Acura’s MDX Sport flexes its muscle

2017-Acura-MDX-Sport-Hybrid

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CASEY WILLIAMS | Auto Reviewer
autocasey@aol.com

Whether you define family as close friends out for the evening or a car full of offspring, wheeling them about shouldn’t require a tanker full of fuel or inebriated performance. You could look at the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid, or even the Toyota Highlander Hybrid, but let’s elevate our luxury. The Acura MDX Sport Hybrid may be your ride that’s stylish, efficient and powerful.

Let’s just go straight to exterior styling and its prettier face. Gone is the giant belt buckle, replaced by a version of Acura’s new diamond pentagon grille, as seen on last year’s Precision concept car. It’s not particularly distinctive but looks good with the restyled hood, front fenders, side sills and fascia. LED headlights and fog lights glisten like strings of crystals.

Place it all over 20-in. wheels and the updates give the MDX a look that Acura calls “executive athletic.”

2017-Acura-MDX-Sport-Hybrid-(interior)If the exterior is executive athletic, then the interior is luxurious mystic. It’s luxurious with supple leather, heated/cooled front seats and a heated steering wheel. Real wood on the dash and doors is available with the Advance package. So are second-row captain’s chairs. Tri-zone automatic climate control keeps everybody comfy. Five passengers fit easily; seven squeeze in for shorter trips.

Beyond luxury touches, interiors are loaded with a suite of electronics that are both entertaining and frustrating. Bose audio, USB charging ports and SMS text messaging work well. Navigation could be far easier to program, but it got us there. But oh, the mystery of Acura’s two-screen infotainment set-up. This version seems easier to use, but it is complication without reason. Safety is enhanced with a surround-view camera system, adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assist, lane centering control, blind spot warning and forward collision mitigation systems.

Some hybrids are created for maximum efficiency, while others give performance a boost. Acura threated the middle sash. The big crossover makes hay with a 3.0-liter gasoline engine, three electric motors to manage the all-wheel-drive system, 7-speed dual clutch automatic transmission, and lithium-ion batteries. Total output is 321 horsepower, or 64 more than non-hybrids. Even better, it cranks more torque for quicker acceleration. The cherries are fuel economy ratings of 26/27-MPG city/hwy, which is a 7/1-MPG improvement over non-hybrid. I think Acura picked the right path for its performance hybrid crossover.

2017-Acura-MDX-Sport-Hybrid-(engine)During a four-hour round-trip to attend a mid-century furniture sale, the MDX was a perfect traveling companion. The peppy powertrain works with the smooth, yet athletic, chassis to maintain almost any speed you please without an ounce of drama from beneath. Supportive leather seats, navigation and the Bose audio system were welcome traveling companions… even if the stupid two-screen infotainment arrangement came along too. Had I wanted to haul anything home, flipping down the rear rows of seats and powering open the hatch would have been a cinch.

No matter which powertrain you choose, the MDX is a luxury cocoon for three rows of whomever you consider family. But, why not go hybrid and enjoy amped performance over a foundation of maximized MPGs. If the base $51,960 sticker, rising to $58,975 fully commissioned, doesn’t concern you, go forth and travel.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 28, 2017.