Category Archives: Living With It Reviews

Living With It Review- 2010 Acura ZDX SH-AWD Advance

A few weeks ago I traded my 2012 Mazda3 for this 2010 Acura ZDX from a dealership I work for. Some of the things I considered in the commitment for this new vehicle were:

1- Luxury Accomodations

Part of my decision to purchase this vehicle was because I wanted some luxury car features such as Navigation, Reverse camera, high quality surround sound system, adaptive cruise control, leather and a nicer badge to brag about. This Acura has every option from the factory and during it’s production was Acura’s flagship- this particular model reaching nearly $56k when it was new.

2- AWD Capability

Acura has had their SH-AWD (Super-Handling All-wheel Drive) offered in their vehicles for years and this was standard in every ZDX. In addition to the obvious increase in handling performance and stability in adverse weather conditions, Acura added electro-magnetically controlled “lockers” for the rear axle shafts. This allows for complete power to be sent to one wheel if all others experience loss of traction. Acura’s SH-AWD system allows for constant changes to power distribution and can vector torque between side to side and fore and aft, but defaults to a FWD bias in everyday driving to save fuel. I make frequent trips to Northern Arizona and having a stellar AWD system working underneath me gives me great peace of mind.

3- Larger Passenger Room, Cargo area, and Vehicle Size 

Stepping into what is essentially a squished MDX from a small Mazda hatchback was quite the transition. The larger size allowed for more comfortable accommodations for myself and my passengers. The larger cargo area was beneficial for my work equipment and the taller ride height has eliminated the need to be constantly bent over while working out of the trunk.

4- 3.7L V6 and Technology

I have always longed for a V6 when commuting with the Mazda and the smaller 2.0L I4. The J37A V6 creates 300 horsepower and 276 lb-ft of torque and the 11.2:1 compression ratio means the ZDX drinks premium fuel. I average 19mpg in mixed city driving and have reached 25mpg on a long freeway-only road trip. Considering this beast weighs 4,450 pounds and all four wheels are powered, the fuel economy numbers are mildly impressive. The Advance package was an all-inclusive package which included everything in the Technology Package and added a few exclusive options. In total, the technology features on this vehicle are as follows:

Adaptive Cruise Control & Collision Mitigation Braking System

Navigation, Reverse Camera, and Blind Spot Monitoring

ELS Surround Sound System

Heated and Ventilated Seats

Integrated Dynamics System (Adjustable Suspension, Steering, and Transmission Calculations)

5- Exclusivity and Style

Over the course of 4 production years, Acura made approximately 6,000 units, which makes the ZDX a very rare and exclusive vehicle. The styling is very polarizing, and a lot of people dont know what kind of vehicle it is- this confusion and mystery was very attractive to me, and I personally think the design of this vehicle is futuristic, and clean and robust.

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I enjoy that I get to have a luxury vehicle, and also retain the reliability that Acura is known for. All the technology features included in this vehicle are a treat every time I pilot the ZDX. The powertrain works well and is powerful but still quiet and poise. I like the adjustable suspension, which offers Comfort and Sport settings, both of which give new personalities to the car. The seats are firm, but comfortable, and the ventilation feature is much appreciated during hot summers. All interior materials are of high quality and leather is soft grain, but durable.


Premium is $0.43 more per gallon than regular fuel in my area, and it adds up when filling the 21 gallon tank. The transmission is usually in a gear too high during cruising (to save fuel economy) but when you put your foot in it, it has to unbury itself from an extra gear. The ELS sound system, even with standard subwoofer, doesn’t seem to be as hearty as one would expect from a premium vehicle. When set in Comfort mode, the suspension is slightly too boaty, and I would appreciate a little more control. The navigation system could use and update, but isnt a huge issue.

So that in summary, is my review of my 2010 Acura ZDX. Hope you enjoyed reading, and feel free to ask any questions about my vehicle, my dealer, or anything else.


Living With It Review- 2012 Mazda Mazda3

In August of 2013 I purchased my very first “new car” from a local Mazda dealer and fell in love. I bought a 2012 Mazda3 iTouring hatchback with the all-new SkyActiv engine/transmission/chassis makeover released on 2012 Mazda3s. When I purchased this vehicle my main needs were
1- Fuel Economy
When I bought this vehicle I was commuting about 80-90 miles a day between work and school and getting home. The SkyActiv treatment from Mazda netted me an average of 37 miles per gallon on regular 87 octane fuel. For a college student’s budget- this was great news.
2- Cargo Room
My job requires that I work out of my vehicle for a large part of the day, and between the hatchback body style, and well-engineered interior space, the Mazda exceeded my needs and was more than commodious for my Christmas gift haul from Cabelas leaving the store with a fireplace and other bulky items for my country family.
3- Style and Community
This was low on the priority list, but as a car enthusiast, was still necessary. The styling of the front of this vehicle is… Polarizing… And we’ll leave it at that. I personally love the styling of the entire vehicle and the SkyBlue Mica paint job only added more lust. The Mazda community, I would come to find out is quite large and the people I have met through the community are generous and kind, and I have made some very good friends through the local Mazda community in my area.


Over the course of a year of ownership of this vehicle I experienced no mechanical problems with it and had nothing but great experience in the service department at the dealership I purchased from. All services were reasonably priced and the service was superb.


I love Mazda build quality, in my opinion, they well surpass other Japanese manufacturers in fit and finish and material choices. The SkyActiv engine was noticeably tuned for economy, but worked well with the 6-speed Automatic in everyday driving and in manual shift mode can be sufficiently sporty. Standard Auxillary audio input, Bluetooth streaming audio and high-quality standard 6 speaker sound system were extremely appreciated for my inner audiophile. The visibility is great, only very minor blind-spots. The ride quality is taut and controlled but not jarring. The hydraulic-assisted power steering is direct and communicative but on the lighter side, and in twisty roads is exceptional. Mazda has a great track record of resale value and this model was no exception.


I don’t have many, because this vehicle was extremely well made, and was very affordable. However the road noise at freeway speeds is very high, so much so that phone calls over the Bluetooth system are interrupted. Placement of the rear-view mirror may affect visibility for taller drivers and larger passengers may not be impressed with interior space.

So that in summary was my experience with my 2012 Mazda3 iTouring SkyActiv Hatchback. Feel free to ask me any questions about my car, my dealer, or anything else you want to know. Review of my new car coming soon.