Monday, September 6, 2010

2010 Acura ZDX: A New Spin On Coupe-Like Crossovers

What’s New:
With the release of the controversial, but eye-catching current-generation TL, Acura has begun a trend of designing out-of-the box vehicles. This trend continues for the luxury brand with its first midsize, five-passenger crossover, the stylish looking ZDX. The all-wheel drive ZDX, with its coupe-like styling, is going head-to-head with BMW’s X6. Unlike the X6, consumers won’t have to pay for premium pricing to get a comparably equipped vehicle.

Must-Have Goodies:
The cool looking ZDX is available in three trim levels: the well-equipped base ZDX, the Technology Package, and the Advance Package. Just like the telecommunication companies, Acura groups all of its options into packages. So, don’t expect any standalone options. 

The ZDX with the Technology Package includes a voice-activated navigation system, real-time traffic updates, real-time weather forecasts with radar image maps, a back-up camera, an upgraded  415-watt Premium Audio System, a dual-zone automatic climate control system and a Keyless Access System (with Smart Entry and push button ignition).

In addition to the items noted in the Technology Package, the Advance Package adds several premium technologies: heated and cooled front seats and a sport steering wheel, with clutch-less shifting, a new blind-spot information system (BSI), an Adaptive Radar-Controlled Cruise Control (ACC) and a Collision Mitigating Braking System (CMBS).

For those not familiar with the CMBS, the goal of this radar-controlled system  is to alert the driver to apply the brakes, when it senses a frontal accident is about to occur. In fact, when the system senses that a frontal collision is unavoidable, and even if no prior alerts have been given, the front seat belts tighten, and strong braking is automatically applied by the vehicle, helping reduce the impact velocity and collision force. 

What Rocked:
We loved the futuristic rear hatch-back design - Acura’s prefers to call it a coupe-like design - of the all-new ZDX. The cutting edge design with the rear concealed door handles adds a certain cool factor to this vehicle. It’s quite obvious that the sensuous curves and less angular trademark design of this Acura are mainly due to the hands of a female designer. In fact, the luxury brand’s first female designer was responsible for sculpting the original sketch of the ZDX.

In addition to the ground-breaking design for the automaker, Acura is also touting its panoramic glass roof as being one of the longest in the industry, providing a better view of the stars at night. The panoramic glass roof has dual automatic sunshades that open and closes at the touch of a button.

Foremost, upgrading to Acura’s Technology Package offers music lovers a built-in 15-gigabyte hard disk drive (HDD) media storage system, which allows one the ability to download and store up to 3,500 songs.

Moreover, in the rear cargo area of the ZDX, there is an integrated under-floor storage area which provides 2.2 cubic-feet of secure space. Along with the under-floor storage, the luxury crossover also is outfitted with hidden storage areas in the cargo-compartment sidewalls. 

And lastly, the ZDX is equipped with a power-activated rear trunk, which opens and closes at the touch of an internal button located in the rear of the vehicle. 

What We Disliked:
While we were smitten with the rear coupe-like design, there are some drawbacks. The headroom for rear passengers is significantly reduced. And, just like with Honda’s Accord Crosstour and Insight, the rear hatchback design, with the split rear glass windows connected by a crossbar, impedes the driver’s rear vision, despite the vehicle being equipped with a back-up camera. Unfortunately, the back-up camera isn’t in effect, when one is constantly monitoring the vehicles traveling behind them in normal everyday driving situations. The ZDX could also use the same soft-padding found in the front seats of a 2010 TL we recently reviewed. We found the seats to be too firm for a luxury cruiser.  

Furthermore, the ZDX offers two different driving modes: a Comfort mode, which Acura says prioritizes road isolation and reduced passenger fatigue, while the Sport mode favors crisp handling response, heightened vehicle body control and maximum traction. Conversely, we were unable to distinguish the modes, when they were in use. Acura could have avoided adding this feature to the ZDX. Also where is the rear-seat DVD entertainment system for the kids? BMW’s competitor, the X6, offers this as a factory-equipped feature.

Any Juice:
The ZDX is equipped with one-engine, a 3.7-liter VTEC V-6 that generates 300-horsepower and 270 lb-ft of torque.  

The Verdict:
For those wanting something a little smaller than Acura’s MDX SUV or a mommy-like crossover, the sexy-designed ZDX should be the perfect fit, as long as tall adults aren’t expected to be seated in the rear cabin for more than a drive across town. In the smooth-riding ZDX, we found that the MacPhearson strut front-suspension and rear multilink suspension offers the perfect balance for both highway and city driving. 

The easy-to-drive, well-built, tight-handling midsize crossover is great for short trips or cross- county driving.
Along with the vehicle’s ground-breaking curvaceous exterior design, the ZDX compliments the exterior by offering a world-class interior, with Acura's first hand-stitched leather dashboard, door panels and sculpted center console. The ZDX is Acura’s most upscale interior-to-date. 

The overall design of the ZDX, both inside and out, with all of its high-tech luxury features, will finally help to push this Acura into the same league as a Lexus, a BMW and a Mercedes as long as the brand continues to offer premium-class vehicle like this. 

To get into the new ZDX, expect to shell-out $45,495 for a nicely equipped base model and up to $56,045 for a fully-optioned Advance Package. Ironically, the starting price for a base-equipped BMW X6, its only competitor, starts out the gate at $56,500. Pricing along with all of its features may attribute to why the Acura is matching the BMW X6 in new-vehicle sales.

Competition: BMW X6


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