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Update from New York - 2017 MDX Sport Hybrid information
 Date: March 24, 2016 12:43
 Submitted by:  JeffX
 Source: TOV News
 Credibility Rating: Not Specified

At its press conference for the 2016 New York Auto Show yesterday, Acura announced a fairly major mid-cycle model change (MMC) for the 2017 (3rd generation) MDX. As expected, the 2017 MDX features freshened styling, incorporating design cues (such as the Diamond Pentagon grill) from the 2016 Acura Precision Concept. Last autumn, we were told by the Acura designers that Acura was getting away from the hidden exhaust look and returning to exposed exhaust designs, and as you can see, the 2017 MDX lives up to this promise (all Acuras going forward will as well). Beyond the styling updates, Acura announced a new Sport Hybrid version of the MDX, and this is where things become a bit more interesting.

First of all, there was a minor (yet at the same time, fairly critical) typographical error in the press release that went out during the press conference. We had received an advanced copy of the press release earlier in the AM, and were surprised to see that the engine listed for the MDX Sport Hybrid model was a 3.0L DOHC unit. This grabbed our attention immediately, as apart from the NSX's C30/C32 and JNC1 engines, there's never been a DOHC V6 in any other Acura (or Honda) product. And we had been told a few times in the past that the 60-degree J-Series V6 was too compact to easily accommodate a DOHC cylinder head. Could it be a new V6 design? Or an intricately engineered DOHC head that worked within the compact J-Series packaging? There wasn't much time to get to the bottom of this, but when we asked an Acura PR rep about the DOHC 3.0 in the hours before the press conference, we were informed that it was in fact based on the existing block, but there was no clarification on whether or not it was SOHC or DOHC.

It turns out that the MDX's 3.0L Sport Hybrid uses essentially the same 3-motor setup as the RLX Sport Hybrid. Instead of the RLX's 3.5L Direct-Injected V6 (which generates 310hp), the MDX Sport Hybrid uses a 3.0L SOHC V6. We're told that this engine is very similar to the J30Y1 which is found in Chinese-market Acura RDXs and uses standard port-injection. In this specification, the engine develops 257hp@6300rpm (and 218lb-ft@5000rpm) of the MDX Sport Hybrid's total system output of 325hp (and 289b-ft). We were told that mechanically, the rest of the Sport Hybrid setup is essentially the same as that found in the RLX, with the same power and torque ratings. The MDX also borrows the RLX Sport Hybrid's superb 7-speed dual clutch (DCT) transmission. Like the RLX Sport Hybrid, this transmission will actually launch in 2nd gear most of the time. On the MDX Sport Hybrid, however, there is a Sport+ mode as part of the Integrated Dynamics System (IDS), and in this mode, it will launch in 1st gear to provide maximum acceleration from a standing start. On the RLX Sport Hybrid, unless Acura has updated the control software recently, we found that the only way to get it to launch in 1st gear was to select Sport mode and then to manually downshift into 1st gear using the paddle shifter.

Some people have asked why Acura downsized the engine to 3.0L. We were told that the primary driver was to improve fuel economy while maintaining performance. Certainly, the 3.0's simpler port fuel injection system costs less than the RLX's direct injection setup, so it stands to reason that there's probably some cost consideration in there too. The addition of the hybrid system means that the Sport Hybrid MDX is roughly 200lbs heavier than the SH-AWD MDX. We were told that the MDX Sport Hybrid's 0-60 performance is essentially the same as the conventional 3.5L SH-AWD powertrain with 9-speed automatic transmission, but the Sport Hybrid system delivers better performance than the 3.5L powertrain in passing maneuvers.

One thing that's great about the Sport Hybrid MDX is that the platform was engineered from the outset to incorporate all of the hybrid hardware. There is absolutely zero impact to the packaging. That means there is no loss of passenger or cargo volume or any of the MDX's functionality. The battery pack resides in an area that was designed into the chassis underneath the third row seats. The rest of the hardware fits neatly into the existing package.

Inside the MDX you'll notice some new features that were conspicuously absent on previous models, but you'll also notice that the dashboard and center stack have not changed from the dual screen layout. On models without the rear entertainment system (RES), the second row seating maintains the existing bench configuration, but in non-RES Advance models, that bench is replaced with captain's chairs and a rear center console which adds two additional USB ports.

On the chassis side, Sport Hybrid MDX models get a new "Active Sport Suspension". Surprisingly, this is not a version of the magnetorheological (MR) damping system that was found on the 2nd generation MDX or all-new NSX. This is an active suspension which uses a mechanically adjusted valve to vary the damping rates.

Acura isn't ready to talk about costs in any sort of absolute terms but from what we were told it doesn't sound like the Sport Hybrid package will come at a huge premium. It sounds like there might be a delta of around 10% above the conventional MDX SH-AWD.

Overall the MDX's "mid cycle model change" (MMC) ranks up there with one of the most significant changes that we've seen from Acura in a long time, perhaps dating back to the 2007 updates seen by the 3rd generation Acura TL.

Last edited by JeffX on April 07, 2016 01:01

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