By Casey Williams
If you were unencumbered by traditional realms of aesthetics, what would you design? Phillip Johnson imagined a glass house, Frank Lloyd Wright waded through Falling Water, and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe brought Germany’s famed Bauhaus stateside. They pushed the boundaries and changed our perception of home and habitat. Great stylists like Gordon Buehrig, E.T. Gregorie, and Raymond Loewy did the same for automobiles, styling beautiful Duesenbergs, Cords, Lincolns, and Studebakers. Those cars were also engineering marvels — like the Acura ZDX.
Get a load of that rump! Rear views are exotic wide, fabulously chunky, and look like something out of Demolition Man with its Hurst Olds-intimidating twin exhaust outlets and metrosexually body-smooth taillamps. From the front, ZDX looks like any other contemporary Acura with its satin silver shield grille design, cats-eye headlamps, and muscular fenders. The side profile is absolutely fab with a rear-sloping roofline, upturned rear side window, and doorhandles hidden in the window trim. I love the big fat rear fenders with subtle humps to accentuate the beefy 19″ alloy wheels. Take a vision of Sylvester Stalone’s hunky self, shaved smooth, flailing in a transparent freeze tank and you get the idea.
Acura calls the ZDX a four-door sports coupe. Although the car rides crossover high, getting inside is much like crawling aboard a luxurious two-door. You kinda wedge yourself under the steering wheel, careful not to bump your head on the roof. Rear passengers will rehearse their contortionist routines as they shimmy up and behind the doorframe while ducking. Kids can do it better. If you want a big gaping crossover, go buy an RDX or MDX. There’s something intimate and special about riding in the ZDX. LED cabin lighting shines on a gallery of stitched leather dash and door coverings, ultra lovable leather-wrapped steering wheel, and cavernous sculpted center console.
Once inside, you’ll want for nothing. Supportive heated and cooled leather seats seemingly grip all of the way to your groin while treating your lower back brilliantly on long drives. Bluetooth hands-free calling, XM Satellite Radio, USB connectivity for full iPOD integration, and Acura Navigation System with Voice Recognition confirm your arrival in the future. A panoramic glass roof, power tailgate, multi-view rear camera, blind spot warnings, adaptive cruise control, and Collision Mitigating Braking System align all of the electrons and photons for your driving pleasure. Everything feels and smells like a ten-star hotel with enough electronic toys to inspire Best Buy to better good.
If you need extra space for your Louis Vuittons, pop down the rear seats, open the glass dome of a rear hatch, and free up 55.8 cubic ft. Crafty little critters that they are, Acura’s designers created removable side panels in the rear compartment to fit golf bags even with four aboard. Under floor storage works great for smaller objects that you do not want spied.
Acura’s 3.7-litre V6 is a beauty in its own right. Producing 300 horsepower and 270 lb.-ft. of torque, the SOHC aluminum engine moves this fashion show along faster than a caffeine-strung Christian Siriano and hits its stride like Lance Armstrong humping through France. The six-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters seems to read your wishes and shifts on-cue. Fuel economy ratings of 16/23 mpg aspire to V8-powered BMWs, requiring a 21-gallon fuel tank to make substantial progress. Acura might want to put the ZDX on a diet or crib sister Honda’s hybrid tech.
Some of the ZDX’ razzle-dazzle takes place under the drapery. Super Handling All-Wheel Drive™ (SH-AWD), and ample ground clearance for snow and crud, provide excellent all-weather capability. However, Acura goes further by actively shifting torque for an active steering effect and sometimes a rear-power bias for spirited performance. Adding to the fun is the available Integrated Dynamics System (IDS), which connects the four-wheel-independent suspension system to active dampers and speed-sensitive steering for a relaxed demeanor in “Comfort” mode or ripped and ready when switched to “Sport” mode. With the switch, steering becomes more aggressive and the suspension becomes firmer.
Go ahead, deride the ZDX if you must. You might take a glance at Buehrig’s Cord 812 Beverly, Gregorie’s 1940 Lincoln Continental, or Loewy’s Studebaker Avanti before you do. All of those cars were thought of as odd or ugly in their day, were technically advanced, and are now considered works of art. None come close to the engineering barrage brought to bear against the BMW X5, Mercedes ML, or Cadillac SRX. In future’s light, the ZDX flaunts a pretty package. Just be prepared for the $56,855 as-tested sum to melt your kryptonite card.
2010 Acura ZDX Advance
Five-passenger, AWD Crossover
Powertrain: 300-HP 3.7-litre V6,6-speed auto. transmission
Suspension f/r: Ind./Ind
Wheels: 19″/19″ alloy f/r
Brakes: Disc fr/rr with ABS
Must-have feature: Style, finesse
Fuel economy (city/hwy): 16/23-MPG
Manufacturing: Alliston, ON
As-tested price: $56,855
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