Under the hood is Honda's 3.7-liter V-6, which develops 300 horsepower at 6400 rpm, and 270 pound-feet of torque at 4600 rpm. The engine drives through a new six speed automatic transmission, and the latest iteration of Honda's complex but effective SH-AWD system. Like many Honda engines, the V-6 feels light on torque; a sensation not helped by the ZDX's mass and the widely spaced ratios in the transmission.

Left to its own devices the ZDX feels a tad lethargic, particularly when overtaking on two lanes. The good news, however, is the transmission offers both a sport mode (revised mapping typically keeps the transmission in the lower four ratios, and locks out sixth gear) and full manual control via steering wheel mounted paddles. A quick double tap on the downshift paddle allows the transmission to skip from sixth to fourth, fifth to third, fourth to second, if needed. Put some effort into your driving, and the ZDX responds accordingly.

Standard suspension is by way of MacPherson struts up front, and a multi-link rear axle, both anchored by beefy sub-frames. Top-of-the-range ZDXs get magneto-rheological shocks as part of what Acura calls its Integrated Dynamics System (IDS). Controlled via a large knob on the center console, IDS switches both damper and steering rates between "comfort" and "sport" settings. On our early-build tester (one of two ZDXs that are by now crumpled heaps of metal in Honda's crash lab) the sport setting's damper rates felt a touch too firm mooching around town, while the comfort setting's steering felt too light. Acura engineers have subsequently confirmed production ZDXs will get more steering feel in the comfort setting, which seems the ideal compromise.

Standard equipment is lavish. The base ZDX comes equipped with the all-glass roof, leather interior, power tailgate, backup camera, and 19in wheels and tires. The Technology Package adds sat nav with real time traffic and weather, Acura/ELS audio, keyless access and a multi-view rear camera. The Advance Package includes a sport steering wheel, ventilated seats, adaptive cruise control, collision mitigation braking system, the aforementioned IDS, and blind spot monitors, which really ought to be standard across the range.

If you want an Acura for family road trips, buy an MDX. The ZDX is designed for couples -- trendy youngsters or fifty-something empty nesters -- who want a vehicle that not only stands out in the valet line at a hip hotel, but is a comfortable and capable ride for quick getaway trips, regardless of the weather or the road surface.


2010 Acura ZDX
Base price $45,000-$48,000 (est)
Vehicle layout Front engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV
Engine 3.7L/300-hp/270lb-ft DOHC 24-valve V-6
Transmission 6-speed automatic
Curb weight 4450lb (mfr)
Wheelbase 108.3in
L x W x H 192.4in x 78.5in x 62.8in
0-60mph 7.3sec (MT est)
EPA city/hwy fuel econ 16/22 (est)
CO2 emissions 1.06 lb/mile (est)
On sale in U.S. Fall 2009