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2024 Acura ZDX Type S first drive review: An auspicious omen

The 2024 Acura ZDX Type S is the brand’s most powerful SUV ever, though there are plenty of other reasons to consider one of these all-electric luxury utility vehicles beyond its instantaneous torque, as convincing as that can be. For a performance-focused model, the Type S is surprisingly livable, offers some industry-leading technology and is even eligible for hefty federal tax credits that make the price tag far more agreeable.

Aside from this model’s potent drivetrain, the reborn ZDX is also Acura’s first EV. As such, it’s an auspicious omen of even better things to come. Dimensionally, this utility vehicle is about the same length as the ever-popular three-row MDX, though the wheelbase is 8-in. greater. A long hub-to-hub span with short front and rear overhangs looks great on any sort of vehicle, SUV or otherwise.

Helping Acura get this vehicle to customers quicker, the ZDX is based on GM’s Ultium platform, the same underpinnings that support the closely related Honda Prologue as well as the Chevy Blazer EV and Cadillac Lyriq. For drivers in the know, the Type S’s shared components are easy to spot, though the company has done much work to make the ZDX look and feel substantially different.

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Based on the exterior design, you’d never guess the ZDX Type S is based on GM’s Ultium platform. Photo credit: Acura

Preventing this utility vehicle from resembling a rebranded Lyriq, designers gave the ZDX Acura-appropriate styling. Up front is a reinterpreted version of the brand’s signature Diamond Pentagon grille, this time, though, it’s completely filled in and highlighted by an illuminated surround. Jewel Eye LED headlamps incorporating chicane-inspired daytime running lamps punctuate the front corners. The ZDX features metallic gray lower-body accents for some visual pop, while the fascias, wheel arches and upper body all received the blackout treatment. Attractive 22-inch wheels are standard, the largest ever fitted to an Acura. You also get self-sealing Michelin all-season tires, though a high-performance wheel and tire package (also with 22-inch rollers) is available for just $1,000 more.

Overall, the ZDX is an attractive vehicle, but so are rivals like the Genesis Electrified GV70, Audi Q8 E-Tron and Mercedes-Benz EQE SUV. This Acura will have to excel in other areas to really set itself apart from these tough competitors, and fortunately, it does.

Inside, the ZDX Type S’s cabin is upscale, well designed and sporty. Three hues are offered: black, white and red. Premium leather, contrast-color stitching and real metal accents up the luxury factor. Type S models also come standard with unique interior badging and 16-way power front seats. Additionally, rear seat passengers get their own climate controls, side glass sunshades and heated outboard cushions.

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The interior is stylish and shockingly comfortable. Photo credit: Acura

Speaking of the ZDX’s backseat, it’s absolutely huge, with loads of space, even for tall passengers. The accommodations are also incredibly comfortable, with plenty of support and a backrest that’s angled rearward slightly more than you might expect.

As for tech, this vehicle features two dashboard displays, an 11-inch digital instrument cluster and an 11.3-inch center touchscreen. Google is built right into this Acura’s infotainment system, which gives you easy access to the Google Play store, Google Assistant and Google maps, which can help with route planning and charging stops. Wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are both included, too.

Another nice touch is the array of physical climate controls that is easy to see and reach. Eagle-eyed drivers, however, are sure to notice this Acura’s GM-sourced window switches, shifter stalk and seat-adjustment buttons. These controls may be shared, but they still work nicely and feel good.

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Inside, you get an 11-inch digital instrument cluster and an 11.3-inch touchscreen. Photo credit: Acura

Overall, the ZDX’s interior is well put together and comfortable, though it isn’t any nicer than what you get in the Electrified GV70, Q8 E-Tron or EQE SUV. Those models all have a slight edge in cabin quality over this Acura.

Where the ZDX holds its ground, however, is in the dynamics department. The Type S is graced with a dual-motor all-wheel-drive powertrains that provides nearly 500 horsepower (technically 499, but let’s round up) and a walloping 544 pound-feet of torque. Engaging sport mode unlocks the drivetrain’s full output, lowers the ride height by 15 millimeters, increases the weight of the steering and sharpens the pedal responses. All of this will get you to 60 mph in less than 5.0 seconds, and the vehicle feels every bit that quick when you get on it.

The Type S leaps off the line, accelerating like an air-to-air missile, but like other EVs, this ZDX does start to feel a tiny bit winded at highway speeds, but practically speaking, you are never, ever wanting for performance in this SUV.

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The Type S rolls on giant 22-inch wheels. Photo credit: Acura

Keeping things on an even keel, there’s a standard height-adjustable air suspension system and performance-tuned adaptive dampers. This hardware provides three ride heights and two damping curves. As mentioned, sport mode lowers the body by 15 mm, while engaging the snow setting increases the ride height by 25 for additional clearance.

Regenerative braking helps slow the vehicle down and recuperate energy that would otherwise be wasted. Several settings are offered, including a one-pedal mode, so drivers can fine-tune this to their liking, though, the pedal is smooth and easy to modulate regardless of what you choose. Of course, friction brakes are still needed, and the ZDX Type S is ready for aggressive driving. There are 15.6-inch front rotors squeezed by six-piston Brembo calipers. The back tires are slowed by 13.6-inch discs.

This Acura’s ride and handling are both excellent. The vehicle isn’t quite as engaging as expected, and a bigger delta between the driving modes would be nice, but overall, this is an exceptionally refined SUV that still knows how to play. The ride quality is smooth and well-controlled, even with large wheels and tires, minimal wind and road noise breach the cabin’s NVH defenses, and the steering is well weighted, giving the ZDX an agile feel.

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The ZDX DC fast charges at up to 190 kW, which is a very good performance. Photo credit: Acura

The AcuraWatch suite of advanced driver aids is standard on every ZDX. This includes a laundry list of amenities like road departure mitigation, lane-keeping assist, adaptive cruise control and much more. The top-shelf Type S trim also comes with AcuraWatch 360+ at no additional cost, which also gets you an automatic parking feature and Hands Free Cruise, essentially a rebranded version of GM’s groundbreaking – and phenomenal – Super Cruise. When engaged, this system automatically controls the steering, braking and acceleration. Hands-free functionality is available on some 400,000 miles of limited-access divided highway.

But how good of an EV is this Acura? In short, it’s excellent. Comprised of Ultium cells, the ZDX’s electron reservoir clocks in at a generous 102 kilowatt-hours. That battery pack also DC fast charges at up to 190 kilowatts, a superb performance. A CCS port is included, but NACS is supported, plus an Acura representative said the ZDX will be able to juice up at Tesla Superchargers within the coming year, which is great news.

As for range, the Type S is rated by the EPA at 278 miles on a full charge, a very good showing for a high-performance SUV. If you want a ZDX with the longest legs possible, consider the rear-drive A-Spec model, which is rated at an impressive 313 miles.

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The ZDX Type S should be available right now. Photo credit: Acura

The 2024 Acura ZDX Type S starts around $75,850 including $1,350 in delivery fees, though, thanks to its shared underpinnings, the vehicle should be eligible for a $7,500 tax credit, which takes a lot of the sting out of that manufacturer-suggested retail price.

Beyond that generous discount, when purchasing or leasing a new ZDX, Acura offers three charging options. You can get a Level 2 home charging station with a $500 installation credit and $100 in public charging credits; you can opt for a portable Level 1/Level 2 combo charger with a $250 installation credit and $300 in public charging credits; or you can get $750 in pre-paid public charging. Drivers can choose the option that best meets their needs.

The 2024 Acura ZDX is a compelling performance-tuned all-electric SUV. The Type S drives well, looks nice, is fundamentally a good EV because of the solid range and quick charging, plus Hands Free Cruise gives this vehicle a huge advantage over rivals. A bit more driver engagement and greater interior differentiation from some of its GM siblings would be appreciated, but Acura has done a fine job with its first EV, which should be available for purchase right now.

Watch our first drive video

Written by Craig Cole

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