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  • 2017 Acura MDX Sport Hybrid AWD Advance

    Posted on November 16th, 2017 ninarussin

    NSX technology gives three-row crossover a green footprint

    By Nina Russin

    2017 Acura MDX Sport Hybrid

    2017 Acura MDX Sport Hybrid

    If you’re looking for a seven-passenger crossover with supercar technology and better-than-average fuel economy, the Acura MDX Sport Hybrid should be on the short list. Utilizing the same three-motor super-handling all-wheel drive system introduced on the new NSX sports car and RLX performance sedan, the MDX hybrid mates Acura’s three-liter V-6 gasoline engine to three electric motors- one up front and two in the back- to provide power to all four-wheels. Net system horsepower is 321, with 289 pound-feet of peak torque. Since electric motors develop peak torque at extremely low speeds, the MDX Sport Hybrid launches off the line like a rocket ship.

    A dual-clutch seven-speed automatic transmission employs friction couplings for the feel of a manual transmission, minus the extra foot pedal. Drivers can operate the gearbox in automatic mode or manually select gears using Formula One-style shift paddles on the steering wheel. While there are quite a few cars on the market with this type of transmission, very few are hybrids. The transmission’s quick, sharp shifts are a welcome relief from continuously variable automatic transmissions that leave the driver feeling disconnected from the wheels.

    2017 Acura MDX Sport Hybrid

    2017 Acura MDX Sport Hybrid

    The test car is the upscale Advance grade, priced from $58,000. Acura loads the premium grade with active safety and convenience features, saving shoppers from wading through lists of option packages. Standard features include a surround-view camera system, keyless entry and start, second-row captain’s chairs, ventilated and heated front seats, satellite radio, ten-way power driver’s seat with memory, LED fog lamps, roof rails and AcuraWatch: an active safety system adding adaptive cruise control, collision mitigation braking, road departure mitigation, lane keeping assist and lane departure warning.

    Final MSRP including destination is $58,975

    Test drive in Southern Arizona

    2017 Acura MDX Sport Hybrid

    2017 Acura MDX Sport Hybrid

    This week I drove the Acura MDX Sport Hybrid on surface streets and highways through Phoenix, Arizona’s east valley, along the Bush Highway that parallels the Superstition Mountains north-to-south, and through sections of the Gila River Indian Community south of town. Acura’s seven-passenger crossover embodies all-of the attributes the brand is known and loved for: environmental consciousness combined with an enthusiasm for performance inspired by Honda’s racing technology.

    Outdoor enthusiasts with growing families often need the interior flexibility of a three-row vehicle, providing enough seating for kids traveling to weekend soccer games and enough cargo capacity for camping trips off the grid. While some three-row SUVs feel big and cumbersome, the Acura MDX Sport Hybrid does not. It handles much like a passenger car, albeit one with a larger footprint.

    2017 Acura MDX Sport Hybrid

    2017 Acura MDX Sport Hybrid

    Drivers can choose between four modes- normal, comfort, sport and sport plus- to adapt throttle mapping, suspension and braking according-to their driving preferences. The MDX Sport’s linear acceleration was a welcome relief from sport-inspired vehicles having a harsh throttle tip-off and nothing to back it up.

    Because the hybrid’s all-wheel drive system utilizes the two rear electric motors rather than the mechanical setup on the gasoline-powered MDX, it responds more quickly to changing needs for traction. As-a-result, it feels very sure-footed, whether powering through twisting two-lane roads on a sunny day or along wet roads after a thunder-burst.

    2017 Acura MDX Sport Hybrid

    2017 Acura MDX Sport Hybrid

    A small lithium-ion battery pack is located under the second-row seats, so it’s out of the way of occupants and doesn’t affect cargo capability. Front-to-rear weight balance for the MDX hybrid is the same as for the gasoline car. The hybrid maintains the same 7.3-inches of ground clearance as the gasoline MDX, but the center of gravity is about an inch lower.

    The electric motors and battery pack add about 250-pounds over the gasoline car. Average fuel economy is 27 miles-per-gallon versus 22 MPG on the gasoline MDX with idle stop capability.

    An electric power steering system delivers more assist at low speeds for maneuverability with a heavier feel at higher speeds. On-center response is solid. Four-wheel disc brakes stop the MDX hybrid in firm, linear fashion. Regenerative braking recharges the battery pack on the go, so no need for recharging.

    Spacious interior

    2017 Acura MDX Sport Hybrid

    2017 Acura MDX Sport Hybrid

    The Acura MDX Sport Hybrid offers families trying to downsize from full-size sport-utility vehicles a functional alternative. Third-row seats are small: much smaller than some of the aforementioned-SUVs. But they serve the purpose of adding extra passenger capacity in a pinch. Roof rails on the test car enable owners to add a cargo carrier or gear rack up top, since cargo space behind the third row is limited.

    I found the power driver’s seat easy to adjust for a clear forward view with ample lower lumbar support for drives of several hours. Driver’s seat memory enables multiple family members to share the vehicle.

    Acura utilizes a push-button shift system that takes a little getting used to, but works well after the learning curve. The advantage is eliminating the shift lever, adding extra space in the center console.

    I found the center stack screen easy to read in bright sunlight and after dark. Infotainment controls are not as intuitive as some competitive products. Fortunately, knobs control the basic functions such as temperature and radio tuning.

    With second-row seats folded flat, the MDX Sport Hybrid meets our bicycle friendly standards. Unlike earlier MDX models, the seats fold completely flat creating an uninterrupted cargo floor.

    Standard safety

    The Acura MDX Sport Hybrid Advance comes with seven airbags, antilock brakes, traction control, stability control, tire pressure monitoring, all-wheel drive and AcuraWatch active safety technology. The MDX Hybrid received a five-star overall vehicle score from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

    Acura builds the MDX Sport Hybrid at its East Liberty, Ohio assembly plant.

    Like: A versatile hybrid crossover vehicle with seating for up to seven passengers and performance akin to a sport sedan.

    Dislike: Limited space in the third row.

    Quick facts:

    Make: Acura
    Model: MDX Sport Hybrid Advance
    Year: 2017
    Base price: $58,000
    As tested: $58,975
    Horsepower (gasoline engine only): 257 HP @ 6300 rpm
    Torque (gasoline engine only): 218 lbs.-ft. @ 5000 rpm
    Zero-to-sixty: N/A
    Antilock brakes: Yes
    Side curtain airbags: Yes
    First aid kit: N/A
    Bicycle friendly: Yes
    Towing: No
    Off-road: No
    Fuel economy: 26/27 MPG city/highway
    Comment: The manufacturer recommends premium unleaded gasoline for optimum performance.

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