Not unlike finding the last living dodo bird! The ZDX most certainly does not look very Honda-ish. It’s styling is not conservative in any way, shape, or form.
A few years back, Acura announced the brand would be separating its image from Honda’s, moving out of its parents’ home aspiring for a more successful look. Acura set their sights on German marques; namely Audi, BMW, and Mercedes Benz. Acura has made several aggressive charges to squish its way in. The ZDX, introduced in 2010, is one of those fine efforts, and it definitely deserves an honorable mention. Right off the bat, it’s quite obvious that the ZDX is quite weird-looking, which is neither strictly positive nor negative at this point. The 2012 Acura ZDX most certainly does not look very Honda-ish. It’s styling is not conservative in any way, shape, or form. Honestly, it looks like it came straight out of the skunk-works of a European outfit. Is this the new image Acura is striving for?
What is it, you might ask. Well if I had to put a label on it, I’d best describe it as a crossover built to offer sports coupe looks and performance and also SUV practicality. So, does it look like a sports coupe? As we know, Acura’s new styling methodology has not been well received by everyone, particularly that ghastly “shield” grille. However, the ZDX does look handsome from some angles. Its sharp lines, sculpted hips, and hidden rear door handles give the ZDX an aggressive coupe-like look and do a good job of hiding its MDX-based platform. Unfortunately, it’s still far from the form of an athletic sports coupe. Regarding its SUV side, yes the ZDX is based on its big brother, the MDX. However, the ZDX only has 5 seats compared to the MDX’s 7 and towing capacity is greatly reduced, rated at only 1500 lbs. So, it doesn’t really offer much of a SUV’s practicality either then. So far then, the story isn’t great. I mean, Honda, a company with the best business executives and engineers at their disposal, aren’t stupid. They designed this car for a specific audience and have done endless simulations and market research to ensure that this car is appealing and successful. Perhaps it’s us that have been looking at it the wrong way.
Let’s look into the strong point of the 2012 Acura ZDXt: its drive. It really does come into its element when you want to have some fun. Like the TL, RL, and MDX, the ZDX is equipped with a 3.7L V6 producing 300 horsepower and 270 lb-ft of torque. The engine produces ample power to move the ZDX, but it’s refined as well. It’s good for a 0-100km/h time of under 7 seconds and power delivery is smooth all the way through. The V6 is mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission with a sport mode for manual shifting via paddle shifters. Acura’s SH-AWD system comes as standard on the ZDX and it’s definitely one of the more competent AWD systems available on the market. It shuffles torque where required and I felt in control at all times even while driving in snowy weather. If you’re in the mood for some fun you can even turn off the traction control and the SH-AWD system will let you kick the back end out and hold a four-wheel-slide. Although the ZDX does retain a high center of gravity, its handling characteristics are impressive. I love the weighted steering; it’s much got much better feel and feedback than a traditional SUV. I was also very impressed by the brakes. They provided good feel and power, adding the overall driving experience. Most SUVs leave me feeling detached from the mechanical and emotional systems at work but the ZDX made me feel involved in the process. Considering the ZDX is based on a big SUV, it really is a great drive and I would imagine it’d be a very enjoyable car to take on a nice road. Acura’s fuel economy numbers are an estimated 12.7L/100km city, and 8.8L/100km highway. My observed fuel consumption was around 12.5L/100km with mixed city and highway driving in sub-zero conditions.
In my opinion, Acura has done a good job on the interiors of their recent cars. The design, layout, comfort and functionality have always been top notch for me, right up there with Lexus and the 3 German superpowers, and this ZDX is no different. Along with its high quality leather, its great layout and smooth lines makes it very easy on the eyes. It’s simply a very nice place to be in. The entertainment and navigation system work very well and are extremely easy to use, however the iPod/Bluetooth connectivity was a little finicky at times. Dual-zone climate control, keyless entry and an engine start button should come as no surprise, however the rear-view camera and a 15GB hard drive for your media are greatly appreciated. The buttons on the both the steering wheel and centre console were intuitive and well laid out, as was the storage compartments by the armrest. Legroom and front headroom are good but due to its sloping roofline, rear headroom is quite poor. Even people of average height can feel cramped in the back, let alone taller folks. The fastback rear also compromises its cargo capacity. With the rear seats folded down, cargo space is ample but with the rear seats up, trunk space really is limited. At least there’s a button to close the heavy trunklid electronically.
The ZDX then is a clear and ambitious effort from Acura to build something different. Although most crossovers are meant to enhance practicality by inheriting the best of both worlds, the ZDX has traded some of its practicality in favour of simply being different. It’s immediately apparent that this car won’t appeal to everyone. It probably won’t even appeal to the vast majority. There is simply not enough gain to justify all of the drawbacks for most people. On the other hand, it’s definitely worth mentioning that the ZDX could be extremely enticing for a certain niche consumer group. Perhaps young couples, maybe even kids, who want a sport utility vehicle for road trips but also want something that’s enjoyable to drive. Our 2012 ZDX tester with the Technology Package has an as-tested price of $54,990. That’s at least $10,000 cheaper than the BMW X6 and the price difference could stretch north of $25,000 with the infamous BMW option list. Honestly, if Acura addressed some of the personal niggles I have with the styling, I can imagine myself sporting a ZDX in the future. Unfortunately, that chance probably won’t come, because 2013 will be the last model year for the ZDX.
2012 Acura ZDX Gallery