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MDX SH-AWD compared to RLX-Sport Hybrid in the snow

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MDX SH-AWD compared to RLX-Sport Hybrid in the snow

 
Old 02-15-2015, 08:35 AM
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MDX SH-AWD compared to RLX-Sport Hybrid in the snow

I tested both of my vehicles in the very slippery wind blown snow conditions this morning. It was 8 degrees at the time and will be falling to -8 or lower plus 40-50 mph winds on top of that today. Ugly!! SO that is the stage to compare both. I drove on off camber turns that would be inherently slippery, uphill, downhill, slow turns and faster turns (for what was safe based on the conditions). The purpose was to feel back to back the differences between both AWD systems, input applications of acceleration, braking, steering and overall confidence driving each in the same conditions.

Here is my report:

I drove the MDX first. In slow driving it was confidence inspiring. It barely lost traction even in the off camber stuff. The traction while I was on the gas was great and the VSA kept things in check with minimal slippage. However, when I took the same turn off the gas, I under-steered significantly and almost went head first into the snow bank in front of me. On the straights the acceleration and braking was excellent and steering feel in the snow was about as good as one could want.

Then I drove the SH on the same roads and at the same speeds and mannerisms. The MDX is very good in these conditions for sure, however the SH takes AWD to another level completely. The "on-gas" application of the traction control just can't be matched. It is almost super-human in how it adapts to micro slippage and responding immediately. The really amazing thing is how it responds when you are "off-gas" and coasting into the same off camber slippery turn when the MDX almost took a header into the snow bank. Because of how it drags the inside rear wheel in conjunction with the VSA, it simply caught itself and kept me turning with minimal slippage. Now that is awesome! Until you experience that, you haven't driven an AWD vehicle that does that to the best of my knowledge. The brake feel is an obvious difference between the two cars. The SH's brake bite is very strong where in comparison, the MDX is almost squishy. Also the acceleration in the snow is absolutely effortless in the SH which is very hard to describe. The steering feel is a little isolating in both, but a little more so in the SH in the snow. That does not make any difference to me. The hard part is restraining myself from going to fast because it has so much traction. I can only imagine what it is like with true snow tires in the same conditions. It must be crazy.
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Old 02-15-2015, 09:37 AM
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Nice report

Sorry can't help but add that we almost hit 80 yesterday
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Old 02-15-2015, 11:18 AM
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Originally Posted by getakey View Post
Nice report

Sorry can't help but add that we almost hit 80 yesterday
Please take this from all of us who are freezing our asses off right now with the most respect and kindness I can muster, but screw you. When I cleared my driveway a short while ago, I exhaled into my ski mask and it immediately froze on my eyelashes shut. My nose then froze shut. This is freaking Siberia cold. Enjoy your beach drink and sun screen.
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Old 02-15-2015, 12:00 PM
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Yeah - its 20 degrees above normal here. We should only be 60

We don't even have enough snow in the mountains for the ski resorts to fully open
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Old 02-15-2015, 12:08 PM
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Originally Posted by RLX-Sport Hybrid View Post
The brake feel is an obvious difference between the two cars. The SH's brake bite is very strong where in comparison, the MDX is almost squishy.
Agree.

The brakes on the MDX are particular soft (= weaker ?) .

With the MDX's heavy curb weight, Acura should have put in bigger brakes for the SUV.
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Old 02-15-2015, 12:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Edward'TLS View Post
Agree.

The brakes on the MDX are particular soft (= weaker ?) .

With the MDX's heavy curb weight, Acura should have put in bigger brakes for the SUV.
I'm not sure I would go as far as to say that the MDX's brakes are weak, since both vehicles are almost identical weights at +/- 4400 lbs. I think the SH's brakes feel so much stronger based on the EV motors helping and maybe the way the engineers tuned the feel? Just a guess. My impressions are not mathmatical or scientific, just subjective and opinion.
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Old 02-15-2015, 12:38 PM
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For whatever one dumb old man's opinion is worth, I think they both have brakes that are not up to the vehicle full potential.

I like the way that the Sport Hybrid's brakes generally feel, however. They have a nice, hard feel like the kind you're always trying to get on your Honda Challenge car...and not quite managing to get. :-)

It puzzles me when I see someone complain about how the Sport Hybrid's brakes feel, because I think they're great. If it's a motor journalist complaining, I have to assume he's driving the preproduction car.
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Old 02-15-2015, 05:16 PM
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Originally Posted by RLX-Sport Hybrid View Post
I'm not sure I would go as far as to say that the MDX's brakes are weak, since both vehicles are almost identical weights at +/- 4400 lbs. I think the SH's brakes feel so much stronger based on the EV motors helping and maybe the way the engineers tuned the feel? Just a guess. My impressions are not mathmatical or scientific, just subjective and opinion.
The MDX brakes may not be weak mechanically, but it does "feel" weak.

When compared to the 4G AWD TL, FWD TLX, and FWD RLX, the MDX brake pedal is much softer to depress and also requires a longer brake pedal travel to slow and stop the SUV.

Last edited by Edward'TLS; 02-15-2015 at 05:18 PM.
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Old 02-16-2015, 12:46 AM
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Originally Posted by RLX-Sport Hybrid View Post
Please take this from all of us who are freezing our asses off right now with the most respect and kindness I can muster, but screw you. When I cleared my driveway a short while ago, I exhaled into my ski mask and it immediately froze on my eyelashes shut. My nose then froze shut. This is freaking Siberia cold. Enjoy your beach drink and sun screen.
Sorry your weather is such a bummer. I have a close friend in the Boston area who has been sending me pictures.....things look pretty awful. I grew up just down the road from you in Connecticut so I know what winter can be.

It's just hard for me not to comment on the contrast when we are having somewhat extreme weather conditions in the opposite direction.
I do envy you the ability to play with your Sport Hybrid in the snow. We are still having a bad drought so as getakey said there isn't even much snow in the mountains to drive to to try the Sport Hybrid out I slippery conditions.

Rest assured Spring will come and this winter will be just something to tell the grandkids about.
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Old 02-16-2015, 05:57 AM
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Back to the original question; MDX or RLX hybrid ... MDX hands down.
Both are 2014, the MDX has a remote starter, heated windshield, heated washer spray and better ground clearance. George's point about control when not on the gas is spot on but it could be fixed in the MDX by downshifting.
Now which is more enjoyable to toss around with VSA off on slippery roads it's the RLX. It behaves like a rear-biased car similar to a Porsche with controllable drifts but less aggressive. it is best with 2nd gear start I think it's because the rear motors will pump more torque than the engine breaking the tail loose.
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Old 02-16-2015, 06:11 AM
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When there is more than a few inches of snow on the ground the advantage of having an MDX will be crystal clear.
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Old 02-16-2015, 04:27 PM
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Thanks for the comparo. I had a MDX loaner a couple weeks ago and didn't have enough time to push it (gently) in this regard. Will do so should I have a loaner again.
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