Consider the new ZDX, the first Acura designed and built entirely in North America. We did. Lyra likens it to the king of the mashups, combining the best features of a sedan, sports coupe and SUV into one sporty and contemporary crossover. Peter thinks it's more of a mixup, the latest niche luxury vehicle with an identity crisis.
Appearance: ZDX is a conversation piece. Like its Honda cousin, the Crosstour, the unconventional design has raked roof lines and a rounded back. But the similarities end there. Where the Crosstour is a crossover based on a car chassis (Accord), the ZDX is based on an SUV platform (Acura's MDX) and has higher ground clearance and a stout stance. The rear is much less bulbous than the Crosstour, with a contemporary taillight design and a sculpted dual exhaust. The front is a sharp chiseled arrowhead. The panoramic glass roof gives it a seamless, elongated look.
Performance: The 3.7-liter pumps a lot of power from its V-6, 300 horsepower with 270 pound-feet of torque. With its wide stance, it drives more like a coupe, which, when you get right down to it, is what it wants to be. (Just check out the hidden rear door handles that help give the illusion of a coupe.) The acceleration is immediate and the Super Handling All-Wheel Drive, 19-inch wheels and vehicle stability assist keep the car planted without the body lean common to some crossovers. The driver gets to choose either a sporty or comfortable ride with the Integrated Dynamics System, which alters the programming for suspension and steering. (Lyra likes the sport mode.)
Interior: Acuras have a reputation for simple luxury and the ZDX steps it up with a more contemporary design. The panoramic glass roof brings in a lot of light, making the cabin feel open and airy. Power sunshades can cover both front and rear panels. Our tester came with the technology package, which includes navigation with real-time traffic updates, multiview rear camera and surround sound. We both liked the comfortable, perforated leather seats, which have plenty of bolstering for the front passengers and are heated. Lyra's son had plenty of room for himself and his games and books. Peter's kids also found the rear seats comfortable, but for adults, especially taller ones, it can be cramped. The dash and console wrap around the driver for a sleek cockpit design that includes brushed-aluminum trim. The armrest console is neat, with a tray that can slide out. (When out, it covers a cup holder.)
Our 3 favorites
Blind spot warning: The light is inside the cockpit and easy to see.
Surround sound: Best definition/separation I've heard (when I used the boomer-friendly demo CD).
Exhaust: The tips are designed into the bumper.
Performance: Powerful acceleration and sporty handling with SH-AWD.
Collision mitigation braking: Didn't use it but good to have. Preps car for impact.
Cargo: Power tailgate opens to a carpeted area with hidden bins.
The bottom line: Lyra loved the ZDX even more than her daily driver, an Acura RDX, and found it a blast to drive. Peter liked many of the features, but found it had less utility/cargo room than the Honda Crosstour. Split decision.