The 2017 Acura MDX Sport Hybrid isn't a hybrid solely focused on maximum miles per gallon, with a sport-injected hybrid system that takes inspiration from the Acura NSX supercar (and for the sake of accuracy, the less-exciting Acura RLX sedan where it debuted). Even so, the MDX Sport Hybrid's fuel economy increases a respectable amount compared with the regular MDX. I hit the streets on a 680-plus-mile road trip to see if the 2017 Acura MDX Sport Hybrid is more sport or more hybrid.
As a bonus, I separately took the MDX Sport Hybrid on the same fuel-economy loop as a 2017 Lexus RX 450h hybrid we tested earlier in the year to measure how the near-identically priced hybrid luxury SUVs compare at the pump. The as-tested MDX Sport Hybrid's price of $58,975 compared closely to the RX 450h's $57,274 price.
The MDX hybrid clicked off 27.8 mpg after driving 368.5 miles from the western suburbs of Chicago to Dayton, Ohio, in nearly traffic-free interstate driving averaging 57 mph. The 27.8 mpg is an average of the 29.3-mpg onboard trip computer readout and the 27.8 mpg fill-up calculation. On the return trip of 315.8 miles, the MDX hybrid returned a near-identical 27.9 mpg, which is right in line with its 27-mpg highway rating.
The electrified MDX Sport Hybrid — with its compact hybrid battery, two electric motors driving the back wheels and a third electric motor attached to the new seven-speed dual clutch automatic transmission — is EPA-rated at 26/27/27 mpg city/highway/combined. It's a notable 29 percent increase from a typical MDX with all-wheel drive rated at 18/26/21 mpg (without the optional auto stop-start).
The MDX hybrid's observed fuel economy stacks up well against its own ratings, but what about its chief competitor, the Lexus RX 450h? 's fuel-economy loop is a 120-mile jaunt across Chicagoland combining bumper-to-bumper traffic with highway cruising and shopping-center suburban sprawl. The RX 450h easily exceeded its EPA ratings on the loop with an impressive 35.7-mpg average. The MDX bettered its EPA ratings as well, returning 29.3 mpg, but came up considerably short compared with the RX. We didn't have the same conditions from test to test, however: 55 degrees for the RX versus 83 degrees for the MDX, and the RX's average speed was 32 mph compared with the MDX's 28 mph.
The RX hybrid is the SUV for those making a practical choice about fuel economy. Buying a luxury car isn't always about practicality, however, and what the numbers don't show is that I found the MDX Sport Hybrid to be a considerably more pleasant SUV to drive. Its adjustable ride-quality firmness, crisp shifts, on-demand power and hybrid system responsiveness are geared toward the driving experience and not simply pegging the gas-mileage indicator.
Keep an eye out for our 2017 Acura MDX Sport Hybrid review for more details on Acura's hybrid SUV's driving experience.