Acura has many great names in its arsenal, both used and unused. It recently brought back the iconic Integra nameplate, for example, and its history kicked off with the, um, legendary Legend. For the name of its upcoming electric SUV, its first-ever all-electric product, Acura is mining its past—but is digging up a weird fossil indeed: ZDX.
What Is an Acura ZDX?
The ZDX name is somewhat cool-sounding—at least amongst Acura’s “_DX” SUV monikers, including the RDX and MDX—that was previously applied to a single-generation flop, a fastback-styled SUV introduced for 2010 that sold so poorly it lasted only through the 2013 model year.
Now, depending on your point of view, the ZDX was either severely misunderstood and unfairly maligned for its beaky schnoz (Acura’s grille de jour in the naughts), or it deserved to be killed with fire. Proving that not much in life is fair, the original ZDX largely mimicked the coupe-SUV format laid down by the BMW X6 that had arrived two years prior.
Like that Bimmer, the Acura was based on a conventional SUV (an X5 in that case, and the Acura MDX family hauler here) but sported a lower, more hunched profile for some extra visual pizazz and less cargo space. It also came with Acura’s torque-vectoring Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD), though only a middling V-6 engine. BMW’s X6, which could be had with powerful V-8 engines, survived and thrived, even spawning a smaller X4 variant and similar competitors from Mercedes-Benz, Audi, and Infiniti. The ZDX did not.
The ZDX Is Back
Acura’s ZDX is now being given a second lease on life, with the name officially destined for the brand’s new electric SUV. In announcing the name, Acura referred to the upcoming EV SUV as a “performance” model, and added that it will incorporate styling from from the Precision EV concept. While the Precision EV concept connection doesn’t specifically rule out a fastback roofline, we should point out that that show car has a fairly normal overall shape; it similarly eschews any funky detailing like the old ZDX’s pointy grille, though it is festooned with LED lights.
Even greater performance will be available via a promised Type S variant—pictured at top in prototype guise, wrapped in “S” camouflage—which in Acura-speak is the name applied to the highest-performance version of a given model. There are TLX and MDX Type S versions available today, and the sold-out, now-discontinued NSX supercar capped its run with a Type S variant. Looking for an idea of the the ZDX will look like underneath that camo? Acura says the Precision EV concept it debuted at this year’s Monterey Car Week festivities is a good starting point.
We also know the ZDX will be a 2024 model, set to debut either sometime next year or early in ’24 in full production guise. It will borrow GM’s Ultium motor and battery technology at first—just like the mechanically related Honda Prologue due around the same time—with subsequent electric Acura’s utilizing a new global e:Architecture that also will see collaboration with General Motors.
Ironically, the original ZDX was fairly wild-looking, though one of its biggest letdowns was its lackluster powertrain. If Acura were to translate the old ZDX’s visual drama into this decade while delivering satisfying electric punch and appropriate dynamic zest, we think the ZDX name could stick this time around.
This story was originally published August 18, 2022, and has since been updated with some new information and photos from Acura depicting prototypes testing.
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