by Daniel DeGasperi

The Honda MDX is tipped to return to Australia within two years.

The third generation of the premium large SUV will soon be revealed, possibly at the LA auto show next week. Interest has now been confirmed to CarAdvice by Honda Australia, which is rumoured to have imported prototypes to test locally.

“We’d love to have the MDX back,” said Honda Australia’s principal advisor, Lindsay Smalley. “We need to plug our model line. We need to plug that [premium-large SUV] line, and plug the sub-compact SUV segment.”

Smalley, a Honda veteran of 23 years, and planning retirement in December, argues that Honda MDX would do better now than the first generation (pictured main and below) did when it launched here in 2003. Back then, the X5/ML-sized MDX launched from $69,990, powered by a 3.5-litre V6 engine.

In its first full year on-sale, the MDX garnered just 677 sales, compared with 3138 units of the BMW X5 and 1226 of the Mercedes-Benz ML. Last year, the entire SUV Luxury segment tallied 30,000 units.

Any suggestion that Honda may realign the MDX as a Mazda CX-9 rival, rather than a BMW X5 competitor, was ruled out. “I couldn’t imagine any change in its positioning,” said Smalley.

This is despite the Honda Accord Euro lining up as a ‘non premium’ Mazda6 competitor in Australia. The Euro, like the MDX, sells in North America as an Acura, Honda’s Lexus-rivalling premium brand.

The current, second-generation Honda MDX launched in 2006 and is due to be replaced within a year. It is powered by a 224kW/370Nm 3.7-litre V6 linked to a six-speed automatic, but is produced only in left-hand drive at Ontario, Canada. That will almost certainly change with the new model, according to Smalley.

Where other manufacturers are forging ahead with turbocharging downsized engines, Honda is committed to expanding its hybrid vehicle line-up. Smalley promises that there are “some very clever things happening with hybrid technology at the moment” including harnessing the electric motor inside the continuously variable transmission, to reduce parasitic power loss.

With increasingly stringent emissions regulations being enforced in the MDX’s North America home market, it is highly likely the two-tonne seven-seater will be available with a petrol-electric drivetrain. It would also provide Honda with a rival for the Lexus RX450h.

No doubt the local arm will look at the sales performance of the recently-launched Infiniti FX before making a final decision on whether to import the Honda MDX.

Sources currently put the chances of the Honda MDX coming to Australia at about 80 per cent.

  • Wile E Coyote

    Make it $70k like when it left and it should stand a chance.Price it up to the Lexus RX and it will struggle.

    • Phil

      WTF? Why would it stand a chance at $70K?

      • Wile E Coyote

        Because its competitors are much more expensive FTW 

        • Dfgsdfg

           Which ones? Klugar/CX9/Murano/Pajero/Grandcherokee/Sorrento/SanteFe/Territory ALL start under $50K. Subaru Tribeca is $55K and VW Toureg starts at $62K.

          Also you say it will struggle if priced up to the Lexus RX…….Well RX starts at $68K for the 270 and $78K for the 350, so your price for where you say “it should stand a chance” is where exactly where you also say it will struggle?

          • Greg

            The original MDX was sold here in one spec – a fully equipped V6 model. If that’s anything to go by, then a price of $70K would put it under the comparable RX350 by $8K.

          • Phil

             Yea ummm, the original RX was not $78K. It was $69K for the RX330 V6. Why are u using 2012 prices for Lexus against 2004 prices for Honda?
            Also I highly doubt people want to pay even close to Lexus prices for a Honda.

          • Greg

            Yea ummm, I’m quoting prices provided by Wile E Coyote and Dfgsdfg. I’m simply saying that a price of $70K (taken from Wile E Coyote’s original comment), would put the new MDX under the comparable RX350, which is priced from $78K (taken from Dfgsdfg’s comment) meaning that Wile E Coyote’s comment isn’t exactly contradictory. Anyway, if you have a problem with either of these prices Phil, you can take it up with the two people who actually provided them. Thanks

          • Zaccy16

            i reckon price it at around $65,000 and have one fully specced model

          • Greg

            That’s a comprehension fail on your part, Phil. I didn’t claim the original RX (the RX330) was $78K – I was talking about the RX350 (the part where I said “RX350″ in my comment should have been a clear giveaway that I was talking about the RX350. It was rather presumptuous of you to think I had accidentally put 350 instead of 330 or whatever justification you gave yourself to try and call me out). The price I mentioned for the MDX was $70K for the new model, taken from a previous comment by Wile E Coyote. Therefore, that amounts to comparing a new MDX at a speculative $70K to a new RX350 at $78K. There are no 2004 prices quoted anywhere by me or anyone else.

          • Wile E Coyote

            Spot on

          • Phil

            You were the one talking about “The original MDX” – thats how your first comment started. The original MDX had a original start price of $70K which at the time was slightly above the RX.

            But moving onto the todays prices, $70K or $78K, not much difference and that’s still Lexus pricing. Even if the Honda does go for $8K less, at that price point, it is basically still Lexus pricing.

            Lexus pricing for a Honda or at the very least, Honda’s priced within %10 of a Lexus? Why am I the only one that sees a problem with that? Of course people will speak with their wallets and no one is going to buy a Honda for anywhere near Lexus pricing.

          • Greg

            Yes, I did bring up the original MDX in my comment and the reason I did so was that, when speculating about future events, I find that it’s a good idea to take a look back in history. That’s why when I brought up the original MDX, I included the qualifier “if that’s anything to go by”, in my original comment, to indicate that I was only bringing it up as a reference point for the new MDX. (You must have glossed over this when you read the comment). The original MDX was sold here as a one-spec fully-equipped V6 model, so, if history is any indication, the new MDX would likely also be sold here as a one-spec fully-equipped V6. Therefore, if it were to be compared to a Lexus model, it should be compared to the V6 RX350 and not the RX270, since that’s a four-cylinder model.
            I think you may have misunderstood my comment and thought I was comparing 2004’s models. I was not. I was comparing the new MDX with the current RX350, using the speculative price offered by Wile E Coyote and the actual price of the RX350 offered by Dfgsdfg. And since $70K < $78K, I said that such a price would indeed put the MDX under the RX350. I hope this clears everything up.

  • Kampfer

    Honda has long lost it “premium” image in Australia.

    • Golfmother

      Did it ever have a premium image , lost its sports car image years ago , such a shame in the 90’s they were on a roll , now just  A to B transport .

  • F1orce

    If I was in the market for a used I would choose this 2003 MDX over the 2003 BMW X5 or Mercedes ML.

    As I see both on the roads and the MDX has held up much better and its design has also held up much better..

  • Tex

    Hmmmm, the MDX is a 3.7L with 7 seaters; definitely a CX-9 competitor.Sorry Honda, you lost your image when you decided to remove sports from your range. Now you’re just the alternative Toyota…

  • Phil

    Oh dear.

    I’ve never bothered looking at the MDX interior, but now I can see they’ve got that awful Toyota Grande style, ultra shiny, ultra fake looking wood.

    • Wile E Coyote

      Oh dear 

      I ain’t no Honda sympathiser but do you realise this is the 2003 car – almost 10 years old!

      • Tex

        And it was first launched as an Acura in 2001…

      • Adfgsd


        Do you know what wood is? It does not turn shiny and plasticky with age!

        • Tex

          I think what he is referring to is that in 2001 this wasn’t far from the norm.

          • Cdfdfs

             Ah no, Toyota’s wood trim looks same horrible, clearly fake plastic shiny stuff in 2012 as it always has. Other brands with much nice wood like Jaguar still have the same nicer look they had in 2001.

          • F1MotoGP

            Ultra shiny, ultra fake looking wood was all the rage 10 years ago in this segment. You could find it in the MDX, X5, M-Class and RX.

          • Sgt.Sweetchuck

            Lexus have never used fake wood in any of heir cars.

          • Mike

            Yeah and I don’t think the wood in the X5/M-Class was fake either, but the point is they all look pretty fake/dated by today’s wood trim standards.

        • Sdfasdfadsfsdfdf


          It’s not as if they put the wood into the car straight after cutting it off  the trees.

    • F1MotoGP

      Yeah, ultra shiny, ultra fake looking wood was all the rage 10 years ago in this segment. You could find it in the MDX, X5, M-Class and RX.

      • Wile E Coyote

        Spot on .The  new MDX interior  will have moved on since 10 years ago.
        In this classroom I would fail certain of the commentators for a lack of comprehension like those geniuses that cannot come up with an original name and use meaningless letters.

        • Phil

          You would “fail certain of the commentators”….?

  • Martin

    How about launching an SUV between the CRV and MDX?

    • Antmindel

      America has it,its called the Acura RDX,very good looking,i saw them in June in NYC.

      • Jdp604

        The acura RDX is a different model. Its basically the smaller version of the MDX. Kind of like how the BMW X3 is the little brother of the BMW X5. Im sure the MDX will look similar to the RDX though 

  • GregR

    I’m new to this discussion but there does seem to be a sort of consensus – that correct pricing is crucial for the MDX to succeed. The price of the original certainly deterred me. I liked the vehicle, especially the engine and the interior spec. Hopefully the new version will also be more economical and equally well specified. I am looking forward to its arrival and will certainly give it serious consideration.

  • Yonta

    It will go nowhere if they don’t offer a modern V6 turbo diesel. Put a turbo four in it if they  want to compete with Kia Sorrento/Hyundai cant think of its name. Make it hybrid if they dont want it to sell .

    • Fdffs

      A 3.7L V6 with Direct Injection would hual ass

  • Shak

    If Honda want to sell half baked mediocrity in our market, then they need to price accordingly. this needs to go up against the like of Kluger, CX-9, Territory etc. Just because you stick some pleather and plastic wood in the cabin and stick a 70K price tag on the car, it does not automatically become a Premium offering. 

    • John

      What makes a car premium then?

      • Phil

        You don’t try and flog it alongside $15,990 Jazz specials for a start.

    • Wile E Coyote

      Historically the MDX was a justifiable competitor to the RX .It was a notch above the Kluger ,Territory etc.

  • Able

    Good, DO IT HONDA!

  • Darryl

    The Acura MDX is priced at slightly more than the Lexus RX in the States. Can’t imagine them wanting to price it any less here. But they do have a model below that. What about bringing in the Honda Pilot – that really is a Kluger (Highlander) competitor over there, and starts under $30k for 2WD V6. C’mon Honda, get it together, that’s the one you should bring in. And incidentally, the new Nissan Pathfinder has turned into a competitor of these now too; more or less a 7 seat Murano.

    • Tim

      Exactly. I am from NA where market even more competitive, please, guys, Acura is always better and costs more then comparable Lexus, Honda engine and drive is always better then Toyota, it has been discussed, eaten and puked many years ago. That’s why Honda holds price better then Toyota in USA.

      • Wile E Coyote

        When the MDX was here in Aus the  Lexus RX was better and voted so by the various motoring press awards.The MDX was priced about the same as the RX but was a bigger vehicle which Americans tend to like and probably why the MDX was priced more in than RX in US.

  • BP

    Like the Holden Adventra, it stuggled to sell in modest numbers. Do yourself a favour Honda by not bringing this model here and we’ll all be satisfied.

  • aries1470

    Well, alll I can say as an owner of an ’05 model, is that it is great, still turns heads, and the design and interior spacing is excelllent!
    The rear seats seat ADULTS comfortably, the last row rarely gets used, but seats kids / teenagers without issues, and medium build adults.
    Its handling is very good, but like most Honda’s, you need to keep it serviced CORRECTLY, and have its oils changed with the correct ones.
    The problem / dillema that Honda faces here, is that they did NOT bring their premium brand name here to Australia as Toyota did with Lexus, even though Honda did start this with premium brand naming with Acura for the N.A. market.
    So all you saying “Lexus this & Lexus that”, just change “Lexus” to “Toyota” and have a listen to yourselfs! The Honda Legend, would be Acura Legend, the upper model of some of their ranges of “Euro” are “Acura” in the N.A. market. So maybe call them “Acura”….
    So why again has Honda “lost the appeal”? because they kept the same name here instead of bringing the “Acura” name?
    Also, how many “Toyota’s” have been recalled within the last 5 years compared to Honda… I rest my case.

    As for pricing, I personally beleive for the brand and quality, it should be between the $70k-$80k range, and to NOT bring different levels of trim as they do in teh U.S.A., as it will damage them. Have it fully kitted, with some optional extra’s jsut as the original series that stopped in ’06 here. Also, I loved how some of the “MY05″ also had the sticker from Honda that they could use E10, while other “MY05″‘s did not. I seen this when shopping for my car, of which still had some of the 5 year warranty left on it. Also the dealer were I took it for service was great, excellent service, but now  I use a “local” mechanic that specialises in Honda’s and have not have had an issue at all.

    On the other hand, when I was shopping for it, many of the MDX sellers still wanted to transfer to a NEW MDX, but could not, and went either for a Volvo XC90 or were downgrading to somethign a little smaller, but would have loved to stay with a newer MDX.

    Now time will only tell if they will actually bring it back :) I sure hope so.

    • dave

       According to Honda, they will not be bringing it back to Australia

      • aries1470

         Hello Dave,
        Um.. where do they state that they will not be bringing it back?
        Currently, yes. This atricle is for the 3rd Generation.

        I just hope that they will not base their decision on this:
        “No doubt the local arm will look at the sales performance of the recently-launched Infiniti FX before making a final decision on whether to import the Honda MDX.”, since then, for sure they will not bring it! I say this, since I can not see that car taking off in sales.

        • Dave

          I rang Honda aus and they said they are not bringing it over

    • Vti07

      It has been said that Honda would only bring in the Acura brand if annual sales exceeded 100,000 units for Honda (snowballs chance in hell of that happening).

      Also, look what happened to Mazda’s luxury division – Eunos? I just hope that Nissans Infiniti brand does well.

      • aries1470

        Hi VTi07,

        I hope that the Infiniti brand does “well” for one reason, and one only.
        If “they”  – Honda, actually will base their decision on the sales of Infiniti…. then yes. I would liek them to bring it back – Period. I have been in a Territory of similar vintage…. the Honda wins hands down no questions asked!

        Btw, I never knew there was a “quota”. I do not see “Acura” selling 100k in a year, don’t mind Honda’s combined sales…. our market is just not big enough for that to happen.
        As for Infiniti, I think Nissan would be better off taking that badge off and putting theirs on the series 😉

  • supercujo

    Oh, that is sure to be a winner…

  • dave

    highly doubt it will arrive here.
    A quote from  Honda Australia director Stephen Collins:

    But while Honda will downsize its SUV line-up, Collins has played
    down the likelihood of the larger MDX returning to the brand’s local
    line-up. The seven-seat SUV is only available in left-hand drive ruling
    the current model out.

    “I think that a mid-size SUV is an opportunity in our range,”
    he admits. “I think the MDX is more unlikely than likely, and that’s
    more to do with left-hand drive/right-hand drive issues. Is it an
    opportunity? Absolutely, but realistically our focus on SUVs is

  • Gordy

    Best car ever, bring it back my old one needs replacing.

    • Frances-

      I feel the same, mine is now ten years old and has never missed a beat. Love my MDX!

  • Accounts

    Lexus, still a Toyota if you ask me.

  • Frances-

    I would love to see the MDX return, I love my MDX and when the time comes to upgrade I would love to buy another as I can’t see myself driving anything else!

  • Yo

    The MDX will be back in 2014