|Edgy new styling has helped grow Canadian MDX sales, a good basis for this new Sport Hybrid variant. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
I know such a volume-oriented business model seems logical at first thought, but considering how many electrified cars lose money, some sense can be made of minimizing production-as of Q2 2017 Acura had sold just 37 RLX Sport Hybrid sedans in Canada and 555 in the U.S. (actually the U.S. number was a mix of top-line Sport Hybrids and front-drive base RLX models that we don’t get here anymore, so the Japanese luxury brand is minimizing hybrid losses even better than the numbers suggest).
The new 2017 MDX Sport Hybrid will likely be a winner, however, especially considering
|Dual chromed exhaust ports let you know this hybrid isn’t all about economy. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
Another positive in the MDX Sport Hybrid’s favour is reliability, with Acura having had plenty of time to make the components used in this sophisticated power unit dependable in the now well-proven RLX Sport Hybrid just noted. To be clear, Acura has chosen to separate the two vehicles by more than just sales numbers and body styles, with the flagship four-door luxury sedan’s V6 displacing the automaker’s
|Unique circular mesh insert detailing makes the MDX’ new grille design even more of a standout. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
The MDX version still uses Acura’s three-motor Sport Hybrid powertrain with electric torque vectoring, so the basics of the system are intact and comprised of an internal combustion engine (ICE) powering the front wheels in concert with an electric assist motor. The MDX defaults to this most fuel-efficient mode more often than not, but if increased throttle input, hard charging through a corner, or driving on slippery surfaces causes the need for rear wheel engagement, an electrified version of Acura’s torque-vectoring Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) provides traction from all four standard 245/50R20 all-season tires via two rear wheel-mounted
|Standard LED headlamps help set the MDX apart from most rivals. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
Unusual yet welcome for an SUV that promotes its sporting capabilities is the same seven-speed dual-clutch automated transmission used in the RLX Sport Hybrid (instead of the continuously variable type of transmission utilized by most competitive hybrid systems) that provides quick shifts via engaging steering wheel paddles, while Acura’s unique pushbutton gear selector features a responsive “DYNAMIC” button with Comfort, Normal, Sport, and Sport+ modes, the latter two making it even more entertaining to drive than a number of its competitors from more traditional European brands.
|The Sport Hybrid gets a different set of 20-inch alloys than the conventionally powered MDX Elite. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
Of note, the fabulous NSX Sport Hybrid uses a similar system to the MDX and RLX Sport Hybrids, albeit completely reversed due to its mid-engine sports car layout. Of course, the NSX’ 573 net horsepower and 476 lb-ft of torque puts it into the league of Ferrari and McLaren hybrids, but much of the tech trickles down to this MDX Sport Hybrid. Just the same I wouldn’t go as far as Acura has by saying the new MDX Sport Hybrid has the “soul of a supercar.”
|These classy taillights are standard LEDs. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
Good news is the Sport Hybrid drivetrain doesn’t add too much mass over its ICE-only sibling with a curb weight of only 2,074 kilos (4,572 lbs) compared to the regular MDX Elite’s 1,950 kg (4,299 lbs), or 124 kg (273 lbs) more, while its exterior dimensions are identical and interior almost as spacious.
|The MDX Sport Hybrid gets the same upscale cabin as the regular SUV’s Elite trim. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
The next largest Volvo XC90 holds a max of 2,427/85.7 litres/cubic feet respectively, whereas Infiniti’s QX60 Hybrid, BMW’s X5 xDrive40e, and Mercedes-Benz’ GLE 550e competitors can manage respective maximum stowage of 2,166/76.5, 2,053/72.5, and 2,010/71.0 behind their front rows, all of which are a far
|That’s a big slab of genuine hardwood, with more found elsewhere inside. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
This last point unearths some very important realities: there are plenty of electrified competitors to choose from, the list soon growing to include the upcoming Audi Q7 e-tron, Range Rover Sport Plug-In Hybrid, Maserati Levante PHEV, and who knows what else (Cadillac’s XT5 PHEV seems only destined for China), and as you likely noticed the Europeans offer plug-in models with the ability to drive solely by electric propulsion, reducing harmful emissions and fuel consumption even further.
|The MDX’ dual stacking infotainment displays are starting to look a bit dated. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
Then again, some of its aforementioned peers, like Infiniti’s QX60 Hybrid at 8.9 L/100km city and 8.4 highway, do better, and the Euro-sourced PHEVs even more so, while some even produce more power despite better economy. There’s always a price to pay for more, of course, and to that end the new MDX Sport Hybrid strikes a reasonable balance of fuel economy and performance at $69,990 plus freight and fees. I’m not going to even try and compare each available competitor on pricing, because this would cause the need
|The MDX relies on analogue gauges with a small centre MID instead of a fully configurable TFT cluster. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
Suffice to say you get an impressively equipped SUV for just under $70k, Acura bundling in almost everything that comes standard with its conventionally powered top-line 2017 MDX Elite except for its uniquely styled alloy wheels (also measuring 20 inches), amplitude reactive dampers (it gets a standard active damper system), and trailer stability assist, although the Sport Hybrid adds metal pedals for added style, plus of course all the electrically motivated power and improved economy mentioned earlier.
|The combined rearview and overhead parking monitor is the infotainment system’s best asset. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
Again, I’m not going to compare this hybrid SUV to the many rivals noted before, but you’ll be hard pressed to find one with as much performance, quality, refinement, size, or as many standard features for anywhere near the price. I’ll go into detail with the equipment just so you get an idea of all that comes standard, the list including everything already mentioned as well as wiper-linked auto on/off full-LED headlamps with auto high beams, auto-leveling and washers, LED fog lamps,
|These heatable, cooled, and 10-way powered seats are wonderful, and nicely upholstered in soft perforated Milano leather. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
Pushbutton ignition gets things going once inside, while additional interior kit includes genuine Black Limba or Olive Ash Burl hardwood inlays, a heatable leather-wrapped multifunction steering wheel, Milano perforated leather upholstery with seat accent piping and contrast stitching in either Ebony black or Saddle Brown, 10-way powered heatable and ventilated front seats with two-way powered lumbar, two-position driver’s memory, an electromechanical parking brake,
|Second-row seating is roomy and comfortable. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
|There’s even plenty of space in the third row. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
The most impressive “more” part of this equation is AcuraWatch, a suite of auto-sensing and driver-assist technologies that includes road departure mitigation, lane departure warning, forward collision warning, lane keeping assist, and collision mitigation braking with pedestrian detection, all of which help the MDX earn the IIHS’ best possible Top Safety Pick Plus rating for its fourth year running, while it also gets an NHTSA five-star crash test rating.
The MDX Sport Hybrid compares well to the best in its class when it comes to materials quality, fit and finish, overall refinement and quietness, roominess and comfort
|The MDX Sport Hybrid loses no cargo capacity to its conventionally powered sibling. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
If you can overlook some of these shortcomings, the new 2017 Acura MDX Sport Hybrid is a superb seven-passenger SUV that offers excellent value, great performance, impressive fuel economy, and plenty of style. Seriously consider it.
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