The Acura ZDX altered the visual signature of the SUV when it was introduced. Based on the big MDX sport-utility, the Acura ZDX projects a carlike image using pronounced fender flares, a raked windshield, pronounced tumblehome on the side glass, and a fastback roofline.
Described as a four-door coupe by design staff, the Acura 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. The ZDX seats five. 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.
The ZDX is powered by a 300-horsepower 3.7-liter V6 hooked to a 6-speed automatic with manual override control (via steering-wheel buttons). 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 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.
Introduced as a 2010 model, the ZDX is unchanged for 2011.
The 2011 Acura ZDX comes in three versions. The ZDX ($45,645) 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 destination charge.)
The ZDX with Technology Package ($50,145) 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 ($56,195) 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.