Acura’s upcoming 2017 NSX supercar may be hogging the spotlight these days, but the big news for the Japanese luxury marque at the New York International Auto Show was the debut of its updated MDX mid-size SUV. Acura sold 58,208 MDXs in the U.S. last year (and 5,9814 in Canada), making it far and way the company’s biggest volume seller, with only the RDX compact SUV coming close (the TLX sedan rounded out the company’s top three in North America).
The current-generation MDX was introduced three years ago as a 2014 model, and in addition to being the brand’s highest volume model for the past seven years it’s also North America’s all-time best-selling three-row luxury SUV. For 2017 it gets some styling and content updates as expected, plus a new Sport Hybrid drivetrain option.
Externally the changes include revised front and rear treatments, with the first production application of Acura’s new “diamond pentagon” grille as seen on the Acura Precision Concept that debuted at the North American International Auto Show in January. On the MDX the new grille looks distinctive and dynamic, and certainly a big improvement over the company’s previous beak-like shield grille. Additional changes include restyled “Jewel Eye” headlights, a more sharply sculpted hood and front fenders, new LED fog lights, a revised chrome rocker panel design, new twin tailpipes, and two new 20-inch wheel designs.
Inside, the 2017 MDX gets what Acura executive VP John Mendel called “the most premium content in the MDX’s 15-year history.” New standard luxury features include an electric park brake, auto high-beam headlights, Sirius Radio 2.0, additional USB charging ports, and a full suite of AcuraWatch driver assistance technologies including lane departure warning, lane keeping assist, road departure mitigation, adaptive cruise control with low-speed follow, forward collision warning, and collision mitigation braking system with automatic emergency braking. Available features in upper trim levels will include second-row captain’s chairs, surround-view camera with selectable viewing angles, heated steering wheel, and new Olive Ash or Black Limba wood interior trim choices.
Under the hood, standard models will continue to use the existing 3.5L V6 engine coupled to a nine-speed automatic transmission, while a new Sport Hybrid model will be made available for those seeking increased efficiency and performance. The 2017 MDX Sport Hybrid is the third model to feature Acura’s three-motor Sport Hybrid SH-AWD powertrain, joining the Acura NSX supercar and RLX flagship sedan. Power comes from a 3.0L DOHC V6 gas engine with Variable Cylinder Management mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, with an integrated electric motor powering the front wheels and a Twin Motor Unit with two electric motors providing power to the rear wheels. This arrangement allows the system to deliver electrified torque vectoring for improved handling and straight-line performance.
The Sport Hybrid delivers a peak powertrain output of 325 horsepower – a 35 horsepower bump over the non-hybrid model – while also turning in better fuel economy, especially in the city. The MDX Sport Hybrid is anticipated to receive EPA fuel economy ratings of about 9.4 / 9.0 L/100 km (city/highway), and is an estimated 3.3 L/100 km improvement in city efficiency over the 3.5L MDX with SH-AWD.
The 2017 Acura MDX is slated to go on sale at dealerships across Canada this summer and will be joined by the MDX Sport Hybrid later in the year.