The 2014 Acura MDX Prototype luxury SUV made its world debut at the 2013 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, giving us a better look at some new exterior styling cues that may be seen on upcoming Acura models. The 3-row MDX will be a major component in the release of Acura's new-generation lineup, which needs to draw some positive attention following some questionable design thinking over the past few model years. The MDX Prototype is slightly shorter in overall length than the current MDX, but has a longer wheelbase and sweeping bodylines — Acura's idea of what a luxury SUV can be when the designers think "compact."

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2014 Acura MDX Prototype

What is it? Essentially an early look at the bodywork of the coming 2014 Acura MDX 7-seater luxury SUV.

What's hot? The "beak era" at Acura is long gone: The MDX Prototype is a design focused on improved aerodynamics. The 3.5-liter V6 engine under the hood uses Variable Cylinder Management to help the MDX's fuel consumption.

What's not? Not being able to look at the interior makes it hard to get excited about the 2014 MDX Prototype. The addition of a front-wheel-drive version vexes us a bit. Who doesn't want all-wheel drive in a vehicle meant to carry so many people — as a year-round daily driver, no less?

How much and when? No price yet from Acura, but it has stated that the 2014 MDX will be on sale by mid-2013.

MSN Autos' verdict: With no peek at the interior, it's hard to reasonably judge the 2014 Acura MDX Prototype. The MDX Prototype's exterior aesthetic smells a bit of design-by-committee: lines are curvy but don't flow; straight but not sharp; boxy but not strong or aggressive. The 2014 MDX, in this prototype form, is a bit all over the place, but if promised passenger and cargo space gains come to pass it may not matter. Build quality, ride comfort and a good interior can overcome many a styling fault — look at the longevity of Honda's Ridgeline pickup.

James Tate cut his teeth in the business as a race team crew member before moving to the editorial side as Senior Editor of Sport Compact Car, and his work has appeared in Popular Mechanics, Automobile, Motor Trend and European Car. When not writing, Tate is usually fantasizing about a vintage Porsche 911.