2010 Acura ZDX: 4-Door Luxury SUV with Coupe Appeal
By Mike Blake, Carlisle Events
Tuesday, November 09, 2010
Assembled in Alliston, Ontario, Canada, Acura’s luxury take on crossovers is embodied in the 2010 ZDX. Manufacturer releases call it a “Luxury Four-Door Sports Coupe”, but neglect to mention it is an SUV/Crossover.
What ZDX is, is a new, style-driven midsize luxury crossover with dramatic styling; performance oriented with state-of-the-art advanced technology. The ZDX features innovative coupe-like styling, a panoramic glass roof, hidden rear door handles and bold fender flares.
Designed, developed and manufactured entirely in North America, the ZDX was conceived by Acura's first female designer, Michelle Christensen, and features sensuous curves, deeply sculpted shoulders and strong character lines. Originally set to be called the MSX, Acura added the “Z” of coupe fame and “D” as one of those magic promotion letters before debuting last year – the initials are a marketing device and mean nothing in particular.
ZDX begins with head-turning style, elegantly athletic body curves, a low raked roofline, high beltline and small sports windows that look good, but obscure interior vision. Acura says that the exterior design goal for the ZDX was to merge the emotional appeal of a sports coupe with all-season ability and good ground clearance to allow for moderate off-highway use. The use of wide rear fenders and aerodynamic cabin give ZDX a decisive and powerful appearance, and a fixed glass panel over the rear seat brightens the interior.
The ZDX chassis was tuned to provide a balance of handling precision, road isolation and damping. In front, MacPherson struts team with coil-over springs and forged-aluminum lower control arms for precise handling with generous wheel travel, while hydro-compliance suspension bushings and a front subframe that "floats" on rubber mounts provide road and engine isolation. The ZDX's multi-link rear suspension mounts on a separate steel subframe and employs aluminum uprights for reduced unsprung weight; the coil springs, dampers and anti-roll bar are tuned for firm ride and handling.
The Unit-body chassis measures 192.4 inches long, 78.5 inches wide and 62.8 inches high on a 108.3-inch wheelbase with ground clearance of 7.9 inches unladen and 6.5 inches fully loaded, and ZDX weighs in ( with the Advanced Tech package) at 4462 lbs.
The front-engined all-wheel drive ZDX’s power comes from a transverse-mounted, die-cast lightweight aluminum alloy 24-valve 3.7-liter SOHC VTEC V-6 engine that quietly gallops out 300 horses and 270 lbs-ft of torque. Mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission with sequential sport shift and grade logic control, the system is EPA rated at 16mpg in the city and 23mpg in highway driving. A week of cruising, some city stops and countryside viewing of fall colors achieved an average of 18.6mpg on Premium unleaded fuel.
Track tests showed that ZDX’s electronic fuel ignition, PGM-FI multi-point fuel injection and drive-by-wire throttle system can perform from a stop, as the 2.2-ton luxury crossover dashed from zero to 60mph in 6.5 seconds and glided the quarter-mile in 17.1. On the highway, ZDX performs better at high revs than at low, with quick automatic upshifts, though the engine is not as precise in downshifting.
Speed-sensitive variable power-assist rack-and-pinion steering assist is responsive – not coupe-responsive, but definitely SUV alert. ZDX corners confidently, with very little top-wobble, and the Super Handling-AWD system sends torque to the wheels to eliminate understeer.
ZDX’s 4-wheel anti-lock braking system brakes with electronic brakeforce distribution work well with the Michelin Latitude P255/50R19 all-season tires that cover 19-inch cast aluminum wheels to provide secure stopping.
The cabin is an Acura devotion to luxury and high-tech electronics, though the backseat is cramped and it takes some contortionist action to get in the rear. Interior dimensions measure 38 inches of front headroom with 35.3 inches in row two; legroom is 42.6 in row one and a tight 31.1 in row two, and shoulder room is 59.7 up front and 55.4 in the back seats.
Inside, ZDX shows off a "Monolith" center stack that fades to black when powered off. With seating for five, the leather-trimmed cabin offers a hand-wrapped leather dashboard, center console, door panels and trim, heated, sport-style power actuated driver seat with 10-way adjustability with lumbar support (8-way power seat with 2-way power lumbar support), heated, sport-style passenger front seat with 8-way adjustability and power actuation, Active Sound Control interior noise reduction system, dual-zone, dual-mode synchronized automatic climate control system with air filtration and automatic humidity control system, steering wheel controls and leather-wrapped 3-spoke sport steering wheel with LED-illuminated fingertip controls, driver info system and racing-inspired transmission paddle shifters.
ZDX scores well in safety with such features as advanced compatibility engineering body structure, impact-absorbing front and rear crumple zones, side impact door beams, dual-stage multiple threshold front air bags, front side, side curtain and occupant detection bags and stability and traction controls.
ZDX all-wheel-drive with the advance package and entertainment package comes in at $54,105, but a base version stickers at $32,620 and there are all sorts of combinations in between and dealer incentives and discounts available for an even lower bottom line. Destination and handling adds $860 to the cost.
The 2010 ZDX is NOT a coupe, but it IS a luxury SUV with coupe appeal.
> Visit www.CarlisleEvents.com for more on the automotive hobby.
Mike Blake, former editor of KIT CAR magazine, joined Carlisle Events as senior automotive journalist in 2004. He's been a "car guy" since the 1960s and has been writing professionally for about 30 years.
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