What is it? You might ask the same thing at first sight of the 2010 Acura ZDX, another of the recent rash of coupe like crossover vehicles. Acura calls the 2010 ZDX “one of a kind,” but it’s reaching the market a year or so after the BMW X6, the vehicle that pioneered this late, odd turn in SUV history. Like the BMW X6 and the new BMW 5-Series Gran Turismo before it, the 2010 ZDX attempts to blend the all-weather capability of an SUV with the gentler ride and handling of a crossover and the sexed-up fender swells of a coupe. On sale this winter for about $42,500 base, the new ZDX slots between the Acura RL sedan and its big seven-passenger MDX crossover.
Inspired by a “passionate getaway,” the ZDX shares some mechanicals with the big MDX crossover, but gets a coupe like body more suited to its seductive mission. There are bits and pieces that work well-the rear end has a muscular appeal, and the side view does all it can to convince you it’s a coupe. Up front, the big, controversial Acura shield grille gets its most attractive installation yet. But there’s something about this class of vehicles that just doesn’t work; the sides stand too tall to be a real coupe, and the roofline crashes too quickly to be a true SUV. On top of that, the ZDX has lots of cut lines on its side that disappear with dark paint colors, along with bumps in its fenders that disrupt the visual flow to the tapered rear end. The cabin has a more dramatic flair inspired by destination hotels, with alternating concave and convex surfaces in plastic and real leather-but also a stark, monolithic center stack of black keys that “come to life” with white lighting when the car starts. It’s like waking an angry LED god; when it’s lit, the ZDX’s dash goes gonzo with functions, screens, and a big center knob that make a recording studio look a Playskool toy. There’s lovely French stitching and touches of wood as well as some compelling exoskeletal surfaces, but by and large the ZDX ditches function for form to the point of distraction.