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2017 Acura MDX Sport Hybrid

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2017 Acura MDX Sport Hybrid Expert Review

By

KBB Expert Rating: 9.5

With its versatility, reputation for reliability and value for the dollar, it's easy to see why the Acura MDX is a bestseller among 3-row luxury SUVs. Acura's flagship crossover SUV upped its game just a few years ago when it entered its third generation, offering impressive interior space and semi-autonomous driving features. Now, the 2017 MDX is significantly refreshed with new exterior styling, a host of safety and driving aids, and a new hybrid that puts an emphasis on driving satisfaction, while still offering a tangible fuel-economy benefit. Both standard and hybrid MDX models use a V6 engine, albeit different versions, and in non-hybrid models, Acura has refined the 9-speed automatic transmission that we complained about last year to the point that it's the equal of its rivals.

You'll Like This Car If...

If you want a 3-row luxury SUV with standout safety features, a long list of amenities, plenty of power and a solid reputation, the 2017 Acura MDX is a smart choice. The high-tech drivetrain in the MDX Sport Hybrid adds a dose of high-performance driving to the mix.

You May Not Like This Car If...

There are many well-equipped 3-row crossover SUVs on the market that compare favorably to the MDX for considerably less money, even if they lack the Acura's premium badge. Case in point: the MDX's own intra-brand rival, the Honda Pilot.

KBB Expert Ratings

  • 9.5
  • 9.3
  • 9.2
  • 8.6
  • 9.5
  • N/A
How It Ranks

#2

out of 27

Fuel Economy

#23

out of 27

Horsepower
View all rankings
What's New for 2017

A host of updates for the 2017 Acura MDX includes the standard AcuraWatch suite of safety and driver-assist technology, restyled exterior including a new grille, and luxurious 6-passenger seating in top-line MDX Advance trims. The Sport Hybrid uses technology developed for the Acura NSX supercar, setting a new performance standard for the MDX.

Driving the MDX Sport Hybrid
Driving Impressions

For 2017, the Acura MDX retains its strong V6, which provides plenty of power to complement this luxury SUV's agile-yet-comfortable manners. Acura has also updated the 9-speed automatic transmission, all...

... but erasing last year's complaints about balkiness -- it's now as refined as any other transmission you'd care to mention. We're still not fond of the start-stop system in the standard MDX, but it can be defeated with the press of a button. We especially like the AcuraWatch system, which includes Acura's excellent semi-autonomous driving features. When engaged, the system can steer, accelerate and slow the vehicle with minimal driver input, a boon for long highway commutes. The new MDX Sport Hybrid uses technology developed for Acura's NSX supercar to enhance the way this big SUV handles. Using two electric motors in the rear, one for each wheel, the MDX Sport Hybrid can custom tailor power delivery for optimum grip, enhancing cornering ability.

AcuraWatch
This generation MDX's safety and driving aids have always been strong, and for 2017 Acura is upping the ante with AcuraWatch. Standard on every 2017 MDX, it includes automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assist and road-departure mitigation, plus adaptive cruise control. These features often run thousands extra in rivals.

SPORT HYBRID
The MDX Sport Hybrid's mission is not to save fuel, although it does that too. No, it's to enhance performance, using twin electric motors -- one for each rear wheel -- to go beyond what's possible with a mechanical differential.

2017 Acura MDX Sport Hybrid Details
2017 Acura MDX Sport Hybrid photo Interior

Much of the MDX's standard 3-row, 7-passenger interior carries over from last year, with the exception of the Advance trim, which features a pair of captain's chairs in the second row and a center console, vs. the usual 3-across bench. This decreases seating capacity to six, but makes for top-class accommodations for the two passengers in the second row. The Advance grade also features new genuine open-pore wood trim and Milano leather. Lower trims still sport premium appeal with leather interior, power moonroof and upper and lower console displays. Note the lack of a traditional gear selector and parking brake; they're controlled by buttons.

Exterior
2017 Acura MDX Sport Hybrid photo

The 2017 MDX is the first production model to sport Acura's new face, a diamond pentagon grille that replaces the former model's snout. It looks stronger and more cohesive. This 3-row luxury SUV's hood, front fenders and "Jewel Eye" headlights have been refreshed, as has the rear bumper. The sporty, dual exhaust outlets now feature a bright exterior finish. The MDX's sloping window frame gives the rear of this crossover SUV a coupe-like look, but it makes good use of space. Higher trims now roll on 20-inch wheels, while standard models use 18-inchers. A capless fuel filler means no more unscrewing a cap.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

The 2017 Acura MDX is surprisingly well-equipped out the gate. A standard model comes with the AcuraWatch suite of safety and semi-autonomous driving features, leather interior, power-operated and heated front seats, tri-zone automatic climate control, power tailgate, power moonroof and the HomeLink garage-door opener. On the audio/entertainment front, the MDX comes with an 8-speaker AM/FM/CD system with multiple USB ports and Bluetooth connectivity. The MDX features Siri Eyes Free compatibility for iPhone users, but not CarPlay or Android Auto. Safety and driving features include rearview camera, lane-keep assist and road-departure mitigation, automatic emergency braking, and traction and stability control systems.

Optional Equipment

Aside from all-wheel drive, most major options are bundled into packages. Sport Hybrid models start at the Technology package level, which includes navigation, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, Siri Eyes Free, 20-inch wheels and remote engine start. The Advance package adds the 2nd-row captain's chairs, upgraded leather, ventilated front seats, surround-view camera and front/rear parking sensors. A rear-seat entertainment package brings an entertainment screen, wireless headphones, rear-door sunshades and heated 2nd-row seats, but isn't available on Sport Hybrid models. Note: The rear-seat entertainment system comes with a 2nd-row bench, meaning you have to order it if you want an Advance model with seating for seven.

Under the Hood

The Acura MDX uses a 3.5 liter V6 engine making a strong 290 horsepower. The standard setup is front-wheel drive (FWD), with Acura's Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) optional on any model. As mentioned, this Acura uses a 9-speed automatic transmission that could use more refinement. Advance models include the idle start/stop system. To improve fuel economy, Variable Cylinder Management shuts down three of the six cylinders during cruising and deceleration. The standard MDX can tow up to 5,000 pounds. The Acura MDX Sport Hybrid uses a 3.0-liter V6 combined with an electric motor, routed through a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission developed from the NSX supercar's 9-speed. In the rear on the Sport Hybrid are two electric motors, one for each rear wheel.

3.5-liter V6
290 horsepower @ 6,200 rpm
267 lb-ft of torque @ 4,700 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/27 mpg (FWD), 20/27 mpg (FWD with auto idle stop), 18/26 mpg (AWD), 19/26 mpg (AWD with auto idle stop)

3.0-liter V6 + electric motors (Acura MDX Sport Hybrid)
321 combined horsepower
289 lb-ft combined torque
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 26/27 mpg

The 2017 Acura MDX has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting just under $45,000 when including the destination charge. All-wheel drive is an additional $2,000, and adding packages can lift prices several thousand more. A fully loaded 2017 MDX can approach $60,000. These prices are nearly in line with rivals like the Infiniti QX60 and Volvo XC90, and below competitors like the Audi Q7, BMW X5 and Mercedes-Benz GLS. The MDX Sport Hybrid adds $1,500 to the price of all-wheel-drive Technology Package and Advance package models, not bad considering the technology involved. Before buying, check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying. The Acura MDX's resale value is expected to be excellent in the years ahead.

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