2009 New York Auto Show: Baffling Acura ZDX

Consumer Reports News: April 09, 2009 10:43 AM

The latest coupe-like vehicle to baffle me is the Acura ZDX, joining the BMW X6, Mercedes-Benz CLS, and Volkswagen Passat CC in the pantheon of models that compromise head room for style.

I can buy in to the appeal of the ZDX on paper. It’s loaded with high-tech Acura goodness and refinement. Throw in AWD and “versatility,” and it seems appealing.

However, I can’t fathom the showroom sales scenario. A customer drawn in to Acura by their quality reputation would survey the available vehicles. Hard to fault the magnetic draw of the TL, now made more attractive by increased power and available AWD. Then again, for AWD, the slightly larger RL delivers ample luxury. If cargo space and foul-weather traction are key concerns, the MDX SUV can be had in the overlapping $40-$50K price range.

Soon, there will be the ZDX crowding the showroom. So, what is the logic behind choosing it? A customer who wants all the goodness available in the TL and RL, yet not the head room? And if, for some reason, the MDX provides simply too much passenger and cargo space, well, then ZDX is the choice.

The punch line: It will be positioned ABOVE the MDX and still has the buck-tooth grille.

These days, I would be much more excited about a non-turbocharged power plant in the more affordable RDX small SUV, providing a lower price point and avoiding a premium fuel requirement. Seems to me that would boost sales.

Looking across the walkway, the centerpiece in the Honda exhibit is an Element with a dog package. Yes, literally. Introduced for 2003, the Element now with a dog bed was determined by the laudable automaker to be the most significant news for this event.

Oh, how I miss the good old days from just a couple years ago…

--Jeff Bartlett

See Consumer Reports' coverage of the 2009 New York auto show.

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