2011 Acura TSX Review

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Martin Padgett Martin Padgett Editorial Director
January 23, 2011

Buying tip

The 2011 Acura TSX’s optional Technology Package gets our vote, thanks to its exceptional sound quality, and the inclusion of a 60GB hard drive

The 2011 Acura TSX is the essence of what the brand should be: compact, light, efficient, and user-friendly—not to mention fully equipped.

Wagons are back, at least at Acura this year. With the luxury arm of Honda adding crossovers galore under its twin-caliper badge, it's also slotted in a new wagon body for its entry-level TSX sedan—and the new version ends up being one of our favorite Acuras.

The wagon is an easy addition, since the TSX is a version of Honda's European-market Accord sedan, and since the wagon already is on sale on the Continent. But it's not an easy sale, by any means, since the compact wagon market in the U.S. is dominated by European brands with perhaps a bit more of a luxury reputation than Acura has.

For 2011, the TSX returns in sedan form, too. With either body style, this small Acura is attractive inside and out—particularly in wagon form--though it does have its low points. That point is up front: the latest Acura face has a grille that's ingloriously been dubbed a "bionic beaver" or likened to a beer opener. It's been tweaked slightly for 2011, though a dramatic change is still a couple of years in the offing. The cabin's more overtly handsome—it's full of cleanly designed, high-quality materials and easy-to-use controls, arranged along a gentle arc that spans the dash.

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Though the TSX's V-6 adds some much-needed punch, the 201-hp four-cylinder is more than capable for a car of its size and weight. Even in the slightly heavier wagon, the TSX's four delivers a swell balance of usable power and high fuel economy estimated at 22/30 mpg. The 280-hp six handles less well, and carries more weight on its nose, but fuel economy holds up at 19/28 mpg. Steering and ride quality are from the European camp, firm and taut, not cushy.

As the smallest Acura, the TSX reins in less interior space than the big TL and RL, but its proportions seem like a perfect fit for the brand. Front seats are comfortable and multi-adjustable. The back bench can be a squeeze for the biggest passengers, but anyone under 5' 10" will find adequate head and leg room. The cargo area's more like a backpack in the wagon model, with fewer cubic feet than you might expect, but a clever divider helps partition the space into useful chunks.

Good crash ratings mean you can drive with confidence in your family's safety, but a standard backup camera would be a nice addition. It's available as an option. Acura's reticence to adopt some tech features means lane-departure warnings, parking sensors and even adaptive cruise control are either unavailable or bundled in expensive packages.

It's the same for other entertainment features, though the TSX does come relatively well equipped with a USB port, Bluetooth, XM, and leather seating with heated, powered front buckets. Despite the extensive standard feature set, the Technology Package is well worth the price, especially in light of the excellent upgraded audio system and 60GB hard drive and navigation system included in the price. A power tailgate is optional.


2011 Acura TSX


Smartly styled inside and out, the entry-luxury 2011 Acura TSX sedan and wagon have only a few minor “beauty marks.”

Since it was completely restyled in 2009, the Acura TSX is largely carried over for the 2011 model year, save for some very small cosmetic tweaks. The crisp-edged flanks, and generally modern, high-tech look of the TSX sedan is aimed right at younger professionals who don't cling to European brands—but still want a clean, conservative look. It's even better as a Sport Wagon: that trim body comes from Europe, and on looks alone, it's the most pleasing Acura, what with its Subaru-like slimness. Luckily for the TSX, both models underplay the bionic-beaver Acura grille that's been excoriated all over the Web--you don't quite get the same "it's Miller Time!" urge to open bottles on the grille's chevron as you do on the larger TL or RL sedans.

Inside, the basic styling elements are attractive and contemporary, with flowing, swoopy curves executed in pleasing materials and colors. It's never ruthless in its efficiency. An arcade of silvery plastic hones some of the visual weight from the dash, and the touchy bits never let on any lower-rent vibes. Wood trim is available, if you really want it.

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2011 Acura TSX


The Acura TSX's V-6 adds some much-needed punch, but the four-cylinder has enough guts, and handling is admirable for a front-wheel-drive sedan.

Acura sees the TSX as its sporty alternative to cars like the Audi A4 and entry-level BMW 3-Series vehicles. For that reason, handling is a big priority—and a big success of its front-drive sedan and wagon.

A 201-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder is the standard powerplant on the TSX sedan and the only engine offered on the Sport Wagon. In the four-door, the standard six-speed manual transmission gives the car a lively edge, and the four-cylinder loves a midrange run through the gears. Honda builds some of the most easy-going, sweet-shifting manuals in existence, and it’s baffling to most car reviewers why the company would omit the six-speed manual from the Sport Wageon lineup.

Even with the paddle-shifted Sequential SportShift five-speed automatic transmission, the four-cylinder winds very smoothly up through the gears, with a noticeable drop-off between fourth and fifth that leads the charge to the Wagon's 22/30 mpg EPA fuel economy rating. Long uphill passes aren't the best idea, but a lightly-laden TSX with the four-cylinder and automatic can handle more than the pedestrian numbers (about 8 seconds to 60 mph) will read.

The four-cylinder TSX sedan and wagon are fitted with electric power steering, but the sensations coming from the long-telescope steering wheel create one of the better driving simulations out there. Ride comfort is swell, a fine mix of taut control through the suspension and a good amount of give and take from the passive all-season tires.

Last year Honda introduced a 280-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 engine option to the TSX sedan. The six delivers one of the few things the TSX lacked--power. Handling is still nimble and sporting, with a firm yet absorbent ride.

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2011 Acura TSX

Comfort & Quality

It’s well-built from high-quality materials, but the Acura TSX needs more mute on tire noise, and could use a softer touch with seats.

The Acura's front seats match the others for space and comfort, if not on firmness—and still we've heard complaints about the stiffness of the TSX's seat cushions. They're at least broad enough for bigger American bodies, and the footwells aren't crowded. The center console brushes knees lightly, compared to the narrow V50.

The back seat should be reserved for people under 5' 10", though. The rear doors open to a middling amount of knee room, and the seats themselves could be a little less firm. The standard sunroof pushes the headliner down deeply into passenger head room, and there's no "delete" option on the order sheet.

Cargo space, on the other hand, is good, with an ample trunk and plenty of in-cabin pockets and compartments. The Sport Wagon is a winner, in terms of usability, even though the cargo area of 25.8 cubic feet of cargo space seems a little shallow. It will accept a few roll-on suitcases, or Costco boxes, or at least a couple of iMac boxes stacked flat. There's also a bin under the cargo floor for secure storage. It's far roomier than the larger, heavier, less useful and mostly ridiculous Acura ZDX crossover.

While the comfort and quality of the TSX are just shy of top-notch, they're right on par for the mid-size luxury sedan segment. Acura's selection of materials is high, and fit and finish are one of the best reasons to recommend the TSX.

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2011 Acura TSX


Crash ratings haven’t been fully decided, but based on previous scores, the 2011 Acura TSX gives you confidence for your family's safety.

Standard features include dual front, side and curtain airbags, as well as anti-lock brakes, stability and traction control, and active headrests.

In the past, the TSX has earned a Top Safety Pick from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The insurance-funded group has altered its scoring this year, and while the TSX keeps its "good" ratings, a new-roof crush standard hasn't been tested.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has changed its criteria, too—which leaves the TSX unrated, as of yet, for the 2011 model year.

A rearview camera is available as an option, but the TSX lineup doesn't offer the latest blind-spot warning systems or adaptive cruise control, for those who want them.

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2011 Acura TSX


It’s richly equipped, but you’ll want to spend more for the 2011 Acura TSX’s optional Tech Package, and its excellent audio and navigation systems.

The sedan's standard-feature list includes dual-zone climate control, USB and Bluetooth connectivity, plus a premium 7-speaker sound system with subwoofer and XM Satellite Radio capability. An optional navigation system offers real-time traffic and dynamic rerouting capability to direct you around hazards and congestion when possible. A 10-speaker, 415-watt sound system is also available, along with a six-disc CD changer in the Technology Package.

All Wagons come with a USB port, satellite radio, and leather seats. The $30,960 TSX Sport Wagon doesn't come with a rearview camera, though, unless you order the Technology Package, which amps up the sticker price to $34,610. That package also adds on a power tailgate, a 460-watt audio system, and the voice-controlled navigation system and its real-time traffic and travel information.

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2011 Acura TSX

Fuel Economy

The wagon’s fuel economy leads the wagon pack, and the 2011 Acura TSX sedan gets good mileage in four-cylinder form.

Acura balances driving fun with fuel economy in the 2011 TSX.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) records the TSX’s fuel economy by body style and drivetrain. The 2011 Sport Wagon rates highly at 22/30 mpg; the sedan earns ratings of 20/28 mpg for the four-cylinder manual, while the automatic boasts 21/30 mpg.

The V-6 sedan still is rated at a fairly strong 18/27 mpg. It’s an especially good showing, considering the extra 79 horsepower on tap.

Acura offers no hybrid drivetrains with the TSX—or on any of its vehicles. A planned diesel version of the TSX sedan was canceled last year.

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