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By Tim Yip, Postmedia News
Friday Sept 3rd, 2010 -- Saskatoon TheStarPhoenix.com
Acura jumps into the sporty crossover SUV market with the ZDX, an all-new model for 2010.
Whether you see the ZDX as a sleek Eurostyle four-door hatchback, sporty crossover SUV, or a confused stationwagon, the Acura's style is definitely unique.
Like its lower-priced corporate sibling, the Honda Accord Crosstour, and upscale competitor, the BMW X6, the ZDX has a sloped rear window/hatchback giving it a sporty, coupe-like profile.
The Acura announces its presence to oncoming drivers with its distinctive V-shaped "shield" front end, accented by twin, elongated trapezoidal grilles with fog lights in the lower fascia.
The V theme and bright, trapezoidal trim around the dual exhaust outlets of the high rear end subtly repeats the design of the nose. Set off by attractive seven-spoke, 19-inch wheels, the ZDX's design comes across as an appropriately luxurious, elegant vehicle, and design-wise, is much more successful than the Honda Crosstour.
The ZDX is priced one notch higher than Acura's best-selling MDX SUV, and its interior appointments are appropriately sumptuous. The front of the cabin feels commodious and the tall roofline provides plenty of headroom.
The standard equipment panoramic moonroof gives the interior a light, airy ambience. Leather-clad seats (heated front), power tailgate, power sunshade, dual-zone climate control and standard rear-view camera are only a few of the many appointments that places this Acura solidly in the luxury ranks.
Accommodations for rear seat passengers are similarly luxurious. The outboard seats are heated, legroom is plentiful and the panoramic moonroof glass extends to allow second-row passengers a generous sky view.
The only chink in the ZDX's armour is the sloped roofline, which cuts the headroom, making entering and exiting the Acura's back seat slightly inconvenient for adults. Granny should definitely be assigned preferred seating at the front.
Driving the ZDX takes some getting used to. Although its dimensions are similar to the BMW X6, the Acura"drives big".
Unlike some large vehicles that are easy to drive right off the bat (the Ford F-150 Raptor pickup truck comes to mind), this Acura is disconcerting at first.
Those bulging front fenders are out of sight, and that coupe-y roofline and C-pillar design conspire to block sight lines, making the view to the rear less than ideal.
Once underway, this luxury crossover is a quiet, rolling Cone of Silence. (Baby-boomers will get this reference; the rest of you will have to Google it.) Acura employs Active Noise Cancellation -- sound frequencies that cancel out road noise -- as well extra insulation to isolate the cabin from noise and vibration.
Having recalled my unhappy experience testing the Honda Crosstour earlier this year, I didn't expect to like the ZDX's handling. Compared to the bloated-driving Crosstour, the ZDX is precise, planted and significantly nimbler. Let's chalk up the Acura's superior body control and handling finesse to its Super Handling All-Wheel-Drive system and 19- inch wheels.
The AWD uses electronic sensors to monitor speed and corner tightness and responds by splitting torque front-to-rear and left-to-right. It's capable of sending up to 70 per cent of power to the rear wheels and up to 100 per cent of available rear power to the faster-turning outside wheel and lower profile tires.
Overall, this is one mid-sized crossover that feels relatively light on its feet and surprisingly responsive when it comes to quick driving in the twisty bits.
Suspension compliance is good and readily insulates occupants from nasty pavement surfaces. The Acura's steering, while precise, suffers from a slightly over-boosted power assist, resulting in less feedback to the driver.
The ZDX offers all-season performance capabilities with all-wheel drive, more flexible cargo carrying capacity than a sedan and handling that's biased more towards sport sedan than your run-of-the-mill luxury people/cargo hauler.