A smooth ride, but not a performance EV

Acura has officially launched its very first BEV: the ZDX, and we’re here Electricity was invited to test drive the top-of-the-line S-Line version of the crossover SUV in Montecito, California. Acura has done a lot of things right in its first foray into electrification, but is it worth the performance quality the Honda division is known for? Better yet, is it worth the price tag? You can judge it.

A brief background information about the arrival of the Acura ZDX

It’s been about nine months since Acura unveiled the ZDX to the public during Monterey Car Week last summer. The all-electric ZDX marks a new era for Acura, one the team is quite proud of as the auto industry, including parent company Honda, begins to embrace BEVs.

The crossover is the first all-electric offering from the Honda luxury and performance sub-brand and should not be confused with the combustion fastback of the same name that preceded it many years ago.

During the reveal, we learned that the ZDX would be available in an A-Spec version, complete with single and dual-motor options and a Type S dual-motor trim, including an exclusive ‘Double Apex Blue Pearl’ exterior paint.

In December 2023, Acura opened reservations for the BEV, sharing that the aforementioned A-Spec trim would start at an MSRP of around $60,000 for RWD and around $70,000 for the S-Line.

We got official pricing in January 2024, which was slightly higher than initially promised, unless you count the maximum federal tax credits available in the US, which this model should qualify for. More on that later, but for now we’re going to walk you through the specs of the ZDX S-Line – the model we recently had the pleasure of testing in Santa Barbara and Montecito. Here are some images of the outside.

Experience the Acura ZDX S-Line, inside and out

For starters, the 2024 Acura ZDX comes in three separate trims: RWD and AWD versions of the A-Spec and the top-level AWD S-Line – the variant we tested. All models have the same dimensions: 197.7 inches long, 77 inches wide and 64.4 inches high, with a wheelbase of 121.8 inches.

Each variant also features the same 102 kWh battery pack, but the BEV platform offers somewhat disappointing charging speeds: 10 to 20% in 42 minutes on a DC fast charger. For comparison, here’s how the performance specs break down by trim, including the S-Line.

Acura ZDX trim A-specification RWD A-spec AWD S-Line AWD
Powertrain Single engine Double engine Double engine
Horsepower 358 hp 490 hp 499 hp
Couple 324 lb-ft 437 lb-ft 544 lb-ft
Maximum drag £3,500 £3,500 £3,500
EPA East. Range 313 miles 304 miles 278 miles
DC charge (10 minutes) 81 miles 79 miles 72 miles
Source: Acura

As a premium trim level, the Acura ZDX S-Line also has the $1,000 additional option for 22-inch Berlina black performance wheels and Continental’s 275/40R22 summer tires in place of the standard all-season tires.

Starting on the outside, you’ll notice a wide and tall stance, similar to the Honda Prologue we tested previously, which shares much of the same BEV DNA (much of which comes from GM). Up front, you’ll see a new diamond pentagonal grille that’s illuminated, alongside an Acura badge that’s much more subtle compared to the other models.

The S-Type I drove comes equipped with a Berlina Black lower grille beneath the 3D embossed diamond, as well as a black cab above – perfectly matching the wheel upgrade if you choose.

In the images above you can see “Jewel Eye” LED headlights and metallic gray rails along the wheelbase. I’m not a fan of the gray on the sides as I feel it takes away from the luxury feel that Acura usually tries to achieve.

The ZDX body curves inwards towards the rear to increase aerodynamics, where you’ll find a subtly tuned spoiler and RR diffuser. The result is a crossover BEV with a low center of gravity and near 50/50 weight distribution, creating clean airflow for a smooth and quiet ride.

Next, let’s get to the interior of the Acura ZDX S-Line.

Overall, the inside of Acura’s first all-electric crossover is roomy and comfortable, but by no means exudes luxury. The dashboard components and door trim were high quality and sturdy, but there was still plenty of plastic and other composites present.

These elements were actually quite nice, but they don’t match the price Acura is asking for this BEV, but more on that later. I found the seats very comfortable, and I liked the white leather interior with the S-Line logo embossed into the front headrests – a nice sporty touch.

You know, I always test out the air-conditioned seats, and in the case of the ZDX, I found them adequate. They certainly worked, but after a while I had to check if they were still on. However, I remained calm as a driver and as a passenger, so they got the job done.

The interior of the Acura ZDX features two digital displays: an 11-inch “Digital Gauge Cluster” and an 11.3-inch center screen with Google built-in. It will also be the first Acura car equipped with a Bang & Olufsen audio system, consisting of 18 speakers throughout the cabin – standard on all ZDX grades. That’s certainly a nice touch; the system was booming.

Below the displays, the extra-wide center console provided plenty of room for storing phones, drinks and other belongings, and the storage space underneath is perfect for a handbag or perhaps some snacks. Why not? I would have preferred if the cordless phone charger was on the front near the flat part of the console, rather than vertically in a little nook where you have to slide it into.

The metal sport pedals were a nice touch, but that’s really the only design element in the ZDX that makes it feel sporty. It doesn’t feel luxurious either. So what is it? That’s what I’m having trouble with.

On that note, let’s take a look at my experience driving the Acura ZDX S-Type, shall we?

Driving impressions

To start, I’d like to point out that the 2024 Acura ZDX S-Type comes with four different driving modes: Normal, Sport, Individual and Snow – the latter uses air suspension to raise the vehicle 25mm. I tested three of the four, since there was no snow in central California in April, but I have some thoughts.

First of all, the button to switch between driving modes on the lower dashboard to the left of the steering wheel. I knew where to look after driving the Prologue, but this placement might be better for safe driving. My driving partner and I had trouble finding it and tapping it while behind the wheel without taking our eyes off the road. You have to lean over and reach for it. I would have preferred it as a switch on the steering wheel.

Normal mode was fine, and I thought the regenerative braking was fantastic in this BEV, especially in the highest setting. One-pedal driving is possible, but again, you need to activate a lock mode next to the driving mode button so the vehicle doesn’t creep. Why?

I felt a slight change when switching to Sport mode, but I’d say the average driver really wouldn’t notice it. The dampers provide less vibration, but the electric motor is considerably louder, which adds to the atmosphere; in terms of overall acceleration, I didn’t feel much “oomph” compared to normal mode.

Still, the twin engines provided enough power to easily overtake slower cars (and other journalists) on the highway. I have no problem with the torque and acceleration of mine. I really loved the Acura ZDX’s ADAS features, which it calls “Hands-Free Cruise.” But let’s be honest; it’s just GM’s SuperCruise – it even has a green bar on the steering wheel (a steering wheel very similar to the Blazer EV, mind you) to let you know when the feature is activated.

That said, the hands-free driving worked like a charm, safely changing lanes several times without any issues. You can watch that autonomous magic in my extended video below. The Head-Up Display was also fine. You could clearly see your speed, but there were no other indications such as navigation. Our particular ZDX must have had a sensor problem, because neither the digital gauge nor the HUD could read speed limit signs – that stat stayed blank for the entire drive.

The cluster itself is inherently Acura, but there are many indications that the ZDX is rooted in GM’s design DNA, similar to the Cadillac LYRIQ, Blazer EV and the Honda Prologue. I believe that on many of the design elements, especially the cockpit, Acura’s hands were tied (at least financially) by sticking to the same components and their placement rather than redesigning.

It will be interesting to see what Acura’s successor to the ZDX will look like, assuming it will be a fully custom model. I’m particularly interested in what architecture and ADAS will deliver for Honda as it has now got its beak wet in BEVs.

Overall, I think the ZDX is an excellent start for the brand, but it doesn’t scream 100% Acura, because it really isn’t. I’d classify it as an excellent entry-level BEV, but I fear consumers will opt for more affordable options for the same… or, in some cases, better performance specs. I think pricing will be the most damaging to ZDX’s success in today’s market. Speaking of which…

Pricing, availability, and our video review of the Acura ZDX

The 2024 Acura ZDX is available now for configuration and purchase and starts at the following MSRP:

Acura ZDX trim A-specification RWD A-spec AWD S-Type AWD
Starting recommended price* $64,500 $68,500 $73,500
*Prices do not include $1,350 additional destination charge

What do you think? Would you spend $65,000 for the new Acura ZDX? How about $74,500 for the S-Type with performance wheels? I further summarize my experience with the latest fully electric crossover in the video review below.

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