The 2019 Acura MDX Sport Hybrid is sitting in showrooms as you read this, and although the term “sport” rankles, the addition of 31 ponies in the horsepower column and a nearly 37 percent higher city fuel economy rating does make it worth considering. Of course it’s loaded with enough tech and safety features to feel like a Starfleet shuttle and, unfortunately, has a price to match.
Well, okay, it starts at $53,795, which isn’t that bad, so it’s only an unfortunate price if you have a tendency to covet sports cars in that price range (like me).
The hybrid drivetrain in the new MDX is a variation of the hybrid drive system found in the latest NSX, which is a good idea. The foundation is a 3.0-liter, i-VTEC V6 engine coupled to a three-motor Sport Hybrid Super Handling-All Wheel Drive system. Super Handling-All Wheel Drive is Acura’s (nee Honda’s) trademark for their four wheel drive layout, and although it’s gruesomely cloying, we’re going to have to get used to it.
How It Works
The MDX’s electric SH-AWD system operates independently of the gasoline engine. There are two rear-mounted electric motors that direct torque to the rear wheels. When you’re cornering, the system delivers positive torque to the outside rear wheel, to aid with turn-in and grip. Acura’s system simultaneously applies regenerative braking to the inside rear wheel to further enhance this.
The entire system output of the drivetrain adds up to 321 peak horsepower and 289 lb-ft. of torque, impressive, and, even more impressively, it adds up to a combined fuel economy rating of 27 mpg. I say that’s impressive because this SUV has to be on the porky side (Acura gives no weight figures).
The seven-speed dual-clutch transmission is standard and is closely related to the NSX’s nine-speed DCT. The MDX’s 7DCT can operate automatically or manually via steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters.
Naturally, since this is every inch the modern Japanese SUV, the 2019 MDX includes the AcuraWatch suite of advanced safety technologies: Collision Mitigation Braking System with Forward Collision Warning, Lane Keeping Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control with Low-Speed Follow, and Road Departure Mitigation with Lane Departure Warning.
There’s also Vehicle Stability Assist with traction control, Blind Spot Information, and a Rear Cross Traffic Monitor.
Besides all the safety and hybrid frosting on this Acura’s cake, there’s some nips and tucks, bits and bobs to make the new MDX Sport Hybrid stand out from its past brethren. There is high-contrast seat and door panel stitching, which seems to be a growing fashion trend these days. There is a new interior wood treatment and both the driver and front passenger seats get four-way power lumbar control.
New exterior colors are also available.
Like I said, the 2019 Acura MDX Sport Hybrid starts at $53,795. That’s for the “base” model, dubbed the Technology Package. The top of the line MDX Sport Hybrid is called the Advance Package, and that one starts at $60,545. No, nether of those prices is exactly bargain basement, but you do get a lot of stuff – tech, drivetrain and safety – for your cash.
Tony Borroz has spent his entire life racing antique and sports cars. He is the author of Bricks & Bones: The Endearing Legacy and Nitty-Gritty Phenomenon of The Indy 500, available in paperback or Kindle format. His forthcoming new book The Future In Front of Me, The Past Behind Me will be available soon. Follow his work on Twitter: @TonyBorroz