2013 Acura TSX Review

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Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Deputy Editor
July 31, 2012

For nearly all compact-sedan shoppers except serious enthusiasts or green-car fanatics, the 2013 Acura TSX strikes an agreeable compromise between sport-sedan attitude and premium-car practicality.

The Acura TSX is, for lack of a better term, a 'tweener,' in multiple ways, and while that might make it hard to cross-shop against other premium sedans, that's also what adds to its appeal as a sporty sedan that stands out in the market.

 

It doesn't quite fit in as compact in the U.S., yet it's not mid-size either; it's more sprightly and less conservative compared to some other entry-luxury models, yet it's not quite a full-fledged sport sedan. Altogether, the TSX hits the right mark for the type who want the premium look, a more nimble driving feel, and some added comfort and practicality that you may end up giving up with traditional sport sedans like the BMW 3-Series or Infiniti G37.

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Today's TSX still is a derivative of Europe's Honda Accord. That means it's a sleeker machine than the U.S. Accord, fully in line with the other Acura sedans. It's especially good-looking as a wagon. There is a big, not-missable caveat: the TSX's big, toothy chrome grille. Dubbed the "bionic beaver," it's an odd miscue on a car so otherwise smartly styled, so understated. The cabin doesn't make any of those mistakes, it's just traditionally handsome and well-designed.

 

Not a sports sedan, not softly sprung like a traditional sedan, the TSX sits somewhere to the left of that equation. The front-driver feels alert and eager, thanks to a choice of two engines. The base one offers 201 hp from a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder arrangement, while a 3.5-liter V-6 gives moneyed buyers a way to get to 280 hp. The 4-cylinder comes with either a 5-speed automatic or 6-speed manual, while wagons only get the 4-cylinder and automatic. A European feel pervades that model in particular, but all TSXs have sweet ride and handling, taut without feeling punishing.

 

The TSX sits a half-class smaller than the TL four-door, but the interior room isn't much different. Drivers get a great seating position and excellent seats. All passengers have a fair amount of room and there's reasonable cargo space, though the TSX is resolutely in the compact-car spectrum. Sedans have pretty good trunk space, and for anyone that needs more, the Sport Wagon solves the problem with more space and a low flat floor that does come with one sacrifice, a gone-fishing spare tire (there is a repair kit).

 

The TSX has been an IIHS Top Safety Pick. We think it needs more advanced safety touches like blind-spot monitors. All versions come with Bluetooth, satellite radio, and a USB port, as well as heated leather front seats. A Tech package bundles more features, such as surround-sound premium audio.

8

2013 Acura TSX

Styling

Clean details, unified styling, and pleasing proportions make the 2013 TSX appear handsome yet sporty.

The 2013 Acura TSX is tastefully styled inside and out, with a clean, conservative look overall--although some of its details won't appeal to everyone.

 

Essentially a European-market Honda Accord, with different styling cues and features, the TSX is appealing and nicely proportioned--particularly in wagon form. With crisp-edged flanks, and a generally modern, high-tech look, the TSX is aimed right at younger professionals. One of the details that doesn't enhance the design--rather, it stands out as a sore spot for some--is the much-maligned "bionic beaver" grille.


A tasteful piece inside, the TSX makes it tough to point styling fingers. The dash spans over a gentle arc, and trims out with lots of high-quality plastic and leather. It's a clean design, one with well-organized controls. There are bits of metallic trim on the dash that help to cut some of the visual heft, but it's all high-quality to the eye and to the touch. There's wood trim on some models, but it feels out of place with this vibe.

8

2013 Acura TSX

Performance

For a front-wheel-drive sedan, the 2013 Acura TSX handles well; and while the V-6 adds extra punch, the four is fine.

We wouldn't call the TSX a performance sedan. By a broader definition it's an enthusiast car, one with a sporty personality and good road manners. Ultimately it doesn't have the acceleration to make it to the biggest league (3-Series), but it's more than pleasant to drive.

 

Base cars make 201 hp from a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder; that's the only engine offered in the Sport Wagon, while sedans can reach upward to a 3.5-liter V-6 with 280 hp. Those 6-cylinders come with a 5-speed automatic; 4-cylinder sedans can be teamed with a 6-speed manual, but wagons are auto-only.

 

If you're looking at a sedan, look at the manual. It's one of the best reasons to buy a Honda. Their traditionally sweet shift action is on display here; the TSX has a light clutch, a precise shift linkage, and it all works brilliantly with the rev-happy 4-cylinder.

 

Ride and handling are European in the best sense, firm and composed without being too taut. The electric power steering is calibrated well, and has good weight.

 

We'd opt for the 4-cylinder in almost every case. The 6-cylinder wants to make more out of the well-tuned suspension, but the extra weight on the front end dulls the sharp feel of the TSX.

8

2013 Acura TSX

Comfort & Quality

Well-coordinated, upscale cabin appointments and great front seats add appeal--and the TSX Wagon is a space-efficiency star--but back-seat space is tight.

The 2013 Acura TSX remains a step smaller than the TL sedan, but you might be surprised to find that there's not all that much of a difference in interior comfort.

 

The front seats you get throughout the TSX lineup are impressive, as they fit a wide range of sizes and are quite adjustable; they do tend to be on the firm side, however. In back, the TSX definitely borders on tight on legroom for six-footers, with headroom limited as well, but four average-height adults can fit just fine--much better, it seems, than in rivals like the Audi A4.

 

There's plenty of space for cargo as well. The trunk in sedans is surprisingly roomy, and the Sport Wagon models have more space and a low flat floor that does come with one sacrifice: There's no spare tire on that model (just a repair kit).


Ride comfort can be a bit on the firm side, but it's about on par with other mid-size sporty luxury sedans; although some coarse road surfaces can transmit noise into the cabin, it's reasonably tight and quiet most of the time.

8

2013 Acura TSX

Safety

The 2013 Acura TSX has reassuring ratings, but its features and options lists lack active-safety extras.

Even though the 2013 Acura TSX is a step smaller than the TL sedan, we see it as being just as strong of a pick for safety-minded shoppers. Although the TSX's feature list is missing some of the active-safety options that are becoming expected in a luxury-brand vehicle.

 

While the TSX has earned top 'good' results in Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) crash tests, as well as the IIHS Top Safety Pick designation in prior model years, the TSX hasn't been tested in recent years by the federal government.

 

The TSX is behind the ball in terms of safety technology. Blind-spot monitors, active cruise control--they're nowhere to be found. A rearview camera is offered, but the TSX already has pretty good outward vision.

8

2013 Acura TSX

Features

The 2013 TSX is quite lavishly equipped, but it's hardly a tech standout, even when equipped with the Tech Package.

Overall, the 2013 Acura TSX comes with a solid set of standard equipment that makes this premium sedan feel well-equipped although not quite plush or lavish. But excellent audio and navigation systems are offered, USB and Bluetooth connectivity are covered, and comfortable leather upholstery is included.

 

Along with the Bluetooth hands-free calling interface and a USB port, XM satellite radio, heated power front buckets, and leather are all on the standard-feature list.

 

The biggest option package is the Tech Package, and we recommend it. It adds a 10-speaker, 415-watt audio system to the TSX, as well as surround sound, Bluetooth and steering-wheel controls, as well as a navigation system with live traffic data and a rearview camera.

 

One feature--the available power tailgate for the wagon--we do see as a bit silly here, as the tailgate is light and low, a one-arm operation.

7

2013 Acura TSX

Fuel Economy

The 2013 Acura TSX is no standout among luxury sedans, but it's more fuel-efficient than some sport sedans.

The 2013 Acura TSX remains positioned somewhere between entry luxury sedan and more of a sport sedan; and in either role, it's reasonably green--although the field is changing fast and even this year there are better options.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rates the TSX Wagon at 22 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway; the sedan earns ratings of 21/29 mpg for the four-cylinder manual, while the automatic boasts 21/31 mpg. There isn't all that much of a penalty for the V-6; it's still rated at 22/30 mpg--which is impressive considering it has 79 hp more.

Over quite a few drives of the four-cylinder models, we've had no problem seeing somewhat better than those EPA numbers--especially with the manual transmission. But with the introduction of new four-cylinder models of the BMW 3-Series, earning up to 34 mpg highway, there are now some markedly better fuel-stingy choices on the market.

 

Acura offers no hybrid version of the TSX, although there is a hybrid version of the smaller (and new for 2013) ILX.

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December 17, 2015
2013 Acura TSX 4-Door Sedan I4 Automatic Tech Pkg

Great car and fun to drive

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I traded my Tacoma for this and am very impressed with the performance and handling with just a 4 cylinder. My wife and kids like using the paddles but because it is lower than the Tacoma my wife has scratched... + More »
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