Acura ZDX S-Line first drive: A smooth, comfy ride, but it doesn’t scream ‘performance EV’ [Video]

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Acura has officially launched its first-ever BEV – the ZDX, and we at Electrek got the invite to Montecito, California, to test drive the top-tier S-Line trim of the crossover SUV. Acura did many things right in its first venture into electrification, but is it worthy of the performance grade the Honda division is known for? Even more, is it worth the price tag? You be the judge.

A quick background on the arrival of the Acura ZDX

It has been about nine months since Acura unveiled the ZDX to the public during Monterey Car Week last summer. The all-electric ZDX kicks off a new era for Acura, one that its team is quite proud of as the automotive industry, including its 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 by the same name that preceded it many years ago.

 During its unveiling, we learned the ZDX would be available in an A-Spec version, complete with single—and dual-motor powertrain options and a dual-motor Type S trim that includes an exclusive “Double Apex Blue Pearl” exterior paint.

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

By January 2024, we got official pricing, which was a bit higher than initially promised unless you include 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 run you through the specs of the ZDX S-Line – the model we got the chance to test out recently around Santa Barbara and Montecito. Here are some images of the exterior.

Experiencing the Acura ZDX S-Line, inside and out

To begin, the 2024 Acura ZDX arrives in three separate trims: RWD and AWD versions of the A-Spec and the top-tier AWD S-Line—the variant we tested out. All models are the same size—197.7 inches long by 77 inches wide and 64.4 inches tall, with a wheelbase of 121.8 inches.

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

Acura ZDX Trim A-Spec RWD A-Spec AWD S-Line AWD
Powertrain Single Motor Dual Motor Dual Motor
Horsepower 358 hp 490 hp 499 hp
Torque 324 lb-ft 437 lb-ft 544 lb-ft
Max Towing 3,500 lbs 3,500 lbs 3,500 lbs
EPA Est. Range 313 miles 304 miles 278 miles
DC Charge (10 mins) 81 miles 79 miles 72 miles
Source: Acura

As the premium trim level, the Acura ZDX S-Line also has the $1,000 add-on option for 22-inch Berlina black performance wheels and 275 / 40R22 summer tires from Continental instead of the standard all-seasons.

Starting with the exterior, you’ll notice a wide and long stance, similar to the Honda Prologue we previously tested, that shares many of the same BEV DNA (much of which came from GM). Starting with the front, you’ll notice a new diamond pentagon grille that is illuminated, alongside an Acura badge that is much more subtle compared to its 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 upper cabin – perfectly matching the wheel upgrade if you opt in on it.

You’ll notice “Jewel Eye” LED headlights and metallic gray runners along the wheelbase in the images above. I am not a fan of the gray on the sides, as I feel it takes away from the luxury feel Acura usually tries to achieve.

The ZDX body curves inward toward the rear to increase aerodynamics, where you’ll find a subtle tuned spoiler and RR diffuser. The result is a crossover BEV with a low center of gravity and near 50/50 weight distribution, creating a clean exit flow of air that equates to a smooth and quiet ride.

Next, let’s move into the interior of the Acura ZDX S-Line.

Overall, the inside of Acura’s first all-electric crossover is roomy and comfortable, but it by no means screams luxury. The dash components and door trims were 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 point Acura is asking for this BEV, but more on that in a bit. I found the seats very comfortable, and I liked the white interior leather with the S-Line logo embossed in 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 definitely worked, but after a while, I had to check and see if they were still on. However, I remained cool as both a driver and a passenger, so they got the job done.

Acura ZDX’s interior 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 vehicle equipped with a Bang & Olufsen audio system, consisting of 18 speakers throughout the cabin – standard on all ZDX trims. That’s a nice touch for sure; the system was boomin’.

Beneath the displays, the extra-wide center console offered plenty of room for storing phones, drinks, and other belongings, and the storage below is perfect for a purse or perhaps some snacks. Why not? I would have preferred the wireless phone charger to be up front near the flat part of the console instead of vertical in a little nook you have to shove 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 also doesn’t feel luxurious either. So what is it? That’s where I struggle.

On that note, let’s dig into my experience driving the Acura ZDX S-Type, shall we?

Driving impressions

To begin, I want to point out that the 2024 Acura ZDX S-Type comes with four different drive modes: Normal, Sport, Individual, and Snow – the latter of which utilizes air suspension to raise the vehicle 25mm. I tested three of the four, as there was no snow in the middle of California in April, but I have some thoughts.

First of all, the button to switch between drive modes on the lower dash to the left of the steering wheel. I knew where to look for it after driving the Prologue, but this placement could be better for safe driving. My driving partner and I struggled to find and tap it while behind the wheel without taking our eyes off the road. You sort of have to lean over and reach for it. I would have preferred to have it as a toggle on the steering wheel.

Normal mode was completely fine, and I found the regenerative braking to be superb in this BEV, especially at its highest setting. One-pedal driving is possible, but again, you must activate a lock mode next to the drive mode button so the vehicle doesn’t creep. Why?

I felt a slight shift when switching to Sport mode, but I would argue the average driver really wouldn’t notice. The dampers offer less vibration, but the electric motor is significantly louder, adding to the ambiance; in terms of overall acceleration, I didn’t feel much “oomph” compared to regular mode.

Still, the dual motors provided plenty of power to easily overtake slower cars (and other journalists) on the highway. I have no qualms with the torque and acceleration from me. I truly loved the Acura ZDX’s ADAS functions, which it calls “Hands-Free Cruise.” Let’s be honest, though; it’s just GM’s SuperCruise – it even has the green bar on the steering wheel (mind you, a wheel that closely resembles the Blazer EV) to let you know when the feature is activated.

That said, the hands free driving worked like a charm and safely switched lanes on its own several times without issue. You can view that autonomous magic in my comprhensive video below. The Head Up Display was fine too. You could clearly see your speed, but there were no other prompts such as navigation. Our particular ZDX must have had a sensor issue because the neither the digital gauge nor the HUD could read speed limit signs – that metric remained blank during the entire drive.

The cluster itself is inherently Acura, but there is much evidence that the ZDX is rooted in GM’s design DNA, similar to the Cadillac LYRIQ, Blazer EV, and the Honda Prologue. I believe that in a lot of the design elements, particularly the cockpit, Acura’s hands were tied (at least financially) to stick with the same components and their placement rather than do redesigns.

It will be interesting to see how Acura’s follow-up to the ZDX will look, assuming it will be a completely bespoke model. I’m particularly interested in learning what architecture and ADAS Honda will deliver as it has now gotten 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 would classify it as an excellent beginner-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 detrimental to ZDX’s success in the current market. Speaking of which…

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

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

Acura ZDX Trim A-Spec RWD A-Spec AWD S-Type AWD
Starting MSRP* $64,500 $68,500 $73,500
* Prices do not include additional $1,350 in destination fees

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

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