Acura’s first hybrid SUV, the 2017 MDX Sport Hybrid (earlier post), will arrive at showrooms in early April with more than 30 additional horsepower and a 45 percent higher EPA city fuel economy rating as compared to the conventionally-powered MDX SH-AWD.
With a manufacturer suggested retail price (MSRP) starting at $51,9601, a premium of $1,500 over the conventional MDX SH-AWD, the MDX Sport Hybrid applies Acura’s innovative three-motor Sport Hybrid Super Handling-All Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) system, a technology first offered in the RLX Sport Hybrid (earlier post) and more recently, the NSX supercar (earlier post).
Taking full advantage of the immediate, high-torque performance of its three powerful electric motors, along with the always-on capabilities of electric torque vectoring, the three-row MDX Sport Hybrid substantially expands dynamic performance and fuel efficiency.
Unique elements of the MDX Sport Hybrid’s design and engineering versus its non-hybrid counterpart include the Sport Hybrid SH-AWD powertrain with three electric motors and 7-speed dual clutch transmission (7DCT), an advanced Electro Servo braking system, new and model-exclusive Active Damper technology, and an expanded-range Integrated Dynamics System with four distinct modes, including new SPORT+ mode.
The MDX Sport Hybrid’s Integrated Dynamics System engages with nine different dynamic systems within the vehicle, including its electric motors, throttle, steering, transmission and Active Dampers, to provide the driver with an expanded range of selectable performance characteristics to suit their varied driving needs and desires.
The MDX Sport Hybrid powertrain delivers a total system output of 321 horsepower and 289 lb-ft (392 N·m) of torque, up 31 horsepower over the non-hybrid MDX, making it the most powerful Acura production SUV ever built. EPA fuel economy ratings of 26/27/27 mpg2 (city/highway/combined) are up 8/1/6 mpg over the non-hybrid variant.
A 3.0 liter, 24-valve, SOHC V-6 power plant with i-VTEC valvetrain and selectable idle-stop capability provides primary motive force, with a peak output of 257 horsepower (SAE net) at 6,300 rpm and 218 lb-ft (296 N·m) of torque (SAE net) at 5,000 rpm. Three electric motors—a front motor built into the 7DCT, and a rear Twin Motor Unit (TMU)—provide instant torque for a more responsive and vivid driving experience.
An advanced 7-speed dual-clutch transmission (7DCT) is standard, a feature in common with the RLX Sport Hybrid SH-AWD sedan and in 9-speed form in the NSX. Unlike a conventional automatic transmission, the DCT offers ultra-quick gear changes and operates without a torque converter, improving efficiency. The 7DCT can operate in fully automatic mode, or it can be shifted manually via steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters.
The hybrid powertrain also features several advancements as part of the on-going development of Acura hybrid technology, including improvements in cooling and packaging of the IPU and PCU, as well as increased hybrid battery power density.
Sport Hybrid Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD). The MDX Sport Hybrid employs technology offered in the Acura NSX supercar and RLX Sport Hybrid sedan. The MDX Sport Hybrid SH-AWD system is optimized to provide both performance and class-leading fuel efficiency. Depending on the driving mode (COMFORT, NORMAL, SPORT and SPORT+), the system utilizes the V-6 engine, 7DCT with built-in motor, TMU and battery pack to provide exhilarating and confidence-inspiring performance while maximizing efficiency.
The MDX Sport Hybrid’s electric SH-AWD system operates independently of the gasoline engine as the two rear-mounted electric motors dynamically apportion both positive and negative torque directly to the rear wheels. This system provides for dynamic, immediate and always-on torque vectoring capabilities while eliminating the weight and energy losses associated with a conventional driveshaft and differential mechanism.
When cornering, the MDX Sport Hybrid delivers positive torque to the outside rear wheel, much like mechanical SH-AWD, to create a yaw moment. In addition, the Sport Hybrid SH-AWD can simultaneously apply regenerative brake torque to the inside rear wheel during cornering to further enhance cornering control, a function unique to the Sport Hybrid powertrain. As the MDX Sport Hybrid doesn’t rely on engine torque, the electrified SUV can create a larger torque difference between the left and right rear wheels, even during small throttle applications, at low engine speeds or when decelerating. This substantially magnifies the positive handling benefits of SH-AWD across a much wider range of driving conditions.
Safety. All 2017 Acura MDX models come equipped with the AcuraWatch suite of safety and driver-assistive technologies: Collision Mitigation Braking System (CMBS), Lane Departure Warning (LDW), Forward Collision Warning (FCW), Lane Keeping Assist (LKAS), Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) with low-speed follow and Road Departure Mitigation (RDM). All models also come equipped with a multi-angle rearview camera, and the top grade adds blind spot information, front and rear parking sensors, Rear Cross Traffic Monitor and new Auto High Beam.
Combining AcuraWatch with Acura’s next-generation Advanced Compatibility Engineering (ACE) body structure, the 2017 MDX delivers intelligent safety and confident driving performance at the top of the competitive segment, and targets top safety ratings; a five-star Overall Vehicle Score from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has already been achieved, and a TOP SAFETY PICK+ rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is anticipated.
The MDX Sport Hybrid is offered in two grades: the MDX with Technology Package and the MDX with Advance Package. Both grades have exclusive interior trim, stainless steel sport pedals and feature wood interior accents; wood trim accents are only available with the Advance Package for the other two MDX variants. The MDX Sport Hybrid with Technology Package includes versatile seating for seven passengers, while the Advance Package features a 6-passenger interior with second-row captain’s chairs and large second-row center console in place of a three-person bench seat.
The 2017 MDX was designed by the Acura Design Studio in Torrance, Calif. and the MDX Sport Hybrid is manufactured at the company’s Lincoln, Ala. plant using domestic and globally-sourced parts.