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2010 Acura ZDX Overview
With its all-new ZDX crossover, Acura dives head first into the rapidly evolving niche market for luxurious vehicles that emphasize sophisticated design over maximum utility. This is a segment defined by the BMW X6, a swoopy hatchback with AWD and a strong focus on style and performance. Acura describes the ZDX as the ideal vehicle for "passionate getaways," conjuring images of empty-nesters donning their designer sunglasses and zipping off to Santa Barbara or Palm Springs for the weekend.
The formula is simple: Take a mainstream SUV (in this case the wildly popular car-based MDX), dress it in avant-garde styling, add a swanky interior, and you wind up with a uniquely expressive crossover that can be sold at a premium price. There's no denying that the ZDX is eye catching. Its aggressive stance, high beltline, and tapered tail combine to make it stand out from the crowd. Acura's new design theme is evident with a trapezoidal grille finished in matte silver and multi-element HID headlights. The high-tech look may not appeal to all, however, and the low roofline makes the rear seat a chancy proposition for even moderately tall adults.
Where the new ZDX really does impress is inside the elegant interior. The design is fresh and appealing, with smooth contours that seem to wrap around the occupants. Top-notch fit and finish have long been Acura strong points, and the ZDX raises the bar even higher with supple, hand-stitched leather covering the seats, door panels, and even the dashboard.
Under the skin the ZDX shares its platform and mechanical hardware with Acura's mainstream MDX SUV. Its alloy 3.7-liter V6 produces 300 hp and features VTEC variable valve timing. The only transmission offered is an all-new six-speed automatic with manual-shift capability. Also standard is Acura's highly sophisticated super-handling all-wheel-drive (SH-AWD) system, which varies power distribution both front to back and side to side, making "passionate getaways" possible in any weather.
The ZDX's equipment list is extensive, and nearly every modern convenience is either standard or available as part of an option package. All ZDXs get leather memory seats, a 6-CD stereo with Bluetooth, a power-operated tailgate, and even a rearview camera. Stepping up to the Technology Package adds a capable and intuitive navigation system as well as an ELS 10-speaker surround stereo that wouldn't be out of place in a movie theater. The top level Advance Package brings special magnetic suspension dampers, ventilated seats, and adaptive cruise control.
In a rapidly evolving marketplace, Acura believes the ZDX is just what affluent baby boomers want. It certainly is a compelling package, yet it will do battle in a fragmented environment laden with freshly designed competitors like the Infiniti EX35, Lincoln MKT, and the aforementioned BMW X6. On paper the ZDX does match up well with the competition. In the showroom its eye-popping design details might be the deciding factor for those who are seeking something just a little different.
by Jesse Berger
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