2017 Acura MDX Sport Hybrid is Everything Its Name Implies

2017 Acura MDX Sport Hybrid (Aaron)

The Acura MDX is a best-selling crossover-SUV for a reason and with the Sport Hybrid model in 2017, Acura added the kind of fuel economy that this utility needed to appeal to a broader crowd. For 2017, the MDX sees significant changes inside and out to go along with this new hybrid offering.

The manufacturer says

The MDX is the best-selling three-row luxury SUV of all time. Powered by a 3.5-liter V-6 or 3.0-liter with 3-motor hybrid system, the multifaceted MDX exceeds with greater capabilities, in more conditions, for more passengers.

Specs:

  • Manufacturer: Acura
  • Year, Model: 2017 MDX Sport Hybrid
  • Class, Type: Midsize hybrid crossover
  • Propulsion system: Gasoline-electric
  • Base Price: $51,960
  • MSRP as tested:
  • Availability: Now

Overview

The MDX Hybrid was shown as a production prototype at the New York Auto Show in 2016. The design is an amalgamation of the all-wheel drive hybrid powertrain shown in the Acura NSX and upcoming Acura RLX. The new design is more reflective of the Acura brand’s current design strategy as well, adding more sporty appeal with a diamond-grilled front fascia and newly-enhanced Acura logo.

Under the fresh lines on the MDX Sport Hybrid’s hood is a 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine that is combined with three electric motors in all-wheel drive. The engine and one electric motor power the front axle with the motor doing double duty as a generator in regenerative braking. The rear axle is powered by two more electric motors. The system produces 321 horsepower and 289 pound-feet of torque with the 2017 Acura MDX Sport Hybrid weighing about 250 pounds more than the standard gasoline model. That gasoline model produces 290 hp and 267 lb-ft, so there is more output in the hybrid model to make up for the weight gain.

The hybrid drivetrain in the 2017 MDX Sport Hybrid aims towards better fuel economy, of course, gaining an EPA rating of 27 mpg combined. We averaged about 24 mpg overall in our week with the Acura, thanks mostly to altitude and payloads (3+ passengers on most drives). Consistency in fuel economy returns were seen most clearly when driving in-town, as expected, with the highway MPGs fluctuating greatly to a degree that it was sometimes difficult to pin down exactly what was changing returns.

What we did notice, though, is that the MDX Sport Hybrid feels noticeably quicker when leaving a stop sign or moving from a standstill in traffic. This is from the extra torque and its immediate delivery thanks to the electrics in the hybrid. That did not translate to more speed overall or even better 0-60 mph times, but it did mean a sportier feel in traffic.

On the highway, the MDX Sport Hybrid is not a slouch and has no hesitation about jumping ahead to pass or merge. The 2017 Acura MDX Sport Hybrid has a solid feel about it and a confident pace when moving at any speed. The interior is quiet and well-appointed as well.The standard trim package for the Sport Hybrid is equivalent to the standard gasoline model’s Technology trim point, with lots of great standard features like plentiful USB ports and very adjustable seating in both the front and second rows. The third row is adult-usable for short trips and some longer stints, but is mainly meant for children.

Cargo space and utility in the 2017 Acura MDX Sport Hybrid are also high points. Small item storage abounds in this seven-seat crossover and quick-fold controls for seating access and cargo space creation are standard.

What we like

Great seating, cargo, and utility options.

Good hybrid design with a smart road presence.

What we don't

Fuel economy returns can be spotty.

Highway noise in the Sport Hybrid may be higher than expected if comparing to other MDX models.

Conclusions

The 2017 Acura MDX Sport Hybrid is a solid, more than capable drive that has an intelligent drivetrain and plenty of useful utility. These qualities helped make the Acura MDX one of the best-selling crossovers in the three-row segments and the addition of the hybrid option only upgrades that appeal.

Test Period Length and Limitations
The MDX Sport Hybrid was a manufacturer’s press loan for about a week. During that time, about 300 miles were put on the vehicle in varied driving conditions including some inclement, early winter weather.

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