As the crossover SUV market expands wildly, every manufacturer is offering its unique interpretation. With the ZDX, Acura has crafted a cross between a sport coupe and an SUV.
The first complete design from Acura’s Southern California studio, the ZDX is meant to express “Passionate Getaway.” This means that two folks can pack up their stuff and head wherever they want, thanks to (if you order it) all-wheel drive and lots of storage space. But they won’t be stuck in a truck. This vehicle has a steeply raked fastback and overtly dramatic styling, much like the concept car that preceded it.
One appeal is just being in the ZDX. Like few cars other than a Rolls-Royce, it flaunts hand-stitched leather on the scooped dashboard and console. And the dash curves very dramatically into the door panels, keeping visual interest—it’s almost distracting! My car’s butterscotch brown leather, also covering the supportive and beautifully rendered seats, was definitely a cut above the ordinary, and charcoal and silver accents set it off well.
Above you in the ZDX is a panoramic sunroof with a fabric shade that draws up and hides between the front and rear panel. The front glass slides open, and the cabin is awash in sunlight. Between the front passengers lives an elaborate console with a second cupholder (or shallow drawer—you choose) behind a sliding door. The console opens with buttons on either side.
There’s no trouble holding your gear. Behind the second-row seats I found a substantial hidden cargo hold as well as side panels that open up, widening the regular storage area. With the hatch popped and the rear seats up, it holds a generous 23.6 cubic feet. Drop the seats and it more than doubles capacity.
It’s only right that this “sporty” car should have a strong power train.
A 3.7-liter, 300-horsepower engine is mated to a six-speed automatic with sequential sportshift. That’s more than plenty for pulling the 4,341-pound sport/crossover/SUV down the road. Fuel economy is rated at 16 City, 23 Highway, which is reasonable for a big luxury vehicle—but you’ll likely see few of these in the Friends of the Earth parking lot. I averaged 17.2 mpg in my usual combination of 2/3 freeway, 1/3 town driving. The EPA Green scores are a laudable 7 for Air Pollution and not so great 4 for Greenhouse Gas. Larger engines simply don’t score much better than that.
The ZDX is one car with a single drive train and configuration. However, you can upgrade it in two levels—the Technology Package and the Advance Package. My Ionized Bronze Metallic tester had the Technology Package. That starts with a Navigation System with voice recognition, further sweetened with Real-time Traffic and Weather.
The seats I lovingly described earlier are part of the package too, as is an incredible 10-speaker surround sound system with Dolby Pro Logic II. Keyless entry and dual zone climate control seem almost common these days, but they are part of the Tech package too.
It used to be that the fancy Japanese vehicles came only from the homeland, but nowadays they’re built in North America too. My ZDX was assembled in Alliston, Ontario, Canada, and with 65 percent U.S. and Canadian parts content, it’s a significantly American vehicle.
Pricing starts at $46,305, including destination and handling charges (which seem to be going up significantly for everyone over the last few years). The Technology Package adds $4,500 and the Advance Package adds $7,050 to that. But that ultimate ZDX brings with it even fancier technology, including Adaptive cruise control, which keeps a safe distance from the car ahead of you automatically.
The Integrated Dynamics System (IDS) lets you choose between a comfortable cruiser and a back road carving master. With electronics everywhere in cars today, all it takes is the flick of a switch.
For safety, the Advance Package includes a Collision Mitigating Braking System (CMBS), which helps reduce the chance of a crash by letting the driver know about potential collision situations and activating the brakes if the system determines one is unavoidable. There’s also a version of the increasing popular blind spot information system that alerts you if there’s another vehicle hiding in the your blind spots.
At the end of the day, the ZDX fits into the narrow space between a cozy, sporty coupe and a hatch-equipped cargo hauler, with all the amenities of a luxury sedan. Entry into the rear seats is tight with the low roofline, but the ambiance is mighty comfortable and upscale once you’re in there. Acura’s edgy design is not going to please everyone, but at some point you’ll know what an Acura looks like from a block away.