By Joe Tralongo, Contributing Editor - Updated Date: 6/20/2012
Acura's 2012 ZDX sport crossover is a difficult car to justify. Its sharply-sloped back and aggressive front end are meant to impart a coupe-like stance, while its four doors and rear liftgate speak to a more utilitarian side. Unfortunately, the Acura ZDX crossover doesn't really pull either image off very well. It's not very coupe-like, and its roof design translates to a severe lack of rear-seat head and legroom. We might be able to forgive these transgressions if there was some performance benefit waiting at the other end of the push-button ignition, but its V6 engine doesn't have what it takes to really thrill, leaving us to suggest that unless you're totally enamored by this ZDX's looks, you might want to look elsewhere.You'll Like This Car If...
If you're looking for a unique shape that stands apart from the mundane, but you also covet the peace of mind of Acura's reliability and engineering expertise, the 2012 Acura ZDX might just be your cup of tea.You May Not Like This Car If...
If you're seeking a sporty, coupe-like sedan with all-wheel-drive, you might look to the Audi A7 or even just a nice Land Rover Evoque. Those seeking a crossover utility vehicle that can tow 5,000 pounds or comfortably fit three in the backseat won't find it in the 2012 Acura ZDX.What's New for 2012
There are no major changes for the 2012 Acura ZDX.Driving It Driving Impressions
From a handling standpoint, there is much to like about the way Acura's 2012 ZDX rounds corners. The steering is tight and communicative and the suspension cautiously straddles the line between a compliant ride and athletic performance. The Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) system aids in the ZDX's ability to round tight turns with confidence, seamlessly shifting power to the tires with the best grip; SH-AWD is also quite nice to have when the roads are covered with snow and ice. Alas, some of the fun is taken out of the mix when it comes to acceleration. While the 3.0-liter V6's 300 horsepower and 270 lb-ft of torque look good on paper, the combo just isn't enough to move the 4,400 pound ZDX with much gusto. Helping matters a bit is Acura's excellent 6-speed automatic with steering-wheel paddle shifters. This transmission is responsive and smooth and definitely fun to play with when the road gets twisty.Favorite Features
INTEGRATED DYNAMICS SYSTEM
The available Integrated Dynamics System (IDS) uses magnetically-controlled active dampers to stiffen the suspension when needed, or create a smoother luxury-car ride. A control knob in the center console allows the driver to choose between Sport and Comfort modes.
ACURA/ELS 10-SPEAKER PREMIUM AUDIO
Part of the Technology Package, this audio system includes a 435-watt amp, 10-speaker Surround Sound, 15-GB hard drive, DVD-audio, XM satellite radio, Bluetooth, USB/iPod integration and an auxiliary audio input jack.
Despite the numerous controls, the Acura ZDX's sophisticated-looking dash is actually quite easy to figure out. An LCD view screen displays the optional navigation as well as the rear backup camera, and the instrument cluster includes large, legible gauges bathed in a soothing blue light. Seating up front is first rate, with tall sport seats that hold the body tightly during aggressive driving. The rear seats, however, are far from welcoming, with little legroom and even less headroom. The wide cargo floor can be expanded by folding down the rear seats but the extreme angle of the liftgate obliterates all vertical cargo space.Exterior
The 2012 Acura ZDX looks like nothing else on the road, which is exactly what Acura intended. The silhouette is designed to evoke a coupe-like profile, but there is something that gets in the way. Maybe it's the tall ride height. Black panels run the length of the roof and back onto the liftgate, the front two concealing a panoramic sunroof. In a nod to maintaining the coupe theme, Acura has recessed the rear door handles into the rear door's upper corners, thus keeping the side sheet metal clean and unbroken.Notable Standard Equipment
Standard on every 2012 Acura ZDX is a 3.7-liter V6 engine, 6-speed automatic transmission, SH-AWD, dual-pane glass sunroof, 19-inch alloy wheels, HID headlamps, power-operated rear liftgate, 10-way power driver and 8-way power passenger seat, auto-dimming rearview mirror with integrated rear backup camera display, heated front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, Active Sound Control sound canceling, AM/FM stereo with 253-watt amp and 8 speakers including a subwoofer, Bluetooth, USB/aux input, cruise control and a power tilt/telescopic steering wheel. Standard safety equipment includes electronic traction and stability control, front-seat side and full-length side-curtain airbags.Notable Optional Equipment
For 2012, Acura has paired the ZDX's options into two well-equipped packages. The Technology Package brings the 10-speaker Acura/ELS premium sound system, voice-activated navigation with rear backup camera, GPS-linked solar-sensing tri-zone automatic climate control, keyless access and push-button start and upgraded perforated Milano leather seating. The Advanced Package includes the Technology Package plus Integrated Dynamics System (IDS) active dampers, Adaptive Cruise Control, Collision Mitigation Braking System, Blind Spot Information System, ventilated and heated front seats and auto-leveling headlamps.Under the Hood
To power its 2012 ZDX sport crossover, Acura looked to the MDX's 3.7-liter V6. This engine has good power reserves but doesn't provide the kind of immediate rush felt with a big V8. Still, the trade-off for using a V6 is usually better fuel economy but, in the case of the ZDX, the numbers really don't add up.
300 horsepower @ 6,300 rpm
270 lb-ft of torque @ 4,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 16/23 mpg
The manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP) for the 2012 Acura ZDX starts around $47,000 and can climb as high as $58,000 with the Advanced Package tacked on. The public hasn't exactly flocked to the ZDX, and the Kelley Blue Book Fair Purchase Price reflects this in its noticeably lower sales price (sometimes by as much a $5,000). Making things more difficult for Acura are the many competitors in this price range that offer more power and more interior room, not to mention better resale. In this price range, buyers can shop the Lexus RX, Cadillac SRX and the Land Rover Evoque. For about $10,000 more, the BMW X6 is within grasp. As for resale, the ZDX does not hold up as well as other Acura products, with five-year projected resale figures well below the Cadillac SRX, BMW X6 and Lexus RX, but on par with the Mercedes-Benz GLK.