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  • 2018 Acura MDX Sport Hybrid Advance

    Posted on August 31st, 2018 ninarussin

    All-wheel drive eco-transport for active lifestyles

    By Nina Russin

    Acura MDX Sport Hybrid

    For those who can afford it, the question isn’t why would you buy the Acura MDX, but rather, why wouldn’t you? With an all-new powertrain based on the same technology as Acura’s NSX supercar, the green version of Acura’s three-row midsize crossover is truly a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

    A three-liter V-6 gasoline engine and three electric motors develop 321 net horsepower. Since electric motors develop peak power at very low speeds, the MDX also has a monstrous amount of torque. All-wheel drive gives the crossover four-season versatility and the ability to traverse unimproved roads. All this in a package that’s equally adept at holding people and gear of all sizes.

    Average fuel economy is 27 miles-per-gallon according-to EPA estimates. While fuel economy on the highway is similar-to the gasoline model, around town the hybrid powertrain is about eight miles-per-gallon better.

    Base price is $58,150 for the upscale, fully-loaded Advance model. Standard features include perforated leather upholstery with power heated front seats, driver’s seat memory, second-row captain’s chairs, tri-zone climate control, keyless entry and start, satellite radio, Bluetooth interface, surround-view camera, power moonroof and tailgate, 20-inch alloy rims, ELS premium audio system with navigation and more. Final MSRP including the $995 destination charge is $59,145.

    Test drive in southern Arizona

    Acura MDX Sport Hybrid

    Over the past week I had the opportunity to put the new MDX Sporty Hybrid through its paces during some monsoonal weather, providing a better-than-average opportunity to test out the all-wheel drive. Whether traversing rain-covered or dry roads, during peak daytime heat and after dark, the MDX was on point.

    Active safety features include blind spot monitoring, lane keeping assist, adaptive cruise control and autonomous braking. Blind spot monitoring illuminates LED signals in the A pillars when vehicles in adjacent lanes pass through the driver’s blind spots. I have-to admit that I’m not a huge fan of lane keeping assist. This system is easy to disengage if the driver so chooses. Forward collision warning and autonomous braking can be life-savers in stop-and-go traffic when drivers can get distracted and not be aware that the car in front is braking.

    Acura MDX Sport Hybrid

    The surround view camera system eliminates blind spots around the vehicle perimeter, while a rearview camera assists with the view out the back when sliding out of parking spots in crowded lots. While the MDX is a relatively large vehicle with a 111-inch wheelbase, it doesn’t feel particularly large on the road, thanks in part to an excellent turning radius and responsive four-wheel independent suspension.

    It’s refreshing to drive a hybrid without a continuously variable automatic transmission. While those units do an acceptable job, and maximize fuel economy, the seven-speed dual-clutch transmission in the MDX Sport Hybrid is crisper and more satisfying.

    Front-to rear weight balance is slightly better for the hybrid than the gasoline car, and the battery pack contributes to a lower center of gravity for enhanced high-speed performance.

    Acura MDX Sport Hybrid

    The electric power steering system is speed-sensitive, with more assist at low speeds and a heavier feel on the highway. On-center response is somewhat soft but drivers should feel well connected with the wheels and have no problems making an emergency evasive maneuver.

    The suspension utilizes an active damping system that enables the driver to fine-tune driving dynamics to his liking, by choosing between comfort, normal, sport and sport plus modes. The suspension consists of MacPherson struts up front and a multi-link setup in back, keeping all three rows of occupants comfortable.

    Four-wheel disc brakes stop the MDX in firm, linear fashion.

    Versatile interior

    Acura MDX Sport Hybrid

    People tend to buy crossovers because they need a versatile interior, and the MDX hybrid delivers on all fronts. Engineers located the rear electric motors and battery pack so as not to impinge on rear seating or cargo space.

    Acura has a talent for making user-friendly interfaces. All-of the technology, from the keyless entry and start to the push-button shift system and infotainment is intuitive to figure out and operate. Buttons for basic audio controls mean the driver doesn’t have to click through a bunch of commands: something that can be distracting and frustrating.

    Seating is, as one might expect, quite comfortable. I was-able-to adjust the power driver’s seat high enough for clear forward visibility with ample lower lumbar support. Second-row captain’s chairs give rear occupants a first-class experience.

    Acura’s navigation system is easy to use, with quick recalculations when necessary. The premium sound system delivers excellent surround-sound.

    With third-row seats folded flat the MDX has plenty of room for larger gear, including multiple bicycles with the front wheels removed. Roof rails are standard, making it easy to add an overhead carrier. Due to its high profile, most cyclists will probably opt for a hitch-mounted rack as opposed to something up top.

    Standard safety

    The Acura MDX Sport Hybrid comes with seven airbags, antilock brakes, traction control, stability control, all-wheel drive, daytime running lamps, rain-sensing wipers, and tire pressure monitoring.

    The MDX Sport Hybrid received a five-star crash test rating from the NHTSA.

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

    Like: A versatile midsize crossover with good fuel economy and excellent performance.

    Dislike: High MSRP will prevent some buyers from putting the MDX Sport Hybrid on their short list.

    Quick facts:

    Make: Acura
    Model: MDX Sport Hybrid Advance
    Year: 2018
    Base price: $58,150
    As tested: $59,145
    Horsepower: 257 @ 6300 rpm (gasoline engine). 321 Net horsepower.
    Torque: 218 lbs.-ft. @ 5000 rpm (gasoline engine)
    Zero-to-sixty: Six seconds
    Antilock brakes: Standard
    Side curtain airbags: Standard
    First aid kit: N/A
    Bicycle friendly: Yes
    Off-road: No
    Towing: No
    Fuel economy: 26/27 mpg city/highway

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