Have you ever wanted an Acura NSX in the form of a three-row SUV? Well, the Acura MDX Sport Hybrid is kind of it. We say that because Acura utilized the same hybrid powertrain format as the NSX, flipped it, and stuck it on their three-row SUV. It sounds like a great formula for success when it comes to power and fuel economy, however, we’re not sure if it’s worth the extra money over the non-hybrid Acura MDX.
It’s all in the numbers
Believe it or not, the Acura MDX is the best-selling three-row SUV of all time. In fact, it’s the only three-row SUV in its class to have more than 50,000 units sold per year, for six consecutive years. That fact was surprising to us, but now that we know that, we’re not too surprised that Acura tried to spruce things up a little back in the 2017 model year by adding a hybrid model.
However, the MDX Sport Hybrid wasn’t released just for the sake of gas mileage. As you can tell from the moniker “sport hybrid,” Acura was concentrating on the power and performance of this heavy SUV, which is likely why they used the same technology from the NSX. And in case you’re wondering what the technological trickery actually amounted to, the MDX Sport Hybrid achieves 321 hp and 289 lb-ft of torque, as opposed to the regular MDX’s 290 hp and 267 lb-ft.
So what do the numbers amount to?
As we can see, the 10 percent increase in horsepower and 8 percent increase in torque doesn’t really equate to much when all of that power is lugging around nearly 4,500 pounds of body weight, but what’s worse is that Acura doesn’t recommend that you do any towing the MDX Hybrid. Well, then it has to be sporty, right? According to outlets like Kelley Blue Book and Digital Trends, not so much.
The Acura MDX Sport Hybrid uses a 3.0-liter V6 engine that’s paired with a three-motor hybrid system and coupled to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. There is an electric motor up front that drives the front wheels and two separate motors on the rear axles to drive the rear wheels. Additionally, the Sport Hybrid uses Acura’s Super Handling All-Wheel-Drive system to get more power to the ground. But all of this really only equates to an “athletic yet more efficient driving manners, according to KBB, as well as “plenty of low-end grunt when pulling away from a stop,” according to Digital Trends.
But it has to make up for it at the pump, right?
So it seems that the Acura MDX Sport Hybrid’s fancy powertrain and all-wheel-drive configuration doesn’t do too much when it comes to all-out power – and does nothing when it comes to towing – so it must be great when it comes to gas mileage, right? Again, not really.
For reference, the Acura MDX AWD with the regular 3.5-liter V6 engine is able to achieve 19 mpg in the city and 26 on the highway and the Sport Hybrid isn’t that much more impressive. According to the EPA, the electronically assisted MDX is able to achieve up to 26 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway.
It’s not like we were expecting 40 mpg out of an SUV this big, but those aren’t exactly numbers to write home about. In either case, we would recommend saving the $1,500 to $2,000 premium that you would need to spend to get the hybrid powertrain and stick with the regular Acura MDX, or just get a Kia Telluride like everyone else.