2010 ZDX New Car Test Drive
The all-new 2010 Acura ZDX was shown to the public for the first time at the 2009 New York International Auto Show, where it received a generally positive reaction. Like all radical styling exercises, the ZDX also drew some scathing commentary from people for whom the unusual (for a crossover) fastback styling seemed overwrought.
Based on sketches by Acura design newcomer Michelle Christensen (when she was just 25 years old), the ZDX employs what Acura is calling Keen Edge styling to alter the usual visual signature of an SUV. With pronounced fender flares, a raked windshield and pronounced tumblehome on the side glass (not to mention that controversial fastback roofline), much of the boxiness of the MDX on which this vehicle is based has been eliminated. As a result, the ZDX projects a carlike image.
Described as a four-door coupe by Acura design staff, the ZDX features hidden rear door handles to exaggerate the two-door look. Since it was intended primarily to meet the needs of self-indulgent couples, the declining roofline is not out of place on a vehicle like this, but it does compromise space in the rear seats. So does the use of long front doors (intended to accentuate the coupe-like proportions), which make the rear doors short and less convenient for access.
Like the exterior design, the interior is unique and employs special materials and bold design ideas to keep the focus on the satisfaction of two privileged passengers. As with Acura's big MDX SUV, the ZDX is powered by a 300-horsepower 3.7-liter V6, now hooked to a new six-speed automatic with manual override control (via steering-wheel buttons).
The sense of privilege inside the leather-lined cabin is unmistakable, and the ZDX reinforces that impression with a plush, well-controlled ride, and the creamy propulsion provided by its sophisticated drivetrain. Throttle response is immediate and authoritative, and the gearshifts are smooth and positive. In keeping with its role, the car's noise levels are low, the climate-control system effective and the entertainment systems bright and clear.
At anything but breakneck pace, the ZDX steers keenly and stays on line with an intuitive accuracy. Only when pressing on hard in the convoluted confines of a canyon road does the big Acura begin to remind its driver that it's a close relative of the company's big MDX. Narrow roads quickly emphasize how wide the car's track is, even if the clever design reduces the visual impression of size, and we were hard-pressed to avoid the Botts dots from drumming through the suspension as we put wheels over the line.
Models with the integrated dynamics system that is part of the Advance Package do better in the twisties, but the ZDX luxury priorities are highlighted by its slightly numb steering and unhurried transmission response. That's all relative to the usual high-fidelity Acura standards, we should add. The ZDX still impresses with moves that belie its considerable size and heft.
The 2010 Acura ZDX comes in three versions. The ZDX ($45,495) comes standard with leather upholstery, dual climate-control, premium audio with USB port and auxiliary inputs, multi-information display, rear-view camera. (All NCTD prices are Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Prices and do not include $810 destination charge.)
The ZDX with Technology Package ($49,995) upgrades to Milano leather interior trim, a navigation system with voice recognition, multi-view rear camera, AcuraLink communication system, real-time traffic updates and weather, an ELS surround-sound stereo system, wireless telephone interface, tri-zone climate control, keyless access with pushbutton starting.
The ZDX with Advance Package ($56,045) includes the Technology Package and adds adaptive cruise control, an active damper system, collision mitigation braking system, blind-spot warning, ventilated front seats, a tricot headliner, a three-spoke steering wheel, and LED-illuminated door handles.