Thursday, October 7, 2010

ZDX is a streamlined zinger from Acura

This review originally appeared in the September edition of the Northern & Central California Cruisin' News published out of Folsom, California – mg

Sacramento, California -- Automakers love to keep us guessing. The new-for-2010 Acura ZDX is one such case study.

Acura bills it as a four-door sports coupe, which of course if problematic right from the get-go. A coupe with four doors? Really?

Others call it a sport-utility vehicle, although decidedly in the smallish-crossover class. I had friends refer to my tester – priced at about $50,000 on the nose with a “technology package” – as “the bullet.” And that’s actually a pretty good description.

With a sharply raked grille and aerodynamic styling that includes inward-tapered bodywork along the sides, the ZDX is a sporty something, more five-door hatch than DNA in my view. It’s not real big, but it looks good.

Styling specials on this Acura include rear doors hinged near the back ends of the two front doors. This might fool the kids for a few minutes, before they figure out that the back door handles are perched high on the back end of the rear doors.

The tester wore attractive, sparkle-in-the-sun paint that I would have called root beer. Inside, the leather surfaces had a brown-and-orange look that was definitely not my cup of tea. Please note that you have to be careful getting out of the thing, as the ZDX step-down height is a few inches higher than what you might be used to.

A panoramic glass roof lets the sun shine in -- a nice touch, accentuated by dual automatic sunshades -- and the interior controls are laid out wisely. They’re easy to see and use. The ZDX is billed as a luxury liner, and I think that works. Acura fans who expect a touch of class get just that, plus nearly 56 cubic feet of cargo-carrying capacity once all the seats are folded.

On the move, the ZDX is appropriately stout, as it should be with a 3.7-liter V-6, all-aluminum engine with 300 horsepower and a max torque rating of 270 foot-pounds. Power is firm but not delivered with an instant blast. The all-wheel drive system is exceptionally agile, and the vehicle is small enough to feel comfortable even during gridlocked rush hours.

Don’t count on saving much at the fuel pump with fuel mileage ratings of 16 miles per gallon in the city and 23 mpg on the highway.

You can feel good about a massive list of safety, comfort, convenience and technical perks that come standard with the ZDX. The diverse list appears to be an effort to please all consumer segments – from safety-first buyers to technology freaks.

Customizers could definitely have a party with the ZDX, especially digging in on the wide-shouldered body work on the top third of the vehicle. The ZDX could be made to look like the hot-rod crossover of your dreams.

Acura has been looking for a halo car or one that is destined to become the face of the brand. I’m not sure the ZDX is that vehicle, but it is a nice luxo-sporty package that Acura followers should find pleasing.

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