Review: Acura ZDX is a pricey, compromised car

The Acura ZDX for 2010. (Undated) The Acura ZDX for 2010. (Undated) Photo Credit: Wieck

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The new Acura ZDX tries to do everything but, in the end, does nothing very well.

With its all-wheel drive it tries to be an SUV, but its ground clearance isn't high enough for serious snow, let alone off-roading. It has a hatchback, but its exterior shape consigns it to carrying less cargo than an SUV or station wagon with a comparable footprint. It has four doors and purports to be a sedan, but who needs a sedan with a cramped rear backseat and limited headroom?

It tries to be a coupe too, with its rear door handles cleverly (some would say annoyingly) camouflaged, but it's too tall and too fat to be a coupe. And too porky to be a sporty handler: 4,400 pounds.

All that and it's expensive, too. The $46,305 starting price for the ZDX -- and the tester's sticker price of almost $57,000 -- destroys any remaining practical reason to opt for this model. An MDX, which shares basics, including the engine, with the ZDX, starts $3,000 cheaper.

Power from the ZDX's 3.7- liter six is more than adequate, but the EPA says fuel economy is no better than 23 miles per gallon on highways, and I averaged about 20 mpg in seven days of mostly highway miles. Premium fuel is required.

The ZDX gets a top five-star rating for frontal and side-impact protection from the U.S. government, which lists it as an SUV. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety calls it "good" in frontal crash protection but has no data for side or rear impacts.

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The ZDX has been on sale only since December so there's no owner feedback publicly available yet, but Acuras generally do very well in reliability and owner satisfaction surveys done by Consumer Reports and J.D. Power and Associates.

ZDX options include a blind-spot warning system that acts as a backup for the driver in making safe lane changes and a "collision mitigating" system that alerts the driver if the car is about to crash into something and also begins to lightly brake.

My advice, unless you're smitten by this car: buy an SUV or a sedan or a coupe.

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