The sharply creased Acura TSX is something like the Swiss Army Knife among smaller, near-luxury sedans, and now among wagons, too. It does a lot of jobs well. If it's not the best car in its class by any particular measure, the TSX is good by many measures. It's very easy to live with in all locales and loaded with relative value.
For 2011, the Acura TSX sedan gets a slight facelift. There are also subtle interior updates for the 2011 TSX sedans, along with aerodynamic improvements and engine efficiencies that raise EPA mileage ratings by 1 mpg across the board.
Yet the big development is the new 2011 TSX Sport Wagon. With more than 60 cubic feet of easily accessed cargo space, the wagon makes a nice, quieter alternative to a small SUV or crossover. It delivers almost as much utility, better reflexes and better fuel economy than just about any SUV extant.
The 2011 Acura TSX comes standard with heated leather-trimmed seats, power everything, dual-zone climate control, a great sounding high-watt stereo, electronic stability control and a full array of airbags. It scores well in government and insurance industry crash tests. The Acura TSX competes primarily with the Audi A4, BMW 3 Series, and Lexus IS, and to a lesser extent with the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Saab 9-3 and Volkswagen CC.
The TSX uses front-wheel drive, whereas true sports sedans and many of its competitors are rear-wheel drive. Regardless, this Acura remains one of the better-handling front-drive sedans available. It's grown bigger, heavier and more luxurious over the last few years, and as a result it plods a bit more than it once did. Yet the TSX is still hard to beat as an everyday driver that can be fun on a winding road.
Its standard 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine comes with a choice of manual or automatic transmission. It's rated at 201 horsepower, but it revs happily and, with the 6-speed manual, it's the most fun TSX to drive. It also gets great fuel economy, delivering up to 22 mpg city, 31 highway, according to the EPA. It's never crude or rough.
The TSX sedan is also available with 3.5-liter V6, delivering substantially more power and torque, with a 3 mpg mileage penalty. The V6 has a temperament all its own, distinct from the four-cylinder models. It's more substantial, perhaps, and heavier, with character more in tune with the luxury class.
Technology has always been a big part of the TSX's appeal, and this extends beyond the drivetrain and chassis. Updated for 2011, Acura's superb navigation system is the equal of anything in the class. It displays real-time traffic with congestion re-routing and local and national weather. An airlines display lets you track a flight's progress across the country. The top-line audio system sets a standard for the class, too, with superbly crisp surround sound. Like the other features, voice command and hands-free Bluetooth cell phone architecture are cleanly integrated with the car's electronics.
The TSX delivers Acura's hallmark traits of smooth mechanicals, a feature-rich cabin and distinctive, if not necessarily pretty design. If it isn't a true sports sedan, it's very good being what it is: a stylish, efficient premium compact sedan with a sporty tilt. If passengers aren't too tall, the TSX is also a fantastically comfortable commuter car.
The 2011 Acura TSX is available as a sedan or five-door wagon, with either a four- or six-cylinder engine and manual or automatic transmission. Options are limited.
The TSX sedan ($29,610) is powered by a 2.4-liter inline-4, delivering 201 horsepower and up to 172 pound feet of torque. Either a 6-speed manual or 5-speed automatic transmission is available for the price, with 17-inch alloy wheels. Standard features include leather upholstery, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats, eight-way power adjustable driver's seat with memory, a four-way passenger seat, heated outside mirrors, steering wheel controls for cruise and audio, and a 360-watt stereo with single CD, XM satellite receiver and seven speakers, including sub-woofer.
The TSX Sport Wagon ($30,290) is powered by the 2.4-liter four, but it's only offered with the automatic. It comes standard with the same features as the sedan, with a few wagon-only items such as a rear cargo cover.
The TSX V6 sedan ($35,150) upgrades with a 3.5-liter V6 generating 280 horsepower and 254 pound-feet. The V6 also adds 18-inch wheels, recalibrated steering and suspension, and active sound control. Comfort and convenience features are identical to those on four-cylinder models.
The only factory option is a Technology Package ($3,100 for the sedans, $3,650 for the wagon), which includes Acura's navigation system, with real-time traffic and weather and voice recognition. The package also adds premium ELS audio with more power, 10 speakers, a CD changer and a 15-GB storage drive, and a back-up camera. On the wagon, it includes a power liftgate. The window sticker will list TSXs with this package as separate Technology models. The TSX does offer a number of dealer installed options, including a remote starter, exterior racks and spoilers and interior trim kits.
Safety features include the required complement of airbags: front-impact airbags, front passenger side-impact airbags and curtain-style head protection airbags for outboard passengers front and rear. There are active head restraints for front passengers and anchors for child safety seats (LATCH) in back. Active safety features include electronic stability control (ESC) and anti-lock brakes (ABS) with electronic brake-force distribution (EBD) and brake assist. A tire pressure monitor is required by federal law.