Substantial upgrades go into 2003 models of Acura's luxury sport-utility wagon. Debuting in 2001 with the unitized structure of a car plus car-like independent suspension elements and a strong V6 engine aboard, MDX for 2003 gets a V6 upgraded with a boost by 20 points to 260 hp. In addition, there's a new five-speed electronic automatic transmission and drive-by-wire throttle. Revisions in suspension settings bring a smoother ride quality but also more agility for responsive handling, while the power steering system has a firmer feel when turning the wheel. Acura's VSA is aboard with an electronic 4WD system redirecting engine torque from front wheels to rear ones when sensors detect wheel slippage. The cabin, clad in leather with deluxe appointments, provides three rows of seats including front buckets and a second-row bench for three plus two fold-down seats in row three. Convenience features improve with new rain-sensing windshield wipers, an auto-up driver's side window and auto-off headlights. MDX also carries more color choices this year in new shades like Midnight Blue Pearl and Sandstone Metallic.