"Man maximum, machine minimum." That's a phrase I learned last fall when I had the privilege of touring Honda's R&D headquarters in Wako, Japan. It's a core Honda design philosophy exemplified by cars like the Fit, a 2600-pound subcompact capable of hauling so much stuff that the EPA is compelled to classify it as a "small station wagon."
It's in this context that I'm having a whole heap of trouble understanding and accepting the ZDX, a 4419-pound, 300-hp car/crossover thing that has two feet less cargo volume than the Fit. The ZDX is hardly the first or the worst offender in this nonsensical new segment, but once again, we're talking about Honda. This is the company that politely passed on the entire body-on-frame, V-8 SUV explosion in the late 90s. What happened?
OK, deep breath. Troubling as it is for Honda's true believers, the ZDX has plenty of merits. As Jean noted, the vehicle itself is quite attractive. It's the first Acura that really pulls off the new angular design language. The interior clearly represents a considerable investment, with beautiful leather and impeccable fit and finish, though I'd still like to see more advanced telematics. Short folks like myself will have a difficult time climbing into the vehicle without mucking up their pant legs on the wide, tall door sill. Dynamically, the vehicle is hard to fault, and indeed has the same magical capability as BMW's car/crossover things (I don't know what else to call them). The 3.7-liter V-6 is as smooth as ever, steering is nicely weighted, and the suspension, which is set in "sport" mode via a satisfying knob, allows not a lick of body roll.
The ZDX will likely make a better impression on all of us when the roads thaw and we're able to really appreciate its athleticism. But even then, it will be a difficult vehicle to rationalize from a company that has long made a virtue of rationality.
David Zenlea, Assistant Editor