- Responsive, rev-happy four
- Quick, smooth V-6
- Great-looking Sport Wagon
- Handling and responsiveness
- Grille makes an odd first impression
- Tight back seat
- Wagon gets more space--by ditching the spare
With attractive designs and a light, efficient driving feel, the 2012 Acura TSX lineup strikes an ideal balance for a front-wheel-drive sport sedan or sport wagon.
Acura's TSX models are sporty compacts, just short of mid-size, and aimed toward those who want a premium look and feel with a little more comfort and practicality compared to traditional sport sedans like the BMW 3-Series or Infiniti G37.
The TSX is sized in the same range as those models, but its interior is roomier than most--in back-seat space, especially. The majority of the TSX lineup comes in sedan form, though last year Acura brought the wagon back, albeit only in four-cylinder form, as the TSX Sport Wagon.Based on the European-market Honda Accord, the TSX has a attractive styling inside and out—particularly in wagon form--though it does have its low points. The latest, much-maligned Acura grille that's ingloriously been dubbed a "bionic beaver" was very slightly softened last year, but otherwise these are nicely proportioned vehicles on the outside. The cabin's more overtly handsome, with a gentle arc that spans the dash, plus cleanly designed, high-quality materials and easy-to-use controls.
The base engine on the TSX sedan (and the only one in the Sport Wagon) remains a 201-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine, and it's spunky and more than adequate with either the six-speed manual or five-speed automatic transmission (Sport Wagon shoppers also have to stick with the automatic). The available 280-hp V-6 adds some serious punch--and the capable chassis makes the most of its power and torque, despite front-wheel drive--but the four is plenty strong for these models' size and weight. Steering and ride are very European in feel, tuned to be on the taut side though not punishing. Gas mileage is pretty good for the four, at up to 22 mpg city, 31 highway, with the V-6 achieving 19/28.
The 2012 Acura TSX is an IIHS Top Safety Pick--reassuring if you're choosing it as a family vehicle--although we've found outboard visibility to be a little tough. Its features set is impressive, too, but it's missing some of the leading safety-tech options like blind-spot warning or active cruise control. A USB port, Bluetooth, XM, and leather seating with heated, powered front buckets are all on the standard-feature list. And while we see the available power tailgate as silly here, we'd definitely stand behind the available Tech Package, which brings upgraded audio and a hard-drive navigation system.
This year, Acura has also added a TSX Special Edition that adds to the four-cylinder model a more aggressive front-end appearance, side sills, and five-spoke polished-finish alloys.