There’s a lot to take out when trying to understand the 2017 Acura MDX Sport Hybrid. Acura is billing it as a three-row crossover infused with NSX technology via a sport-oriented hybrid drivetrain. Thus it is a hybrid crossover, sure. However it does not comport itself like a traditional crossover, neither is it a conventional hybrid. What it is, underneath, is an designedly subtle mix of impressive technologies doing their best to look transparent and it’s too subtle, I fear, to be appreciated by those who’d like it the foremost.
This is a lot of foreshadowing, however if you are not familiar with the MDX Sport Hybrid’s powertrain, let’s fill you in. The MDX Sport Hybrid uses a similar basic system as the 2014 RLX Sport Hybrid, with some newer NSX battery tech sprinkled in, packaged neatly into the refreshed third-generation MDX platform. The system improves handling and efficiency – however more vital, it smoothes out the harshness of shifts and engine stop-starts.
We do need to examine the system in some detail to know how all this affects the MDX as an entire, thus let’s go toe to tail. Up front may be a transversely-mounted 3.0-liter V6 making 257 horsepower and 218 pound-feet of torsion, also as that includes i-VTEC and cylinder deactivation. It’s slightly smaller than the 3.5-liter V6 found in the conventional MDX and many different Honda and Acura products.
MDX Sport Hybrid’s Features
Attached alongside could be a Honda-produced 7-speed dual-clutch transmission that features a 47 horsepower, 109 lb-ft electric motor-generator stuffed within. Amidships are the battery pack and the electronics to regulate it, and stretching aft from there are giant cables feeding power to a pair of electric motors that reside in single housing, one for each wheel.
Together, they produce electron witchcraft and torsion-delivery wizardry – and add 72 horsepower and 108 lb-ft of torque to the mix. the entire system output is 321 horsepower and 289 lb-ft of torsion – a gain of 31 horsepower and 22 lb-ft over the conventional MDX SH-AWD.
Beyond the raw numbers, there is the remarkable subjective advantage of the sport Hybrid’s drivetrain. Engine start-stop events are quiet and smooth, nearly imperceptible when below way – in stark contrast to the too-perceptible shudder of competing engines kicking on.
The electric motors (mainly the one residing in the transmission) add in power to make up for the lull during a shift, making shifts up or down seamless, also as providing regenerative capacity. And from a dead stop the MDX can use the rear motors to move off, that overcomes a major limitation in most DCTs: low-speed lurchiness.
While there’s some fuel economy benefit, the 1.3 kWh pack is not big enough to provide an EV-only mode, thus it is best to think of it as an elaborate assist system for the gas motor that adds more power and smooths out some rough spots. Sure, it provides some green advantages on the side, however that is not the modus operandi of this equipment.
MDX Sport Hybrid’s Advance package
That’s because the third-generation MDX was designed from the beggining to swallow this powertrain. While there is some further weight, about 220 lbs, all the MDX Sport Hybrid needs are some light-weight crossmembers to support the battery pack and tweaked rear subframe to handle the additional weight. Which means the vast majority of increased mass is because of the powertrain instead of structural reinforcements. And this is not offset by the use of many expensive exotic alloys or composites.
Inside, the ’17 MDXs gain a comfortable, roomy second row of captains chairs as a choice, and unless you desperately need the extra seat i would recommend equipping them. The third row seat is tight, however not overly thus for the class – and it will be fine for the children.
Most people reading this review will not have to be back there much, thus out of sight, out of mind, right? choosing the Advance Package nets the captains chairs as well as an attractive open-pore wood trim – the wood type relies on that interior color theme you select.
So the MDX Sport Hybrid stands a little aside from the group. Its innovative and phenomenally capable drivetrain is absolutely engineered to provide an exquisite however subtle experience that takes some concentration to appreciate. If you consider the contemporary Zeitgeist, attention spans are not really our strong suit right now. If you can sit still long enough to savor what the MDX Sport Hybrid should offer, you’ll probably enjoy it immensely.