Depreciation Appreciation: 2010-2013 Acura ZDX

Welcome to Depreciation Appreciation! Every month, your pals at autoTRADER.ca dig up an instance of how depreciation can make for an extraordinary used car deal.

This month, something completely different. No, really.

Last month, we looked at the Bentley Continental GT, and how today, you can pick one up for under $40,000, all day long.

Thing is, like so many of the unique and stunning vehicles available for relatively reasonable money in the used market we feature in this monthly column, buying a used Bentley Continental GT comes with the very real possibility that you’ll have to deal with some wallet-crippling repair and maintenance costs.

Today’s vehicle is nearly as rare on Canadian roads, nearly as big of a head-turner for its uniquely distinctive looks, and unlike last month’s Bentley (and many models highlighted here before it), should prove relatively sensible and affordable to run.

The vehicle in question is the 2010–2013 Acura ZDX. And, in case you’ve forgotten about this machine (a possibility), here’s the sticky: this MDX-based crossover from Honda’s premium division was labelled a “four-door luxury sports coupe” and launched primarily to compete with the BMW X6.

Unfortunately, it was a relative sales flop that was killed off after just a few years. Hence the rarity.

The Sticky

Acura said the ZDX intended to blur the lines between a coupe, sedan, and SUV. The resulting appearance wasn’t everyone’s bag of Tostitos, but the ZDX did manage to give Acura shoppers after something unique and distinctive a refreshing new option.

The ZDX hung in there, but was handed a pink slip after four model years due to low sales. With about 7,000 of the Ontario-built units sold on our side of the world, this is one of the rarest modern Acura models out there on this side of affordability.

Accordingly, this means that your investment in a used ZDX will see you at the wheel of a one-off luxury utility vehicle that’s family-ready, winter-ready, and built by a brand known for high quality, high safety ratings, high residual values, and strong reliability. Add in the fact that you’ll almost definitely have the only one in town, and a used ZDX gives you all the exclusivity and uniqueness you can handle – along with running costs you can probably handle, too.

Feature content included push-button start, climate-controlled seats, navigation, automatic climate control, a power tailgate, a panoramic sunroof, advanced radar-guided safety systems, the ELS audio system, high-output lighting, an all-leather interior, and more. Look for a 3.7-litre V6 with 300 horsepower on all models, as well as an automatic transmission with paddle-shift, and SH-AWD.

Approximate New Value

Acura launched their ZDX with a $56,000 base price tag, which tickled $60,000 with the addition of the Tech package. Various model line, equipment, and pricing revisions intended to keep sales of the ZDX moving, and saw this machine hover around the $56,000 mark for most of its life.

Approximate Used Value

Today, this rarest of family-ready Acura models comes in from under $20,000 all day long in the used marketplace, with even lower-mileage, pristine copies coming in from the low twenties. For instance, this unit has 85,000 kilometers on the dial, includes all of ZDX’s popular features, and is available for $20,000. On the higher side of the used pricing spectrum, this 2011 with Tech Package offers low miles and comes with a $25,000 asking price.

Two notes. First, shop patiently, as the rarity of this model means selection is fairly limited. In fact, at writing, the autoTRADER.ca listings showed just 10 units available for sale across Canada.

Second, note that while the actual depreciation on this machine isn’t as extreme as some examples we’ve seen here, the ZDX’s strong reputation for reliability, trouble-free operation and high safety ratings adds plenty of value for the used shopper who smells what the ZDX is cooking.

Translation? A healthy used ZDX will prove a worthy investment for those who want to drive something that almost nobody else drives, but who don’t want to live in fear of maintenance and repair costs while doing it.

Test Drive Tips

Read this not once, not twice, but thrice: Acura or not, the way the ZDX was cared for and maintained by past owners is a more important factor towards its long-term reliability than the badge on the hood. Acura is known to build some solidly reliable luxury vehicles, though poor treatment by past owners, or a failure to properly maintain and service the vehicle, can toss all of that reliability right out the window.

Accordingly, be smart: understand that the Acura badge doesn’t make the ZDX reliable, but that proper maintenance and care does. Accordingly, seeking out a model with full service records is ideal for maximum peace of mind. A pre-purchase inspection (PPI) by an Acura technician is also strongly advised, as this can reveal numerous issues that may not otherwise be detectable on a test drive.

On a test drive, start with a check of all electronic systems and pay close attention to the power seats and their memory function, the seat heaters and coolers, the navigation system, climate-control system, and the power tailgate. Check each of these, and do it more than once. Though far from systematic, several complaints with failure of these systems have surfaced over the years.

The sophisticated SH-AWD system appears reliable – though it is a mechanical system that could leak or fail without proper maintenance. Note that a chattering or binding sensation from the rear end when cornering (especially sharply and slowly) could indicate worn out clutches or contaminated fluid within the SH-AWD system.

You’ll also want to ensure all fluid changes are up to date, pre-emptively changing transmission fluid, differential oil and coolant if you aren’t positive of how well the seller stuck to the ZDX’s service needs. Your Acura dealer’s service manager can quickly familiarize you with the maintenance requirements during a pre-purchase inspection. If you’ll give your used ZDX a pre-emptive fluid change and tune-up upon purchase (which is a great idea, by the way), be sure to use only the factory-specified fluids and filters. Having the work performed at an Acura dealer is likely best.

Also, be absolutely positive to determine where the ZDX’s timing belt is within its service life. The all-important timing belt is a part you change before it wears out. If it fails, it’ll probably turn the engine into a boat anchor, costing you thousands of dollars. Ask the seller when the belt was changed last. If the belt is overdue for a change, you’ll want to call this into the pricing negotiations. A timing belt change can run $1,000 (still way cheaper than a new engine), so don’t take this lightly.

Finally, note that unwanted rhythmic and pronounced ticking from the engine (audible at idle with the hood open), or hard shifting or slipping from the transmission, should be investigated by a technician before you buy. These rare warning signs of potentially serious problems may be good reason to move to another unit, too.

Verdict

A well-maintained and well-serviced ZDX that doesn’t exhibit any of the potential trouble signs listed above can be bought with relative confidence – and will allow owners to enjoy a rare combination of exclusivity and low ongoing running costs for years to come.

A reliable and ultra-rare crossover for under $20,000! 1/10/2019 8:00:00 AM