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The wildly styled Acura ZDX is the Lady Gaga of new cars: out of nowhere, time-warped from the future, icy cool, hard to define, fascinating, gorgeous. And like our Gotham-born little Lady, the ZDX is absolutely, undeniably American.

Ordinarily, the Japanese bosses treat Acura's Yankee designers with a kind of benign condescension, much as a proud owner would treat a beloved poodle. But for whatever reason, the product executives empowered Acura's California design staff and they, in turn, ripped the skin off the ball.

In a season of gene-spliced coupe crossovers such as the BMW X6 and 5-Series GT, the Honda Crosstour and the upcoming Land Rover coupe-crossover, the ZDX is one of the few, maybe the only one, that work as sculpture. Based largely on the MDX — with the trucklet's high ground clearance and all-wheel drive — the ZDX is more than five inches shorter, canopied in a daring, all-glass greenhouse that tapers dramatically toward the back above hindquarters that are right out of the Porsche 911's playbook. As rakish as sling-back hiking boots, the ZDX disguises its four-door conformation with blacked-out roof pillars and concealed rear-door handles (hidden in the rear sail panel). The glowering, visorlike front end suggests a sex android here to devour your bank account. See Lady Gaga, above.

Under the skin, the ZDX features Honda's excellent, turbine-smooth 3.7-liter, 300-hp V-6, new six-speed automatic AWD system, and nineteen-inch alloy wheels. Acura has applied all its usual blandishments to the chassis, wadding the frame with abundant acoustic materials and applying its active noise-cancellation technology in the cabin, which works like the headphones you use on airplanes.

Aside from the styling, the ZDX's other outrage is its value. At a base price of $45,500, the ZDX is handsomely equipped with an all-leather interior, power tailgate and rear camera, iPod and Bluetooth connectivity. At about $56,000, the full-boat ZDX is a tech lover's dream: two-mode dynamics system (with a sport mode for quicker steering and stiffer suspension); adaptive cruise control with collision mitigation; navigation with voice recognition; Elliot Scheiner — brand ten-speaker audio system. The list is long and tempting.

In these deeply troubled times for the domestic auto industry, the ZDX offers a balm to our national vanity and reminds us that American car design can still be one of the nation's great cultural exports.

source: esquire

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