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1,199 Posts
Discussion Starter · #21 ·

Digital integration director Mike Floyd had visitors in town recently, and used the ZDX to pick up his sister- and brother-in-law, their 1-year-old daughter, and all their luggage from LAX and take them about 75 miles north to Ventura. There was some skepticism about fitting all those people and gear in the coupelike ZDX sport/ute. Upon seeing the Acura at the airport, they asked, "Are we going to fit into that?"

As Floyd explains, "Surprisingly, once the baby seat was affixed in the rear-mid-seat area, the ladies ducked into the back seats, and the luggage was tossed in the cargo area, everything fit okay." After everyone had been dropped off, he took the ZDX to run some errands, loading plenty of items in the back. He realized it's a decent vehicle to use when getting groceries, but it isn't suited for runs to The Home Depot. "Yes, I get it -- the ZDX is for empty nesters who want to look spaceship cool and enjoy extra utility."
2010 Acura ZDX
Months/miles in service 	5/9289
Avg econ/CO2 	18.2 mpg/1.07 lb/mi
Unresolved problems 	None
Maintenance cost 	$92.30 (oil change/inspection/rotate tires)
Normal-wear cost 	$0

1,199 Posts
Discussion Starter · #22 ·
4 Seasons UpDate

Halfway through our year-long test of the ZDX, we finally looked in the rearview mirror. Managing Editor Amy Skogstrom sees the similarity between the Honda CR-Z and ZDX, and that they share "a big horizontal bar that runs right through the middle of the rear windows, meaning that rearward visibility is compromised -- not dangerously, but highly annoying nevertheless."

What about the view when looking forward? "I find the interior design to be entirely too busy for my taste," Skogstrom says. "The space in front of the front passenger has 4 layers of materials on it -- talk about design overkill. And the satellite radio interface continues to annoy me. Too many buttons, too many menus to toggle through to change stations, and just too confusing."

Senior web editor Phil Floraday agrees with others who have opined that the ZDX is comfortable on 4- or 5-hour road trips, but he still can't understand "why anyone would willingly choose this body style. Is an MDX going to be less comfortable or worse-handling on the Interstate? If you're looking for better handling, why not a TSX wagon? If you don't need a rear seat for adults, why not get a legitimate coupe? Why? Why? Why?"

To which west coast editor Jason Cammisa responded, "maybe just to annoy you, Phil?" Cammisa praised the thick-rimmed steering wheel, but despised the active cruise control, whose active feature he could not figure out how to turn off -- score another demerit point for the ZDX's overly complex interface. And the combination of long gearing (2250 rpm at 80 mph) and a V-6 that's relatively soft on the low end mean lots of throttle and lots of downshifts on the highway -- the exact opposite, says Cammisa, of what a grand touring coupe should feel like.

Halfway through our year with the ZDX, it's becoming clear that this vehicle is a particular blend of compromises that some of us just don't get.

1,199 Posts
Discussion Starter · #23 ·
4 Seasons

The Bridgestone Blizzak LM-60 winter tires we installed last month came just in time for Michigan’s white season -- and the logbook is unanimous: they’re great. Combined with Acura’s SH-AWD system, Copy editor Rusty Blackwell called the ZDX “a snowmobile,” adding, “The AWD system’s rear torque bias even allows some tail slides if you’re feeling playful.”

Road test coordinator Mike Ofiara praised the ZDX for being “1 of the few cars that made it up my unplowed uphill driveway during the latest blast of winter weather when I was too lazy to shovel. The SH-AWD system and the Blizzaks are quite the awesome duo.” Born in late October, it seems Ofiara is more of a Lazy Libra than a Snow-plowing Scorpio.

The ZDX’s horoscope, however, evidently called for some bodily abuse. Blackwell lamented that, due to the small rear door openings, he accidentally, and repeatedly, banged the heads and car seats of his 2 tots into the doorframe, as he lifted them into and out of the car over a couple of weeks. At least the dual sunroofs provide plenty of daylight, to lift the kids’ spirits as they nurse their bruises.

Web editor Phil Floraday had a look back there and was surprised by the premature wear in the ZDX’s back seat. “It looks like the cushion behind the driver is rather worn and the leather is getting wrinkly after fewer than 20,000 miles. I have to imagine most of those miles didn’t have a passenger in the rear seat.” We’d previously noted that some of the interior plastics are wearing. The ZDX’s luxurious interior materials have been highly praised, but is durability their Achilles heel? Stay tuned.


1,199 Posts
Discussion Starter · #24 ·

To classify the 2011 Acura ZDX as merely another SUV, crossover or luxury vehicle would be to sell this unquestionably unique automobile short. Much like the Sphinx in Egypt its design remains a mystery to both pundits and the public at large. Some people say it is utterly gorgeous, some are moved by its daring and still others run screaming in the other direction. But there’s 1 thing you can’t deny—this puppy gets a reaction wherever it goes.

Auto reviewers like to savage any new design that they don’t understand or that doesn’t fit with their preconceived notion of what a vehicle from a certain manufacturer should look like. When Acura unveiled the ZDX the comments from the proverbial peanut gallery were rife with cheap shots and the ever so easy “Acura has gone crazy” angle.

But then everyone complained about the last generation Chris Bangle BMW 5-series came out yet that sedan still looks fresh and daring even after that Bavarian automaker replaced it with a safer looking new model. So while not everyone might understand the new 2011 Acura ZDX, it is by its very nature a work of true art. How so?

Not all art is meant to be easily digested. In fact, the best art challenges that which is commonly understood and easily accepted. To my eyes and in the metal (especially in the Ionized Bronze metallic of my tester), the 2011 Acura ZDX is a gorgeous piece of sculptural artistry. This, however, is my view of this piece of art and might not be yours.

I love it when a new car challenges me visually and forces me to see the automotive form in a new way. Sure, a car like the Toyota Corolla sells in huge numbers but there is not one piece of inspiration, whimsy or beauty inherent to the exterior design of that car. The ZDX is an SUV for people who want to make a statement but also want occasional room for 2 back seat passengers or a couple of golf bags (yes they do fit).

Going beyond the 2011 ZDX’s exterior design, what is it like to live with this offbeat Acura? Read on to find out.

The 2011 Acura ZDX and Color

As I have already outlined how I feel about the appearance of the 2011 Acura ZDX, I will instead focus on how its looks are affected by color choice. My Ionized Bronze Metallic test unit was unique as it looked decidedly brown in direct sunlight and when it wasn’t it looked burgundy.

To my eyes the ZDX looks best in dark colors or even silver as the black door panel trim contrasts that hue nicely. White doesn’t really accentuate the ZDX’s muscular haunches or chiseled body panels as nicely so that color is probably not the best choice.

The interior of my ZDX featured the Umber colored Milano leather which covers the center console and half of the dash in a daringly contrasted display of color. Although Acura interiors always look terrific in black, if you are interested in a ZDX give serious consideration to Umber (read: brown for those of you who didn’t go to a design school).

Interior Design and Execution

There is a unique design element found in the 2011 Acura ZDX’s interior that you don’t find in other vehicles. At night when you turn off the audio system half of the lights for the buttons on the center of the dash also turn off leaving very odd looking rows of uniform blankness.

It is a cool effect and in conjunction with the ability to turn off the navigation screen entirely (a rarity) can turn the cockpit into a simply lit yet highly efficient driving space. If you like your drives to be calm and serene then only seeing the dials in front of you will feel like a godsend.

Sadly I am addicted to the supremely crisp high volume sound afforded by the Acura/ELS audio system so calm and serene was not high on my list of priorities. This audio system alone makes ordering the Tech Package entirely worthwhile although Acura’s in-dash navigation system (also part of the Tech Package) is 1 of the most user-friendly in the industry.

Otherwise the interior of the Acura ZDX is unfailingly ergonomic, the seats proved to be comfortable over the course of a few rather long road trips and the overall feeling inside is cozy without any untoward sense of crowding. I have even crammed 5 people into the ZDX before so I know it can be done without anyone losing a limb.

The ZDX has easily one of the richest feeling interiors you can find at this price thanks in part to its expansive panoramic sunroof which really gives the cabin an open and airy feel. The rest of the thanks goes to the unique dashboard design, high levels of fit and finish as well as the mind boggling array of hi-tech features on offer.

Pricing, Features and Fuel Economy

This fact may surprise you but the ZDX is only a few thousand dollars more than a comparably equipped MDX with my Tech Package equipped tester coming in at $50,145. The Tech Package includes an in-dash navigation system, upgraded Milano leather, a premium Acura/ELS audio system with Song By Voice Technology and multi-Gigabyte song storage, a multi-view back-up camera, USB/iPod integration, push button start and an easy entry system that unlocks the doors when you pull on the driver door handle with the key in your pocket. Base models start at just $45,645.

You can move further up the option food chain with the Advance Package ($56,195) which adds a collision mitigation braking system, blind-spot warning assistance, a brushed tri-cot headliner, ambient interior lighting, adaptive cruise control, 6-level heated/cooled front seats, a sportier steering wheel and the Integrated Dynamics System. This last feature gives drivers the choice of being in “Comfort” or “Sport” mode where the electromagnetic dampers firm up and steering assistance is reduced.

Having tested the electromagnetic dampers in an earlier Advance Package equipped MDX, I can verify that they almost totally eliminate body roll around hairpin curves and tight corners. So if you are looking for BMW X5-like handling from your ZDX the Advance Package is the best way to get there.

The 2011 Acura ZDX, much like the MDX, comes standard with SH-AWD (Super Handling All-Wheel Drive) that spins all 4 wheels at all times. Power can be apportioned to any wheel as necessary to improve handling and traction but this (along with a hefty SUV curb weight) do fuel economy no favors.

EPA estimates are 16 city/23 highway and I averaged a decent 17.4 miles per gallon. That’s about a gallon up on my average with an MDX the week before which might be attributable to the ZDX’s more sleek and aerodynamic exterior. A 21 gallon fuel tank does promise nice cruising distances between fill-ups, however.

Driving Impressions

It is amazing but from behind the wheel the 2011 Acura ZDX drives like a much smaller vehicle. Although the vehicle itself is surprisingly roomy I always felt like I was driving a small hatchback when I was behind the wheel. Make no mistake this is by no stretch of the imagination a SMALL hatchback.

But somehow once on the move the 2011 Acura ZDX hunkers down and you can almost feel the sheet metal shrink around you during spirited driving maneuvers. The ZDX drives a lot like a tall TL and while it is by no means a sports car it is very easy to have a good time on a twisting back road or zip in and out between slow moving traffic. Not that I ever did that.

The steering is quick, nicely weighted and offers up feedback that would seem familiar to a TL driver. Rarely do SUVs have steering systems that are this heavily weighted but I quite enjoyed the level of precision it offered me.

The 2011 Acura ZDX comes with a standard 3.7 liter 300 horsepower/270 lb. feet of torque naturally aspirated VTEC equipped V6 that works in perfectly timed harmony with Acura’s 6-speed automatic. The engine serves up prodigious amounts of power all without the aid of soul-less turbochargers and the 6-speed in this Acura proves that 8 gears truly is overkill. Yes BMW, Lexus, Mercedes and Audi owners. 8 gears is overkill.

Overall the 2011 Acura ZDX acquitted itself nicely as a serene and composed long distance cruiser that proved to be a lot of fun when I really pushed its limits. Its road manners were predictable and while it doesn’t handle like a rear drive roadster it should prove plenty capable of showing any driver a good time. What more can you ask of an SUV?

How Family and Dog Friendly Is It?

The back seat may be a little narrow for adults to enter and exit as easily as they would an MDX, there is enough rear headroom back there for 2 6-footers thanks to 2 cleverly scooped out sections of the headliner. Kids will have no problem (nor will dogs) and legroom is more than sufficient.

If you are a golfer or you need to haul a wide object there are 2 removable panels on the sides of the rear cargo area that widen the 27.5 cubic foot large space. Fold down the rear seats and storage space grows to a decent 57.3 cubic feet which is surprising given the ZDX’s non-utilitarian fastback greenhouse. This paucity of cargo room is the price you pay for driving an SUV that feels as maneuverable and compact as a hot hatchback. A tall 1 at the very least.

My test dog Daisy Mae had no trouble at all jumping in the back of the ZDX whose back bench I covered over with a blanket out of respect for other reviewers who have to test this car. Not that I think she would have done any damage to the leather or plastics back there given her gentle “I nap on car rides” demeanor and the quality of materials used.


I loved my week with the ZDX and that doesn’t happen to me very much when I am testing SUVs or crossovers. This rolling piece of sculpture is quick, more fun to drive than 95% of the SUVs out there and looks like nothing else on the road. It is also not as expensive as most people think with prices starting at just $45,645. Try finding a comparably equipped BMW X6 for that price.

Now you may not “get” the ZDX or understand why Acura chose to build it but isn’t the sweetest part of life found in the mind boggling variety you see in the universe? Why should it be any different in the luxury SUV realm? If you like the way the ZDX looks then by all means buy one. Not everyone wants to look like a soccer mom when they are driving their family SUV. The ZDX gets that. And I get it too.


1,199 Posts
Discussion Starter · #25 ·

2010 Acura ZDX:
Pushing the Boundaries of Vehicle Design

Outrageous looks and quality construction combine for entertaining urban ride
By Jim Redden
The Portland Tribune, Jan 21, 2011​

When Acura engineers sat down to design the ZDX, they must have thought, “Let’s have some fun.”

The result is a refreshingly styled vehicle that defies easy classification. Bigger than a car but smaller than an SUV, it features a swooping roofline, broad rear end and large hatchback-like trunk. The high-back front seats feel like something out of a muscle car, but the suspension has a “comfort” setting. Our black-on-black test car looked sinister but had good manners in all driving situations.

The ZDX debuted in 2010, the same year as the similar-looking Honda Accord Crosstour. Both are powered by 3.7-liter V6 engines are can be ordered with all-wheel-drive. Because Honda owns Acura and the 2 vehicles are so much alike, it is tempting to think the ZDX is simply a fancier of the Crosstour. But the 2 have significant differences, too.

As the name suggests, the Crosstour is based on the Accord while the ZDX has an Acura chassis. All of the sheet metal is different. The same can be said for every external and internal dimension. The ZDX weighs a couple hundred pounds more than the Crosstour, too.

Still, because of the similarities, it is tempting to ask why anyone would buy the ZDX, which costs several thousands of dollars more than the Crosstour. There are a number of answers, including the fact that the ZDX has a more powerful engine — 300 horsepower compared to 271 horsepower in the Crosstour. The ZDX also comes standard with a 6-speed automatic transmission compared to 5five-speed version in the Crosstour. And Acura’s Super Handling All Wheel Drive system is more sophisticated than Honda’s version.

And then there’s Acura’s well-deserved reputation for quality. The interior materials in the ZDX are more upscale than those found in the Crosstour, from the quality of the plastics to the grades of leathers. The ZDX simply feels more solid driving down the road that the Crosstour, although the Honda is also a very well made car.

The transmission and suspension on the ZDX are both adjustable. The six-speed transmission includes a manual shift mode that allows drivers to use steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters to move up and down through the gears. The suspension has both a "comfort" and "sport" setting. Although manually shifting the transmission improved performance, the differences between the suspension setting were harder to feel. The "comfort" setting is not overly soft, and the "sport" setting is not too firm. The truth is, the ZDX is too large to be thrown around like a sports car anyway, and the transmission shifts well enough in the automatic mode that most drivers probably won't use the manual mode very often.

Our test car came loaded with 2 option packages that added thousands to the base price. One was the Tech Package that included leather trimmed sports seats, a navigation system with a rear view camera, an upgraded stereo, links to real-time traffic and weather, and more. The other was an Advance Package that included a blind spot warning system, a collision mitigation braking system and more.

While we appreciated the various options, only 2 were really essential — the rear view camera and blind spot warning system. The aggressive rear end styling reduces visibility out the back and along the rear flanks. Rear views are also compromised by a wing that runs across the hatchback, a styling touch also found on the Crosstour.

The sloping roof also makes getting in and out of the rear seats a little tricky, especially for taller passengers. Rear headroom is also compromised, although the seats themselves are comfortable and have decent legroom.

Despite their unconventional looks, the ZDX and Crosstour are part of a relatively new but fast-growing automotive segment — urban-only crossovers. Despite the availability of all-wheel-drive, these vehicles are not intended to be taken off road, not even on logging roads. Among other things, they come standard with performance street tires and have low air dams that are easily damaged by deep ruts and even small rocks. Other examples include the Cadillac SRX, Ford Edge and Toyota Venza.

Of course, many crossover and SUV owners never take their vehicles off road anyway. But such vehicles have historically been designed with capability of leaving the pavement behind, an attribute that companies like Jeep, Land Rover and Subaru still advertise. The all-wheel-drive systems on the new generation of urban crossover are more designed for dealing with potholes, heavy rain and light snow, however — which is not a bad thing in the Pacific Northwest.

It’s easy to look at the ZDX as a design exercise that somehow made it into production with everything that Acura is known for still intact. The automotive world would be a more entertaining place if other manufacturers occasionally did the same thing.

1,199 Posts
Discussion Starter · #27 ·

WHEELER SPRINGS, Calif. -- Crank the volume on that 10-speaker audio kit but watch out because the cliff on our right in the Santa Ynez Mountains of California drops a thousand feet vertically and ahead awaits one hairpin kink after another as snaky route 33 descends through Wheeler Gorge.

That's okay, though, because we're cinched in the contoured driver's bucket and gripping a leather-bound steering wheel while playing the shifter paddles on a 6-speed electronic automatic and pushing the drive-by-wire throttle toward a rather tall redline to test the temper of the latest luxurious and sporty car in the mid-size class.

A trunk tag labels it as the ZDX by Acura, the line of performance and luxury vehicles derived from Honda of Japan.

Acura describes the ZDX as a "4-door coupe" because the silhouette resembles a rakish 2-door GT coupe with hatchback styling but a 4-door package with cleverly concealed rear door handles.

It looks like the car stylists at Acura worked a sleek and edgy hatchback treatment on Acura's boxy 5-door crossover utility vehicle (CUV), the MDX.

And so they did, as the front-wheel-drive (FWD) platform of MDX supports the slick aerodynamic structure of the ZDX which has 4 flank doors like a sedan and flexible seating in a plush leather-lined cabin plus 56 cubic feet of cargo space in the aft bay with access through a tail-side liftgate.

ZDX's body measures almost an inch longer but more than 5 inches lower at the roofline than MDX, although it shares the CUV's 108-inch wheelbase length.

Standing several inches higher off the pavement than the typical coupe or sedan for better clearance of bumpy-road obstacles, the ZDX lists as standard equipment the spry wheel control of Acura's SH-AWD (Super-Handling All-Wheel-Drive) equipment.

The computer-managed SH-AWD system can disburse the powertrain's torque not only to wheels fore and aft but the left or right ones too. It's always engaged and enables the vehicle to maneuver on wet or dry pavement with uncanny agility.

Acura's AWD system normally channels most of the engine's power to the front wheels.

At highway cruise speed, about 70% of the torque is driving the front wheels, while the remaining 30% goes to turn the rear ones.

If you put your foot hard into the accelerator, however, the computer quickly inverts the power ratio. It shoots 70% of torque to rear wheels to help the acceleration effort, while still holding 30% on the front wheels.

The device goes further than AWD controls employed by other vehicles because it can automatically increase the rotation speed of an outboard rear wheel during quick and hard cornering maneuvers.

Boosting the rear wheel's rotation speed ends up decreasing the cornering load on the car's front wheels, which thwarts the tendency of an AWD system to understeer and ultimately enhances total tire grip through a turn.

Also working in favor of a dynamic vehicle is the fully independent suspension system -- tuned MacPherson struts up front and a multi-link design in back with solid-core stabilizer bars added front and rear to check lateral body sway when ZDX tackles a set of curves like route 33 through Wheeler Gorge.

And there's a computer-managed vehicle stability control (VSC) system aboard coupled to a traction control system (TCS), plus a 4-wheel anti-lock braking system (ABS) with electronic brake distribution (EBD) and brake assist (BA) units.

The 19-inch cast aluminum wheels on ZDX are wrapped in Michelin Latitude 255/50R19 all-season tires.

Acura maxes hardware for safety on ZDX, with the cabin surrounded by hidden air bags -- up-front inflators for front seats plus seat-mounted side air bags and curtain-style air bags concealed in headliners above side windows.

Also aboard is an active head restraint system (AHRS) for each front bucket.

Power flows freely from the 6-pack engine that drops into ZDX.

With single overhead camshaft and four valves in every cylinder, the plant with aluminum alloy block displaces 3.7 liters and employs Honda's remarkable VTEC (variable value timing and lift electronic control) valvetrain to precisely manage engine breathing and combustion in order to maximize horsepower and disperse the torque across a broad band.

It delivers strong muscle numbers -- 300 hp at 6300 rpm plus 270 lb-ft of torque at 4500 rpm.

Sole transaxle is a silky electronically controlled automatic with six forward speeds plus Acura's Sequential SportShift override for clutch-less manual shifts with those paddle tabs mounted behind the steering wheel's center spoke.

Federal EPA fuel consumption numbers for ZDX tally to 16 miles per gallon for city driving and 23 mpg on a highway.

The ZDX passenger compartment contains 2 broad bucket seats in front of a modest rear bench. Premium hand-stitched leather hides cover the dashboard, center console and door panels, while overhead a panoramic glass roof with integrated power moonroof stretches from windshield header to hatchback lip.

ZDX lists significant standard equipment such as automatic xenon headlamps and heated exterior mirrors, a dual-zone automatic climate system, a back-up camera with display in the rearview mirror, power tilting and telescoping steering column with a leather-wrapped 3-spoke steering wheel, leather seat upholstery, 8-way power controls for front seats with internal heat elements, a trip computer, power liftgate, Bluetooth and an audio kit with 8 speakers and 6x CD changer.

Acura adds 2 optional packages:
* Technology -- keyless ignition and entry, navigation system with real-time traffic/weather, a multiview back-up camera, and the 10-speaker Acura/ELS surround-sound stereo system with 15-gig hard drive.

* Advance -- Technology package equipment plus adaptive cruise control, a collision mitigation braking system, blind-spot warning device, heated and ventilated front seats, a sport steering wheel, and electronically adjustable suspension dampers.​

Acura's price chart for the 2011 ZDX begins at $45,645.

1,199 Posts
Discussion Starter · #28 ·

The 1st question anyone asked me about the Acura ZDX I was driving was short and to the point — what the heck is it? The answer to this ticklish poser all depends upon who is responding. To Acura, it is a 4-door sports coupe-cum-crossover. Others suggest it’s a radically styled SUV. Between the 2 extremes is really where the ZDX lies. Its wind-swept roofline does lend some credence to the coupe thing, while its tall stance speaks to the SUV side. Either way, it is a little different.

The coupe side is borne out by the cabin’s layout — it is very much a 2+2. Up front, the format is all Acura, as the materials are top quality, there’s plenty of room and the layout says high-tech. It also features all the right toys — power everything, including a 10-way driver’s seat, a panoramic glass sunroof and a needed backup camera. There are also some neat features. For example, the ZDX uses active noise cancellation. It uses the audio speakers to counter cabin noise — it seems to work because there was very little extraneous noise evident, even at inflated speeds. It is such that the only real option is the $3,600 Technology package, which adds navigation, a better sound system and buttery Milano leather.

The coupe definition certainly holds water from a practical perspective — the rear door openings are small, which makes accessing the back seat an interesting proposition. The swoopy roofline mandates a deep duck if one is to miss the sheetmetal on the way in. That stated, if the ZDX is used as intended, the back seat should be something that’s rarely needed. As such, the noggin-knocking comment becomes a moot point. That aside, the seat did have enough legroom to accommodate my shorter legs and almost enough headroom for my tall torso — no, not for a long time, but it worked for a trip across town.

Beyond that, the ZDX features a power liftgate that gives easy access to 26.3 cubic feet of cargo space with the 60/40-split/folding seatbacks upright and 55.8 cu. ft. with them folded flat. There’s also a handy under-floor bin and 2 storage pockets built into the trunk’s sidewalls. In other words, there’s a lot of versatility, which satisfies the crossover side.

A brawny 3.7L V6 engine that employs Acura’s Variable Valve Timing and Lift Electronic Control (VTEC) system powers the ZDX. The combination delivers 300 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque at 4,500 rpm. The upside is that, unlike so many Honda engines, this one makes hay over a broad range — there is always enough power in reserve that the ZDX obeys throttle input with authority. 1 of the key reasons for the mid-range pop is the 6-speed automatic transmission. The wider array of ratios helps to keep the engine at its optimum for more of its working life.

The box also features paddle shifters — the advantage is that they work regardless of whether the shifter is in the drive (the everyday mode) or sport. When in drive, pulling back on the downshift paddle drops a cog quickly, which brings the desired engine braking. If the driver leaves the paddles alone, the box reverts to its automatic mode. Other manufacturers would do well to take this simple operational logic to heart. The sport mode changes the driving dynamics by holding each gear a little longer, which ramps up the sporty driving sensation.

From the transmission, the power is directed to the road through Acura’s Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD). This system not only splits the power front to rear, it also has the ability to overspeed the outside rear wheel in a corner. This action does 2 good things. 1st, it physically turns the ZDX into the corner, which reduces the onset of understeer and the likelihood of the electronic nanny stepping in prematurely. 2nd, it reduces the amount of steering that needs to be dialled in, which makes the turn-in response feel so much faster and crisper. The combination works such that the large ZDX feels much smaller and lighter in terms of the way it handles — lithe and alive is not a stretch. The ride is also surprisingly good for what is more or less a swept-back SUV. The suspension does a good job of controlling unwanted body motion without making the ride feel harsh, and this in spite of the large P255/50R19 tires.

Pigeonholing the ZDX is not an easy task. It is couple-like in many respects, and this in spite of having four doors. It is also very much a versatile crossover/SUV because of the space and flexibility. Driving it, however, taught the most valuable lesson — the ZDX has plenty of power, the handling is tight and precise and the all-wheel-drive system brings the sort of balance that’s not expected (or demanded) of a larger vehicle. The fact there’s a hefty rebate for those paying cash sweetens the ZDX’s appeal further.

1,199 Posts
Discussion Starter · #29 ·
4 Seasons


We’ve spent 11 months with our ZDX and, as controversial as this car is, no one has had any complaints about the way this Acura drives.

Senior Web editor Phil Floraday says it’s a “supremely comfortable cruiser.” Associate editor Eric Tingwall praised the navigation system, noting that while “the graphics look a bit dated, they do a brilliant job at showing smaller side streets and street names.”

Assistant editor David Zenlea is even warming slightly to the ZDX’s styling, even though he doesn’t seem to want to admit it. “I’d hesitate to say the ZDX’s styling has grown on me, but I will admit to appreciating a few of its nicer design elements as time passes. The roofline, for instance, is elegantly curved both length- and width-wise, which balances nicely with the chiseled lower half of the vehicle. The real design flaw in the ZDX is its size. I can readily imagine Acura stylists looking at a scale model of the vehicle and thinking they had quite a hit on their hands. Had it been made into small hatchback or even a large fastback in the vein of the new Audi A7, it might have looked ‘just right.’”

The praise for the ZDX never lasts long before we start complaining about its packaging. Floraday added that “The execution of the ZDX would be perfect if only it were a little more useful for moving people and stuff.”

And then Tingwall dropped the bomb: “The ZDX is intriguing and unique, but can you blame anybody for not buying one?”

As it turns out, at least 1 people have -- since both Copy editor Rusty Blackwell and West Coast editor Jason Cammisa finally spotted ZDXs on the streets, owned by real people. Of course, it’s actually more than 2. For the record, Acura moved 3,259 ZDXs in America in 2010– although BMW sold almost twice as many X6s in the same year.

And the complaints about the quick-wearing interior continue to fill the logbook. Floraday again: “As others have said in the past few months, the soft leather interior doesn’t seem to be holding up as well as I’d expect for a $56,800 vehicle. I’d guess the ZDX had about 45,000 miles on it based on the wear on the driver’s seat, not the 25,000 miles the odometer says. Perhaps the acrobatics of getting in and out of the vehicle make the leather age at a rate approaching dog years.“

At least the rest of the Acura is holding up well, as it’s experienced no mechanical problems. Road test coordinator Mike Ofiara took it into the dealer for the most expensive service yet, but “after 26,000 miles in 11 months, $460 is not a bad price to pay to keep this reliable crossover in tip-top shape.”


1,199 Posts
Discussion Starter · #30 ·

Acura Adds SleekNess to the CrossOver
2011 ZDX comes with lots of luxury, safety and optional high-tech gadgetry.

Introduced a year ago, the Acura ZDX has a design that takes the premium crossover utility vehicle in a new direction — low and sleek — in an attempt to cross SUV functionality with sport coupe styling and performance.

With the ZDX, the concept actually works, even though it does seem an unlikely combination. Other automakers are doing this as well, including BMW with its X6, Mercedes-Benz with the R-class, and Infiniti with the FX (which seems to have originated the idea).

What the success of this concept has shown is that there are consumers who want the utility of a crossover without the tall, boxy form of a sport utility vehicle.

These vehicles add the pleasure of sporty performance, too, while offering the SUV's traditional ability to haul bulky items that wouldn't fit into a sedan or coupe.

Driving the ZDX, you can quickly forget all about the SUV side of the equation. This feels like a sport coupe and is more like a 5-door hatchback with some serious attitude.

This car is the antithesis of boxy, so those who like that aspect of family haulers probably won't go for the ZDX. But if low and sleek coupes are your forte, and you'd rather have rear doors for your passengers and a big enough rear hatch and cargo area to accommodate your stuff (think skis and other sports equipment), the ZDX just might be what you're looking for.

The ZDX is derived from the Honda Pilot/Acura MDX crossovers, both of which are 7-passenger family vehicles. But the roof of the ZDX is so steeply sloped that there's no room in it for a 3rd seat.

There is a power liftgate just like that of an SUV, revealing a cargo compartment that can be expanded to more than 55 cubic feet by folding down the 2nd seat.

As with most coupes, there is less space for passengers than in a traditional SUV. The driver's seat was a bit cramped for me, and with the roof so low, I banged my hand into it a couple of times as I reached back to pull the seatbelt on.

The exterior styling is a surprise, breaking from the Honda tradition of bland designs. This vehicle is far from boring, with an interesting shape featuring lots of unusual angles. It's definitely an attention-getter, bringing questions and compliments almost everywhere I took it.

It was created in Acura's California design studio and assembled in Canada — and is a needed addition to an Acura lineup that has struggled to develop a real identity.

From the side, the ZDX looks like it has only front doors because the rear doors have no visible handles. The handles, positioned at the top rear of the doors, are initially hard to find because they are body-colored.

The rear seat accommodates 2 adults comfortably, and 3 if you must.

For 2011, ZDX prices range from $45,645 to $56,195 (plus $860 freight), and even the base model is well-equipped, including leather seats. Other interior features include a panoramic glass sunroof, along with a hand-stitched leather dash, center console and door panels.

Under the hood is a 3.7-liter V-6 engine rated at 300 horsepower and 270 foot-pounds of torque. It's connected to a 6-speed automatic transmission, and standard is Acura's Super Handling All-Wheel Drive. EPA fuel-economy ratings are 16 mpg city/23 highway.

The car accelerates and handles like a premium sports coupe, allowing the driver to forget that the ZDX is a car with a usable back seat and a rear hatch with decent cargo space.

Our tester, the top-of-the-line 2011 ZDX Advance model, listed for $56,195. In keeping with Honda's usual practice, no options were available beyond what already was included in the Technology and Advance packages, which were included in the base price.

The Technology Package brings the voice-activated navigation system with AcuraLink Real-Time Traffic, Traffic Rerouting and Real-Time Weather with radar maps; a VGA display screen; and a multiview rear camera.

Also included with the package is the Acura/ELS 415-watt premium audio system with a built-in 15-gigabyte hard drive; GPS-linked, solar-sensing, dual-zone automatic climate control system; and keyless entry with push-button start.

The Advance Package adds a blind-spot information system, radar cruise control, collision-mitigating braking system, Acura's Integrated Dynamics System, heated and ventilated front seats with perforated Milano premium leather, premium brushed-tricot headliner and a sport steering wheel.

With the Integrated Dynamics System, the driver can switch the suspension between Sport and Comfort modes. The Sport mode is for spirited driving, while the Comfort mode is designed to make the ride as smooth as possible.

The ZDX has the same 108.3-inch wheelbase as the MDX. It's 192.4 inches long, which is almost 2 inches longer than the MDX, but it has the same 67.7-inch track. It's 5.4 inches lower than the MDX at the highest point of its roof. Ground clearance is high enough to allow for limited off-road driving.

Among the coolest features is the double-paned panoramic roof. The front part opens just like a normal sunroof, while the rear panel, over the rear passenger area, is stationary. Both have electrically operated sunshades. With the expansive windshield and tailgate glass, it looks like the top of the car is almost all glass from the hood to the rear.

The ZDX comes with 19-inch, 7-spoke aluminum wheels, along with the same type of all-weather tires found on the MDX.

Standard safety features include Honda's Advanced Compatibility Engineering body structure, as well as front seat-mounted side air bags, roof-mounted side-curtain air bags for both rows, antilock brakes with traction control, and electronic stability control.

Total price of our tester was $57,055, including freight.

1,199 Posts
Discussion Starter · #31 ·

Acura clearly set out to design something different with its coupe-like ZDX crossover, and what resulted just might have ended up a little too far out of bounds—a little too far-out for most deep-pocketed luxury customers yet too pricey, heavy, and thirsty for the hip urbanites it's appealing to.

The Acura ZDX has 1 of the most perplexing packages of any vehicle. It's gorgeous, thanks to all the voluptuous, curved sheetmetal, and the design complexity in its wavelike side crease that compliments the roofline. Its profile is handsome yet aggressive, and it looks great from most angles. Open the door and peer inside, however, and its limitations and compromises are suddenly apparent; there's only a little more versatile than a coupe.

The 2011 ZDX shares its underpinnings with the Acura MDX mid-size crossover, including the same 300-horsepower, 3.7-liter V-6 and a 6-speed automatic transmission. You get steering-wheel paddle-shifters, as well as the excellent SH-AWD (all-wheel drive) system. And altogether, for such a heavy, rather tall vehicle, the ZDX is remarkably sporty, responsive, and composed. We love the rev-happy engine, too, and the quick-to-downshift transmission.

What we don't like about the ZDX has, pretty much, everything to do with comfort and practicality. The ZDX rides with a sort of muted heft and jiggles busily, even in the comfort mode of its IDS active suspension system (with magnetic dampers). And the backseat is much narrower than you might expect, because the body tapers in width as well as height, so 2 adults will find it a tight fit. The cargo floor is also higher that expected.

The tradeoff is that interior trims and finishes are absolutely top-notch, including soft leather with accented stitching and a stunning wrap-around instrument panel that really does live up to the ZDX's promise of combining a coupe-like design with a little more utility.

Unfortunately there's not all that much more to get excited about. Fuel economy isn't really good enough to satisfy those with an eco-conscience: 16 mpg city and 23 highway, according to the EPA.

Price is an issue, too. The 2011 Acura ZDX appeals to younger stylistas, urban gallery owners, and the like, but its 60-grand price tag, well equipped, is just too high for the hipsters. And unlike other more conventional crossovers like the Lexus RX or Cadillac SRX, the ZDX doesn't have enough backseat space to meet the demands of realtors—or even those looking to do a double-date out to dinner.

With the Tech Package, the ZDX gets an ELS Surround auto system; 15 gigabytes of hard-drive storage; dual-zone climate control; a navigation system with voice recognition, real-time traffic, and live rerouting; real-time weather info; and a multi-view rearview camera.

The ZDX has so far been an extremely slow seller, with various incentives and discounts applied already in its 1st year (counter-intuitively, Acura raised prices slightly for 2011). If you like it, though, step right up and you're likely to get a pretty good deal.

1,199 Posts
Discussion Starter · #32 ·

The sign of any good design is when it causes strong reactions, negative or positive. Our long-term ZDX certainly didn't leave our editors on middle ground. Even a full year and 25,000 miles later, opinions are still split on whether Acura hit the nail square on the head with its swoopy crossover or whacked its thumb in a painful blunder.

The seating position and forward visibility were 2 of the attributes universally praised in our ZDX. In contrast, the rear seats were universally despised. Associate online editor Benson Kong surmised the ZDX was designed for rear passengers no taller than 5 feet. While this fits fine with online production manager Kirill Ougarov's assertion that we should call the ZDX a 2+2, it doesn't jibe with the reality that it is in fact a large 4-door vehicle. The design, fit and finish, and interior quality caused consternation as well. Everyone seemed to appreciate the button labels, which disappear when inactive, but the sheer number of buttons caused some drivers to flash into a control-clicking overload. One editor actually took the time and counted 83 buttons, switches, and knobs, excluding window, mirror, or wiper controls, leading him to refer to the interior as "a button orgy."

The interior is a mix of materials and textures. Some look almost exotic, while others look straight out of Honda's entry-level offerings. On the dash alone there are 3 different materials that all look like leather. One of them certainly must be real leather, but that just illustrates that the others aren't. Senior editor Jonny Lieberman was so impressed with the carpet that he even compared it with that in an English car. The trunk area is also littered with cubbies and covered storage areas. It may cut down on overall space, but it makes for convenient spots to hide valuables and keeps the floor flat for easy loading. We were surprised by just how much cargo fits in the rear, especially with the seats folded down. Acura says the crossover's demographic is empty-nesters seeking something a little more stylish and sporty than a typical sedan. If that is the case, it might be the perfect vehicle for antiquing one weekend and hauling grandkids the next.

Performance probably is not the highest priority for those empty-nesters, either. While everyone on staff was impressed with the ZDX's handling, helped out by near-flawless all-wheel drive and a wide track, many of the drivers felt it disappoints in the power department. Ougarov and Truck Trend editor Allyson Harwood wanted more "oomph" and feel that "300 horsepower just doesn't cut it anymore." Executive editor Edward Loh logged, "The sensations of sound and vibration are probably the best part of the ZDX driving experience," but added, "Too bad the rate of acceleration just doesn't match that fantastic soundtrack." Our ZDX took 6.8 seconds to get from 0-60 mph and ran through the quarter mile in 15.3 seconds at 91.5. For a comparison, the last time we tested a BMW X6 xDrive35i, we recorded numbers of 5.9 seconds for 0-60 and 14.5 seconds at 95.2 for the quarter mile. To be fair, this was the X6 with the 6-speed transmission. We haven't retested since the SUV has been fitted with a newer, more advanced 8-speed transmission, which BMW claims has improved 0-60 by over 2-tenths. The numbers look big on paper, but will most owners care? In contrast to the other comments, associate editor Scott Evans wrote, "It isn't a sports car and it really doesn't look like one, so I don't find myself expecting more from it. It's got plenty of power for merging and passing on the freeway, and that's really all it needs."

What this vehicle also definitely needs is the Blind-Spot Information System in our Advance trim level. Visibility is compromised by the swooping rooflines and thick pillars, making lane changes a constant adventure. The same goes for the standard backup camera and proximity sensors. With the Tech package, the ZDX uses a camera with multiple viewing options and the center-mounted navigation screen instead of the tiny screen mounted in the rearview mirror. Both of these features make the big Acura livable in traffic and parking lots. We can't imagine the bumps and scrapes our ZDX would have had without the electronic help, so we urge potential customers to order the Tech package.

Aside from the few complaints, our Acura was near bulletproof over its year of living in the long-term fleet. It recorded no additional expenses on top of the $406.58 in scheduled maintenance. Dealership service was always fast and efficient, although on our last trip in we were made as "Motor Trend guys," so the extra-friendly service may have been a little bit over the top.

The ZDX served us as highway cruiser, light off-roader, and around-town commuter. While the 19 mpg average fuel economy might be a little low for some, overall we were pleased with the performance. But we got stuck on a few of its faults. Lieberman summed it up: "Strange days require a strange vehicle. There are some things about the ZDX I love, some I hate. As a driver, I found the whole car totally polarizing. As in I couldn't make up my mind mile to mile. In a lot of ways, the ZDX is like a cheaper BMW X6, only not all that much [$430] cheaper."

From the logbook

"The ZDX is attention-getting, with most admiring stares coming from the drivers of luxury sedans and coupes, plus several 'WTF??'-type glances from older folks."
Rory Jurnecka

"I dare anyone not armed with the owner's manual to switch from Trip A to Trip B in under 5 minutes. I don't think it's possible."
Jonny Lieberman

"There's some practicality in the ZDX, too. While the Acura's cargo area may not be the biggest around, the 4 closed compartments were helpful. The large enclosed compartment in the center of the cargo area is perfect for storing a tennis racket or a huge Acura "Thor" press kit while you're transporting plants above it."
Zach Gale

Our Vehicle
Base Price $46,305
Options Advance Package ($6050: adaptive damping system, adaptive cruise control, ventilated front seats, collision mitigation braking system, blind spot monitoring); Technology Package ($4500: Navigation with real-time traffict and weather, sports seats, 10-speaker surround sound, hard disk drive, push button ignition, dual zone climate control, keyless access)
Price as tested $56,855
Total mileage 20,541 miles
Avg fuel economy 19.0 mpg
Problem areas None
Maintenance cost $406.58
Normal-wear cost None
3-year residual value* $21,833
Recalls None
*Automotive Lease Guide data​


1,199 Posts
Discussion Starter · #33 ·

We might be in the minority here, but we really like the Acura ZDX. In a world of sensible and sane crossovers and SUVs, the stylish ZDX stands out for being not so sensible – and Acura’s sanity has been questioned for bringing the vehicle to market.

Part of the problem is Acura’s MDX and all-new 2nd generation RDX; great vehicles with strong performance, and scoring highly in all that functional stuff that crossover- and SUV-lovers care about.

But the ZDX was never about utility. It was about style. Flash. Making an impression. And a bunch of performance too. Acura wasn’t alone in this; BMW, with its X6, has run into the same criticism. And to the same extent, slow sales.

We don’t care. The Acura ZDX speaks to us. It starts with the lines. This thing looks like it landed from outer space. Taking an MDX, the ZDX chops 5 inches out of its height, and gets an aggressive swept rear hatch. The rear door handles are cleverly hidden in the C-pillar, giving the ZDX a coupe-like persona. Being based on the MDX, it’s a relatively large vehicle, and it has real presence. Our tester in Crystal Black Pearl looked especially mean.

It looks like a rocketship, and drives like one too. Under that pointed beak is a 3.7-liter V6 punching out 300 hp, and an equally impressive 270 lb-ft of torque. The ZDX moves out with authority – especially considering its size – made even more fun by firing off shifts from the 6-speed automatic’s paddle shifters. In our combined city highway driving we averaged 18 mpg, not bad considering that the ZDX encourages you to push it.

More than a straight-line cruiser, the ZDX is surprisingly nimble, thanks to it Super Handling All-Wheel-Drive which helps it rotate into turns. Steering feel is also notably precise. Our tester also had the Advance Package, which includes the trick Integrated Dynamic System, which constantly adjusts the suspension for conditions. We found the system worked great for the daily commute in Comfort mode, and appreciated the more aggressive Sport mode setting when the hitting our favorite curvy roads.

Even if you’re not terrorizing the local terrestrials, the Acura is a nice place to spend time. Like all Acuras, there are lots of switches, but you quickly figure the ones you need most. Interior materials are first rate, and the wrap around dash feels personal and intimate.

Because of the exterior chop job, you’ll lose about 1 3rd of the cargo area and 3 inches of rear headroom (plus the third row) compared to the MDX, but on the bright side, it creates a cool, snug ambience you just can’t find in SUVs, but might in some high-end sporty coupes.

What price style? The well-equipped ZDX starts at $46,120. Our loaded-to-the-gills tester rang in at $56,670. Competition? The BMW X6 starts at just under $60,000 but can go way, way, up depending on options. In this comparo, the ZDX is the bargain.

At the time of writing, Acura has informed us that 2013 will be the last year for the ZDX. 1st they put the Space Shuttle away, and now this! It might not be a great time to be an Astronaut, but there’s still time to get down to your Acura dealer and get your own spacecraft.


1,199 Posts
Discussion Starter · #34 ·

NEWS EDITOR GREG MIGLIORE: I like the 2013 Acura ZDX. On a snowy, wet commute home, this elevated crossover with all-wheel drive performed in excellent fashion. I even opened the sunroof at times to let in some of the heavy snow, just for fresh air. I think the ZDX looks sharp, has strong exterior styling and carries excellent proportions. Acura took a risk with this thing, and I think it was executed well.

But there are 2 big problems: 1st, its styling, which I said that I like, but I know most people don’t agree with me. 2nd, it’s overpriced. Thus, Acura is killing the ZDX after the 2013 model year.

That’s a shame, because Acura needs brand identity, and by having a crossover like this, it truly had a vehicle that’s unique in the segment. It’s a bit similar to the BMW X6, which is another vehicle I like that many others don’t.

I don’t care. The ZDX is different. It looks like a flying wedge with hidden door handles in back and a pointy grille. There’s no reason not to have a segment-buster in your product lineup.

If I were to buy a crossover, I would look for one with edgy styling like this. One that also offered the elevated ride height of typical utes, with a car-like ride. The Infiniti FX is somewhat similar, with segment-defying looks, though a sportier drive character.

This particular example of the ZDX is dressed darkly inside and out, and that presents a well-tailored appearance. The cabin has mostly nice materials, including a soft-touch piece that bisects the glove box. The navigation system is impressive, displaying in detail everything from Detroit’s downtown streets that shoot out like a spoked wheel, to small, man-made bodies of water in an apartment complex.

The engine is fine -- 300 hp is appropriate -- and the six-speed a capable partner. The chassis is mostly comfortable, though the driving is largely sedentary and relaxing; little athleticism is evidenced here.

Still, I think the ZDX looks cool. I can’t say the same for the Honda Crosstour, and I think it makes more sense to have a premium model that can get-away with unconventional design, rather than try to appeal to a mainstream sect. I still argue there’s a place in the market for vehicles with the appearance and purpose of the Acura variant. I guess I’m in the minority.

Acura can be frustrating. Just when I find myself totally excited about this ZDX, they decide to get rid of it. After spending time with the ILX, my fondness of Acura was fading because the compact sedans felt unrefined.

Move to the MDX-based ZDX and my attraction is renewed.

The ZDX offers a lot -- a sharply designed exterior, high-end interior and fun drive feel.

And the exterior is definitely unique. Opinions on the styling seem polarizing, but for me it’s a winner. The sharp edges and contours make the ZDX look interesting, instead of the bland crossovers that flood our roads.

I needed the ZDX to hustle me home for an appointment, and its lower stance allowed me to juke around slower cars. The V6 felt strong, too.

Inside, the ZDX is dynamic, with many angles and materials. It doesn’t look busy, but instead feels modern, luxurious and undoubtedly sexy, especially with the stretched leather that breaks up the dashboard. The interior is all black, but doesn’t feel dark thanks to the panoramic sunroof that nearly opens up the entire roof.

The back seat is spacious, and the cargo area offers a low load-in height and plenty of room.

The rear window is small, and a horizontal bar that dissects it combines for not-so-great visibility. Blindspot detection is becoming a must-have on vehicles for me, and was especially helpful on the ZDX with the small back windows.

Retirees might consider the ZDX because of ease of ingress/egress, but grandkids might have a difficult time with the elevated slotted door handles on the rear doors.

Sadly, Acura is focusing on its “core products,” and leaving the ZDX behind. I would recommend searching the used car lots in a few years and snatching one of these up.

ROAD TEST EDITOR JONATHAN WONG: I agree with Greg that the ZDX gives Acura a unique entry in the market. The rest of the lineup doesn’t pack much visual punch. Until the NSX gets here, it’s going to be hard to point to any of Acura’s current vehicles and say they stick out from the crowd. Sure, the ZDX is a standout for the wrong reasons because it’s not exactly a great-looking car, but I give credit to Acura for trying to do something different.

In particular, the ZDX is difficult to look at from the rear-quarter view. The haunches and the shape of the rear hatch are just odd. It’s interesting that Acura has tried to upgrade the exterior for its last year of production with a new grille, bumpers, power-folding auto-dimming side mirrors and a darker wheel finish.

Besides that, there’s a lot of standard features packed into the ZDX including forward collision warning (more on that later), lane departure warning, a 10-speaker ELS audio system, navigation, Bluetooth and front seats that are both heated and cooled. Taking all that equipment into account with the $51,815 price tag our test car carries, it can be considered a bargain compared to the other weirdo crossover that comes to mind, the BMW X6 xDrive35i, which starts at $60,695.

What do I like about the ZDX? The 3.7-liter V6 and 6-speed automatic transmission combo is among the smoothest drivetrains out there. Power is respectable and when you put your foot into it, the exhaust note is surprising with a low growl. With the SH-AWD system, the ZDX feels athletic with a good amount of grip available through corners. Body motions are kept in line with little lean, and steering is fairly direct with decent weight tuned in. Brake performance is also strong.

And the handling reflexes don’t come at the expense of ride quality with the suspension still capable of absorbing most bumps and ruts and there’s hardly any tire noise.

As I said, I’m not a big fan of the exterior, but I like the interior that features plenty of leather-wrapped panels throughout and comfortable and supportive front bucket seats. All the plastics are of high quality and the button-laden center stack is easy to get used to. I also like the driving position with seats that sit close to the floor. So it’s like you’re driving a sporty coupe with a higher ride height, which I assume is what Acura was going for.

What drove me nuts about the car (besides the unattractive exterior) is the forward collision warning system that whacked out for no reason on numerous occasions. At night driving down the freeway with absolutely nothing in front of me, it would go off. Approaching traffic when I was already on the brakes to slow down, it would go off. I’m all for safety features, but I think Acura needs to refine the system a bit and make it not so sensitive.

EXECUTIVE EDITOR BOB GRITZINGER: I’m not sure I get the 2013 Acura ZDX styling any more than I get its competitors like the BMW X6 and Infiniti FX models, but it’s hard to argue with the Acura’s ride, handling, performance and interior appointments. Honda, er, Acura, seems to get more from a V6 than you expect, in this case a solid 300 hp and 270 lb-ft of torque which does a nice job of shoving the ZDX down the road. Stability is good for the ride height, steering is responsive and road-sensitive and the brakes are stellar. At the same time, the cabin is kept reasonably hushed, with little engine-, road- or tire noise getting inside.

The biggest problem with the ZDX and its ilk is that while people might like the sleek and edgy fastback styling as a design exercise, when they see what that design does to interior headroom and cargo space the equation changes. If you’re spending roughly the same money, why give up an MDX’s larger capacity and functionality for a polarizing appearance? Apparently the buying public saw it that way, too, and ZDX will end its run after just 4 years on the market.

2013 Acura ZDX

Base Price: $51,815

As-Tested Price: $51,815

Drivetrain: 3.7-liter V6; AWD, 6-speed automatic

Output: 300 hp @ 6,300 rpm, 270 lb-ft @ 4,500 rpm

Curb Weight: 4,452 lb

Fuel Economy (EPA City/Highway/Combined): 16/23/19 mpg

AW Observed Fuel Economy: 18.0 mpg

Options: None​

1,199 Posts
Discussion Starter · #35 ·

You don’t have to be an experienced product planner to understand why 2013 is the final year for the Acura ZDX. All you have to do is look at the sales figures. In 2012, Acura sold a total of 775 ZDXs, down over 50% from 2011. Sales are down another 50% for the 1st quarter of 2013, with just 99 ZDXs sold through March 31. By comparison, Acura sold 9,159 RDXs in the 1st 3 months of 2013, and 8,728 MDXs. So, ZDX is a disappointment, to say the least.

But slow sales do not tell the whole story, not by a long shot. The 2013 Acura ZDX comes with a $50,920 base price ($51,815 as tested with $895 destination charge), a 4-year/50,000-mile basic warranty, a 6-year/70,000-mile powertrain warranty and EPA estimates of 16 mpg city/23 mpg highway.

When I tested the 2010 Acura ZDX upon its launch in 2009, I gave it grudging approval. I liked its looks, I liked the way it drove, but I wasn’t sure that enough people would find it useful. I worried that the very tight access to the 2nd row, and the compromised headroom for rear seat passengers, would keep buyers from plunking down 50 grand. I’m shocked when I look back at my review and realize how right I was — I guess it happens. But this time, I got to spend a week behind the wheel of the ZDX instead of just a few hours, and I don’t just like the ZDX; I love the ZDX.

1st and foremost, the ZDX is absolutely gorgeous. It’s 1 of those designs that looks different from almost every angle. The 2nd row doors are neatly camouflaged from view, so that the ZDX has the look and feel of a big coupe hatchback. I’m very impressed by the ZDX’s sleek lines and muscular stance, sitting on 19″ alloy wheels that are in perfect proportion with the body. Acura’s excellent fit-and-finish compliments the design, making the big expanses of metal into canvases for luscious paintwork. Can you tell that I love this SUV?

Sitting down in the ZDX, I realized that the driving position is more sport sedan than traditional SUV. Comfortable and supportive leather seats get heat and ventilation. The dash is very driver-centric, with the feeling of a leather-wrapped cockpit. The center stack is properly arrayed, with the nav screen at the top, above the generous vents. There are probably too many buttons and knobs, but I liked the arrangement. Call me a Luddite, but even with all those buttons, I missed having a knob that gave me rotary access to the audio channels. That’s controlled by a button that rocks left and right.

A few years ago, I wondered if I’d ever use Bluetooth streaming audio, and now I can’t live without it. ZDX has had that feature from the outset, along with bunch of other standard technology features like proximity key/pushbutton start, surround sound, DVD-audio, adaptive cruise control, blind spot warning and lane departure warning systems.

Sporty looks are a tease without sporty performance. ZDX delivers, with a taut suspension, low center of gravity and excellent steering feel. Paddle shifters on the steering wheel allow direct access to the 6-speed automatic transmission, and all-wheel drive is standard. A 300 hp V6 engine lurks beneath the hood, capable of producing 270 lb-ft of torque. Honda/Acura’s variable valve timing scheme, VTEC, does a great impression of a turbocharger, even though the engine is naturally aspirated. When you demand power by stomping down on the accelerator, the electronic throttle sends a message to the engine that is answered with an immediate response. That’s fun, and makes the ZDX feel faster than it actually is. At 4,431 lbs, ZDX is no lightweight, but it feels like it gets up on its toes when it’s time to dance.

The more I drove ZDX, the more I liked it. After a few days, I was looking for excuses to drive. I even discovered the utility in this SUV. Folding down the 2nd row opens up 55.8 cubic feet of cargo space, while a healthy 26.3 cubic feet of space is available with the rear seats up. There’s a big clever space beneath the load floor, and additional storage above each rear wheel well. Great packaging.

Normally, I’m a function over form kind of guy. I find beauty in capability, and I reject vehicles that look great without working great. I recognize that the ZDX’s 2nd row is severely compromised, and that it’s a bear to get in and out of. But I just didn’t care. I was too in love with its other amenities, abilities and its looks. I even found myself searching online for a used ZDX — just to see if I might stumble across a bargain. No such luck.

There’s a short list of competitors for the ZDX. The BMW X6 is the big boy on the block. The Land Rover Evoque and MINI Paceman are the newcomers. The Infiniti FX is probably the most direct competitor in terms of price, performance and abilities.

I’m sorry that more buyers didn’t line up for the ZDX, and that it will be looked back on as somewhat of an oddity and even a failure for Acura. In terms of pure sales numbers, perhaps ZDX is a failure. In aesthetic terms, and as an enthusiast’s vehicle and possible future collector car, ZDX is a big success. I’m going to keep my eye on the used market, and as soon as I find a good used ZDX at a price I can afford, I’ll snap 1 up. It may be a while, but I’m in love, and love is forever.


1,199 Posts
Discussion Starter · #36 ·

History is largely unkind to losers. That's true in the world of politics and sports, and it follows on with a few caveats in the realm of automobiles.

In terms of cars, historic losers tend to be remembered in 1 of 2 broad ways. Every once in a while, unsuccessful or oddball models actually make reputational gains after some time away from the new-car marketplace. I consider the Saab 9-2X 1 of the recent poster children for this group; a car that moved like molasses on dealer lots in the mid-2000s but has morphed into a sort of hard-to-find, used gem in recent years. More often, though, that which was unloved when new remains unloved with tens or hundreds of thousands of miles on the odometer. Pontiac's seriously misunderstood Aztek has king status here (despite the wailings of oddball fan clubs across the nation), so much so that invoking "Aztek" as a pejorative stopped being pithy about a dozen years ago.

I just spent a week driving the 2013 Acura ZDX, a vehicle whose distinct charms cannot save it from placement somewhere on the continuum of failed automotive experiments. It remains to be seen if the crossover will ultimately land in the pillowy, judgment-free zone many reserve for Subaru BRATs and BMW M Coupes, or the wasteland occupied by the Yugo GV, Cadillac Cimarron and their disappointing ilk.

The fact is that in 2013, just a few years removed from its introduction and well into its triple-digit sales years, the ZDX remains 1 of the best crossovers on the market to drive overall. This Acura offers a reasonably sporty balance between ride comfort and handling, with enough driver involvement available to push it past more run-of-the-mill members of its competitive set.

The ZDX's steering wheel might be similarly filtered of road feel, but it offers quite a dose of heft and precision when compared to a Lexus RX, for instance. Turn-in response is a bit laggy along whimsically bent pieces of road for my tastes, but its wheel offers confident weighting for holding a line on a fast exit ramp, changing lanes at speed on curved stretches of highway, or other brief moments of dynamic joy found in everyday urban motoring.

I'll admit that when taken out for a spin on a country road, the ZDX has a nose-heaviness that more or less defines its character. But the Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) and its torque-vectoring magic counterbalances the car's understeering nature just enough that it's still possible to make a decent time out of a Sunday drive. Ask for a change of direction with some rapidity and the ZDX's nose hesitates a bit, but hold your line and keep your foot in it and the power to the rear will bring the crossover body around in relatively snappy fashion. That wouldn't be high praise if I were talking about a sports sedan, mind you, but it's just about as good as it gets where luxury-oriented crossovers are concerned (notable exceptions found below).

The 3.7-liter V6 motivating this slicked-back Acura outputs 300 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque – a respectable set of figures even in today's turbocharged landscape. Of course, in traditional Honda fashion, the V6 has got to be really hammered to get the most out of it. Peak power doesn't come on until 6,300 rpm, just 500 revs short of redline, with full torque available at 4,500 rpm. So, where force-fed 6-cylinder engines like those in the Audi Q5 or the Volvo XC60 will get up and git at lazy engine speeds, Acura requires that you really work its 6-speed automatic transmission to wring performance out of the happy-to-spin mill. And, of course, the point of a CUV, even a sporty sort of CUV, is that no one is going to expend a lot of effort to make it go fast.

This isn't a driver's segment. So, unfortunately, the incremental plusses that the ZDX offers versus a bog-standard, lux crossover don't do much to move the needle. Could a higher level of performance and even more money tacked onto its bottom line have better differentiated the ZDX from the herd to the tune of meaningful sales numbers over the last 4 years? Hard to say, really. But I do come away from driving the Acura (not just this one, but much of the current lineup) with the nagging sense that it is very close to being very good to drive without actually getting there.

Still, when the ZDX was introduced, something about its fast, hunkered shape – riding just higher than an AWD sedan but looking nothing at all like a station wagon – triggered instant polarization amongst interested onlookers. There's a rakish cut to the Acura's sheetmetal that, along with the rarity of the model, stirs up a lot of attention, both good and bad. My not-at-all-car-interested neighbor waved hello the 1st day I had the ZDX, enthusiastically pointing out, "That looks like a good 1!" where most cars would have caused no comment at all. I was stopped in the middle of photographing the CUV when a fiftyish-something couple amiably posed a dozen or more question about the car, not buying it at all when I tried to convince them that the ZDX wasn't "just the same as that Honda Crosstour." (By way of reminder, the ZDX rides on the same platform as the MDX while the Crosstour's bones are shared with the gen-8 Honda Accord.)

Hey, when you see a guy with a unicorn, you're probably going to ask him about it, even if you think it's weird looking. I get that.

In the 2012 model year, Acura sold fewer than 800 examples of the ZDX. In its 1st full year on sale, 2010, Acura dealers shifted around 3,200 units, which also represents the apogee of the soon-to-be-discontinued model's yearly sales figures. Even if we assume (boldly) that the automaker will repeat its sales figures from 2012 in the final 2013 run for the ZDX, we're still talking about roughly 6,200 specimens of this unicorn running around the US, in total.

Just as a point of reference: in MY 2010, when the Acura MDX was recently facelifted but otherwise in the middle of its 2nd-generation, it outsold its crossover coupe stablemate 47,210 to 3,259. And just because I know that a few of you will wonder, the inexorably linked (thanks to introduction timing and bodystyle) and more expensive BMW X6 was sold to Americans 6,257 times in the same model year.

Ultimately, I think the failure of the ZDX to sell comes down to packaging and pricing, despite the oft-derided styling. Hear me out. Acura put together a lovely, somewhat austere cabin for the model: supple leather covers the dash, center console and door inserts, heated and cooled seats are super comfortable and even the carpeting and floor mats feel of above-average quality. For 2013, Acura is only selling the ZDX in one trim level, basically including all of the equipment from all of the options packages from years past: Panoramic glass roof, 19-inch wheels, HID headlights, navigation with voice recognition and the ELS sound system. (The quiet-at-speed ZDX cabin is still amongst my very favorite listening booths with this excellent Elliot Scheiner-tuned hi-fi system.) The all-in cost including an $895 destination fee is $51,815. And, while not meaning to be glib, that's an awful lot of cash for a CUV that has an impractical hatch and really cramped rear seats.

Even older competitors with rakish styling like the X6 and Infiniti FX37 can boast of 2 or 3 inches more headroom than the ZDX for rear seat passengers, to say nothing of cargo space. Today, the smaller-footprint Range Rover Evoque 5-door has a lofty 4.3 inches of extra headroom when compared with the Acura, to say nothing of being a better realization of the personal AWD luxury vision, getting better gas mileage and having a lower MSRP. That's before we get into 4-place crossovers and SUVs that aren't penalized by having a "4-door coupe" silhouette.

So, there are any number of reasons why you and I didn't buy a ZDX over the last 4 years, and plenty of good ones for Acura to kill the model off after 2013. But I started this review by asking how history will judge it, and the optimist in me believes that it could still find love in the years to come.

Why? In the early going at least, the rarity of the ZDX combined with still-excellent Acura residual prices should mean that the relatively small number of buyers looking for a good used example will have to pay a premium. A cursory web search shows used prices hovering in the high $20k range for cars with over 50,000 miles and well into the $30k territory for cars with 40k miles and lower. Fast-forward a few decades, and it's not a stretch to imagine that the prescription of a quirky brand, an outsider design, the utterly unique cabin and increasing rarity could cause a car club or two to spring up. Who knows, it might even be the Saab 9-2X of the 2030s?

I'm sure that's not what Acura wants to hear. The truth is that car companies don't experiment in big splashy ways as often as they used to in years past, in part because the cost associated with the risk is just way too high. And that makes me a bit sad, and it makes me want to root for iconoclasts like the ZDX all the more. I can only hope that lessons learned with this model make Acura's next experiment more successful in the marketplace; not that it causes the company to give up trying altogether. Both outcomes are possible, even if the latter is more likely.
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