The Acura ZDX stands out. Introduced in 2010, it’s an upscale crossover vehicle. That means it rides high like an SUV but doesn't have the boxy profile or the abundant headroom. With its swept back windshield and low windows, I actually bumped my head getting in one time--and was much more careful after that.
The ZDX was the first vehicle to be styled from start to finish in the new Acura Design Studio in Torrance, California. This allowed the exterior and interior designers to work closely together throughout the entire design process. And, the design stayed true to the original sketch from Acura's first female designer, Michelle Christensen.
What an interior. It features sumptuous leather heat/cool seats, a beautiful, hand-stitched leather dashboard making a golden brown swoosh across the car, handsomely turned out metallic (looking) console and dash trim, and the kind of overt, in-your-face styling that remains interesting to the eye. The fittings feel very firm and solid--carved from one piece.
It’s roomy in there, too. You’ll find 26.3 cubic feet of space behind the second row seats that grows to 55.8 cubic feet of cargo area when you fold the second row seats flat. The cargo area expands to accommodate longer objects (such as golf bags) when you remove the side panels in the rear cargo compartment sidewalls. For hiding valuables, there’s a handy 2.2-cubic-foot under-floor storage compartment.
The ZDX sports the longest glass roof in the industry. It stretches from the leading edge of the windshield all the way to the trailing edge of the tailgate glass. In the front section is a moonroof that tilts and slides up and back along the outside of the roof (which preserves headroom). A fixed glass panel over the rear seat area further brightens the cabin. Dual motorized sunshades cover both the front and rear glass panels in case you’ve had enough sun.
The performance from what’s under the signature pointed hood is impressive. You get 300 horsepower and 270 lb.-ft of torque from a 3.7-liter V6 that’s ready to rock with a touch of your right foot. It’s delivered through a Sequential SportShift 6-speed automatic transmission with steering wheel mounted paddle shifters.
The standard Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD®) system actively varies the torque distribution between the front and the rear axles as well as between the left and right rear wheels to maximize available traction under most driving situations. This "torque vectoring" of engine power operates automatically and sends up to 70 percent of the overall power to the rear; 100 percent of that power can be channeled to one rear wheel. This helps the ZDX rotate around corners more effectively and safely.
The EPA fuel economy numbers are 16 City, 23 Highway--average 19. I averaged 17.4 mpg over a week of driving, much of it on the freeway. Premium fuel is specified. The EPA Green Vehicle Guide gives the car a 6 for Air Pollution but just a 3 for Greenhouse Gas.
The ZDX comes in three trim levels: ZDX, ZDX with Technology Package and the ZDX with Advance Package. The standard ZDX includes a panoramic glass roof and hand-stitched leather interior, along with Bluetooth® HandsFreeLink® connectivity, a power operated tailgate and a potent audio system.
The Technology Package adds an Acura Navigation System with Voice Recognition™, AcuraLink Real-Time Traffic and Weather™, an Acura/ELS Surround® premium audio system and a multi-view rear camera.
The Advance Package further sweetens the pot with goodies like adaptable cruise control (keep a set distance from the guy in front), and the great safety of a blind spot warning system. With the limited visibility of this hunkered-down ride, that last feature will pay for itself every day.
Of special note in the Advance Package, the Integrated Dynamics System (IDS) tailors the ZDX's fully independent suspension's Active Damper System and speed-sensitive steering to suit your preference for a more comfortable or a more sporting ride. Select Comfort or Sport mode: Comfort mode provides greater isolation from road surface changes and noise, thereby reducing passenger fatigue. Sport mode delivers crisper handling response, heightened vehicle body control and maximized traction. As the driver, alone most of the time, I preferred the Sport setting, because it kept the 4,462-pound car from swaying in turns and in response to road irregularities.
With its premium content and presentation, the base price is $46,020. But if you want the many benefits of the Advance Package, which came on my tester, expect to pay $56,520.
With its in-your-face styling, the ZDX is not for everybody. But there’s a real upscale feeling inside and it feels like it’s carved of solid steel. It’s a Honda, taken to the max. Just don’t forget to duck your head when you hop in.