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.
**Based on 2013 or 2014 EPA mileage estimates, as applicable. Use for comparison purposes only. Your actual mileage will vary, depending on how you drive and maintain your vehicle, driving conditions, battery pack age/condition (hybrid only), and other factors.