2003 Acura MDX -- Interior - Part 2

After analyzing competitive SUVs, it was clear to MDX engineers thatsignificant strides could be achieved by offering climate controlcomparable to a luxury sedan instead of merely matching existingtruck comfort standards. The resulting climate control system becamea primary attribute of the MDX.The patented dual Synchronized ClimateControl systems are normally linked in operation to improve heatingand cooling performance by a full five minutes (17-percent) over useof the front system alone. The result is that comfortable conditionsare achieved in every seating position in the shortest possible timeafter start up in hot or cold weather.

The ventilation control panel is positioned centrally on theinstrument panel above the trip computer and navigation systemdisplay screen. It consists of eight buttons that operate the frontand rear heating and cooling units. One button controls fullautomatic operation in conjunction with up and downtemperature-select buttons and a set-temperature display window.Alternatively, the "Rear A/C Manual" button can be pressed to givethe second-row passengers control of the ventilation system in theirarea. Rear controls include a temperature-set knob, upper or lowerair flow select buttons, and another knob to adjust fan speed.

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

Total capacity of the linked front and rear systems is 19,000 BTUswhich slightly exceeds the heating and cooling capacity found in theaverage American home. Unlike some rear-, or roof-mounted climatecontrol systems, MDX's equipment doesn't intrude on cargo or headroom or interfere with the sunroof.

As a focal point of the interior design, MDX's center console is anextraordinarily versatile design. It is neatly integrated with theinstrument panel design, it houses heating and air conditioningequipment for the benefit of rear-passenger comfort, and it providesa long list of storage and convenience features.

Additional details include a storage area for small objects aheadof the shift lever area occupied by the DVD player in models equippedwith the Rear Entertainment System, two covered cup holders for frontpassenger use, and a climate-control vent and switch panel on therear-most surface. For a luxury appearance, lower side surfaces arecarpeted and wood-patterned panels trim the forward horizontalsurfaces. A mat in the bottom of the forward bin is removable forcleaning.The main storage compartment lid is padded to provide acomfortable armrest surface. This lid opens either to a 95-degreeposition for access to the interior compartment or to a 180-degreeposition to act as a second-row serving tray. Two cupholders and awide depression to hold snacks are molded into the lid's innersurface.

Inside the storage compartment, a hinged top tray offers aconvenient storage location for tissues, writing materials, or acellular telephone. An access hole located in the rear corner of thistray provides a path for the phone's power cord to plug into a12-volt power outlet below. Clearance is also provided to permitclosing the top tray while the phone is in use. Below the top tray isa second large-volume storage compartment. A mid-level shelf, linedwith soft materials to prevent damage to small objects, is an ideallocation for credit card or magnetic access (key) card stowage. Theremaining volume is large enough to accommodate either a home-sizetissue box or up to 13 compact discs inside their jewel cases.

As in other Acura vehicles, the driver's cockpit is organizedergonomically to avoid distractions from the task of driving.Exterior lighting and turn signals, cruise control, and moonroofcontrols are positioned to the left of the steering wheel to preventoperation by passengers, while wiper controls are mounted on aright-side column stalk. Radio and cruise control switches arepositioned just below the horizontal steering wheel spokes for easyuse. Secondary switches are spotted near the instrument cluster.

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

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

Pressing an on-screen mode button varies the direction of air flowthrough the front climate-control system. Pressing an A/C buttonswitches the A/C compressor on and off. The fan button selects fromfive speeds.

Adjacent to the central display screen are two adjustable ventregisters, a master light switch, a hazard switch, a "passengerairbag off" indicator and a small control panel for managing thesynchronized front and rear climate control systems.

The 2003 MDX features the third generation DVD-based,satellite-linked Acura Navigation System with Voice Recognition as anoption on the model with Touring Package. This system has beenenhanced over the previous generation with a wide variety of newfeatures. These enhancements include:

  • Voice recognition
  • Rearview camera
  • Faster route calculation and search speed (up to three timesfaster than the previous generation)
  • A more comprehensive destination guide with 7 million pointsof interest (previously 3.7 million).
  • Enhanced graphics
  • New, enhanced split screen mode for displaying additionalroute information
  • Day/night visualization modes with user-selectable screenbackground appearance
  • Enhanced menus and improved surface street mapping
  • Turn by turn voice guidance in either male or femalevoice

Similar in function to systems offered in Acura RL, TL, and CLmodels, this equipment receives Global Positioning System (GPS) data.That information is combined with signals from an onboard inertialguidance system and information from a DVD database to pinpoint thevehicle's location and help guide the driver to selecteddestinations.

The Acura Navigation System with Voice Recognition includescontinuous coverage of 48 states, which for 2003 covers virtually allU.S. roads and 7 million points of interest (compared to 3.7 millionin the 2002 model).

This coverage is conveyed to the driver by both audio and visualcues designed to aid navigation without causing distraction. A maleor female voice can be selected for the audio cues and this voice canbe shut off at any time. A moving map in combination with directionarrows, detailed street names, turning instructions and drivingdistances are provided on the LCD touch control screen. A new splitscreen design enhances on-screen information with a "map view" and"3-D" route visualization of freeway on ramps or off rampssimultaneously-a major step forward in making navigation informationeven easier to understand.

This new generation Acura Navigation System can be controlled bythe driver through either the touch screen display or by the newvoice recognition system. The voice recognition system works when the"talk" button, located on the steering wheel is depressed. Whenspoken to (the microphone is located on the roof console), the systemrecognizes commands such as "find nearest gas station," "find nearestATM," or "find nearest Italian restaurant."

The voice recognition system has a vocabulary of 130 commands andcan recognize virtually any English-spoken accent.Search speed inthis improved system is more than three times faster than in thesystem's previous generation.

A picture-in-picture capability permits simultaneous display of alarge-scale map with detailed turning instructions. The driver alwaysknows the vehicle's current position and a balloon function instantlyreveals the address of any selected location on the map. Points ofinterest can be searched by inputting that destination's telephonenumber. The volume of voice guidance instructions can be adjustedthrough eleven settings and the audio system's speakers areautomatically muted when direction commands are issued.

In addition to using the voice recognition feature to operate thesystem, manual operation is also available, quickly and easily viathe touch screen. Only a few entries are needed to enter destinationsand route calculations are made expeditiously.

A matte finish is used on the display screen to enhance legibilitywhile resisting fingerprints. The same screen used for navigationalso displays trip distance, average fuel mileage, remaining range(miles to empty), elapsed time, outside temperature, and climatecontrol setting information.

If desired, a route with up to five destinations can bepre-programmed. The Acura Navigation System with Voice Recognitionhas the ability to track vehicle position by means of dots on thescreen for those areas not covered by DVD map data - especiallyhelpful when driving off-road.

Another notable enhancement is the addition of a rearview camera.This camera, located on the liftgate sends a picture of the areadirectly behind the MDX to the navigation system screen when thetransmission is moved to the "reverse" position. The view shownextends to over 13 feet behind the bumper with a view width that iswider than the MDX itself.

New for 2003, the MDX can be equipped with an availablefactory-installed Acura DVD Entertainment System. This multi-facetedsystem features a 7-inch widescreen LCD display (for optimumvisibility) that flips down from the ceiling at the push of a buttonfor easy viewing by rear seat passengers. The extended capabilitiesof the DVD system allow for either DVD, CD, radio, cassette tapes andauxiliary accessories (such as video games, VCRs or cameras) to beplayed in the rear seating areas while the front passengers listen toa different audio source. The DVD player can be convenientlycontrolled from three locations - the front audio system controls,the rear seat controls near the LCD screen, or a wireless remotecontrol. Additional audio and video input jacks allow for a widevariety of additional equipment - ranging from camcorders to VCRs togame consoles - to be attached to the system. The system comescomplete with two infrared (IR) wireless headphones and a wirelessremote control as standard equipment.

MDX engineers conducted a major cupholder R&D program to make theMDX extremely occupant-friendly. The first thing they learned was thedaunting array of beverage containers in daily use - rectangularjuice boxes, 12-ounce cans, 20-ounce bottles, various-sized papercups from fast-food outlets, insulated coffee cups, and bottled watervessels galore. Ten beverage holders were designed into the MDX'sinterior to accommodate a variety of passenger needs.

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

MDX sound systems are engineered for optimum performance and tunedspecifically for this vehicle's acoustical characteristics. Thestandard system provides premium sound quality and clarity,especially in the first and second seating rows. A head unitintegrated into the center-dash features AM/FM stereo, cassette, anda single-disc CD player. A micro antenna positioned at a discreetcenter-rear location on the roof receives radio broadcasts. Switchesmounted below a left-side steering wheel spoke allow the driver toadjust play volume, choose another radio station, or select adifferent CD track without shifting attention from the road.

Four integrated, 30-watt amplifiers and one 35-watt amplifierdrive a total of seven speakers. A 16 cm midrange speaker is mountedin each door. There's also a 2-inch tweeter in each front door and a10-inch sub-woofer in the right-rear interior trim panel.

The MDX with Touring Package is equipped with an Acura/Bose" MusicSystem that provides superb entertainment in all seating positionsthanks to a more complete speaker array and extra amplifier power.The head unit is curved in two directions to coordinate with thecenter-dash design. This system offers AM/FM, cassette, and a 6-CDin-dash changer. The steering wheel mounted controls described abovealso command the system.

A special six-CD changer function allows the unit to convenientlystore extra discs ready for playing without a separate magazine.Touching a load button once opens the changer's door to allow theinsertion of one CD. Holding that button down facilitates loading upto six CDs. Since the door opens only during loading and ejectoperations, there's less likelihood that foreign objects will jam themechanism. This sound system can select any desired CD track orshuffle through stored material at random to provide hours of audioentertainment.

The Acura/Bose, Music System features eight speakers including arear-mounted 2.5-inch twiddler speaker. Four integrated 25-wattamplifiers drive the mid-range, tweeter, and twiddler units while aseparate 100-watt amplifier is provided for the 10-inch sub-woofer.

Overhead lamps are provided for all three rows of seating. Anadditional cargo light mounted to the tailgate provides ampleillumination both inside the vehicle and on the ground for convenientloading at night. When the lamps are switched off by closing thedoors or inserting a key in the ignition switch, they fade out over asix-second period. All power window switches are illuminated forconvenient night-time operation.

To avoid interference from cellular telephone and pagertransmissions, MDX's keyless security system communicates via FM(instead of AM) signals. In models with the Touring Package, whendoors are unlocked remotely, outside mirrors and the driver's seatautomatically move to pre-selected memory positions. Two fobs areprovided to distinguish one driver in the family from another.

The fob itself has three buttons. At the top, there's a largetriangular-shaped button to command the lock function. A smallerround button with a raised nib for tactile identification commandsthe vehicle to unlock all doors. Operation of the locks is confirmedby an audible chirp. The third button at the bottom of the fob isrecessed; pressing this "panic" button activates dual loud trumpethorns to signal distress.

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