REVIEW: 2017 Acura MDX Sport Hybrid AWD Advance – A Greener Shade of Great

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Acura’s MDX is the flagship of the current Acura line. We tested the three-row, six-passenger premium hybrid trim and came away impressed.

What is it? 

Crossovers have supplanted sedans as the most important vehicles produced by premium and luxury automakers. Excellence is the expectation in this class and the Acura MDX line delivers.  The MDX can be configured for 2-3-2 seating or can have captains chairs in the middle row, as our tester did. As configured, this is a vehicle that would serve as an outstanding executive “sedan,” roomy family vehicle, or a great work vehicle for a person who has customers in one’s car (realtors come to mind). We tested the 2016 MDX with the conventional drivetrain a year ago and we called it “Perfect Where It Counts.” Would the expensive hybrid trim be even better?

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Pricing and trims

The MDX starts at about $45,000 with just front wheel drive. With AWD and the amenities expected of a premium vehicle, the cost rises to about $54,000.

Our 2017 Acura MDX Hybrid AWD with the Tech Package and Advance Package rang in at $58,975

Safety

The MDX with the Advance and Tech Packages has every manner of safety equipment. Of course, the MDX has automatic emergency braking, a system we have loved ever since it saved our bacon and prevented a bad crash. More impressive though, are the fringe benefits of all the safety systems. The lane keeping assist and adaptive cruise control make highway driving a breeze.

Listen to the BestRide Podcast for More on the Acura MDX

In effect, the two systems combine to offer a basic autopilot system of sorts. The car basically drives and steers itself as long as the driver holds the wheel and provides minimal steering inputs once in a while. We first experienced this on the Honda Pilot and we feel the systems are outstanding for long drives.

 

The key safety equipment is included in the cost of the MDX. However, the Advance Package adds Surround View and parking sensors. The Tech Package adds the important rear cross traffic monitor. So, to get the full whammy, you still have to add thousands to the cost of the base vehicle.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety rates the 2017 Acura MDX a Top Safety Pick Plus.

Performance

When we reviewed the conventional MDX, we felt its V6 engine was adequate. We could say the same about this hybrid version, but we feel that as a green vehicle, this car has more than expected power in all situations. The MDX Hybrid is fast if you push it and passing on one-lane back-roads is easy due to great mid-range power.

Acura uses a 3.0-liter V6 in conjunction with multiple electric motors to move the MDX Hybrid along. The tachometer will drop to zero in almost any situation, indicating the hybrid drive is engaged. Even on the highway, the gas engine will cut out. We consumed 11.14 gallons of fuel over 307 miles.  Thus, our mileage was 27.6 MPG, a bit above the 27 Combined and Highway the EPA estimates most owners will see. This is impressive mileage for a three-row crossover. Based on our testing of many vehicles, we feel the Acura MDX Hybrid offers the same real-world fuel economy as most two-row compact crossovers.

Acura uses a seven-speed dual clutch automatic transmission (DCT) in the MDX Hybrid and it cures the one complaint we had when we tested the 2016 MDX with 9 speeds. There was no hunting in the 2017 Hybrid and we felt absolutely no DCT weirdness when starting off like we have in so many German vehicles with DCTs. The hybrid and DCT are a perfect pairing.

Ride and handling

Simply put, the MDX is one of the best-handling large crossovers in the world. On dirt roads, we used the Comfort setting and it was silky-smooth. Around town the Normal setting is great, and if you want to spice things up, use the Sport settings. The MDX handles so much like a large sedan we question the point of sedans which offer less space, more difficult entry and exit, and which don’t have the commanding view of the road crossovers do.

Seating

The attractive seats in the front of the MDX have simple power settings and are extremely comfortable. We loved the heat and cool modes, but wish they were available separately from the infotainment screen.

The middle row seats were also climate-controlled and adjustable for angle and forward-aft movements. They also quickly drop and move forward to let passengers climb into the third row.

We carried three generations in the MDX with comfort. The eldest ride in the limo-like middle row and the youngest climb in the back. A 6-year-old and 6′ 1″ teen rode in the back and loved the rear seat. We heard no space complaints.

Cargo

The MDX Sport Hybrid AWD Advance has a huge cargo area made even more useful by the middle row’s easy fold-flat feature. We stuffed a fishing trip’s worth of stuff in the vehicle and found that even 7-foot rods and nets could lay flat in the space. Under the cargo floor is another area for storage. One note: Acura deletes the spare in the Hybrid trims.

Infotainment and controls

We have mixed feelings about the infotainment system in the MDX Sport Hybrid AWD Advance. We grew tired of having to open up the menus to set seat temperature and adjust the fan or air direction. The navigation system takes a while to wake up when the vehicle is first started and the input of an address feels slower than many affordable infotainment systems we have tested. We also felt the system was a bit more complicated than need be. That said, there is a volume knob and the steering wheel controls work very well.

Overall

The 2017 Acura MDX Sport Hybrid AWD Advance would be our pick of the MDX line for many reasons. The added fuel economy is always welcome, and the transmission is better in the Hybrid. The combined power of 321 hp also beats the base engine by an impressive 54 hp.

The MDX line will appeal to many shoppers considering a premium, 3-row crossover. Those who want a greener powertrain and who can live without the reassurance of a spare tire will find the MXD Sport Hybrid AWD Advance fits the bill.

2017 MDX Sport Hybrid AWD Advance

Base price: $45,025 (FWD Non-hybrid)

Price as tested, $58,975 including $975 destination charge:  

Options:

Technology Package: $4,140
Navigation
Premium Audio
Remote Engine Start
Advance Package: $6,040

Surround View Camera,

Sport Seats and Captains Chairs in Second Row

Heated Seats, Heated Steering Wheel, Ventilated Seats

Likes:

  • Green, but Powerful Engine
  • Outstanding Seat Comfort
  • Handling That Is Hard To Top

Dislikes:

  • No Spare Tire
  • Overly Complex Infotainment System
  • Premium Fuel Recommendation

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John Goreham

John Goreham