Acura ZDX Is A Bit Odd But Fun to Drive

The first thing I noticed about Acura’s ZDX is what everyone else seems to notice – this is one sharp car. Literally.

The architectural look to current Acura’s for me is stunning. I love the shield-faced noses that have taken over as the corporate face.
Most of the people who approached me about the ZDX commented on its looks first, then asked what it was. Most guessed it was expensive but thought it cost about $10,000 more than sticker.

Yes, it’s expensive. My test vehicle clocked in at more than $50,000, but so can a new Ford Explorer if you load it with options. The ZDX is certainly loaded with options and luxury. Leather stitching on the dash and center console is fabulous. The ridiculously supple heated leather seats are Lazy-Boy recliner comfortable, yet supportive. The audiophile sound system belongs in a a pricey custom designer home.

So what is this ZDX? Acura counts it as a crossover. It actually owes as much to a coupe (yes it has four doors) as an SUV. The shape is reminiscent of Honda’s Crosstour, except this is a rear drive vehicle. It’s based on the larger MDX, minus the third row of seats. The rear seats of the ZDX are not as roomy as in the MDX but regular-sized adults should find them comfortable. Rear cargo space is  56 cubic feet. That’s not too generous but OK.

The rest of the interior is so nicely done, so rich feeling, there’s not a lot else to complain about. The center stack of the dash goes piano black when not in use. Every switch, knob or dial feels expertly crafted.
Driving the RDX is easy. The Super Handling All Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) system inspires confidence on twisty roads. Don’t be confused: The ZDX is a sporty car, not a sports car. There is a difference.

Yet, the ZDX does handle curves and twists with an athletic attitude not found in many crossovers. Steering, handling and braking are good for any car, great for a crossover. The ride is smoother than you would think and quiet. Tire noise can intrude into the cabin but that depends on your road surface. Bumps and jolts are handled without drama.

The engine is a 3.7-liter V6 that makes 300 horsepower and 270 pounds-feet of torque. At around 4,500 pounds, that’s enough to make acceleration so-so. Engine noise is never troublesome and the six-speed transmission is buttery, at least on the way up. Downshifts are not always such. You should average 16 miles per gallon in the city and about 23 on the highway. Again, not spectacular but not bad for this much horsepower.

If you are thinking the ZDX is more a styling exercise than a useable vehicle that depends on your intended use. It has limited towing capacity (1,500 pounds), limited seating (four comfortably) and will set you back up to $55,000.

If you are looking for something that has impeccable build quality, good driving dynamics and something made by one of the best car companies on earth, the ZDX will not seem like a stretch. It’s a handsome car, especially in the deep burgundy hue and viewed from the rear. I doubt you will see many of these but when you do you will do a second take.

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