The first fruits of the Precision design concept reach production in the 2017 Acura MDX, which hits New York with a new nose and a heck of a lot more standard fare. On top of that is a new MDX Sport Hybrid model, which tacks on extra power along with a version of the three-motor Super Handling all-wheel-drive system we’ve seen in the NSX supercar and RLX sedan.
The 2017 Acura MDX Sport Hybrid uses a 3.0-liter V-6 engine in concert with a trio of electric motors and a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. Electric motors at each of the rear wheels team up with one integrated motor at the front axle. Extra electric boost adds up to a total of 325 horses, and torque vectoring capability. The standard MDX’s 3.5-liter V-6 offers only 290 hp.
We praised the regular MDX’s nimble handling and taut suspension during a Four Seasons test back in 2014, but the 2017 Acura MDX Sport Hybrid will be offered with an even more lively active sport suspension. Available on Technology and Advanced packages, it adds a new Sport+ mode to the usual Comfort, Normal, and Sport.
Acura says it expect the MDX Sport Hybrid will see its city fuel economy grow 7 mpg, for a total of 25/26/26 mpg (city/highway/combined). The EPA has yet to officially test this, but the outgoing MDX with all-wheel drive and a nine-speed automatic transmission is rated at 19/26/22 mpg. Other full-size SUVs are also playing in this space with plug-in models, such as the Volvo XC90 T8, but more are on the way. Audi is developing the gas-powered Q7 e-tron and Mercedes will likely build a 500e version of the full-size GLS-Class.
There’s still plenty of news for non-hybrid models, too. The 2017 Acura MDX gets a brand-new face, which we can expect to point the way forward for Acura design. The polygonal front grille pairs with new LED foglights and revised Jewel Eye headlights up front, along with chrome rocker panels and a freshened rear fascia with twin exhaust pipes.
The MDX has enjoyed very strong sales, which hit 58,208 last year, in large part because of its value proposition of premium appointments and technology. Acura plans to beat that drum even harder with lots of standard upgrades on the 2017 MDX, including an electric parking brake with auto-hold, automatic high beams, satellite radio, and four USB charging ports. Optional goodies like remote start, power mirrors, a heated steering wheel, wood trim, and larger 20-inch wheels and tires, come with the Advanced and Technology models.
The real kicker is the AcuraWatch suite of active safety and driver assistance tech, which comes standard on every 2017 Acura MDX, including front-wheel-drive versions. That means you no longer have to shell out extra for family-friendly tech like automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, forward collision warning, lane-keep assist, adaptive cruise control, and low-speed follow — a timely addition given that pre-collision braking will soon be required on all cars.
No doubt these extras mean we’ll see the price of the 2017 Acura MDX balloon beyond the $43,785 starting price for 2016. The regular MDX goes on sale this summer, followed by the Sport Hybrid later in the year.