2011 Acura ZDX Review

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Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Senior Editor
June 21, 2011
Acura clearly set out to design something different with its coupe-like ZDX crossover, and what resulted just might have ended up a little too far out of bounds—a little too far-out for most deep-pocketed luxury customers yet too pricey, heavy, and thirsty for the hip urbanites it's appealing to.

The Acura ZDX has one of the most perplexing packages of any vehicle. It's gorgeous, thanks to all the voluptuous, curved sheetmetal, and the design complexity in its wavelike side crease that compliments the roofline. Its profile is handsome yet aggressive, and it looks great from most angles. Open the door and peer inside, however, and its limitations and compromises are suddenly apparent; there's only a little more versatile than a coupe.

The 2011 ZDX shares its underpinnings with the Acura MDX mid-size crossover, including the same 300-horsepower, 3.7-liter V-6 and a six-speed automatic transmission. You get steering-wheel paddle-shifters, as well as the excellent SH-AWD (all-wheel drive) system. And altogether, for such a heavy, rather tall vehicle, the ZDX is remarkably sporty, responsive, and composed. We love the rev-happy engine, too, and the quick-to-downshift transmission.

What we don't like about the ZDX has, pretty much, everything to do with comfort and practicality. The ZDX rides with a sort of muted heft and jiggles busily, even in the comfort mode of its IDS active suspension system (with magnetic dampers). And the backseat is much narrower than you might expect, because the body tapers in width as well as height, so two adults will find it a tight fit. The cargo floor is also higher that expected.

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The tradeoff is that interior trims and finishes are absolutely top-notch, including soft leather 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.

Unfortunately there's not all that much more to get excited about. Fuel economy isn't really good enough to satisfy those with an eco-conscience: 16 mpg city and 23 highway, according to the EPA.

Price is an issue, too. The 2011 Acura ZDX appeals to younger stylistas, urban gallery owners, and the like, but its sixty-grand price tag, well equipped, is just too high for the hipsters. And unlike other more conventional crossovers like the Lexus RX or Cadillac SRX, the ZDX doesn't have enough backseat space to meet the demands of realtors—or even those looking to do a double-date out to dinner.

With the Tech Package, the ZDX gets an ELS Surround auto system; 15 gigabytes of hard-drive storage; dual-zone climate control; a navigation system with voice recognition, real-time traffic, and live rerouting; real-time weather info; and a multi-view rearview camera.

The ZDX has so far been an extremely slow seller, with various incentives and discounts applied already in its first year (counter-intuitively, Acura raised prices slightly for 2011). If you like it, though, step right up and you're likely to get a pretty good deal. 

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Styling 8
Performance 7
Comfort & Quality 6
Safety 9
Features 9
Fuel Economy 5
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