2010 Acura ZDX TechPosted on April 29th, 2010
Five-passenger crossover vehicle with four-season performance
By Nina Russin
Crossovers have replaced sport-utility vehicles as the go-to cars for young, active buyers: the more androgynous the styling, the better. The new Acura ZDX is a perfect example: a five-passenger crossover vehicle with visual affinity to a sports coupe.
While the ZDX may look like a dressed up version of the Honda Crosstour, it is a completely different car. The Crosstour is based on the front-wheel drive Honda Accord, while the ZDX is based on the Acura MDX: a dedicated all-wheel drive design. Power comes from a 300-horsepower V-6 engine and six-speed automatic transmission with manual gear selection.
Acura’s super-handling all-wheel drive can transfer engine power side-to-side as well as between axles to enhance traction in challenging conditions. Stabilizer bars on both axles keep the chassis flat in the corners. Aluminum wheels minimize unsprung weight for more nimble handling.
Rather than confusing buyers with an abundance of option packages, Acura offers three trim levels: each fully equipped with comfort and convenience features. A tech package adds navigation, a rearview camera, keyless ignition, sport seats, an audio upgrade and dual-zone climate control to the base model. The advance package adds adaptive cruise control, active suspension damping, a blind spot monitoring system, upgraded leather upholstery, and collision mitigated braking.
All models come with standard nineteen-inch alloy wheels, bi-xenon headlamps, a high-flow dual exhaust system, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel with redundant audio controls and Bluetooth interface, satellite radio, USB and AUX port connectivity.
The test car is the mid-grade model with the tech package, priced at $49,995 not including the $810 delivery charge. Standard safety features include front, side and side curtain airbags, stability control, daytime running lamps, active front head restraints, and a body structure designed to mitigate pedestrian injuries.
ZDX designers went to extremes to drive home the sports coupe metaphor. The car’s bullet profile, wide grille, large wheels and snub rear deck mimic coupe proportions, but on a much larger scale. Whenever something designed on a small scale grows in dimension, it changes character. Think about the difference between a toy and standard poodle: one is a cute pet, the other a large dog with sharp teeth.
Despite its feminine proportions, the ZDX is a very masculine car. Interestingly enough, it was designed by a woman in Acura’s Torrance, California design studio. An aggressive chrome V shape defines the front grille, directing the eyes up towards the car’s large headlamps. Two large air intakes balance out the front end.
On the sides, a high beltline meets the sharply-raked roof just behind the passenger cabin. The D-pillar forms the vortex, and with it, an unfortunately large blind spot.
A V-shaped liftgate echoes the lines in the grille, while chrome trapezoids that frame the exhaust ports and brake lamps are similar in shape to the front air intakes. A rear spoiler punctuates the end of the roof.
The ZDX has the largest panoramic sunroof ever used on an Acura: a feature that makes the small rear glass seem idiosyncratic. The effect is even stranger from the inside, where horizontal and vertical slats cut across the driver’s rear vision.
The ZDX is a heavy car, weighing 4431 pounds with the technology package. Despite that, it’s surprisingly agile, with strong acceleration and excellent cornering. While I don’t endorse technology for technology’s sake, features such as electronic throttle control, torque-sensitive steering, and the advanced all-wheel drive system give the Acura ZDX handling and performance akin to a much smaller car.
Keyless access allows the driver to enter and start the car without removing the fob from his pocket. In addition to its convenience, this feature adds a measure of safety for car owners who live and work in urban areas.
Paddle shifters on the steering wheel let the driver select gears manually when driving for sport. The tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel allows smaller drivers to maintain a clear forward view. However, the ZDX has a noticeably higher cowl than Acura is known for. The high cowl and severe hood rake makes it difficult to judge where the front of the car is.
Aside from that, forward visibility is good. The side mirrors don’t obstruct the driver’s vision when cornering to either side. The thick rear pillars severely restrict rear visibility and over-the-shoulder visibility to the left. I would highly recommend the blind spot detection system for those who can afford it.
Electronic throttle control contributes to excellent acceleration in the critical 20-to-50 mile-per-hour range. Variable effort steering gives the ZDX positive on-center response on the highway, while offering plenty of low-speed assist for maneuvering around parking lots.
Four-wheel disc brakes with four-channel antilock braking stop the car in a firm, linear fashion.
Inside, the ZDX seats up to five adults. Because there is no floor tunnel, the middle rear seating position has enough legroom for a small adult. The severely raked roof limits headroom in the second row. Overhead reading lamps over both rows illuminate the interior at night.
Sport seats up front are stylish and comfortable, with seat heaters for the cold weather. Acura uses a mouse device to control comfort and convenience features in the center stack, eliminating unnecessary clutter.
White on black gauges are easy to read in a variety of lighting conditions. A digital screen in the gauge cluster displays tire pressure, all-wheel drive status, trip and odometer readings.
The navigation screen at the top of the center stack also displays images for the rearview camera and information, including traffic and weather updates, cell phone and message functions. The navigation system includes a “go home” function which drivers in large urban areas should find handy. A hood over the display screen keeps sunlight from obstructing the driver’s view.
The center console includes a large bottle and cupholder. Inside the bin are USB and AUX ports, as well as a 12-volt power point.
A locking glovebox has a separate shelf for stashing the owner’s manual and registration documents.
The ZDX has extremely small rear doors. The car’s large wheel wells limit access and egress to the second row. A fold-down armrest includes a couple of cupholders. Vents behind the center console circulate air through the back of the cabin.
Versatile cargo area
The cargo area is larger than it would seem from the outside, with covered storage areas underneath the cargo floor and to either side. The second-row seats fold flat in a 60/40 pattern, creating a long enough cargo floor for a road bike.
Acura builds the ZDX at its Alliston, Ontario Canada assembly plant.
Likes: A stylish crossover vehicle with standard all-wheel drive, excellent acceleration and steering response. The cargo area is bicycle-friendly, and includes three covered areas for smaller items.
Dislikes: Large rear blind spots and poor over-the-shoulder visibility to the driver’s left side. Small rear doors limit access and egress to the second row seats.
Model: ZDX Tech
Base price: $49,995
As tested: $50,805
Horsepower: 300 Hp @ 6300 rpm
Torque: 270 lbs.-ft. @ 4500 rpm
Antilock brakes: Standard
Side curtain airbags: Standard
First aid kit: N/A
Bicycle friendly: Yes
Fuel economy: 16/23 mpg
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