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Auto review: Behind the wheel of the Acura ZDX Type S, a high-powered, GM-charged EV

Henry Payne, The Detroit News on

Published in Automotive News

SANTA BARBARA, California — I pulled to the brief left passing lane on California Route 154 and — ZOT! — my 2024 Acura ZDX Type S tester exploded past a line of slower traffic down the Santa Ynez Mountains north of Santa Barbara. Merging into heavy Route 101 traffic along the coast, the ZDX’s Hands-Free Cruise system took over and I sipped a can of iced tea while riding hands-free at 70 mph. On the screen, I tapped the nearest fast charger and Google Built-In took me eight miles to an Electrify America station in tony downtown Santa Barbara.

Electric vehicles’ niche is the luxury market, and Acura’s first EV has found the sweet spot with its swashbuckling, high-tech $75,000 Type S entry. Call it the Type Sweet Spot.

Like its sister Honda Prologue, this is new territory for Acura. The brand captured American hearts in the 1990s with the Acura Integra Type R (Type S nameplate predecessor), a nimble, Honda Civic-based driver-centric pocket rocket that turned heads in town and turned on a dime on country roads. Forty years later and Honda-Acura is on a new mission to go all-electric — dovetailing with government mandates that will ban new internal combustion car sales here in California by 2035.

But EVs have flipped Acura’s marketing script. The giant 102 kWh battery the ZDX Type S requires to give you goosebumps carries an equally giant price tag. So Acura’s first performance EV — unlike its first performance ICE — is aimed at the upper-crust LA suburbs, not gritty LA parking lots where Acura tuners gather for weekend autocrosses in their Integra gas-burners.

The ZDX is more muscle car than pocket rocket.

Tipping the scales at over 6,000 pounds (nearly 1,600 pounds more than a similarly sized Dodge Charger R/T Scat Pack, and 1,200 pounds more than a gas MDX Type S SUV), ZDX is a rocket ship in a straight line like a Charger. The grunt suits Acura’s performance vibe, and Type S is a very different animal than the more domesticated 85-kWh battery Honda Prologue EV.


That muscle-car girth makes this a different Type S than the icons before it. Not far from Santa Barbara last year, I tested the Integra Type S and wrung its neck through the spaghetti roads of Oija, leaving sport bikes in the dust. We laid rubber marks across the landscape like Roadrunner and Wile E. Coyote.

The luxurious, air suspension-clad ZDX is an ocean liner next to Integra through the curvy stuff, its three tons apparent. Drive the Integra Type S daily (or any of if its MDX or TLX siblings) and you’ll make the occasional two-minute stop at a gas station to fill up its 367-mile range tank. Drive the 278-mile-range ZDX Type S and you’ll make more regular 15-minute stops at supercharger watering holes like the busy, four-stall Electrify America charger in Santa Barbara where I stopped in — adding 100 miles in 17 minutes.

While I charged, other EVs — a Hyundai Ioniq 5, Lexus RZ, VW ID.4, Porsche Taycan — hustled in and out, topping up for 10-15 minutes to complete their daily chores. The Porsche driver unloaded on EA as we waited — complaining the charger never achieves the advertised 350 kW charge, and he’s had a regular dialogue with the company to get the chargers to work properly.

I, too, was delayed an extra 10 minutes calling EA to wake my buggy charger. No wonder brands like Acura are rushing to adopt Tesla’s reliable charging network with plug adapters.


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