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New Acura MDX Sport Hybrid exhibits poise, refinement

Its powertrain may give it excellent, efficient handling, but it looks ready for a night out on the town.

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Wayne Cunningham
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Midway through its third generation, Acura gives its MDX SUV a hybrid drivetrain with impressive sport characteristics.

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The MDX Sport Hybrid also shows off new styling, with a revised grille. That grille will find its way throughout the Acura line-up.

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The MDX Sport Hybrid retains the MDX's core attributes of being a premium three-row crossover.

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The MDX uses a hybrid system originally developed for Acura's RLX sedan, and heavily modified for the NSX sport car.

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In the MDX Sport Hybrid, that hybrid system means a 3.0-liter V6 engine and electric motor driving the front wheels, and two electric motors driving the rear wheels. This setup means all-wheel-drive and precise torque vectoring.

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Adaptive dampers help keep the MDX Sport Hybrid level in the turns, but also contribute to a more comfortable ride for everyday driving.

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The new grille comes from the Acura Precision concept, shown off last year at the Detroit auto show.

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Acura standardized on what it calls Jewel Eye LED headlights a few years ago.

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The hybrid drive system in the MDX Sport Hybrid only leads to 27 mpg average, with most of that coming from improved city fuel economy. The system seems mostly designed for improved handling.

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Visually, the MDX Sport Hybrid mainly distinguishes itself from its gasoline-only counterpart through small badges.

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This all-wheel-drive system seems tuned more for handling than dirt, but will likely help a bit on slippery roads.

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