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Wagons are back, at least at Acura this year. With the luxury arm of Honda adding crossovers galore under its twin-caliper badge, it's also slotted in a new wagon body for its entry-level TSX sedan—and the new version ends up being one of our favorite Acuras.
The wagon is an easy addition, since the TSX is a version of Honda's European-market Accord sedan, and since the wagon already is on sale on the Continent. But it's not an easy sale, by any means, since the compact wagon market in the U.S. is dominated by European brands with perhaps a bit more of a luxury reputation than Acura has.
For 2011, the TSX returns in sedan form, too. With either body style, this small Acura is attractive inside and out—particularly in wagon form--though it does have its low points. That point is up front: the latest Acura face has a grille that's ingloriously been dubbed a "bionic beaver" or likened to a beer opener. It's been tweaked slightly for 2011, though a dramatic change is still a couple of years in the offing. The cabin's more overtly handsome—it's full of cleanly designed, high-quality materials and easy-to-use controls, arranged along a gentle arc that spans the dash.
Though the TSX's V-6 adds some much-needed punch, the 201-hp four-cylinder is more than capable for a car of its size and weight. Even in the slightly heavier wagon, the TSX's four delivers a swell balance of usable power and high fuel economy estimated at 22/30 mpg. The 280-hp six handles less well, and carries more weight on its nose, but fuel economy holds up at 19/28 mpg. Steering and ride quality are from the European camp, firm and taut, not cushy.
As the smallest Acura, the TSX reins in less interior space than the big TL and RL, but its proportions seem like a perfect fit for the brand. Front seats are comfortable and multi-adjustable. The back bench can be a squeeze for the biggest passengers, but anyone under 5' 10" will find adequate head and leg room. The cargo area's more like a backpack in the wagon model, with fewer cubic feet than you might expect, but a clever divider helps partition the space into useful chunks.
Good crash ratings mean you can drive with confidence in your family's safety, but a standard backup camera would be a nice addition. It's available as an option. Acura's reticence to adopt some tech features means lane-departure warnings, parking sensors and even adaptive cruise control are either unavailable or bundled in expensive packages.
It's the same for other entertainment features, though the TSX does come relatively well equipped with a USB port, Bluetooth, XM, and leather seating with heated, powered front buckets. Despite the extensive standard feature set, the Technology Package is well worth the price, especially in light of the excellent upgraded audio system and 60GB hard drive and navigation system included in the price. A power tailgate is optional.
- Eager-revving four
- Above-average handling
- Wagon has sleek, tapered shape
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- Grille spoils sedate shape
- Wagon’s cargo bin is a little shallow
- Back seat tight for tall passengers