2017 Acura MDX Sport Hybrid First Drive: Try To Figure This One Out

– Seattle, Washington

My investigation of the Acura MDX Sport Hybrid actually started at a track in Japan a year-and-a-half ago when I got to test out the NSX for the first time. The NSX is a wonderfully manageable sports car, smoothing the challenges of taming 573 horsepower to something that a relative novice can handle, while still offering plenty of satisfaction for the trained driver. The three-motor hybrid powertrain in the MDX uses some of the exact same components that are found in the NSX – like the small, lithium-ion battery – while others have have been repackaged and reworked to be more efficient and/or more powerful. The power control unit is different, for example, here tuned for the larger SUV rather than the sedan or sports car feel, and the three-motor set-up has been reversed to put two motors in the back in the MDX and just one up front.

A lot of the engineers who worked on the NSX also worked on the MDX, directly bringing their experience from the halo model to improve the efficiency of the world's best selling three-row luxury SUV (a disclaimer-filled description we heard many times in Seattle). For these reasons and more, Acura is intensely keen on the MDX Sport Hybrid. Alongside the gas-electric powertrains in the NSX and the RLX, the MDX "completes our brand halo," says Acura boss Jon Ikeda.

2017 Acura MDX Hybrid: First Drive
2017 Acura MDX Hybrid: First Drive
2017 Acura MDX Hybrid: First Drive
2017 Acura MDX Hybrid: First Drive
2017 Acura MDX Hybrid: First Drive

With all of the engineering effort that went into the MDX hybrid, what do we get out of it? Well, this is Acura's first-ever hybrid SUV, and it's also the...