- Gorgeous looks
- Technological powerhouse
- Excellent performer
- Daily-driver supercar
- Not quite as emotional as the Italian competition
- Where's the hybrid gas mileage?
- Supercar cachet isn't there
- Price inflates quickly
features & specs
If you want a supercar that looks the part and drives the part but aren't smitten with the usual suspects in this class, the NSX is your kind of machine.
If no ordinary supercar will do, consider the 2020 Acura NSX. It's rare and obscure, the choice of the non-conformist tired of seeing the scads of Lambos and Porsches on the streets.
The blistering performance and this-ain't-nothing-but-a-supercar styling help earn the 2020 Acura NSX a 7.0 out of 10 on our scale. Why not a perfect score? The usual demerits for this sort of car: middling fuel economy and limited cargo space.
For 2020, changes to the NSX are limited to the color palette. The new Indy Yellow Pearl is a color inspired by Spa Yellow, which was a popular hue during the reign of the original, first-generation NSX back in the 1990s. Along with Berlina Black, Indy Yellow is one of the two heritage colors offered on the NSX.
Everything else is business as usual with the hottest Acura of our time. The drop-dead looks haven't changed since its introduction in 2017, and we're OK with that. Same with the powertrain, a hybridized 3.5-liter twin-turbo affair. Anyone still doubting the merits of hybrid technology only needs one track session in an NSX to be cured of their ignorance.
Driving it home from said track session shows off the more docile side of the NSX's persona. Pleasing manners mean it has no problem standing as a daily driver when the MDX is in the shop, and its well-equipped interior is coddling, not punishing.
Our only disappointment is the lack of automatic emergency braking—kind of an oversight for a car that can easily be optioned up to $200,000. The 4.4 cubic feet of cargo space is also not a winning gesture. If you're going for an overnight, pack light.
The NSX is a winner. Sure, the badge on the hood probably won't impress the snobs at your local Cars and Coffee. But underneath it all is a full-fledged performer that can back up its svelte looks.
2020 Acura NSX
The 2020 NSX has the exotic-car look nailed.
When you go to build a supercar, you want it to look like a supercar. Acura's designers seemed to know this intuitively. There's not a line or crease out of place on the NSX, and so we give it a 10 out of 10 for style.
Where to begin? From the first glance you know what this car is all about—speed, handling, and all-out performance. The design takes all the familiar supercar cues and stitches them together into something that is at once familiar and distinctive. The past and the present play happily together in this cohesive, exciting design.
Of course, the shape of the sheetmetal is not only the product of a designer's whimsy; function is equally important. The NSX design was dictated by performance. Aerodynamics and cooling properties all played a part in why the NSX looks like it does. We think that knowing the good looks are rooted in purpose only makes the whole thing even more impressive.
The interior, on the other hand, keeps things subdued and livable. Strip out the back seats and lower the roof of a TLX and you'll get a sense of how pedestrian the NSX is on the inside; even the strip of shift buttons looks to have been pulled straight from the mainstream Honda and Acura models. But everything is wrapped in leather or other high-quality materials befitting a car of this price point, and the vibe is appropriately ritzy, even if a little on the tame side.
2020 Acura NSX
The NSX’s performance is both raucous and responsible.
Hybrids might conjure up images of a Prius puttering along in the far-right lane, but the NSX showcases the very real potential of hybrid technology when applied to high-performance applications. We give it a 10 out of 10.
The specifics are impressive: a mid-engined 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged V-6 has been mated an electric motor, to which Acura has bolted up the 9-speed dual-clutch automatic. From there power gets sent to the rear tires—and also up to the fronts, where dual electric motors and a battery pack turn the NSX into an all-wheel-drive performer.
No doubt, this is some fancy engineering, and it's certainly not of the Colin Chapman school of thought—at 3,878 pounds, this is a machine that is not light nor simple. But the 573 horsepower and 476 lb-ft of torque it puts out is plenty to overcome all that mass and complexity. The NSX will storm to 60 mph in just 3.0 seconds flat; keep your foot to the floor for a little longer and you'll eventually reach a maximum velocity of 191 mph.
Ride and handling
All this fancy hardware might sound like it would neuter the experience, but it doesn't. The NSX has been tuned to be talkative, understandable, and high-fidelity. All that front grip gets distilled back to the driver without getting lost in computer translation. It's surprisingly natural for such an advanced piece of work, which can be credited to the wishbone suspension and magnetic dampers—and some serious engineering talent.
If you want to put those front motors to work, engage Track mode. This is where the ultimate performance of the NSX is unleashed; you can feel corners are being carved with more precision and the car comes into the straights with more authority. The 9-speed is also more responsive and snaps off shifts without mercy. It's one of the fastest gearboxes we've had the joy of sampling.
Normally the car defaults to Sport mode, which is perfect for putting a grin on your face on public roads. If you're not trying to disturb the neighbors there's a Quiet mode that keeps revs down and gives full control to the electric battery and motors.
Other than the propensity to understeer in certain corners—which can be reined in with a quick lift of the throttle and a touch of the brakes— the whole of the NSX's parts make one gem of a track car. It's fast and capable, yet forgiving; a few laps will make a track hero out of an ordinary driver if they just tune in to what the car is telling them during a hot lap.
2020 Acura NSX
Comfort & Quality
A small trunk makes road trips tough, but the NSX’s seats are comfortable and the cabin well appointed.
The NSX is comfortable and usable in a way not many supercars are. Our only complaint is there's little trunk space, even for this impractical class of car. We give it a 5 out of 10, with extra points for its front seats and its quality, and both points deducted for its two-seat space and its meager trunk.
Historically, supercars have sacrificed comfort for performance, demanding a contortionist's skill just to climb aboard and a sadist's tolerance for pain. The Acura moves away from that more regrettable tradition of the supercar, and its excellent front seats, great visibility, and luxurious materials make this a supercar to take on a cross-country tour.
Unfortunately, the tiny trunk makes such a trip an impossibility—with just 4.4 cubic feet of luggage space, you'll be lucky if you can fit a toiletries bag into the trunk.
What you don't get in luggage space you get in interior dimensions. There's plenty of leg and head room, and ample width. You won't be forced to get intimate with your passenger thanks to the generous cabin space.
When you want it to, the NSX will cruise for short distances in battery-powered silence; during such occasions the cabin is as silent as any good luxury car. And Honda quality abounds—you won't see the usual handbuilt maladies like loose fit and finish or wildly varying panel gaps. It's the ideal mix of uniquely bespoke and machine precision.
2020 Acura NSX
As both the NHTSA and IIHS have not tested the NSX—and likely never will—we can't give it a rating for safety.
Maybe they'd feel guilty crashing such a pretty car, or maybe it's the fact that the sales volume for these hasn’t broken five digits. Whatever the reason, the NSX hasn't been crash-tested, and so we don't rate it here.
As for safety features, NSX is lacking, though we doubt this is much of a sore point with buyers. Still, don't expect much beyond a multi-view rearview camera. Other modern features just aren't available, including blind-spot monitors—which would be particularly helpful—adaptive cruise control, or automatic emergency braking.
2020 Acura NSX
Plenty of features make the NSX as luxurious as it is sporting.
Despite the dearth in active-safety equipment, the NSX is otherwise quite luxurious, and can be optioned up with a number of indulgences for deep-pocketed buyers. We give it a 6 out of 10 for features.
There are no trim levels on the NSX. For its starting price of $159,300, you'll get leather upholstery, 4-way seats done up in both leather and Alcantara, and a 7.0-inch touchscreen for the infotainment system. That system includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as navigation, Bluetooth, HD radio, and standard FM—but not AM—radio. Acura's premium ELS audio system is also standard.
Options are typical exotic-car fare. Carbon-ceramic brakes are on the list, as is a full leather interior and and an Alcantara headliner. If you want carbon fiber, Acura will cover the door sills, spoilers, and roof with the stuff, as well as trim the interior with it. More adjustable seats are also on offer, as are painted brake calipers.
2020 Acura NSX
Buyers won't care, but fuel economy isn't the forte of the hybrid NSX.
It may be a hybrid, but it's no Prius at the pump. Combustion-engine economy from a hybrid powertrain earns the NSX a 4 out of 10.
The EPA rates the NSX at 21 mpg city, 22 highway, 21 combined. Great numbers for a supercar—less so for a hybrid with as advanced technology as this one. But similar to the lack of safety equipment, this is a moot point; we're sure buyers wouldn't mind even if the economy was single digits.