Whether you like the daring curves of Acura's all-new ZDX crossover, there's no denying that there is something super about its shape -- it stands out among today's array of sport/utilities like an Armani suit at 24 Hour Fitness. While one editor thought the ZDX resembled a "Mitsubishi's Dakar-racing Pajero Evo mated with a TL," an overwhelming majority of our team was drawn to this audacious Acura. "Calling the ZDX distinctive is an understatement," says associate Web producer Carlos Lago. "It looks otherworldly. It's the best looking vehicle in Acura's camp -- and I mean that as a compliment. Love the view from the rear. Its strong, wide shoulders give a dominant, purposeful shape." Editor at large Arthur St. Antoine says, "I'll admit it: I was taken aback -- no, shocked -- by my first sight of the ZDX in the metal. This thing is out there-to my eye, way edgier and more futuristic-looking than the X6. But the more I looked, the more I found the ZDX...interesting. Even...stunning."
We experienced similar fuzzy feelings from behind the wheel. Slide into this so-called "four-door sports coupe" -- watch your head, because the sloping roofline is lower than you expect, especially when entering the back seat -- and you're treated to the most elegant cabin in a luxury Honda to date. A leather-stitched dash? You bet. Leather-stitched door panels, too? Why not. Even the cargo area is lined with premium loop-style carpet that wouldn't look out of place in a Beverly Hills living room. Our top-of-the-line test vehicle, equipped with the available Advance Package, also included ventilated front seats, blind-spot warning system, adaptive cruise control, Collision Mitigating Braking System (CMBS), and Acura's new Integrated Dynamics System (IDS), which allows for adjusting the dampers between comfort and sport modes. Lest we forget, the Advance Package encompasses everything in the available Technology Package -- ELS premium audio, Bluetooth phone and streaming audio, backup camera, and navigation with traffic and weather updates.
Step on the throttle and turn the fat-rimmed three-spoke leather-wrapped wheel, and those fuzzy feelings are quickly transfused with adrenaline. Underhood resides a 3.7-liter single-cam V-6 that routs 300 horses and 270 pound-feet through a new six-speed automatic and Acura's signature "Super Handling" all-wheel-drive system. Zero to 60 takes just 6.5 seconds and lateral grip, at 0.83 g, falls right in sport-sedan territory. Depending on how you set the IDS, the ride can be tuned from sporty firm to tautly supple. And even with our lead foots spurring it along, the ZDX delivered 17.1-mpg observed fuel economy.
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 |