December 16, 2010 | by Joe Phillips
Macho crossovers

The Acura ZDX

Are crossovers having an identity crisis? Built on cushy sedan platforms but with the same mega storage and high seating of truck-like SUVs, crossover utility vehicles quickly became the next minivan. Every automaker has at least one — and in the case of Toyota/Lexus, a whopping seven CUVs — in its lineup.

Now vehicle designers are creating crossovers with in-your-face exteriors and ultra-luxe interiors. The result: Head-turning rides that sacrifice a bit of storage space for a look — and ride — that’s as sexy as any high-end sport coupe.

All in all, that’s good news for gay and lesbian car buyers looking to stand out in the crowd.

Acura ZDX

$46,000

MPG: 16 city/23 highway

Cargo room: 56 cubic feet

Acura has been beefing up the styling in its lineup the past few years, but the all-new ZDX pushes the creative envelope even further. Built on the same platform as the full-size, seven-seat MDX, the midsize ZDX slopes dramatically from the top of the side pillars straight down to the rear bumper. Up front, the headlights and grille are stretched so tight they almost wrap around the side panels—think Eartha Kitt with an extreme facelift and you get the picture. Then there are those Hummer-like 19-inch wheels. Somehow it all works, with an overall design that screams bad-boy chic. There are a few downsides: Back-seat legroom is nil and the cornering is more Lincoln MKZ than Porsche Cayenne. But the sumptuous cabin is one of the best, with a hand-stitched leather dash, heated/cooled sport seats, club-scene ambient lighting and surround-sound stereo with 15-Gig hard drive. If the ZDX is a budget buster, there’s always the Honda Accord Crosstour—with simpler styling and features—at $15,000 less.

BMW X6M

$89,500

MPG: 12 city/17 highway

Cargo room: 60 cubic feet

Introduced in 2008, the BMW X6 still makes auto mavens cringe. At worst, its scarab-like styling is akin to the quirky Pontiac Aztec — one of the worst vehicles of all time. At best, it’s a station wagon on steroids. To pique more interest, BMW has pumped up the power and performance — and doubled the price — with its new X6 M version. Practical? No. But this is one helluva CUV, shooting from zero-to-60 mph in just 4.3 seconds (almost twice as fast as the Acura ZDX). And there are more features than on many a Bentley: headlight washers, four-zone climate control, soft-close automatic doors, voice-control nav system with real-time traffic updates, 16-speaker stereo and 14-way power front seats with four-way lumbar support. Best of all, the M’s muscular cladding, sleek side vents and rear aero fins make this X6 look like a true BMW.

Infiniti FX50

$59,000

MPG: 14 city/20 highway

Cargo room: 62 cubic feet

The Infiniti FX50 is all about compromise — in a good way. It has more power than the Acura ZDX, but less than the BMW X6. The mileage is better than the BMW, but less than the Acura. And pricing is smack dab between the two. Where the Infiniti truly comes out ahead, though, is in cargo capacity, rear-seat passenger room and a sidewalk-shaking exhaust rumble. The FX50 styling is severe, with swooping wheel arches, wide-mouthed grille and an acres-long hood. The same is true of the overall ride, which can be a bit harsh over potholes and speed bumps. Still, braking and acceleration are spot-on, and there are gobs of safety features.

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