A while back, I recommended the new Acura MDX to those of you shopping for a new premium utility vehicle. Now less than a year later, I am back to recommend its greener sibling, the 2017 Acura MDX Sport Hybrid complete with four motors and electronic all-wheel drive.
Thanks to diligent work of the engineering and design teams, the hybrid variant of the newest three-row sport (crossover) ute from Acura does not have to give up its passenger count. And all things considered, I give the driving enjoyment nod to the Sport Hybrid version. It is quiet, smooth, powerful off the line, and handles delightfully.
The MDX Sport Hybrid variant begins as all MDX models do and features all of the amenities and technologies as the gasoline-only models. From there, Acura takes MDX to the next level. This is the technological flagship of the Acura fleet.
Before we delve into what separates the MDX models, let’s take a brief review of the similarities. These include leather interior with heated and ventilated front sport seats, push-button ignition, push-button shifter, dual color touchscreen infotainment displays, power liftgate, power moonroof, 20-inch alloy wheels with all-season tires, jewel-eye LED headlamps, satellite radio, and Bluetooth connectivity.
Our tester arrived with the Tech and Advance packages that added the likes of navigation, voice recognition, AcuraLink connectivity, premium audio system, remote start, blind spot information with rear cross traffic alert, LED puddle lights, surround-view camera, second-row captains chairs, heated steering wheel, rear door sunshades, roof rails, LED fog lights, and parking sensors. Leading the team of safety technology is adaptive cruise control, collision mitigation braking, road departure mitigation, forward collision warning, lane departure warning, and lane keep assist.
Across the board, the Acura MDX offers as much as any in its class, but pulls away from competitors (quite literally) with the Sport Hybrid model. Paired with a gasoline 3.0-liter V-6 engine are three electric motors, 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, active damper suspension system, and new Sport+ driving mode. Harmoniously, these all work together to deliver quite the hybrid sport ute.
A deeper look into the powertrain reveals the gasoline engine that generates 257hp with smooth and quiet operation across the powerband. Acura mates this to a single 47hp electric motor at the gearbox and adds the 72hp Twin Motor Unit at the rear for instant torque to deliver that more responsive feel. The transmission is capable of changing gears lightning quick while keeping the MDX in proper rpm range for the varied driving modes. The front electric motor helps the gas engine drive the front wheels for primary propulsion while the TMU between the rear tires adds traction and optimum cornering capabilities. The electric drive system is fed by 1.3 kWh lithium-ion battery pack located under the front seats (and outside the vehicle) and total hybrid drive system power output is rated at 321hp and 289 lb. ft. torque.
Drive modes can be selected by the driver and include Comfort, Normal, Sport, and new Sport+. The MDX Sport Hybrid features steering wheel shift paddles and manual shift mode and the vehicle can operate in EV mode over short distances. Unique to the Sport Hybrid MDX is electronic Super Handling All-Wheel Drive that operates independent of the gasoline engine for immediate and always-on torque vectoring control. This, combined with the active damper control, provides the best feeling of control and handling in a sport (crossover) utility vehicle.
Pricing for the 2017 Acura MDX Sport Hybrid begins at $51,960 with our loaded Advance tester arriving with a final window sticker of $58,975. Fuel economy is rated at 26 mpg city and 27 mpg highway.
This new MDX Sport Hybrid is as good as its gasoline counterpart and really excels in the driving experience. I would now recommend it over the gas variant for anyone shopping the premium sport/crossover ute segment whether you were looking for a hybrid or not. Yes, it’s that good.