Derived from Honda's Global mid-size platform which underpins cars like the Honda Accord, Acura TL, Acura TSX and Honda Odyssey, it is powered by a J35A3 3.5L SOHC 24 valve V6 with VTEC. 2001-2002 3.5 V6's models produce 240hp (180kW) and 245lb·ft (332N·m) of torque from 3000 to 5000 rpm. 2003-2006 3471cc (3.5in x 3.6in) model engine produces 265hp (198kW) and 253lb·ft (343N·m) . Curb weight is 4,451lb (2,019kg) , with a 106.3in (2,700mm) wheelbase and 8in (200mm) of ground clearance. The cargo floor can flip up to provide two additional seats. The vehicle is designed to hold 7 passengers, but the third row seats are small.
The vehicle features an automatic four wheel drive system (named VTM-4) that engages during off the line acceleration as well as when wheel slippage is detected. Additionally, the system offers a lock mode which can be activated and operated at low speeds and provides permanent 4wd and the equivalent of a locked rear differential; designed for climbing steep hills and getting out of stuck situations. To reduce drivetrain noise and increase fuel efficiency, the system runs as front wheel drive during normal cruising. The VTM-4 AWD system in the MDX is identical to the VTM-4 systems in the Honda Pilot and Honda Ridgeline. It is different than the real time AWD system in the Honda CR-V in that it can lock and it attempts to predict when traction will be lost and apply power to all four wheels before slippage occurs (by monitoring throttle inputs). The Honda CR-V system waits for slippage to occur and then sends power back.
2003 and later models use a 5-speed automatic transmission. The 2001 and 2002 models use a 5 speed automatic transmission which suffered a significant numbers of transmission problems that were similar to the problems with the Acura CL and TL. However, they did not get the benefit of the free extended warranty that the Acura CL and TL received. The 2003 - 2006 models transmissions have so far shown normal failure rates. The 2003 and later models also received a number of structural and suspension modifications to help improve ride and handling.