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PERFORMANCE | 8 out of 10
the addition of the 3.5-liter Acura V6 wakes the TSX right up
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
Acura's goal for the TSX is to offer a sporty alternative to cars like the Audi A4 and entry-level BMW 3-Series vehicles, and for good reason, handling performance has long been one of the big selling points among its younger target audience. While there are few improvements for the new 2010 Acura TSX, the performance positives from last year's model remain. Standard power for the 2010 TSX comes from a 201-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder; the standard six-speed manual transmission definitely makes the car feel livelier, even though midrange torque has been boosted to increase responsiveness with the paddle-shifted Sequential SportShift five-speed automatic transmission. All new for 2010 is a 280-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 engine option that delivers one of the few things the TSX previously lacked: power. Handling is still nimble and sporting, with a firm yet absorbent ride.
Reviews of the 2010 Acura TSX's four-cylinder 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 dislike the need to "let the engine rev high" to get the most out of it, Cars.com reviewers find that most don't mind pushing the car hard. The V-6, on the other hand, gets praise for being "surprisingly quiet" from Automobile. PopularMechanics simply says, "It's quick." Edmunds asserts "the V6 seems to make a huge difference" to the TSX's performance.
Buyers of the four-cylinder Acura TSX will have just one performance decision to make: manual or automatic transmission. The V-6 model is only available with a five-speed paddle-shifted auto. The four-pot is available with either six-speed manual or the same five-speed auto as the V-6. Edmunds finds that the manual in particular is a joy, though they also point out the automatic, paired with the V-6, can "hold a gear to redline while in Sport mode" and "doesn't get confused" like some autos can. Car and Driver reviewers find the six-speed manual to be "delightfully precise," and ConsumerGuide adds that "light shifter and clutch action" make the 2010 Acura TSX "very easy to drive," particularly in traffic. Automobile likes the 2010 TSX's "precise" gear changes and "perfectly weighted" clutch so much, it calls it the "industry standard."
As with most fun-to-drive cars, fuel economy is balanced against performance in the 2010 TSX. According to the EPA, it manages decent figures while also delivering good power, rated at 20/28 mpg for the four-cylinder manual, while the automatic boasts 21/30 mpg, numbers that Car and Driver finds to be "quite favorable." The V-6 is rated at a fairly close 18/27 mpg, which is especially good considering the extra 79 horsepower the engine offers.
Beyond the power and efficiency of the two available engines, the 2010 TSX also offers solid performance handling. ConsumerGuide likes the Acura TSX's ability to corner with "grippy assurance and little body lean," and Edmunds goes a step further, calling the TSX "one of the best-handling front-wheel-drive cars on sale." The V-6 may actually improve on the four-cylinder's formula-Edmunds says the V-6's "added weight over the four-cylinder settles the car a bit." Not everyone loves the TSX's steering, though, with Cars.com stating that one of its biggest quibbles with the "TSX is its steering feel and feedback." The problem? The electric power-steering system "doesn't offer very inspiring oncenter feel." Nevertheless, the TSX manages to redeem itself a bit with its brakes, which ConsumerGuide calls "drama-free" and Car and Driver deems "talented."
The 2010 Acura TSX's V-6 adds some much-needed punch, and the car handles well for a front-wheel-drive car, but the imprecise steering is still an issue.