News Releases 2003

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February 27, 2003

Honda Announces the MDX - A New 7-Passenger Premium SUV

February 27, 2003-Honda Motor Co., Ltd. has announced the release of the MDX, a new "premium SUV*1" with a classy, versatile, seven-passenger interior. The MDX comes equipped with the newly developed VTM-4*2 electronically controlled 4WD variable torque management system, for superior all-terrain stability. The first SUV*3 to be recognized as an Ultra-Low Emissions Vehicle (ULEV), the MDX delivers class-leading fuel economy combined with superior safety performance. The MDX will go on sale March 14th at Honda Verno dealers throughout Japan. 

The MDX was developed as a premium SUV that provides a high level of driver control in all types of weather and road conditions, along with a comfortable, luxurious interior. To embody this concept, the MDX is fitted with the newly developed intelligent VTM-4 + VSA*4 driving control system and has a classy, versatile interior that can be quickly and easily reconfigured to accommodate up to seven passengers and a wide range of cargo--in a form that speaks of simple yet powerful urban styling. 

A newly developed 3.5L V-6 VTEC engine and five-speed automatic transmission contribute to the MDX's smooth, powerful driving performance and class-leading fuel economy*3. It is the first SUV in its class*3 to be recognized by the Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport as a ULEV and to meet fuel efficiency requirements for 2010. The MDX also incorporates Honda's original G-CON (G-force Control) technology in a new body to ensure outstanding collision safety performance. 

*1 SUV: Sports Utility Vehicle
*2 VTM-4: Variable Torque Management 4WD system
*3 SUV weighing over 2,020kg
*4 VSA: Vehicle Stability Assist

MDX Exclusive

MDX Exclusive

Domestic sales target (2003 model only): 1,700units

Manufacturer’s suggested retail price  (consumption tax not included; units: ¥1,000)

Type Engine Transmission Drive wheels Price
MDX Exclusive 3.5-liter VTEC V-6 5-speed automatic 4WD (VTM-4) 4,850

Body colors (3 colors)
Starlight Silver Metallic; Sage Blush Pearl; Nighthawk Black Pearl

The MDX is manufactured by Honda of Canada Manufacturing ("HCM", located in Alliston, Ontario, Canada) for import to Japan. 

MDX stands for "Multi Dimension X", meaning that it is an SUV with multiple advanced features giving it unknown potential.

Main Features of the MDX


  • Inspired by the rhinoceros, a powerful, and when required, swift runner, the MDX features a low center of gravity, wide body, short front nose, and large cabin in a simple and streamlined form.


  • Designed based on the "Santa Fe concept", a modern architectural style that combines a simple yet powerful form with natural materials, the MDX has the atmosphere of a luxury car. Its curved lines wrap the occupants in calm relaxation, while expansive, bright windows, and leather -and woodgrain paneling give the MDX interior an intelligent, refined, and comfortable feel.


  • The MDX's spacious cabin, which seats seven passengers on three rows of seats, is the product of Honda's short-nose packaging, achieved by combining a low floor with a compact engine and other components. Adults can easily get into and out of not only the first- and the second-row seats, but the third row seats as well.
  • The second- and third-row seats split and fold flat into the floor with a simple, one-handed operation. This makes for an interior that is quick and easy to reconfigure to accommodate up to seven people and a wide range of cargo. Both of the second-row seats slide forward, to make getting in and out of the third-row seats extremely simple.
  • The cargo space accommodates 208L*5 of luggage with seven passengers aboard, and up to 1,104L*5 with the second- and third-row seats folded down. Loading and unloading is made easy by the low, flat-floor design.
  • The eight-way adjustable driver and front passenger power seats provide excellent support. The driver's seat is equipped with a memory function that also adjusts the side mirrors.
  • The MDX is chock full of amenities, including ample storage space, AC100V power, and accessory sockets.
  • *5As measured by Honda according to VDA formula

Driving performance

VTM-4 (Variable Torque Management 4WD system) + VSA

  • The MDX is equipped with the sophisticated VTM-4, a 4WD system that employs electronically controlled variable torque distribution to ensure a high level of driver control in all types of weather and road conditions. Newly developed, electronically controlled, variable-torque, twin-clutch mechanisms on the center and rear LSDs*6 implement continuously variable distribution (100:0 to 50:50) of drive force to the front and rear wheels depending on road conditions, making for light and nimble on-road driving combined with powerful off-road performance.
  • The MDX is also equipped with ABS*7, TCS*8, and VSA (Vehicle Stability Assist) with side-slip control. In combination with VTM-4, these functions further enhance vehicle stability.
Cruising: Delivers superior fuel efficiency in front-wheel drive.
Startup and acceleration: Distributes drive force to the rear wheels as needed for smooth startup and acceleration.
Up-hill: Instantly redistributes power to the rear wheels when vehicle weight is shifted to the rear and the front wheels cannot effectively transmit the drive force to the road, for more powerful driving performance.
On low-friction surfaces: Redistributes most of the drive force to the remaining wheel if the other three wheels are on a low-friction surface, limiting slip for more stable driving performance.
Lock mode: Delivers the power needed for extracting the vehicle from deep mud or snow, by fixing the drive force distribution to the front and rear wheels at approximately 50:50.

*6 LSD: Limited Slip Differential
*7 ABS: 4-wheel Anti-lock Braking System
*8 TCS: Traction Control System


  • A newly developed 3.5L VTEC V-6 engine contributes to the vehicle's smooth and powerful drive and superb environmental performance. Adoption of a variable air intake system and other improvements to engine breathing maximize combustion efficiency, helping the MDX to achieve a maximum output of 191kW (260 PS) and a maximum torque of 345N·m (35.2Kg·m). Its smooth, powerful low- and mid-range torque is remarkable.
  • The width of the crankshaft has been reduced, auxiliary equipment redesigned, and a thin oil pump adopted to make the engine 30mm narrower than a conventional 3.5L engine. The new engine is lighter and more compact, despite its large displacement.
  • The efficient arrangement of the three catalytic converters--one catalytic converter fitted directly to the exhaust manifold of each cylinder bank and a low exhaust-pressure catalytic converter under the floor--makes a significant contribution to cleaner exhaust emissions. Sensors installed in the catalytic converters fitted to the manifolds ensure precise control of the fuel-air ratio, while atomizing fuel injectors provide near-complete combustion, resulting in cleaner exhaust gas.
  • The MDX is also equipped with DBW (Drive-By-Wire), an electronic throttle control system. A sensor converts throttle valve control movements of the gas pedal into electrical signals and sends them to the ECU, which calculates the optimal throttle opening based on wheel speed and engine revs. Direct control of the throttle valve by the actuator ensures precise, natural throttle control. In combination with the five-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission and VSA, DBW contributes to a smooth drive and excellent control.


  • The MDS comes equipped with the newly developed five-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission, which ensures that the high torque from the 3.5L VTEC V-6 engine is effectively transmitted to the drive wheels. Thanks to its wide gearing, the MDX offers powerful starts and exceptional fuel efficiency while cruising --- a compelling feature in a 4WD vehicle.
  • The parallel four-axis structure and ultra-thin torque converter result in a transmission that is 60 mm narrower overall than a conventional five-speed automatic transmission for a V6 engine, while an efficiency-enhancing low friction clutch contributes to superior fuel economy.

Chassis and body

  • The MDX's front suspension uses a MacPherson Strut for a simple design and comfortable drive, while the rear suspension employs the compact, in-wheel, double-wishbone configuration that makes the low floor and three-row seat arrangement possible.
  • The MDX uses a solid, four-ring, shell-type safety cage to back up the vehicle's powerful driving performance. High-tension steel is used for the main frame members instead of conventional materials, for a weight saving of approximately 12kg.
  • The world's first double sound-absorbing floor carpet*9 gives the MDX the quiet ride of a luxury car.

*9 Honda survey

Advanced features

  • A Honda DVD-based, voice-operated navigation system with a rear-view camera is standard equipment. The system is compatible with InterNavi Premium Club, a Honda original interactive information network service.
  • Also standard is the Honda Integrated Monitor System, which allows passengers in the second- and third-row seats to watch TV or enjoy videos and games by connecting them to the AV input jack. Remote control and wireless headphones are also provided.
  • A dual climate control system maintains the spacious cabin at a comfortable temperature. The two climate control units, one in the front and another in the rear, can be linked, or, if desired, the temperature and air volume of the rear unit can be set independently.
  • With the side mirror reverse-tilt feature, the mirrors automatically tilt down when the driver puts the vehicle in reverse, improving visibility when backing up.

Safety performance

  • Honda's original G-CON (G-force Control) technology is incorporated to create a new body with a crash safety design, reducing the level of occupant injury while securing a strong survival cell. The body provides vehicle occupants protection in a 55km/h full-frontal collision, a 64km/h front offset collision, 55km/h side collision, and a 50km/h rear collision. To further improve safety in real-world collisions, Honda has implemented its own vehicle-to-vehicle collision testing program with its own independently established research standards*10.
  • The MDX is equipped with compatibility brackets on the ends of the side frames to match the height of the other vehicle's crash-absorbing components in the event of a vehicle-to-vehicle frontal collision. This allows both vehicles involved in the collision to effectively absorb the impact.
  • A dual front i-SRS airbag system for the driver and passenger and a front-seat i-side airbag system with a passenger-side positioning detection system are standard equipment.
  • Also standard are ISO FIX-compatible child seat anchor bars (left and right second-row seats) with tether anchors.
*10 Vehicle-to-vehicle crash testing involving a 50% front offset collision with a 2-ton class vehicle, both vehicles traveling at 50km/h.

Environmental performance

  • Hydrocarbons, nitrogen oxides, and other pollutants in the exhaust gas have been greatly reduced. In fact, the MDX is the first vehicle in its class*11 to be recognized by the Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport as an Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle, with emissions of less than 25% that allowed under year 2000 emissions regulations.
  • Thanks to its highly efficient combustion technology, the MDX has a fuel rating of 7.8km/L*12-the highest in its class*12-which meets Japanese government fuel efficiency requirements for 2010.
  • Most interior injection-molded parts are made of olefin resin for superior recyclability.
  • Lead content has been greatly reduced through the use of aluminum in the radiator and heater cores and ceramic glass in brake pad friction members.
*11 SUV weighing over 2,020kg
*12 Fuel consumption when driven in 10-15 mode. Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport figures.