The demanding rush for a 3-row luxury hybrid crossover is about as challenging as an Eskom ordering a two-piece bikini online. But in the rare chance that the polar ice caps may melt, and igloo’s start becoming beach front property, one might be interested in this, the Acura MDX Sport Hybrid. As if, the term “sport” isn’t used enough, paired next to “hybrid” is as much an oxymoron as an Odyssey with a rear spoiler. However, the MDX here is a bit of a wolf in sheep’s clothing, cause what we don’t see, is the respected NSX technology underneath that might just make up for the “sport” in its namesake.
The main source of power here comes from a 257-horsepower, 3.0-liter V-6 engine allied through a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. Paired with a 47-horspower electric motor and 1.3-kWh lithium-ion battery pack, the front wheels hold a healthy dose of power. But then, as if Acura couldn’t make things more complicated, using what they call a Twin Motor Unit, similar to what’s found in the NSX, powers the rear wheels punching out an additional 72-horsepower. This TMU works like a differential, sorting out the power to each wheel. It’s also a very expensive form of torque vectoring.
Of course, to see the maximum output of this technology, we must be a speed racer to experience the extremity of the power shifting from wheel to wheel as we enter and exit each corner. At full throttle, the MDX Hybrid swiftly gets to 60 mph in under six seconds. But when we’re not at the drag strip racing other soccer moms and their tricked out minivans, the MDX Sport Hybrid maintains fluidness in its power and transition between electric and gas. The electric motor works consistently at maintained speeds and under braking situations.
There aren’t very main competitors that compare to the MDX Sport Hybrid – Lexus and their RX 450h, while even offered in an F SPORT, isn’t very sporty at all nor flatters the idealistic concept of sporty – it also doesn’t even offer a 3rd row (as of yet.) Infiniti has the QX60 Hybrid, and while it offers a third row, it’s about as respectable as watching a documentary about a worms sex life. The MDX Sport Hybrid is completely different territory, the rejuvenated braking for instance feels receptive and responsive – feels like a normal car. There’s no loud humming from the electric engine when coming to a stop. And while the electric steering is numb, with very little connection to the road, it is heavily weighted for a more sport like demeanor.
The Sport Hybrid is the range topping MDX that includes both the Technology and Advance packages standard – just one short of the Entertainment Package with a rear seat DVD entertainment system. With a $16,000 jump over the base $44,000 MDX, the Sport Hybrid is also the most luxurious, well-appointed three-row luxury crossover on the market this side of six-figures. All three-rows are leather, both first and second row seats are heated and passengers in the back have their own climate control system – something Lexus does not offer on their RX nor will they offer leather on their 3rd when its released.
Technology is constantly improving and with the MDX running through its course 6 years now, we start to see some of the datedness in the dual screen display. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are available features, but was not working in our model, the touch screen responses are delayed and we’ve seen better resolution screens on a Motorola Razor. No to mention the complexity of menus and all inclusive control through the infotainment system – to change something like climate control fan speed is a process.
However, where one piece of technology shows its age, another shows its vibrancy with AcuraWatch. Their latest in safety features with forward collision warning and emergency braking, adaptive cruise control with full start/stop capabilities, and lane departure warning with lane keep assist. As part of the Advance Package, the MDX Hybrid gets a full 360-degree back-up camera, blind spot monitoring, and LED fog lights. The Advance Package also brings in supremely comfortable sport inspired front seats and matching, high riding second row captain chairs with a full storage and sliding center console. However, as appropriate, leave the third row to the smallest of the group.
Hybrid technology keep growing, and seeing how Acura has taken NSX performance and incorporated it into their most popular luxury crossover not only improves the quality of the crossover, but our way of thinking towards the hybrid community. After averaging 24 miles to the gallon and spending countless hours behind the wheel, this is one crossover that deserves the sport badging and respect for the amount of technology behind it.
|2017 Acura MDX Sport Hybrid AWD Advance:||$58,000|
|As Tested (including Options & Destination):||$58,975|
|3.0-liter V-6 – 321-Horsepower, 7-Speed Dual-Clutch Automatic Transmission – 0-60MPH: ±6.0 seconds|
|EPA MPG: 26/27/27 (City/Highway/Combined) – SSB Average: 22.4 MPG’s – Fuel Range: ±450 Miles|