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 second 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 one third of the cargo area and three 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. First 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.