NEW YORK – He definitely wasn’t in the focus group, but Jeff Conrad says he qualifies as one of the all-new Acura ZDX’s target customers.

“Demographically, we’re looking at someone who is either an empty nester or a family that’s dual income, no kids,” says Conrad, vice president-sales for American Honda Motor Co. Inc.’s Acura luxury division.

“I’m the perfect buyer,” he tells Ward’s at the New York International Auto Show, where the vehicle is unveiled. “I now drive an Acura MDX, but my kids are out of the house now and I don’t need the size and seating of that vehicle. Yet, I’m an avid bicyclist, and I need storage space for my bike.”

Front seating gets top interior priority in the ZDX, followed by the rear cargo area and, lastly, the backseat, he says.

Acura calls the ZDX a revolutionary vehicle with a one-of-a-kind provocative exterior design done by 25-year-old Michelle Christensen. “We think she nailed it,” Conrad says.

The ZDX is billed as a cross/utility vehicle that looks like a 4-door coupe.

“It is a new category of vehicle,” Conrad says. “It’s something the industry has never seen before.” He says it likely will become Acura’s flagship vehicle.

The model shown here is a prototype. Production versions go on sale this fall. “We believe it will attract a new kind of customer to Acura,” Conrad says.

In focus groups, the vehicle particularly appealed to empty nesters – older couples with children that are grown and on their own.

“We wanted to appeal to someone with a passion for driving and style, someone who likes the coupe look but also wants a lot of functionality,” Conrad says. “You can get a good amount of ‘toys’ in the back.”

Competitors include the BMW X6, Infiniti FX “and even the Porsche Cayenne,” he says.

Many Acura customers lease their vehicles, and the auto maker expects that to continue with the ZDX.

Unlike some other auto makers, “we have not backed away from leasing,” Conrad says.

Nationally, Acura’s lease penetration is about 30%. It varies regionally. In New York, it is more than 60%; in Miami, 50%

sfinlay@wardsauto.com