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The MDX is Acura Canada’s best-selling model.

MullenLowe/Courtesy of manufacturer

The Acura MDX debuted in 2001, making history as the first three-row SUV built on a unibody, instead of a heavy body-on-frame, platform. It quickly rose to fame, winning numerous awards including the prestigious 2001 North American Truck of the Year award.

Nowadays, the MDX is Acura Canada’s best-selling model, with more than 100,000 sold since its launch. Sure, that number isn’t staggering considering it has been on sale for nearly two decades. In fact, at its peak, sales of the MDX were 6,272 in 2014. But since then, sales have declined, hitting only 4,757 in 2019, according to data from DesRosiers Automotive Consultants.

Acura has a lot riding on its redesigned fourth-generation MDX. While it was a game-changer in 2001, it’s a different story nowadays. The competition is stiff and growing with new contenders, like the Genesis GV80 and the Lincoln Aviator, entering the market as well as established players, such as the BMW X5 and the Audi Q7, all vying for a piece of the lucrative three-row SUV pie.

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“The MDX is critical for the future [of Acura],” says Emile Korkor, assistant vice-president at Acura Canada ahead of the MDX launch. “It’s so important to us from a volume perspective, but it also has a lot of heritage. The MDX nameplate is the strongest we’ve got right now,” says Korkor.

There heated front seats have 12 levels of adjustment.

MullenLowe/Courtesy of manufacturer

But the bigger question is - can this new MDX steal sales from its competitors and remain relevant in the eyes of consumers? It definitely has a fighting chance. This MDX undergoes the biggest transformation in its history. Compared to the third-generation MDX, this one is leaps and bounds ahead of its predecessor, especially when it comes to the space, refinement, and technology inside.

The MDX seats up to seven passengers. The front seats are 12-way adjustable and heated, but upper-level models get ventilated front seats that move 16-ways with power-adjustable side bolsters and thigh extensions – an added bonus for taller people. Also new is a removable middle seat in the second row so you can configure the cabin based on your needs to create more space when transporting less people. The wheelbase has also increased by 70 mm so there’s more passenger space, which should come in handy especially for those riding in the third-row seats. The last version was cramped and unsuitable for adults. Other nice touches include ambient lighting with 27 different color choices that can alter the mood of the cabin instantly.

Inside, it’s a tech-lover’s paradise. It looks somewhat busy and complicated, but it creates a sophisticated and high-tech feeling in the cabin. A new, large 12.3-inch centre display is a welcome addition, replacing the outdated two-tiered display system in the previous generation. Numerous tech features are added for 2022 including wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a 10.3-inch all-digital instrumentation display, a wireless smartphone charging pad, a Wi-Fi hotspot to connect up to seven devices and Amazon Alexa built-in so you can connect your home to your car and vice versa. Plus, there’s a long list of standard safety features, including a new Traffic Jam Assist system, which helps reduce driver stress and fatigue in bumper-to-bumper congestion by helping keep the SUV centred in its lane and at a set speed behind the vehicle ahead.

Cargo space has increased behind all three rows.

MullenLowe/Courtesy of manufacturer

Size-wise, it has grown in every dimension. It’s 55 mm longer, 25 mm wider, and 11 mm taller than the last version. Cargo space has increased, too. Behind the third row, there’s 462 litres of cargo space – that’s up 42 litres. Behind the second-row seats, there’s 1,107 litres – that’s an extra 20 litres. And behind the front row, there’s a whopping 2,021 litres – that’s up 85 litres. An under-floor storage area hidden beneath the cargo floor is also smart.

Exterior design changes aren’t as drastic as the interior, but include a bolder grille, a longer, sculpted hood, more striking headlights, standard 19-inch wheels or optional 20-inch, and two bolder colours dubbed Phantom Violet Pearl and Liquid Carbon Metallic.

The MDX rides on an all-new platform, body and chassis with MDX’s first-ever double wishbone front suspension. Under the hood is an upgraded 3.5-liter V-6 engine mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission and a new all-wheel-drive system that has 40 percent more rear torque capacity and 30 percent quicker front-to-rear torque transfer than the previous MDX. The MDX Type S will join the family in the late summer of 2021, as the first high-performance nameplate in an Acura SUV. It’ll be powered by an all-new 3.0-litre turbocharged V6 with 355 horsepower and 354 lb-ft of torque.

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With the structural changes, technology advancements, and luxurious and spacious cabin, the 2022 MDX is poised to give the competition a run for its money. Designed, developed and engineered in the US, the 2022 Acura MDX will arrive in dealerships this February. Prices start at $56,405 – about $2,000 more than the outgoing 2020 model.

MullenLowe/Courtesy of manufacturer

Shopping for a new car? Check out the Globe Drive Build and Price Tool to see the latest discounts, rebates and rates on new cars, trucks and SUVs. Click here to get your price.

Stay on top of all our Drive stories. We have a Drive newsletter covering car reviews, innovative new cars and the ups and downs of everyday driving. Sign up for the weekly Drive newsletter, delivered to your inbox for free. Follow us on Instagram, @globedrive.

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