Performance » 8
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PERFORMANCE | 8 out of 10
Doesn't have the oomph I expected
Excellent body control and a willingness to play
Light shifter and clutch action make this premium compact very easy to drive
For years, Acura has marketed the TSX as a sporty alternative to such cars as the Audi A4 and lower-end BMW 3-Series vehicles, and handling performance has always been one of the big selling points among younger buyers. While there are few improvements for the new 2009 Acura TSX, the performance positives from the last model remain.
The 2009 Acura TSX is offered with only one engine, which Edmunds says is a "2.4-liter inline-4 capable of 201 hp and 170 lb-ft of torque." Reviews of the 2009 Acura engine range from "sufficient if not overabundant" amounts of power from the reviewers at Car and Driver to "surprisingly good low- and mid-range punch" from the normally conservative reviewers at ConsumerGuide. While some reviews read by TheCarConnection.com disapprove of the need to "let the engine rev high if you want to unlock its performance potential," in the words of Cars.com reviewers, most didn't mind pushing the car hard. However, reviewers at Autoblog aren't so kind, claiming that the Acura "TSX revs painfully slow," although it should be noted that their opinion is definitely in the minority.
The one performance decision that prospective Acura TSX buyers will have to make is how they would like power delivered to the road. This 2009 Acura offers "a six-speed manual and a five-speed automatic transmission with steering-wheel shift paddles," according to Edmunds, and the manual in particular is a joy. Car and Driver reviewers feel that the six-speed is "delightfully precise," while ConsumerGuide adds that "light shifter and clutch action" make the 2009 Acura TSX "very easy to drive," especially in traffic. The manual is so good, in fact, that Automobile terms it the "industry standard," thanks largely to its "absolutely precise" gear changes and "perfectly weighted" clutch pedal movement. In terms of the available five-speed automatic, Cars.com writes that it "delivers smooth shifts and doesn't make you wait long when you floor the gas pedal before it kicks down," and the paddles "produce fairly quick shifts."
With some fun-to-drive performance cars, fuel economy is sacrificed in favor of performance. Fortunately, the 2009 Acura TSX offers decent fuel numbers with its respectable engine figures. The EPA estimates that manual Acura TSXs will return 20/28 mpg, while the automatic boasts 21/30 mpg, numbers that Car and Driver finds to be "quite favorable."
Aside from the virtues of the engine that rests under the hood of the 2009 Acura TSX, handling characteristics provide another strong selling point. ConsumerGuide finds that the Acura TSX "carves corners with grippy assurance and little body lean," and Edmunds adds that the "2009 Acura TSX is still one of the best-handling front-wheel-drive cars on sale." Steering is a bit of a sore point, as Cars.com writes that one of their biggest issues with the new "TSX is its steering feel and feedback." They expand upon that by saying the 2009 Acura TSX offers an "electric power-steering system that doesn't offer very inspiring oncenter feel." The Acura TSX manages to redeem some of the points lost for steering feel with its brakes, which ConsumerGuide says are "drama-free" and Car and Driver refers to as "talented."
A peppy, high-revving engine and confident handling are hallmarks of the 2009 Acura TSX, but steering feel is less sharp.