It’s one of five vehicles the automaker will send up the big hill.
Acura isn’t a stranger to the high altitudes and endless hairpins that is the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. For 2019, the automaker will be there with a veritable fleet of five vehicles, a number which Acura says is its largest entry list ever for the famous event. The RDX A-Spec and TLX GT return after debuting at the hill last year, joined by two different NSX models – one a production model and the other a modified time attack racer. The last vehicle, however, piqued our interest in a big way. And that’s saying something, because this new Acura-badged Pikes Peak challenger is actually an MDX Sport Hybrid three-row SUV.
As you might imagine, this particular MDX Sport Hybrid isn’t a stock production machine. Engineers ditch the smaller 3.0-liter V6 engine used in the hybrid, which is replaced by the larger 3.5-liter V6 from the standard MDX. That mill is then punched up to 3.7-liters and connected to the hybrid’s three-electric motors – one in front and one for each rear axle – with the result being 400 horsepower (298 kilowatts) and 350 pound-feet (475 Newton-meters) of torque. Shifting duties are handled by a seven-speed DCT, sending that power to all four wheels through Acura’s SH-AWD system.
Acura also tweaks the SUV’s suspension, though the changes are vaguely described as “race-tuned” and “optimized” in the name of seeking a better handling balance for the sizable MDX. Naturally, there’s a full roll cage, which aside from the safety aspect also bumps up the SUV’s structural rigidity. And though the MDX offers three-row accommodations for passengers, all the seats and much of the interior are stripped away in the name of weight reduction.
Why does this build have our interest in a field of some positively awesome Acura race cars? Admittedly, as a racer, this modified MDX Sport Hybrid isn’t terribly impressive. However, we can easily see a 3.5-liter version of the hybrid model enter production as an amped up SUV to battle other performance-oriented people movers. Ford Explorer ST, we’re looking right at you. What do you say, Acura?
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