• Apr 29, 2010
2010 Acura ZDX – Click above for high-res image gallery

Needless to say, the 2010 Acura ZDX is a peculiar beast. And after a week's worth of testing, we're still not sure what to make of it.

But just for some context, let's begin with the fact that despite a similar fastback, five-door body style, the ZDX is not related to the Honda Accord Crosstour. Honda's jacked-up hatch is substantially larger than the ZDX and far more useful. Instead, it's best to think of the ZDX as a rake-roofed version of the MDX – a high-riding four-door coupe (assuming you buy into the marketing spiel) akin to its closest competitor, the BMW X6. Both models share similar designs and purposes – although the ZDX maxes out in price and performance where the German starts off – and both possess some of the attributes of a two-door layout – compromises and all.



Photos by Sam Abuelsamid / Max Abuelsamid / Copyright ©2010 Weblogs, Inc.


Before we get to the main course, here's a little "inside baseball" info that should be included: When an automaker starts the process of launching of a new vehicle, the business, marketing and engineering teams gather together to figure out what the Next Big Thing is. Product planners show a series of charts comparing attributes like price, performance and utility, and plot out various products from both themselves and the competition. With all of that knowledge in front of them, they find an empty slot in the chart – the so-called "white space" – and proclaim that this is where their next wonderwagon will reside.

While "white space" products can yield great results (the Ford Transit Connect, original Scion xB and Subaru Forester come to mind), there are times when there's a reason for leaving the space blank. Like the X6, the ZDX may well fall into the category of "Why bother?"

Obviously, the ZDX isn't going to sway the opinion of those unenthused about Acura's current styling direction. On the other hand, this might be Acura's most successful application of its new aesthetic. From the prominent can-opener grille to its pinched tail, the overall design is far more cohesive than some of Acura's recent efforts. But despite that, it's still polarizing.



Combined with its deeply drawn doors and an inboard greenhouse, the result is a husky appearance that would be far more attractive if it were riding at the same altitude as a sedan. As it is, the ZDX looks like a rally-raid buggy built for Dakar... on Mars.

Compared to the aforementioned other vehicles, the body comes in four inches shorter than the Crosstour and just slightly longer than the X6. But where the ZDX differs from the Crosstour, MDX and its BMW doppelganger is the position of its roof and floor.

The Crosstour has six inches of ground clearance with the ZDX at 7.9 inches and the MDX at 8.2 inches. However, the ZDX has the lowest roof height, standing at 62.8 inches with the Crosstour at 65.7, MDX at 68.2 and the BMW at 66.5 inches. The reason we mention this is when you open the door there's a typical SUV tall step in, but combined with the lower door opening, taller occupants may have to duck to clear their heads, particularly in back. The high floor means you get the tall hip-point that seems to attract people to SUVs and crossovers, but the limited roof clearance requires the seat to be mounted lower to the floor. Instead of the expected upright seating position, sitting in the ZDX is almost sports car-like, aside from the fact that your rear is further from the ground.



While the seating position is peculiar in the context of the ZDX's height, the rest of the interior will be familiar to those who have sampled Acura's recent products. The sweeping dual cockpit layout in the front is similar to what you'll find in a TL or TSX. However, the strip of aluminum that spans those sedans has been slimmed down in favor of a hand-wrapped and sewn leather covering. The combination of the seamless, soft-touch upper dash and the leather trim is attractive, but there's a very visible, if minor, problem. Where the leather-covered parts sweep down to the center console, there is a seam between the upper and lower portions. Because of the leather wrapping, the seam is more prominent than it should be and fails to keep with the upscale look Acura is after. However, redemption is found in the rest of the cockpit, including a reassuringly thick steering wheel and Acura's superlatively supportive seats. And then you get to the back.

The sweeping greenhouse means that even with the seat cushions mounted low, headroom is at a premium for anyone hovering around six-feet tall. Worse than that is the rear door opening, which has shrunk both vertically and longitudinally, causing more than one instance of unintended head-banging when getting in and out. Acura admits that the ZDX is targeted more towards couples, but we have to question why you have rear seats when ingress, egress and overall comfort is so severely compromised in the first place.



Acura may have sacrificed rear passenger volume to style, but luggage capacity remains plentiful. With the rear seat up, the ZDX can swallow 26.3 cubic feet, a volume that grows to 56 cubic feet with the rear thrones folded flat. The tall rear deck and flat cargo sides make for a useful luggage area, and Acura has also included a trio of hidden storage areas below the rear load floor and in each rear corner.

Pressing the red start button yields a bit of a surprise with an engine note that's decidedly more aggressive than we've grown accustomed to from Acura – up to and including the six-speed manual-equipped TL. The aural entertainment proves pleasant, especially under hard acceleration. We've always been fond of Acura's V6, and this one is no exception thanks to its 300 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque. It revs freely to its 6,600 rpm redline and never complains about having to work hard. Of course, with the ZDX's 4,452-pound curb weight, the V6 has its work cut out for it. To be fair, a decade ago, a 0-60 mph time in the low six-second range would have been nothing to sneeze at for a 300-hp vehicle, but in 2010 it's merely so-so.



Unfortunately, Honda's all-new six speed automatic transmission doesn't help the performance situation. The steering wheel-mounted paddles allow some manual control, although tapping the flippers up or down seems to be more of a suggestion rather than a control interface – ratios will only be switched when the electronics are good and ready. Running the 3.7-liter V6 up to the far end of the tach will still trigger automatic upshifts even in "manual" mode, but on the plus side, when the cogswaps arrive, they are quick and smooth.

Acura's torque-vectoring Super Handling-All Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) was one of the first such systems to come to market and remains one of our favorites. The electronically controlled clutches in the rear axle actively send drive torque to the outside wheel to help push the ZDX around a corner and counteract understeer. Press the CUV into a series of corners and it tracks through neutrally, no muss, no fuss and decidedly un-crossover-like. While the ZDX is no off-roader, if your commute includes a brisk run down a gravel road, the SH-AWD is more than capable of dealing with lower grip situations.



Unlike the TL and TSX, the ZDX retains hydraulic power steering. However, Acura has added an electronic control system to vary the amount of boost according to speed and the position of the Integrated Dynamics System (IDS). IDS adjusts the settings of the active dampers along with the steering, and the hydraulic steering assist gives the ZDX a tighter feel devoid of dead spots. We tried the IDS in both Sport and Comfort modes and ended up deferring to Sport for the majority of our drives. The suspension does a good job of soaking up the worst that Michigan roads can offer, while keeping the body level with minimal vertical motion.

Aside from the lazy transmission response, the ZDX surprised us dynamically. Unfortunately, the design imposes some serious compromises in the name of style. Assuming you can live with something closer to a 2+2 and aren't put off by the deeper seating position, the ZDX has its attributes. However, the bigger sticking point is its price tag. Our ZDX was equipped with the Advance package (adaptive cruise control, collision mitigation braking, etc.) and stickered for a steep $56,855. The price may seem high for an Acura, but even maxed-out, that's still about $500 less than the entry tariff for an X6. The BMW is roomier and ultimately more engaging, though, and if you need more than 300 hp (and who doesn't?) the X6 offers up three different V8 options, including a hybrid and the mighty X6 M.



Ultimately, the decision to buy any vehicle upmarket of the most basic commuter involves a significant emotional element, and there is no doubt that this Acura is capable of stirring up some major gut reactions. The ZDX has arguably the best implementation to date of Acura's design philosophy and generally very good driving dynamics despite its compromised package. In the end, though, the rumblings in our gut are closer to cramped discomfort than excited butterflies. The fundamental premise of a high riding and very heavy 2+2 strikes us as silly unless you are going to take the idea to its (il)logical zenith with some insane performance like the BMW X6 M. Barring that, we'd rather see Acura's product planners focus on the kind of smaller, lighter, white spaces that Soichiro Honda likely would have filled were he still kicking around the headquarters that bears his name.



Photos by Sam Abuelsamid / Max Abuelsamid / Copyright ©2010 Weblogs, Inc.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 85 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      what... what is this i don't even......
      • 4 Years Ago
      Jack Hanania Automotive in Jacksonville Florida is giving away a free car to Facebook fans! All you have to do is like their page to enter.
      http://www.facebook.com/HananiaAutomotive
      • 4 Years Ago
      The Acura ZDX is a mid-size luxury crossover developed by Honda for its upmarket brand Acura. The car was originally scheduled to be called the Acura MSX.[1] The ZDX debuted at the 2009 New York International Auto Show on April 8, 2009. The vehicle was also the first to be completely designed at Acura's southern California design studio.

      Five teaser shots, released by Acura between March 16–20, 2009, indicated a coupe-like sloping roofline akin to that of the BMW X6, which led many observers to believe that is its direct competitor. After the announcement about naming the vehicle ZDX, Acura added the words "Luxury Four-Door Sports Coupe" to the caption for each picture. Moreover, it did not state the vehicle as a crossover or an SUV.[2]

      The car has been said to be a "new level of prestige for Acura." It features Acura's first six speed automatic transmission, advanced ventilated seats, as well as other luxury appointments.BMW Cars
      • 4 Years Ago
      "Barring that, we'd rather see Acura's product planners focus on the kind of smaller, lighter, white spaces that Soichiro Honda likely would have filled were he still kicking around the headquarters that bears his name."

      Let's hope the Crosstour and ZDX are enough to make him rise from his grave and lead the company back on the right track.....
      • 4 Years Ago


      Let's hope this fad gets over with quickly.



      • 4 Years Ago
      Interior....ugly, exterior....ugly

      What in the heck is Honda thinking with this design? I haven't seen one recent Honda/Acura that I'd even consider owning, just on the basis of the exterior/interior dynamics.

      • 4 Years Ago
      The Acura ZDX is a mid-size luxury crossover developed by Honda for its upmarket brand Acura. The car was originally scheduled to be called the Acura MSX.[1] The ZDX debuted at the 2009 New York International Auto Show on April 8, 2009. The vehicle was also the first to be completely designed at Acura's southern California design studio.

      Five teaser shots, released by Acura between March 16–20, 2009, indicated a coupe-like sloping roofline akin to that of the BMW X6, which led many observers to believe that is its direct competitor. After the announcement about naming the vehicle ZDX, Acura added the words "Luxury Four-Door Sports Coupe" to the caption for each picture. Moreover, it did not state the vehicle as a crossover or an SUV.[2]

      The car has been said to be a "new level of prestige for Acura." It features Acura's first six speed automatic transmission, advanced ventilated seats, as well as other luxury appointments.
      BMW Cars
      • 4 Years Ago
      With a sticker price of 56 grand, I all can see happening with this vehicle is a lot of depreciation. And for the kind of money they are asking for... where's the V8?

      It's not pretty and definitely not practical. No way I can see this thing being used for things like traveling, camping or even taking people to the airport. There is no room for anything.

      I cannot imagine this thing being worth more than 25 grand in 2 years. It's like
      throwing away 30 grand! This means that leases for this will be high also.

      Acura needs to start making cars like the previous generation TL, the previous entry level RSX or something like the original Legend Coupe to get me interested in their products again.

      In all fairness, last years MDX looked pretty good. I wish they left the
      grill alone instead of this bottle opener grill garbage they have now.

        • 4 Years Ago
        Agreed, they should have kept the RSX. I saw one of these on the road and it looks really ugly and weird. I also think that they should have kept the old grill on the current MDX. The new one has way too much chrome. I can't get over its new grille, it's horrible.
      • 4 Years Ago
      God, that is ugly. Especially the grill.
      • 4 Years Ago
      For some reason or other I still like the over all shape and design of the X6.. impractical but still intriguing
        • 4 Years Ago
        certainly. I parked next to one yesterday, struggled to understand how something 2x the price of my hatch could have less interior room, be slower to sixty and get worse fuel economy... but oddly... the design is appealing, better than the x5, which is why it sells so well.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I very much like the look of the X6. It's a sexy beast.

        This ZDX thing, not so much.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I don't have kids at home any longer and seldom cart others around so that the back seats need to be everything they can be. Personally, for this type of vehicle, I find the design refreshing. As good as a BMW might be they are still BMWs and they look it..everywhere you go. You see yourself coming amd going. I find as I get older I want to experience other designs, other options rather than just falling into line like sheep. I was driving to work and I saw a ZDX coming up from the rear. I slowed so as to give it a good look as it drove by. I found it very futuristic looking and it certainly stood out in the sea of cars on the road, even the BMWs. The proof is always in the drive, I'm sure the ZDX is a good one too. Call it individuality if you want.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Yep, I'm with everyone here, but I will take it one step further: This is the new shape of excess. Truck-based SUV's have been run out of town due to their tendancy to destroy the environment, so logically they should be replaced by vehicles that are focused primarily in design, front-seat luxury, and cargo space.

        Picture your average wannabe stock-broker toolbag cruising around in 3-piece Calven Klien suits purchased from an outlet.

        Anyone who drove a Range Rover Sport 3 years ago, is most likely going to end up in an X6, and anyone who WISHES they drover a Range Rover Sport 3 years ago will end up in this.
        • 4 Years Ago
        If you want "impractical but intriguing", add a sports car to your garage. You'll get better performance and better fuel economy, without pretending you have a back seat or offroad capabilities that are non-existent or useless on a car like the ZDX.
        • 4 Years Ago
        it's not a bad looking car minus that horrendous beak. but obviously this is a moronic way to design a car because you got to be a midget to sit in the back.
        • 4 Years Ago
        same here, but maybe it's that hot woman in the commercial.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Well if the X6 is anything to go by, in spite of all the sneering and head-scratching it will sell well - looks like the X6 is hitting double the planned targets - even if I cannot picture who would really want it - but seemingly sufficient numbers of people do. The question is to what extent it will hurt the sales of the MDX (or the X6 hurts those of X5).
      • 4 Years Ago
      X6 = fail. Acura X6 = FAIL^2.

      Saw one in white last week, from afair, looked cool, concept car ish, got closer and that wonder faded. I'm sure some 60 somethings looking to get out of their lincolns are going to like it.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @Erik

        You misunderstand. I like nav. Just portable. One i can take from car to car and much cheaper. One that doesn't have my whole, potentially gorgeous interior dash(and for the record even with out built-in nav this car dash would still be hideous), ruined by the nav screen being the centerpoint. As long as they give the option to go without built-in navs on EVERY car, I'm good.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Overweight. Overpriced. Oversized. Under-interior-roomed. Under-visibilitied. And overuglied.

        I owned an '87 Integra for 13 years, so I have a soft spot for Acura. But Acura has released one stinker after the other, and this is clearly the worst of the lot.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @Jared - well put. man i love cars like this, making cars I like seem all the more reasonable. $56k for an interior worse than a golf, nav worse than a golf, and less usuable space than a golf - while less visually appealing than an MDX orrr....

        Fully loaded Q5 with more room, better mpg, and more entertaining drive. That's a hard one. Are there any non realtor/dentist acura owners out there? I'd love to meet them.
        • 4 Years Ago
        AndrewNoNumbers, for goodness sakes. It is the size of an MDX, but only seats 2 comfortably. It is grossly oversized for what it does. Heck, it is as wide as a Tahoe and just 10 inches shorter.

        As for the visibility, taking off the spoiler won't fix it. The curving rear, thick D pillars compromise visibility both directly to the rear and to the rear 3/4s.

        Rich people don't care about cost? I see. So that's why the Lexus LS400 flopped when it was introduced. Or something like that.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Drum roll please.....*opens door*, *checks top of center stack*......Doh!! Looks like the same cookie cutter "luxury" dash. Oh well, maybe the need to consult, Pininfarina about the Alfa 2uetto concept interior, then get back to designing a new ZDX.
        • 4 Years Ago
        i think ZDX is a pretty good looking vehicle. the interior is definitely better than other Acura out there.

        i say, it is like X6, you got to see one in person to decide. you may like or hate it, but it has presences.

        i would get it over MDX if the price is similar.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Overweight: Agree with you on that one.
        Overpriced: Nope. It doesn't make sense for the practical consumer to pay more for this than an MDX, but this is like the halo car of Acura. People who get this don't care about money.
        Oversized: Not at all, it's actually quite nifty looking.
        Under-interior-roomed: If you're going to pick this over a 7-passenger MDX, then you obviously don't care about hauling people.
        Under-visibilitied: Fair, I suppose you could take out the rear spoiler.
        Overuglied: This is definitely one of the best-looking cars of 2010 so far.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @SimpleCar

        Dude, STFU already with the anti-nav crap. We get it. You don't like nav. There are lots of people who do. And for you, there are lots of cars without it. You don't have to spam every post. It's totally obnoxious.
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