Acura MDX Hybrid not planned for the new generation, says report [Update]

Update: ‘On the discontinuation of the Acura MDX Hybrid’ and ‘Acura MDX sales’ sections updated with new prices and the latest sales data, respectively.

The fourth-gen MDX isn’t available with a hybrid powertrain, and it may not receive the option later in the lifecycle. In other words, the Acura MDX Hybrid may not return to the U.S. market.

On the discontinuation of the Acura MDX Hybrid

While more SUVs are gaining electrified powertrains during generational changes, the Acura MDX lost the only electrified powertrain with which it was available. Citing Acura’s global development chief from a media roundtable, a report from Autoblog.com suggested that the Type S variant offers adequate performance in the fourth-gen MDX. So, there’s no need to bring back the Sport Hybrid (SH-AWD) powertrain available in the third-gen model.

One could argue that customers demand hybrid variants in cars like the Acura MDX for the benefit of fuel efficiency, not necessarily only performance. Sure, the 2023 Acura MDX Type S can deliver 355 horsepower and 354 pound-feet of torque, which is noticeably higher than the 2020 MDX Hybrid (321 horsepower and 289 pound-feet). However, the new variant is nowhere near the 27 mpg combined fuel economy rating of the discontinued MDX Hybrid. The Type S variant is far less efficient, delivering an EPA-est. combined fuel economy of 19 mpg.

Some customers find the standard variant’s efficiency inadequate, wishing there was a hybrid option. As a driving.ca reader review (by Rosa Reyes) concludes, MDX customers still call for a hybrid option due to rising fuel costs and environmental issues. For reference, the standard variant returns 22 mpg combined in FWD and 21 mpg in AWD.

2020 Acura MDX Hybrid front three quarter
The previous generation Acura MDX Hybrid achieved a fuel economy of 27 mpg (combined). Image Source: Acura

On the Acura MDX Type S

The MDX Type S features an Acura-first air suspension system that features adjustable ride height and auto-leveling; an adaptive damper system with three exclusive damping profiles; 21-inch wheels with self-sealing all-season tires; sport-tuned 10-speed automatic transmission with quicker shifts and rev-matched downshifts; Brembo front brakes with 14.3-inch rotors and red four-piston fixed calipers; performance-tuned torque-vectoring Super Handling AWD; and Seven-mode Integrated Dynamics System with Type S-exclusive Sport+ and ride height-increasing Lift modes are other highlights of the MDX Type S.

In addition to 21-inch wheels, the MDX Type S sports an exclusive Diamond Pentagon grille that provides improved cooling and quad exhaust finishers with active exhaust valves. On the inside, it features 25-speaker, 1,000-watt ELS Studio 3D Signature Edition premium audio system with PrecisionDrive carbon fiber speakers and CenterParquet, and Acura-first massaging seats with nine modes.

The 2023 Acura MDX’s prices start at USD 50,245 (incl. destination and handling fee) and go up to USD 73,895 (incl. destination and handling fee).

Acura MDX sales

Thanks to the full redesign for MY2022, the sales of the Acura MDX recovered in the U.S market in 2021. Honda sold 60,057 units in the U.S. in 2021, 25.6% more than in 2020 (47,816 units). The MDX surpassed the RDX to become the best-selling Acura model in the country. It contributed 38% to Acura’s sales in 2021 (157,408 units).

The Acura MDX isn’t performing as well in 2022, a year where the global automotive industry was sent into a tizzy with shortage of parts on the one hand, and robust demand on the other. In H1 2022, Honda sold just 23,610 units of the premium midsize SUV in the U.S. Compared to the first half of 2021, when it delivered 36,791 units, that’s a 35.8% decline. The Honda CR-V’s cousin, the Acura RDX, has fared even worse in 2022. Sales of the RDX almost halved in H1 2022, falling to 14,239 units (H1 2021: 27,690 units).

All-electric Acura SUV arrives in 2024

A large pure electric Acura SUV is to launch in 2024 featuring GM’s platform and Ultium battery, which could belong to the size class of the MDX. However, the e-SUV may not suit a large section of MDX shoppers who want a frugal premium midsize SUV, as the EV is not expected to come cheap.

Dealers have started preparing for the launch of the first Acura electric SUV, says a report from Automotive News, dated March 14, 2022. The tie-up with General Motors for the launch of the first Acura electric car was one of brand’s “great product moves recently,” said Acura National Dealer Advisory Board and Northeast Acura (Latham, New York) General Manager David Ellis. Ellis added that there would be specific recommendations about charging stations and other things in the future. Dealers want a pure electric NSX as well, but that’s something we doubt will happen before 2025.

We’ll keep an eye on Acura’s electrification plans and update the page if the company changes its mind about an MDX Hybrid.

Featured image: Acura