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Was the Acura ZDX Just Too Early?

I still remember when the Acura ZDX launched back in 2009, for the 2010 model year. Virtually everyone in the car industry hated it and thought it was a total joke — effectively an MDX for the same money that was ugly and far less practical. Somehow, it soldiered on for four model years before Acura canceled it due to meager sales and almost no buyer interest.

That was then, but now, 10 years later, something interesting is happening: the Acura ZDX is starting to feel like a trendsetter. In the years since the ZDX went away, several automakers have developed similar "sloping back" crossovers that provide a more special, coupe-like profile than a traditional SUV. Yes, sure, the BMW X6 was the very first vehicle to do this when it debuted for the 2008 model year, but the ZDX came next and it was laughed off the market. Now it’d be one of many.

Consider, for example, Mercedes-Benz, which has launched "sloping roof" versions of its compact GLC crossover and its midsize GLE crossover — the sloping versions of which Mercedes-Benz refers to as "coupes." BMW followed up the X6 with a new model for the 2015 model year, and later added a smaller X4 to the range. And the trend of sportier, more stylish versions of "regular" SUVs continues elsewhere with vehicles like the Audi Q8 and the Range Rover Velar and Evoque.

In short, I think the ZDX got a bit of a raw deal with all the criticism it received — and not just by everyone else, but by me, too. I still think the "coupe SUV" segment is a bizarre one, and I personally am not interested in such a vehicle — but there’s clearly a market for it, and it seems Acura may have understood that market before virtually anyone else. Now, of course, Acura would be way too afraid of a second failure to roll out a vehicle like the ZDX, but it’s plain to see now that when we were all making fun of the ZDX back then, it was actually ahead of the curve. I never thought I’d be saying that about the ZDX 10 years later.

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