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Acura's ZDX has to be one of the most perplexing packages of any vehicle. Best described as a crossover luxury coupe, it mates a curvaceous, swoopy hatchback form over sturdy utility-vehicle underpinnings, with an intimate luxury-car interior. While it seduces in some respects and hits all the right buttons aesthetically, it's sorely lacking on practicality, and because of that it's proven a very limited-appeal vehicle (and it will be discontinued at the end of the model year).
With a profile that's handsome yet aggressive, the 2013 Acura ZDX looks great from most angles. All the voluptuous, curved sheetmetal give it a softness to match the brawny stance, and the design complexity in its wavelike side crease, compliments the roofline, all grab your attention. Interior appointments are lavish and a bit sporty, but even a quick look inside is going to reveal that this four-seat design isn't really any more practical than a coupe and may be even less useful than first impressions suggest.
For 2013, the ZDX gets some subtle changes, with a redesigned front grille, a new front and rear bumper design with integrated parking sensors, power-folding auto-dimming side mirrors, and new dark accents for the wheels. Inside are new high-contrast interior option, and the center console gets a new trim finish.
Sharing its underpinnings with the Acura MDX mid-size crossover, the ZDX packs a 300-horsepower, 3.7-liter V-6 engine and six-speed automatic transmission (steering-wheel paddle-shifters included). The ZDX accelerates quick, with the transmission usually on top of its game; it also handles surprisingly well for a relatively tall, heavy vehicle, and the all-wheel drive system (SH-AWD) gives it a confidence that holds even when the roads are slick. Although the ZDX has utility roots, it's not really intended for the trail.While there's a lot to like in the ZDX's style and pavement performance, pretty much everything related to comfort or practicality is compromised. The main areas of disappointment mostly have to do with the ZDX's roofline and tapered bodysides—all combined with a cargo floor that's higher than you might guess from the outside. It limits the backseat to a narrow area with just two spaces—and definitely no headroom for adults—while the cargo area has space for groceries but not many of the other things you'd expect to use a crossover for, like weekend projects, outdoor gear, or small pieces of furniture.
The ZDX is relatively refined, but it rides with a sort of muted heft and jiggles busily over rough pavement; for 2013 the Integrated Dynamics System (IDS), which brought multiple modes of suspension firmness and response—with very little increase in performance or comfort, as we noted—so that's no big loss. Interior trims and finishes are absolutely top-notch and in line with $51,815 price tag. Perforated, heated-and-cooled Milano leather seats are included, with accented stitching and a stunning wrap-around instrument panel that really does live up to the ZDX's promise of combining a coupe-like design with a little more utility.that includes all the content from last year's Tech Package as well as some of the features from the former Advance Package. Perforated, heated-and-cooled Milano leather seats are now standard, as is the voice-recognition navigation system and the 435-watt Acura/ELS Surround audio system.
Hatchback enthusiasts might be drawn to the ZDX's styling, and willing to make some sacrifices in usability, but when they see the lackluster 16-mpg city, 23 highway EPA ratings, that's likely to be another potential last straw.
For 2013, the Acura ZDX is offered in just one model—essentially the equivalent of last year's Tech Package model, but with a few more features. Standard equipment includes a 435-watt Acura/ELS Surround auto system; 15 gigabytes of hard-drive storage; dual-zone climate control; and a navigation system with voice recognition, real-time traffic and weather; and a multi-view rearview camera. Now also included is a suite of active-safety features; Forward Collision Warning (FCW) and Lane Departure Warning (LDW) provide visual and audible alerts, and may help the driver avoid an accident.