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This is definitely not a vehicle for the masses. And just how do I know that? People show an immediate passion – good and bad – for the 2012 Acura ZDX.

Judging from the reaction of co-workers, neighbors and a whole bunch of relatives at a recent gathering, the ZDX is a vehicle that elicits an instant opinion.

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It’s the controversial exterior that leaves people with mixed feelings concerning this midsize luxury crossover that Acura unveiled in 2010. The ZDX has a sloping roof line that limits rear visibility, a very lanky length, and features panoramic glass. Some observers feel the style is very cool, while other people loathe its somewhat peculiar hatchback-like appearance.

My nephew, a young man who loves cars, spots me as he walks in the door at the family gathering and immediately says – “So how do you like the rocket ship?” Yet my wife calls it “too odd.” Several female co-workers gave it thumbs down, while the men applaud its creative features. From my informal poll, the generalization is that men like the ZDX and women don’t.

And for the record, I think the quirky-looking exterior is cool. It reminds me a little of the Pontiac Aztek – which I liked as well – but most people hated so much that it only had a four-year life span.

2012 Acura ZDX

  • Performance: 3.7-liter,V6, 300 horsepower
  • Mileage estimate: 16-23 mpg
  • Price: $46,020
  • Warranty: 4 years/50,000 miles; drivetrain 6 years/70,000 miles; roadside assistance 4 years/50,000

The ZDX has other oddities as well. At first glance, one might think this is a sedan. But a closer look finds the door handles for the second row located up high but also easily reachable. Why the door handle placement? Because it’s something different is the best guess.

Acura modeled this crossover SUV after its popular midsize MDX. But it left out some key ingredients, like third-row seating and adequate storage space. The ZDX seats five passengers, yet is designed more like a large hatchback.

Despite its deficiencies, the all-wheel drive ZDX will be applauded by car buyers who want something a little edgy and nonconforming. It has some good upside, notably a great list of standard features, including a panoramic sunroof, good performance, and confident handling.

However, don’t expect the ZDX to have a modest price tag. The vehicle goes for $46,020 and the costs jumps to approximately $56,500 for the loaded model. Gas mileage ranges from 16-23 mpg; so that’s no selling point, either.

The interior has a slick fade-to-black center stack, giving the ZDX a very appealing look. There is leather trim on the dashboard and plenty of extra buttons for this and that, which will appeal to many technology advocates.

What’s not so cool is a cramped backseat that is tight on head room thanks to the sloped rear roof, and it’s a little uncomfortable in regards to leg room for larger adults. The cargo area is limited and requires the backseat to come down for any reasonable space to place larger items.

A 3.7-liter, V6 with 300 horsepower, the ZDX doesn’t have the zippy performance one might expect, thanks to its hefty weight of 4,400 pounds. Yet it seemed quicker than 0-60 mph in 7.3 seconds. In terms of towing, the ZDX is inadequate, hauling up to 1,500 pounds as opposed to a 5,000 capacity by the Acura MDX.

But the ZDX does have better-than-average acceleration in most situations and is capable of transferring levels of power to individual wheels (all-wheel drive, SH-AWD system), which helps maximize both traction and grip through challenging turns and wet weather.

There are lots of upsides to the ZDX. But ultimately the decision to buy or not will hinge on the exterior look. You either like it or you don’t.

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