Is it a coupe, sports sedan or utility vehicle?
So, the kids have moved out and although you still want the new car to seat five and offer good utility features, it’s also time to get something special, something with distinctive styling that’s also more luxurious and sporty. The, made-in-Canada, Acura ZDX was made expressly for you.
On its MDX utility platform, Acura grafted a sleek 4-door coupe body that challenges traditional thinking of what’s a coupe, a sports sedan or a utility vehicle. Yes, the Acura ZDX steers a different and distinctive path, but it’s not completely alone.
In recent years we’ve also seen new entries from BMW, Infiniti and this year Range Rover. Sooner, rather than later, the maturing baby boomer with more discretionary income is expected to splurge on sharp new wheels, even if the recession has put a bit of a damper on the marketing master plan.
Being based on a utility vehicle, the ZDX can easily handle the rigours of a rough road trip to the cottage or any “off-the-beaten-path” destination. Yet, it also offers a sporty drive when unleashed on a paved road.
Powering the ZDX is a responsive 300-horsepower, 3.7-litre VTEC V6 engine that’s mated to 6-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters at the steering wheel. Selecting the transmission’s “S” mode provides a more dynamic shift pattern and double-shifts can be made with the paddles.
The normal torque bias for Acura’s Super Handling All-Wheel Drive system is to the rear wheels, which gives it a sportier handling feel. Up to 90 per cent of torque can instantly be transferred to the front wheels when needed. A torque-vectoring feature kicks in while cornering or accelerating and can re-direct up to 100 per cent of axle torque to either rear wheel, which further enhances the ZDX’s handling dynamics.
Introduced in 2010, the ZDX now comes with a Technology package that was originally an option. This adds perforated Milano leather upholstery, a navigation system with voice recognition, eight-inch LED colour display, a rear-view camera, headlamp washers, a 10 speaker audio system, dual-zone climate control, Bluetooth hands-free phone service and keyless access plus push-button ignition.
The ZDX was created by Acura’s Design Studio in California and based on original sketches by Michelle Christensen.
The coupe-like appearance of the ZDX is pulled off by enlarging the front doors and concealing the rear door handles in the window frame. The styling lines are the sharpest of any Acura and a unique stamping process called “deep-draw” was necessary to fabricate the rear quarter panels.
The upper cabin is tapered to the rear (from an overhead view) and the all-glass, sharply raked roof tops a curvaceous body with boldly flared fenders that give the back-end a wide, muscular look. Acura’s signature “floating” grille is surrounded by a honeycomb-design air opening.
High-intensity discharge (HID) headlights are standard and Canadian models, which also come with heated windshield washers and heated rear seats. A glass panel in the rear hatch helps improve rear visibility and to compensate for the smaller size rear doors they open extra wide.
Access to the back seats is still limited and it’s a “mind your head” entry, a price you pay for sexy styling.
After settling in behind the steering wheel, the sheer size of the sweeping dashboard design becomes even more apparent. Part of that may be because the seating position is lower than in a conventional utility vehicle and gives the driver a more car-like driving experience. A power-operated tilt and telescopic steering wheel is another bit of standard luxury and it also has an easy entry/exit feature. Those drivers who like to see the end of the hood while driving, however, may be disappointed and driver rear vision, even with the secondary lower back window, is also somewhat restricted. The ZDX is a fairly heavy vehicle that weighs in at 2007 kilograms (4,427 pounds) and comes with a superb and appropriately named Super Handling All-Wheel Drive system. This allows the ZDX to almost magically find grip in treacherous corners and was most impressive in the extremely wet weather conditions experienced during my time at the wheel. The 3.7-litre V6 engine is a silky smooth power provider that has very good torque in the mid to upper end of its speed range. It can propel the ZDX to 100 kilometres per hour in about seven seconds. On the down side, city fuel consumption numbers are on the high side and it likes premium fuel.
The ZDX achieved top five-star ratings in crash tests performed by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and a four-star rollover rating. An electronic stability system called Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA) is standard and it also comes with airbag rollover protection, hill start assist and active front seat head restraints.
A double cockpit design dash layout comes with sophisticated hand-stitched (a first for Acura) leather panels that flow into the doors and centre console. The instrument panel is completely blank until the ignition is switched on and then the electroluminescent gauges appear in an impressive choreographed display. While seating is provided for up to five, the ZDX was conceived as a personal escape vehicle for two adults. It’s a design that’s clearly focused on pampering the front seat occupants and it also allows them to bring along considerably more cargo than a conventional coupe allows.
A power operated (open/close) rear liftgate is standard. The cargo area is fully carpeted and additional storage can be found in a large under-floor compartment. Removable side panels also allow golf bags to fit crosswise.
A sporty coupe with utility benefits, the Acura ZDX just may be the car you always wanted, but didn’t know it.