2010 Acura ZDX Road Test Review

Brian Armstead - CAP staff
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The 2010 Acura ZDX represents an interesting paradox for me, as in a previous review I basically trashed its corporate cousin the Honda Crosstour.  Yes, the ZDX shares the same platform as the Crosstour, and has the same poor rear vision, but it is so different in so many ways that I like it and would not mind paying the money required to upgrade from Crosstour to ZDX.

Remember, Acura is Honda's premium division and they have done their magic on the ZDX.  Let's start with the styling.  Where the Crosstour reminds me of a 1980s AMC Eagle as it seems to sit very high, the ZDX looks sleek and aerodynamic.  The Crosstour has four doors and looks like a truncated sedan, whereas the ZDX has four doors and looks like a sports SUV.  How did they do it?  Take a look at the accompanying photos.  Notice how the rear doors have hidden handles that are partially integrated into the vehicle's upper rear door structure.  Very crafty Acura, as you have created a Mercedes CLS "coupe" for the sport-ute crowd.  Men and women seemed to equally enjoy ZDX styling, and not a single negative word was heard about the styling during a seven-day test period.  Not so with the Crosstour, which elicited either strong support or utter dislike wherever I went.

The other stark difference was the interior.  The Crosstour is utilitarian, and there is no mistaking you are in a Honda when inside.  The ZDX features a more creative use of plastics hard and soft, and an enjoyable melding of other interior materials like metal and leather made me feel like I was in a true luxury vehicle.

And the ZDX does come standard with a raft of luxury features, including a 253-watt eight-speaker sound system with built in six-disc CD player, Bluetooth, XM satellite radio, USB and aux jack connectivity, an iPod interface/controller, push button ignition, etc.

Continuing with interior highlights, Acura's optional navigation system, part of the Technology Package, is among the best in the industry, and features a backup camera and real time traffic and weather updates for select markets.  I live in a big city that was hit by a major snowstorm during my test week, and the live traffic updates were a huge timesaver.  More on the storm later in this review.  I love the ventilated front seats, part of the Technology Package too.  Additional Technology goodies include a collision mitigation system that pre-charges the braking system if a crash is determined to be imminent, an excellent blind spot warning system that is a must-have option due to the ZDX' thick D-pillars that make lane changes an adventure, and adaptive cruise control that uses radar to help you keep your distance to the vehicle in front of you on highways. Last but hardly least the Tech package features a killer 410-watt ten-speaker surround sound system with built in hard disk drive to rip your favorite tunes.  A GPS linked climate control system is among the standard features, and yes the climate control can tell if you're in Miami or Toronto and adjust comfort parameters accordingly.

Additionally a ZDX Sport Package can be added at the dealer for $4,761.28 (really, 28 cents), that includes special Sports running boards with LEDs, different 19" alloy rims and a rear spoiler, while other dealer added accessories include a $978.27 remote engine starter kit, two towing packages, depending on your specific needs, at around $950 each, and a $370.78 protection package with all-weather mats and cargo tray. 

Speaking of cargo, the ZDX can haul 745 litres with the rear seats upright and 1,580 litres when they're folded flat, which is sizable considering the sloped D-pillar.

Luggage aside, the driver's seat is a good place to be in the ZDX.  A thick, leather-wrapped steering wheel provides a halo for clear, electroluminescent gauges and an informative trip computer.  Hit the road, and ZDX road manners shine through.  A 300 horsepower V6 mated to a six-speed sequential-shift automatic transmission provide impressive acceleration.  The ZDX utilizes Acura's "drive by wire" throttle system, eliminating the traditional linkage routed from accelerator pedal, through the firewall, to the throttle body under the hood. The efficient drivetrain contributes to an estimated 12.7 L/100km in the city and 8.8 on the highway.

Back to the snowstorm, one of the worst blizzards to hit my area in over 20 years.  Now 24 inches of snow is not much to many across the Northern US and Canada, but no matter where you live, two feet of snow is a bear to drive through.  No worries though, as the ZDX is equipped with Acura's excellent Super Handling All-Wheel Drive system (SH-AWD).  SH-AWD not only modifies the torque split from front to rear and side to side, it can also hyper-speed an outside rear wheel to effectively push you with confidence through a high-speed cornering maneuver.  Now the "SH" component of SH-AWD means nothing in the snow, but the "AWD" component sure does.  The ZDX is a confident runner in deep snow, and coupled with some commonsense driving, I was able to move about freely in an area paralyzed by the storm.  The only thing that slowed me down a bit was ground clearance, understandably lower in a CUV than in an SUV or pickup truck.

Finally, all Hondas and Acuras are loaded with safety equipment, and I tip my hat to Honda for making their vehicles as safe as the European brands.  The ZDX enjoys Honda's Advanced Compatibility Engineering (ACE) body structure, which utilizes a network of structural elements to help disperse crash energy more effectively.  It also builds in height compatibility crash protection, enhancing your survival chances no matter if you collide with a small car or large truck.  Electronic stability control (called VSA on Acuras), six airbags, rollover assist control, and a host of additional safety features are standard equipment regardless of trim level.

Speaking of trim levels, base ZDX models start at $55,990, and my tester with its Technology trim package starts at $59,590.  Conversely, the Crosstour starts at $29,670.  Is the $26,320 difference in price between base models worth it?  To me, yes, as I enjoyed the ZDX' luxury and driving dynamics.  But do consider this:  if you're a fan of Crosstour styling, you can buy a base model and use the difference between the two to purchase Honda's superb Accord sedan at $24,790 and use the $1,530 left over for gasoline!

©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: Crossover, Acura, 2010, ZDX, $50,000 - $74,999,

Organizations: Acura

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