheels with performance tires not only benefit handling, but also create a muscular look. In front, the 2012 MDX has a distinctive, advanced Acura look. The platform is long, low and wide to enhance cornering and high-speed stability.


The MDX has a significantly wider track than its primary market competitors. As a result it offers dramatic appearance, packaging and utility advantages.


The 2012 MDX utilizes the Advanced Compatibility Engineering™ (ACE™) body structure, which helps distribute collision forces through the entire structure during a frontal collision while helping to retain the integrity of the passenger compartment. The MDX uses a large amount of high-strength steel to help reduce vehicle weight while simultaneously increasing strength. Alternative materials including aluminum and magnesium alloys are also used throughout the vehicle, further reducing vehicle mass, which helps improve fuel economy and increase performance.

Attaining a high level of dynamic body rigidity is essential for precise handling, ride quality and quietness inside the cabin. By researching the body’s dynamic response to chassis loads resulting from everyday driving events, MDX engineers considered the unit body’s “dynamic stiffness” as an entire system— not just as a single component. Thus, body rigidity is not an end to itself, but rather it is an enabler for enhanced vehicle dynamics, riding comfort and driving quietness.

Instrumented testing revealed that the “tailgate ring” (the open area surrounding the tailgate) is particularly important for handling, stability and ride. In the second generation MDX, this area has been markedly stiffened, providing the rear suspension with a more solid mounting and netting an improvement in handling precision. In addition, the MDX’s floor frames are wider than before for improved packaging and rigidity.


The use of high-strength steel contributes to improved rigidity, excellent crashworthiness and light weight. High-strength steel is specified in different grades for use in different parts of the vehicle. Some unit body areas using this material include the roof arches, floor cross members, tailgate opening, front rails and body sides.


About 4.1-percent of the 2012 MDX body components are constructed of aluminum. This material is ideal for certain components such as the hood and instrument panel support, where light weight is preferred and the strength of steel is not imperative.

The hood on the first-generation MDX was constructed of steel, and the weight savings of using aluminum instead of steel (for the 2012 MDX hood) is 15.5 pounds. Aside from using a unique metal conditioner and phosphate dip prior to painting, there are no unique production challenges to using an aluminum hood – and no ownership compromises either. To improve environmental efficiency, a factory separation line isolates different scrap materials (including aluminum) for recycling during the manufacturing process.

The aluminum instrument panel support saves an additional 10.5 pounds versus if constructed of traditional steel. This support structure, which connects the A-pillars to the front floor crossmember, is a structural element consisting of die cast parts, extrusions and sheet aluminum.


Acura MDX prototypes spent a total of seven weeks in the wind tunnel to test and develop its aerodynamic properties. The attention to detail in aerodynamic efficiency resulted in the development of body side sills that help keep air from moving underneath the vehicle which can cause turbulence. Coefficient of lift and lift balance were also addressed to help keep the MDX stable at high speeds. In this area, internal testing revealed that the MDX exceeds the aerodynamic performance of the BMW X5.


Careful attention was paid to reducing wind noise heard inside the MDX cabin. An acoustic wind tunnel was used to identify and correct noise issues, and an added benefit of wind tunnel testing was the ability to rotate the MDX sideways into the airflow. This allowed engineers to approximate even the most severe gusting side winds and solve unexpected and unwanted wind noise that could accompany such severe conditions.

The MDX’s moonroof is the widest of any direct competitor. A specially tuned air deflector ensures that the moonroof does not add objectionable wind noise when in the open position— even at highway speeds. Attention to detail in the sealing of the doors and tailgate also heighten the performance of the MDX’s overall wind noise level.


Engineers attacked noise from virtually every source inside and outside of the MDX. Their primary goal was to reduce noise at its source. One creative noise-reduction technique is the use of composite seals in the exterior door panels. These composite seals actually serve two purposes – to reduce the transmission of noise through the doors and to shield the interior components from dirt and water while driving through rain or puddles. The door insulators provide a substantial reduction in objectionable sound— up to five decibels on some roads.


The MDX’s door handles are sized for comfort as well as ease of use, regardless whether the user is bare handed or wearing winter gloves. There are three door checker positions (the detent mechanism that holds the door partially open) instead of the usual two, thus providing a convenient “in between” position useful during tight parking situations. The door openings are finished with an attractive composite garnish that hides the doorsill when the door is open, and door striker covers are used to improve looks.


Normally only sports cars use windshields with high compound curves. Deeply contoured glass is more complex and costly to make, thus it is usually reserved for low-production vehicles. Designers specified deeply curved glass for the MDX for its styling appeal as well as to improve aerodynamic efficiency and quietness. The 2012 MDX uses an acoustic glass front windshield that incorporates a unique PVB film to help quell wind and windshield wiper noise from entering the cabin. The rear glass is also a deep wrap-around design— the deepest in the Acura product range.

The MDX has 3.5mm thick side windows that are regulated by an auto up/down feature for the driver and front passenger windows. The 2012 MDX offers 273-degrees of outward visibility compared to 266-degrees of visibility for the BMW X5.

All glass from the B-pillar rearward has a gray tint to reduce eyestrain and to deter heat buildup inside the cabin. In addition, the outside rearview mirrors use a special blue glass that provides bright imaging along with excellent glare resistance.


All 2012 Acura MDX models include as standard equipment Xenon high-intensity discharge (HID) low beam front headlights with halogen high beams. The advantages of HID headlamps include greater lighting power, daylight-color light balance and reduced power consumption. In addition, the cut lines of the HID headlights are extremely precise, providing maximum nighttime visibility without distracting other drivers.

The 2012 MDX features as standard Daytime Running Lights (DRL), which automatically turn on with the activation of the ignition. An MDX fit with the available Advance Package features an auto-leveling feature that keeps the headlights level regardless of how the vehicle is loaded with passengers and/or cargo.

Halogen fog lamps are also included as standard equipment on all MDX trim levels.


Two Light-Emitting Diode (LED) arrays, comprised of 12 LEDs apiece, are used for the taillamps of the 2012 MDX. Similarly, the Center High Mount Stop Lamp (CHMSL) features a single array of 16 LEDs. Advantages of the LED taillights include an elegant contemporary appearance, much quicker turn-on time (compared to conventional incandescent bulbs), reduced power consumption and significantly greater service life. LED lights are also brighter, smaller, lighter and produce less heat than incandescent lights.

The LED CHMSL was selected for its appearance and ability to produce the required lighting brightness while retaining slender physical dimensions. LEDs are also used in the MDX’s outside mirror housing-mounted turn signals, improving visibility during lane changes or turns.


Acura’s power-actuated tailgate is standard on all MDX models. The power tailgate can be operated via the remote key fob, from a button located on the driver’s door panel, or from a button located inside the tailgate. The location of the motor in the MDX’s D-pillar (instead of in the roof) allows excellent headroom for the third-row seats. The tailgate can also be operated manually.


The MDX fuel filler door is operated remotely from inside the vehicle via a switch located on the driver’s door panel. The fuel-filler door is made of a composite resin material that is lightweight, dent resistant and corrosion proof. For a better appearance, the inside of the door features a flangeless resin design.


The front and rear bumpers are constructed of a large structural beam covered with a plastic fascia rated to withstand impacts of up to five mph without sustaining significant damage. An attachment point for a tow hook is located under a small cover on each bumper fascia. Removing the cover allows access to a threaded boss that accepts a steel eyebolt located in the jack storage area.
The rear bumper fascia cohesively wraps around and joins with the rear wheel arch trim for a well integrated look. In the front, the bumper fascia incorporates unique lower side scoops for improved radiator cooling along with stylish looks.


Inspired by the smooth finishes on fine pianos, Acura set out to achieve a mirror-smooth paint finish with a wet, glossy look. To advance the surface smoothness, “orange peel” (the finely undulating surface found on some paints resulting from the evaporation of the paint solvents) had to be all but eliminated.

Seven environmentally responsible waterborne exterior colors are available, and each uses a durable clear-coat finish that resists scratching and airborne pollutants.


A line of Acura Genuine Accessories was developed simultaneously with the MDX to provide personalization for the Acura owner. Like all Acura Genuine Accessories, the MDX accessories are covered by a 4-year/50,000-mile limited warranty if installed at the time of vehicle purchase.

2012 Acura MDX exterior accessories include:

  • Engine block heater
  • Remote engine starter
  • Back-up sensors
  • Body side molding
  • Door edge protection film
  • Door edge guards
  • Fender trim
  • Full nose mask
  • Hood air deflector
  • Front lower trim
  • Rear lower trim
  • Moonroof visor
  • Rear bumper appliqué
  • Trailer hitch and hitch ball
  • Bike attachment (hitch mount)
  • Roof rails (black or silver)
  • Roof rail cross bars (black or silver)
  • Exterior bike attachment
  • Kayak attachment
  • Luggage basket
  • Ski attachment
  • Snowboard attachment
  • Surfboard attachment
  • Advance running boards
  • Sport running boards
  • Chrome side steps
  • 19-inch diameter aluminum wheels (chrome look)
  • 19-inch diameter aluminum wheels (Sparkle Silver)
  • Wheel locks

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