New Car Review
2017 Acura MDX Sport Hybrid: New Car Review
The 2017 Acura MDX Sport Hybrid is the luxury division's first foray into the hybrid SUV market, and they couldn't have picked a better platform. The MDX is one of the best 7-passenger luxury SUVs on the market, beloved for its solid build, impressive reliability history and uncompromising luxury. The MDX Sport Hybrid brings all the safety and comfort of the nonhybrid MDX and then adds a bit more sizzle to the mix with a clever 3-electric-motor setup similar to that found in the NSX supercar. The hybrid design provides the MDX Sport Hybrid with better handling, improved fuel economy and 30 additional horsepower without sacrificing anything in the way of interior space. Even the pricing is similar, with the hybrid a mere $1,500 more than a similarly equipped MDX SH-AWD.
In this field, the MDX Sport Hybrid has a few notable competitors, namely the Infiniti QX60 Hybrid and, to a lesser extent, the 5-passenger Mercedes-Benz GLE550e and Lexus RX hybrid.
What's New for 2017?
The 2017 Acura MDX Sport Hybrid is the first hybrid SUV from Acura, so it's kind a big deal. Along with its unique 3-motor hybrid drive system, the 2017 MDX Sport Hybrid gets revised styling, a more aggressive front end and more interior refinement.
What We Like
Excellent on-road manners; added power and better fuel economy; reasonable price; comfortable front seats; impeccable craftsmanship
What We Don't
Third-row seat isn't suitable for adults; dual touchscreen displays are not always intuitive to operate; styling still on the conservative side
Power for the MDX Sport Hybrid is provided by a 3.0-liter V6 engine and 3-motor electric hybrid system that make a combined 321 horsepower and 289 lb-ft of torque. The 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission has a built-in 47-hp electric motor, with two additional 36-hp motors located in the rear inboard-mounted Twin Motor Unit (for a combined output of 72 hp). The MDX Sport Hybrid is fitted with idle stop/start technology that shuts down the gasoline engine when the vehicle comes to a stop. Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) is standard, and fuel economy is an impressive 26 miles per gallon in the city and 27 mpg on the highway, with a combined 27 mpg rating.
Standard Features & Options
The MDX Sport Hybrid comes in two well-equipped trims: MDX Sport Hybrid w/Technology Package and MDX Sport Hybrid w/Advance Package.
The MDX Sport Hybrid w/Technology Package ($52,935) includes the 3-motor hybrid system, SH-AWD, AcuraWatch (collision-mitigation braking, lane-keeping assist, road-departure mitigation and adaptive cruise control), the Active Damper System, full LED lighting, an acoustic windshield and front side windows, a power moonroof, Smart Entry Keyless Access, 50/50 split third-row seating, second-row 60/40 split-bench seating with One-Touch Walk-In and Extended Slide, leather seating surfaces, a multiview rearview camera, push-button start/stop, tri-zone automatic climate control, hill-start assist, 10-way heated power front seats, adaptive cruise control, a power tilt-telescopic steering column, GPS-linked climate control, 20-in aluminum-alloy wheels, rain-sensing windshield wipers, power-folding side mirrors with LED puddle lights, remote engine start, the Acura Navigation System with an 8-in color display, a blind spot monitoring system with rear cross-traffic alert and the Acura/ELS Studio Premium Audio System with 10 speakers.
The MDX Sport Hybrid w/Advance Package ($58,975) adds perforated leather with contrast stitching and piping, heated and ventilated front seats, second-row heated captain's chairs, a second-row center console, a heated steering wheel, second-row manual sunshades, two third-row USB charge ports, LED fog lights, auto-dimming side mirrors, front and rear parking sensors and a surround-view camera.
The only option is the Entertainment package ($2,000), which adds second-row bench seating, a 9-in full VGA viewscreen, an 11th speaker for improved sound, heated outboard second-row seats, rear sunshades, a 110-volt outlet and two wireless headphones. When combined with the Advance Package, a 60/40 split-bench seat replaces the second-row captain's chair seats and adds a 16.2-in ultrawide full VGA viewscreen with split-screen technology and a 12th speaker.
The MDX Sport Hybrid comes equipped with seven airbags, hill-start assist, electronic traction and stability control and a tire-pressure monitoring system. Advanced driver-assist features include lane-keeping assist, collision-mitigation braking, adaptive cruise control, road-departure mitigation and blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert.
Although the hybrid version has yet be crash-tested, the nonhybrid MDX earned a 5-star overall rating from the government, while the independent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gave the MDX its highest rating of Good in every crash test, Superior in the crash-avoidance and -mitigation test, and a Top Safety Pick+ designation. It doesn't get much better than that.
Behind the Wheel
Compared to the nonhybrid MDX, the 2017 MDX Sport Hybrid does deliver a more exciting ride. The extra power can be felt both off the line and when performing rapid passing maneuvers. The Sport Hybrid's Active Damping suspension is also more responsive, something we noticed as we breezed through sharp curves at a significantly higher speed than the posted limit, while feeling as though we could actually go even faster.
Of course, this being Acura, maker of the NSX, the hybrid system isn't simply a way to achieve better fuel economy. No, this system employs three electric motors. One is built into the 7-speed dual-clutch transmission and assists in launching the car from dead stops, also working to recapture energy during braking and deceleration. The other motors are neatly tucked away at the rear wheels, delivering added torque, which in combination with Acura's electronic torque vectoring AWD setup improves cornering and stability. All this electronic wizardry is linked together via Acura's Integrated Dynamic System, which includes settings for Comfort, Normal, Sport and, unique to the hybrid, Sport+.
So with all this sporty goodness, you're probably wondering if the hybrid version sacrifices ride comfort in the name of performance. With so many other luxury brands, we've seen it happen, but thankfully that's not the case with the MDX Sport Hybrid. The ride is smooth and controlled, the soft leather seats remarkably comfortable on long drives and, with the exception of the overly complicated split-screen setup, the interior layout is both intuitive and elegant. The MDX Sport Hybrid's ride is smooth and controlled, unflappable in the face of massive potholes and jagged pavement. The roomy interior can accommodate adults in the 6-foot range, but the third-row seat is accommodating only to children. Space behind the third-row seat is good, and folding both rows creates a level floor.
Other Cars to Consider
2017 Infiniti QX60 Hybrid -- The QX60 Hybrid is every bit as plush, but its handling and acceleration are not up to par with the MDX Sport Hybrid, and its supercharged 4-cylinder engine/electric-hybrid setup is nowhere near as powerful.
2017 Lexus RX450h -- The RX 450h hybrid has slightly less power but gets slightly better fuel economy. However, a comparably equipped Lexus costs more than the Acura, and it doesn't provide a third-row seat option.
2017 Toyota HighlanderHybrid -- While it may lack the performance capabilities and name-dropping credentials of the Acura, a nicely equipped Highlander Hybrid Platinum can do much of what the MDX Sport Hybrid can do, for about $10,000 less.
We think the MDX Sport Hybrid with the Technology Package is more than sufficient for most buyers' needs. However, if the additional $6,000 it takes to move up to the Advance package is mere pocket change to you, the added features are befitting to what luxury buyers expect from a luxury crossover.