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Is it a premium sport sedan, or an entry-level luxury car? The Acura TSX is caught in a grey area, where it's compared to a huge swath of expensive machinery, everything from a Lincoln MKZ to an Audi A4. It's a tweener, and that works to its advantage at times, but also keeps it a relative unknown, especially to car buyers looking for prestige above all.
It's also a lame duck: the TSX will have its final curtain call in the 2014 model year, after which it will be replaced by the 2015 Acura TLX.It's too large to be considered a compact sedan or wagon, but it's not quite big enough to fall into the mid-size category, either. It's also engaging to drive, but it's not a full-fledged sports sedan. What the TSX is, though, is a very comfortable, more practical alternative to sedans like the BMW 3-Series or Infiniti G37, and it doesn't have to sacrifice its premium look or nimble driving feel to get there.
The TSX remains based on the European-market Honda Accord, but its style is nowhere near as pedestrian as the U.S. model of the same name. The TSX is aesthetically very appealing inside and out--particularly in wagon form--though it does have its low points. A "bionic beaver" snout still feels like an odd introduction from the front to what's otherwise a crisply styled yet understated form. Inside, with gentle arcs, a clean design, and mostly high-quality materials, the cabin's more overtly handsome.
The TSX has been an IIHS Top Safety Pick, and it has all the indications of a very safe sedan choice; we only wish that the TSX would offer some of the more innovative active-safety features that are available further up the Acura lineup--like a blind-spot warning system, for example. A USB port, Bluetooth, XM, and leather seating with heated, powered front buckets are all on the standard-feature list, while we like the Tech Package and especially its upgraded surround-sound audio. The TSX Special Edition model that adds (for four-cylinder sedans only) a more aggressive front-end appearance, side sills, and five-spoke polished-finish alloys, is carried over to 2014.
The 2014 Acura TSX isn't quite a performance car, or a sport sedan by a broad enthusiasts' definition (it has front-wheel drive), but it does offer a sportier driving personality than most other compact to mid-size luxury sedans. While a 280-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 engine is a tempting option in the TSX, the 201-hp, 2.4-liter four-cylinder has enough pep to satisfy most drivers, whether they go with the six-speed manual or five-speed automatic transmission. The Sport Wagon comes only with the four-cylinder engine and automatic transmission. Steering and ride are very European in feel, tuned to be on the taut side though not punishing.
Although a step smaller than the TL sedan, the TSX somehow fits in an interior that feels almost like that of a true mid-size car. And with excellent seats, a good driving position, reasonable cargo space, and good ride quality, the TSX proves itself to be more useful than a number of dedicated sport sedans that are around the same exterior size. 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).
- Attractive wagon body style
- Overall handling and responsiveness
- Strong, smooth V-6
- Refined and responsive four-cylinder
- Quiet, well-controlled ride
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- Lackluster gas mileage
- No spare tire (Wagon)
- Odd beak
- Tight rear seat