Acura design gone wrong or calculated ‘mistake’?

By Peter Sorgenfrei

We are at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit this week. While looking at all the new vehicles we started opening the doors and investigate the 2010 Acura ZDX – the latest cross over from Honda’s upmarket brand. The vehicle is well appointed, looks distinctive, has a great engine and at $45K is in the sweet spot in its segment.

However….It is literally impossible for me to enter the backseat! I am 6’3″, tall by American and most European country standards (save Holland, Sweden and Denmark where I am from) and certainly by Japanese standards. But Joe who works with us couldn’t fit either. He is 5’10” or so.

Believe me I tried, one leg first, then seat, upper body and head last. No go! Seat first, then upper body, then feet. Nope! Then I crawled into the seat, head first, knees on seat, turned around and sat down. Sorta worked, except my head was at 45 degrees against the ceiling and my knees were pressed hard against the seat in front of me.

How does this happen? It would be too easy to assume that the Japanese had overseen the size of their Western customers. Acura and Honda has been around (and very successfully so) too long to make that mistake.

Btw. it is not just the Japanese that miss cues when coming to America – Mercedes missed the cup holders when introducing the C class here. As sales were lackluster they introduced a $20 cup holder attachment to the AC vent and sales took off!

Back to Acura – they did it on purpose!

See, I believe they looked at the numbers and calculated that there aren’t that many people of my height that

a) will be in the market for their car (since there are not that many of us)

b) those of taller than average height that do purchase this car probably will not sit in the back seat anyway, and

c) if they do (or their friends do) it will be on relatively few trips in a given year.

Ergo, no problem! And that is okay – you can’t design a car for everyone.

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4 thoughts on “Acura design gone wrong or calculated ‘mistake’?

  1. Dan says:

    I’m 6’4″ and I can easily fit in the second row of my friend’s [parent’s] MDX. I would be personally offended if a family member or friend bought a ZDX. If I must be an uncomfortable passenger, I would much prefer to ride in a sports coupe than in an SUV.

    What makes this desirable over an MDX? Save the minute chance that people like the Batmobile styling, are there any advantages to the ZDX?

  2. sorgenfrei says:

    No advantages really it seems….

  3. Adam says:

    If you held a gun to my head, I’d say Acura did this for the same reason you can’t comfortably get into the back of an Audi A5 or (I suspect) a Mercedes CLS. The ZDX, according to Acura, is not an SUV–or even an “SAV”–but a luxury coupe, where (historically) form takes precedence over function. So I’d file this under ‘calculated’. Unfortunately, it hasn’t worked too well thus far for BMW’s X6…

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