2010 Acura ZDX
One could argue that what Acura needs is a really good-looking sedan rather than a really good-looking crossover, but a four-door crossover coupe is what Honda's luxury division has cooked up. It's the first Acura to have been conceived and executed entirely within the confines of the new Acura studio in Torrance, California, which was split off from the Honda studios in California a few years ago in an effort to imbue future Acuras with their own identity. Judging from the ZDX, this was a worthwhile move on the part of American Honda, because the newest Acura, all sinewy and modern, looks terrific. It also represents by far the most successful use of Acura's double-pentagon grille, although one wonders if Acura will ever have a facial identity that is at once attractive and readily identifiable.
In any case, the ZDX prototype that debuted at the New York auto show is nearly identical to the MDX-based production vehicle that will go on sale this October. Exterior designer Michelle Christensen was inspired by the tension and shape in a slingshot that's about to be fired, and she translated this notion into the shape of the roof structure. Seen from above, the roof rails are wide in front, where they form the A-pillars, and are drawn tightly inward as they are pulled taut at the rear of the vehicle. The ZDX's haunches themselves invoke the flanks of a wide-body Porsche 911, which is not bad company to keep. A full-length, panoramic glass roof will be standard.
"The ZDX is a four-door luxury sports coupe," explains the project leader on the exterior design, Damon Schell. "But it is a celebration of the front passengers. We tried very hard to hide the fact that the rear door is even there, hiding the door handles in the C-pillars." Yet since the ZDX is roughly the size of an Infiniti FX, there's room for three passengers in the rear seats or, when the seats are folded down, a decent amount of cargo. Up front, the ultramodern instrument panel is bisected by a cleaned-up version of Acura's T-shaped center stack and is copiously accented in pearlescent white leather. The MDX's 3.5-liter V-6 and all-wheel drive will be standard.
WEAPONS-GRADE: In addition to a slingshot, Acura designers say they were inspired by the motion of a bullet shot through water - the way the ripples affect all of the surfaces around it - when they drew the ZDX.