2017 Acura MDX Sport Hybrid

2017 Acura MDX Sport Hybrid

Episode 3642
Auto Value and Bumper to BumperTire Rack "The Way Tire Buying Should Be"

When Acura gave the 3rd generation MDX crossover a new look halfway through its lifecycle, it would have been easy to think that was it. But not for Honda’s luxury brand. For this engineering minded company the Sport Hybrid Version of the 2017 MDX is the real headline. Of course the only way to see how well “sport” and “hybrid” work together is to go for a drive.

The 2017 Acura MDX Sport Hybrid is the brand’s first gasoline-electric utility vehicle. In keeping with Acura’s hybrid tradition, the internal combustion engine is matched with three electric motors, like we’ve seen in the RLX Sport Hybrid sedan, and the NSX supercar. 

On that score, the MDX closely mirrors the RLX’s all-electric Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive setup with one electric motor up front, and two in the rear.

The rear motors provide both go and sharper turns through torque vectoring, sending cornering power, when needed, to an outside rear wheel, while simultaneously braking an inside rear wheel.

And, just as in the Sport Hybrid RLX, it all works quite seamlessly, as power is constantly being distributed to different wheels in different amounts at all times.

Conventional power is from the well regarded corporate 3.0-liter V6, here rated at 257-horsepower, or 33-less than the 3.5 liter V6 on the standard MDX. But, since this is a hybrid with a trio of electric motors, the total output is boosted to 321-horsepower and 289 lb-ft. of torque.

Up front is a 47kW electric motor, built into the 7-speed DCT transmission. Each rear wheel is driven by a 36kW motor. That draws power from a 72-cell, 1.3-kWh lithium-ion battery pack under the driver’s seat. 

The hybrid hardware’s 200 plus pounds of extra weight lowers the Sport Hybrid’s center of gravity by an inch compared to the standard MDX, but actual rough road ground clearance remains the same.

On the twisting roads east of Seattle, Washington, we found that between the near instant power vectoring, and rapid response of the active dampers, the MDX Sport Hybrid easily mastered uphill switchbacks at speed.

The Sport Hybrid adds a 4th drive mode, Sport Plus, making this MDX even more of a driver’s SUV. It disables EV only driving, and adds more battery assist on takeoff. 

There are steering wheel mounted paddle shifters, but we didn’t find the DCT needing an extra pair of hands.  The SH-AWD torque vectoring is neither seen nor heard.  Of course, you can actually see it working on the upper display screen, and certainly can feel it with the Sport Hybrid’s confident road manners in the wet and dry.

Like all MDXs, the Sport Hybid comes with three row seating, but in only two trims. 

The Technology Package makes room for seven; Advance has 6 seats with captain’s chairs in the second row.

The front cabin environment maintains the level of understated luxury that we’ve come to expect from Acura. Stainless steel sport pedals are one of the subtle signs that you’re in the Sport Hybrid. All MDXs now include AcuraWatch safety and driver-assistance.

The Sport Hybrid’s technology leaves plenty of practical room inside. Cargo space behind the rear seat remains the same as the standard MDX at 15 cu-ft.  That increases to 38.4 cu-ft behind the second row, and 68.4 cu-ft with all the rear seats out of the way. 

Outside, the hybrid only reveals itself through a small badge on front fenders…and a blue “S-H” on the Super Handling All-Wheel Drive badge at the rear. The side sills and front and rear skid garnishes are the same color as the body. Other than that, it’s a carbon copy of its gasoline-only twin… including the new and far more attractive diamond pentagon grille.  

One thing you won’t see here is a trailer hitched to the back. Acura says towing for the MDX Sport Hybrid is “not recommended”.

Government Fuel Economy Ratings are 26-City, 27-Highway, and 27-Combined. That beats the standard all-wheel drive MDX by 23% Combined and 37% in the city.

The Energy Impact Score is slightly better than average, burning 12.2-barrels of oil yearly with 5.4 -tons of CO2 emissions.

The MDX Sport Hybrid starts at $ 52,935 for Technology and $ 58,975 for Advance. Both are surprisingly only $1,500 more than their regular all-wheel-drive sibling.

We already consider the 2017 Acura MDX one of the best three row crossovers at any price point. With the addition of the Sport Hybrid, and its electrified Super Handling All-Wheel Drive technology, the reach of this luxury laden, family crossover has no equal.

Specifications

  • Engine: 3.0 liter
  • Horsepower: 321
  • Torque: 289 lb-ft.
  • EPA: 26 mpg city / 27 mpg highway
  • Energy Impact: 12.2 barrels of oil/yr
  • CO2 Emissions: 5.4 tons/yr
2024 Lexus GX550

2024 Lexus GX550

It’s A Land Cruiser With A Lexus Badge

Episode 4344
Auto Value and Bumper to BumperTire Rack "The Way Tire Buying Should Be"

When most people think of Lexus SUVs, they tend to think of the RX, and for good reason. The RX was a key player in popularizing the luxury SUV market as we know it today. But, the Lexus SUV world is much bigger than that, of course, including something for adventurous, rugged, off-road types.

We’re not about to claim that there’s some kind of body-on-frame SUV resurgence happening, but it’s clear that car-like crossovers haven’t fully taken over the SUV world just yet; and more than any other brand, Toyota seems on a mission to make SUVs truly great again. Even when it comes to their Lexus brand with this new 2024 Lexus GX550.

When the first gen GX arrived for 2003, it seemed to go out of its way to disguise its substantial off-road capabilities behind some very soft-roader sheet-metal, but those that knew… knew that underneath, the GX was based on the rugged J120 Land Cruiser. Fast forward to this third-gen GX, and it looks like Lexus is fully embracing that Land Cruiser kinship going boxier and bolder than ever before. Square lines, chunky fenders, wide track, short overhangs, highly vertical windshield; all hallmarks of serious off-roaders.

The GX is also the first Lexus to benefit from their Overtrail Project which encourages Lexus owners to get out of their comfort zones and experience what their luxo-ute is actually capable of. So, Overtrail models are outfitted with 33-inch all-terrain tires on 18-inch wheels, a locking rear diff, and an Electronic Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System that can independently unlock both front and rear stabilizer bars for more wheel articulation.

2024 Lexus GX550 3/4 Front
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Just like the recently released Toyota J250 Land Cruiser, the GX is built on Toyota’s Tundra truck frame, but instead of a four-cylinder turbo-hybrid, it’s launching with a 3.4-liter twin-turbo V6 with 349-horsepower and 479 lb-ft of torque. That’s 48-horsepower and 150 lb-ft over the previous GX’s V8. Max tow rating shoots up from 6,500 to 9,096-lbs. The GX works exclusively with a 10-speed automatic transmission, with full-time four-wheel-drive and a two-speed transfer case standard. Lexus says a hybrid option will be available later, but no word on if it’s the Land Cruiser’s 2.4-liter I4 hybrid or the V6 hybrid that’s currently available in the Tundra pickup.

It doesn’t take much time behind the wheel to appreciate the high seating position and great visibility of the GX; as rugged as it looks outside, it still feels plenty luxurious inside, and is highly functional too. There’s a big control center in front of the dash with a high-mounted 14-inch touchscreen, and dedicated knobs for temperature and volume just below. A third row of seating is available in most trims, providing space for six or seven passengers. But if you go Overtrail, Lexus assumes you’re not the big family type and would rather have the space for packing adventure gear, so it’s the only trim that is five-passenger only.

As rugged as it looks outside, it still feels plenty luxurious inside, and is highly functional too.

While the double-wishbone front and rear multi-link suspension of this Overtrail is clearly off-road inspired, it held up well enough in our Mason Dixon Dragway handling course. Slow and steady definitely won the race here, as the GX felt big and heavy, with notable weight shifting on transitions through the cones, and light steering. Stability systems were eager to kick in well before things could get out of sorts.

Buyers can add Lexus’ Adaptive Variable Suspension for smoothing things out on the highways without sacrificing off-road capabilities. It launched quite aggressively off the line in acceleration runs; again, sturdy and truck-like, with all four wheels biting into the pavement and propelling us forward harder than we were expecting, hitting 60 in 6.5 seconds.

2024 Lexus GX550 Dashboard
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Lots of grip and no drama, as this turbo-six puts plenty of power down instantly. It sounds good too; powerful, with a nice throaty exhaust note that was more of a V8 rumble than V6 trumpet. Quarter-mile completed in 14.9-seconds at 94 mph.

Braking runs were a little inconsistent, with the off-road tires seemingly gripping and pulling us in different directions. But stops averaged a great 114-feet from 60 mph, so we’ll accept the slightly unsettled feel.

Government Fuel Economy Ratings are 15-City, 21-Highway, and 17-Combined; we averaged a respectable 20.1 mpg of Premium. But it garners a worse than average Energy Impact Score of 17.5-barrels of yearly oil use, with 8.3-tons of CO2 emissions.

Pricing starts with Premium grade at $64,250, ranging to Luxury at $77,250, with Overtrail in between at $69,250. All trims can be plus sized for additional features.

The 2024 Lexus GX550 is clearly not just another luxury saturated soft-roader. It’s a real deal Land Cruiser with a Lexus moniker, and this Overtrail is the most off-road capable Lexus ever. That not only makes it appealing to traditional Lexus buyers, but to a whole “range” of new conquests as well.

Specifications

  • Engine: 3.4-liter twin-turbo V6
  • Transmission: 10-speed automatic
  • Horsepower: 349
  • Torque: 479 lb-ft
  • EPA: 15 City | 21 Highway | 17 Combined
  • 0-60 mph: 6.5 seconds
  • 1/4 Mile: 14.9 seconds at 94 mph
  • 60-0 Braking (avg): 114 feet
  • MW Fuel Economy: 20.1 mpg (Premium)
  • Max Tow Rating: 9,096-lbs