While its most direct competitor, the 300-horse twin-turbo BMW X6 xDrive 35i, is quicker to 60 (5.9 seconds) and around the skidpad (0.87 g), the ZDX is more fun to drive. The reason, unsurprisingly, is weight. At 4445 pounds, the ZDX is no bantam, but it tips the scales with 540 fewer pounds than a comparably equipped X6. Sure, the BMW's twin-turbo I-6 and nifty xDrive all-wheel drive make it quick in a straight line and around a circle, but it can't cheat the laws of physics and mask 4985 pounds when tackling a twisty road.

Then there's the value proposition. A base ZDX, which comes standard with 19-inch wheels, Xenon headlamps, leather, power/heated front seats, power moonroof and tailgate, XM satellite radio, and Bluetooth, should start in the neighborhood of $44,000. A base X6, which offers heated front seats, power tailgate, satellite radio, and Bluetooth as options, opens at $56,725. When similarly equipped, the Acura should represent a $10,000-$15,000 savings compared with the BMW.

Of course, the ZDX isn't perfect. A couple demerits worth mentioning are the challenging ingress/egress, a cramped back seat (it offers less headroom and legroom than in a Mazda RX-8), and somewhat compromised cargo capacity, which, at 26.3 cubic feet, is less than in the stubbier and narrower Audi Q5. That said, Acura isn't marketing the ZDX as a family transporter; rather, it's a "passionate getaway" car for two adults. So if you need a rig for hauling the spouse and kids, Acura will gladly point you in the direction of the RDX and MDX. Otherwise, opt for the ZDX. No other Acura is as engaging to drive or scintillating to behold -- period.

2010 Acura ZDX
Base price $44,000 (est)
Price as tested $48,000 (est)
Vehicle layout Front-engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV
Engine 3.7L/300-hp/270-lb-ft SOHC 24-valve V-6
Transmission 6-speed automatic
Curb weight (f/r dist) 4445 lb (58/42%)
Wheelbase 108.3 in
Length x width x height 192.4 x 78.5 x 62.8 in
0-60 mph 6.5 sec
Quarter mile 15.0 sec @ 93.4 mph
Braking, 60-0 mph 129 ft
Lateral acceleration 0.83 g (avg)
MT Figure Eight 27.2 sec @ 0.65 g (avg)
EPA city/hwy fuel econ 16/22 mpg
CO2 emissions 1.06 lb/mile