2011 Acura TSX Sport Wagon: First Drive Page 2

December 8, 2010

The Drive
Well, not ALL the handling characteristics of a car. The TSX Sport Wagon reminds this reviewer of what the considerably taller RDX cannot be, and even what the Subaru Outback has lost by continuing to grow taller and heavier.

It’s true that those vehicles get AWD and the TSX Sport Wagon is really just a TSX Sedan with a taller rear end (identical wheelbase; slight growth in length and height when including standard roof rails on the Wagon). But its additional 130 pounds of booty gives the TSX Sport Wagon superior front/rear balance vs. the sedan (57 front/43 rear vs. 60/40 for the sedan), not to mention cargo capacity that’s actually quite close to what you can get from an RDX: 25.8 cubic feet with the rear seats up in the TSX Sport Wagon vs. 27.8 cubic feet in the RDX. Drop the rear seats in the TSX Sport Wagon and you may not have the tall ceiling of the RDX, but the rears fold totally flat and the cargo capacity of 60.5 cubic feet is almost identical to that of the RDX.

Further, while the aforementioned Subaru boasts a larger cargo hold, it’s not not nearly as sharp handling an offering. You probably don’t cross-shop this Acura with that Subaru, but vs. those aforementioned bogies Acura itself is targeting —BMW, Audi, Volvo—it beats them all on total cargo, save the Volvo (also not as sporty a drive, by the way).

And while we’re talking better, the TSX Sport Wagon ekes out superior fuel economy stats (22 city/30 highway) vs. its German/Swedish competition, and of course it smokes the compact five-passenger luxo-crossover competition, too. (In case you’re wondering the RDX gets 19 city/24 highway.)

Beyond the digits, the Sport Wagon is truly sporty. Steering is light but talks to the driver and though it’s an electrical system rather than a mechanical one, it resists feeling either numb or dead, or weighting up at the wrong instance.

The engine in the Acura is also a real pleasure, rev’ing cleanly and freely to redline, and the revised TSX’s transmission will hold gears in Sport mode right up to the rev-limiter, and paddle shifters tick off shifts up or down fairly quickly, if not as smartly as you get in Audi’s DSG.   

This is, after all, an automatic transmission, not a dual-clutch manual, and you’ll find that shortcoming when you bomb into a turn expecting to be able to downshift from 3rd to 2nd gear, only to find that the electronics refuse your request. Ah, you want a true manual instead? That’s a no go, and you can blame your fellow Americans. Acura says fewer than 5% take the manual gearbox in the TSX sedan, which is a true shame because Acura/Honda make some of the very best manual transmissions on earth.

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