2017 Acura MDX Sport Hybrid SH-AWD first drive review Page 2

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2017 Acura MDX Sport Hybrid SH-AWD, Seattle area, April 2017

2017 Acura MDX Sport Hybrid SH-AWD, Seattle area, April 2017

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Handling aside, we didn't have enough time to test whether the hybrid MDX delivers better fuel economy in real-world use than the standard model.

Certainly the EPA ratings for it are significantly higher. It's rated at 26 mpg city, 27 highway, for a combined 27-mpg figure against the 19/26/22 ratings for the non-hybrid version, even when fitted with a Start-Stop system.

Living with the MDX

Most three-row crossovers, luxury or not, are bought by families who use them to haul people and gear—despite the number we see daily on the roads with only a driver inside.

The MDX has retained its popularity because Acura understands what those buyers want, just like the more mass-market (and very good) Honda Pilot to which it's related.

The current MDX was launched in 2014, and received some updates this year, most notably a new front end from the doors forward.

It now has a trapezoidal grille replacing Acura's polarizing "beak" front end, which is being phased out altogether. It took us a while to notice that the grille pattern is actually a sort of sunburst emanating out from the Acura calipers logo in the center—a nice and subtle touch that distinguishes it from more conventional mesh or horizontal-bar grilles.

2017 Acura MDX Sport Hybrid SH-AWD, Seattle area, April 2017

2017 Acura MDX Sport Hybrid SH-AWD, Seattle area, April 2017

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Other design tweaks included twin exhausts, 20-inch alloy wheels, second-row captain's chairs with a console between them, and exposed-grain wood trim inside.

Miscellaneous notes

We look forward to spending more time on the road with an MDX Sport Hybrid. From our day of driving, here are a few random first impressions:

  • Engine starting and stopping was well concealed by sound-deadening and vibration damping material, and was mostly imperceptible
  • Under gentle driving, the battery would accelerate the hybrid MDX to roughly 20 mph without turning on the engine—though few drivers are likely to use the car that way
  • On one long downhill, the MDX Sport Hybrid regeneration plus a touch of brake were enough to cause the battery gauge to rise slowly but steadily to "Full"
  • Unlike most hybrids, Acura provides no power gauge in the instrument cluster, though a power-flow diagram is available on the center display
  • The battery-charge gauge is a mirror image of the fuel gauge, with only a small battery diagram to indicate what it's showing
  • The all-black interior, despite its optional wood trim, contrasting stitching, and silver accents, felt dark and oppressive; we much prefer the grey or cream versions
  • We're not fans of Acura's touchscreen display and controller knob system: it took four separate taps to turn on the heated seats—each time we switched on the ignition

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