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Weidel on Wheels: Acura ZDX a hot topic

Unique design breeds quick fans, foes of the mid-size crossover with handling
By: Jeffrey Weidel
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This is definitely not a vehicle for the masses. And just how do I know that? People show an immediate passion — good or bad — for the 2010 Acura ZDX. Judging from the reaction of co-workers, neighbors and even total strangers, the ZDX is a vehicle that elicits an instant opinion. It’s the controversial exterior that leaves people with mixed feelings concerning the ZDX, a mid-size luxury crossover that’s a new offering this year from Acura. The ZDX has a sloping roof line that limits rear visibility, a very lanky length, and features panoramic glass. Some observers feel the style is very cool, while other people loathe its somewhat peculiar hatchback-like appearance. The ZDX has other oddities as well. At first glance, one might think this is a sedan. But a closer look finds the door handles for the second row located up high but also easily reachable. Why the door handle placement? Because it’s something different is the best guess. Acura modeled this crossover after its mid-size MDX. But it left out some key ingredients, like third-row seating and adequate storage space. The ZDX seats five passengers, yet is designed more like a compact sport utility vehicle than a mid-size one. Despite its deficiencies, the ZDX will be applauded by car buyers who want something a little edgy and nonconforming. It has some good upside, notably a long list of standard features, good performance, and confident handling. However, don’t expect the ZDX to have a modest price tag. Available in three trims, the base model goes for $45,495, while the price tag jumps to just over $56,000 for the loaded ZDX. Gas mileage ranges from 16 to 23 miles per gallon. The interior has a slick fade-to-black center stack, giving the ZDX a very appealing look. There is leather trim on the dashboard and plenty of extra buttons for this and that, which will appeal to many technology advocates. What’s not so cool is a cramped backseat that is tight on both head and legroom. The cargo area is limited and requires the backseat to come down for any reasonable space to place larger items. A 3.7-liter, V-6 engine with 300 horsepower, the ZDX doesn’t have the zippy performance one might expect, thanks to its hefty weight of 4,400 pounds. But it does have capable acceleration in most situations and is capable of transferring levels of power to individual wheels, which helps maximize both traction and grip through challenging turns and wet weather. __________ 2010 Acura ZDX Price:$45,495 Power:3.7-liter, V-6 engine with 300 horsepower Mileage estimate: 16 mpg city; 23 mpg highway Standard features include: All-wheel drive; automatic xenon headlights; heated outside mirrors; a panoramic sunroof; back-up camera with a rearview mirror display; leather-wrapped multifunction steering wheel; dual-zone automatic climate control; heated eight-way power front seats; leather seat upholstery; eight-speaker stereo, in-dash six-CD changer, satellite radio, auxiliary audio jack; stability control