By Ronda Racha Penrice
The Acura ZDX probably doesn’t ring a bell. It certainly didn’t register with me at first. Relatively new, the ZDX only debuted three years ago at the 2009 New York International Auto Show, so not recognizing it off the bat is completely understandable. One thing is certain: get a look at it up close and the futuristically-designed, mid-size luxury crossover will leave an impression. Test drive it and it won’t soon be forgotten. That’s what I found out.
Since I’ve been meaning to visit Jacksonville, Florida for some time now, the five-hour drive from Atlanta seemed like perfect ZDX bonding time. While I will admit I was a little crazy to go for just one night, luckily, I had a friend willing to tag along. So, one Saturday morning, as the sun inched up, we did our best Thelma and Louise impersonations and hit the road.
Now any road trip requires comfortable seating and the sports seats in premium leather easily fit the bill. Seriously, I was extremely relaxed behind the wheel. I was so comfortable I was open to trying new things like the navigation system! Normally, I don’t fuss around with car navigation systems. To me, most of them suck. But my friend insisted and, to my surprise, I enjoyed it. Because the display was attention-holding and the voice wasn’t annoying, I decided to take more chances. So, instead of the normal, majority highway route, we went scenic!
Going from highway through small towns is always eye-opening. Well, at least in the daylight. At night, it can get a tad bit scary. Florida is full of all kinds of interesting stuff. At one time, gambling was a big deal in certain parts and some remnants have been left behind. It’s not necessarily a pretty sight but it is a sight.
Great sound systems are a must today and satellite radio kept us plenty occupied, although we did have to read the display to catch which artist was playing. But overall, “comfort, comfort” was the theme of the ride.
Since I’m a history buff, we checked into the Kingsley Plantation, the one-time home of Anna Madgigine Jai Kingsley, a rare Black female slaveholder. Interestingly, Anna was sold into slavery from her native Senegal and purchased by Zephaniah Kingsley, who fell in love with her and made her his legal wife. For much of her slaveholding stint, Florida was Spanish territory. Still, though she was a slaveholder, she supported the Union during the Civil War, when Florida was American territory. Johnnetta B. Cole, former president of Spelman and Bennett, is one of Anna’s descendants.
Home for the night was Aloft Jacksonville Tapestry Park. Tapestry Park is a relatively new, upscale area in Jacksonville and so is Aloft, which just opened in January 2011. In keeping with the Starwood brand, Aloft is posh and modern. On Saturday nights, the w xyz bar is an especially popular spot. Extremely affordable (pre-paid rooms can get as low as $79 a night) plus parking is free and the location is excellent. Business travelers are the main target but it works well for those just vacationing too, especially since it has a pool. It definitely is “style at a steal.”
Aloft was only a stone’s throw from St. Johns Town Center, which has everything a heart or stomach can desire. We dined at Seasons 52, the luscious, healthy, casual fine-dining restaurant, which opened in October 2011. They have the best flatbreads plus the desserts are yummy mini-indulgences that are truly low in calories!
Before hitting the road the next day, we returned for some retail therapy. The general layout in the main area is that of a small village, but it’s far from small-time. Louis Vuitton, Micheal Kors and Tiffany & Co. are among the many selections.
Back in Atlanta, there was no doubt that the ZDX, which has a mpg of 23 on the highway and 16 in the city and dialed in at $56,570, had performed well. The ride was smooth and luxurious. Who doesn’t love that?
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