- Attractive wagon body style
- Overall handling and responsiveness
- Strong, smooth V-6
- Refined and responsive four-cylinder
- Quiet, well-controlled ride
- Lackluster gas mileage
- No spare tire (Wagon)
- Odd beak
- Tight rear seat
With exception to those green-car enthusiasts out there, we think the 2014 Acura TSX strikes a solid compromise for shoppers interested in a practical, sporty, premium compact sedan.
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).
2014 Acura TSX
Lean and sporty, the Acura TSX cuts an appealing profile.
The 2014 Acura TSX won't appeal to everyone, though we think it's tastefully designed inside and out, and a little on the conservative side, even.
The TSX is nicely proportioned, especially in wagon guise. It's essentially a European-market Honda Accord with unique features and design cues, with crisp edges and a modern, high-tech look that should resonate well with younger professionals. The TSX gets a lot of attention–for better or worse–for its grille, though, which some might refer to as a beak instead.
But otherwise, it's hard to find a point of contention inside or out; it's all very tastefully done. In the handsome cabin, a gentle arc spans the dash, and it's appointed with cleanly designed, high-quality materials and easy-to-use controls. Metallic plastic trim helps lift some visual weight from the dash, and the touchy bits never let on any lower-rent vibes. You can get a TSX with wood trim, but we don't think it fits the character of the model.
2014 Acura TSX
We'd choose the four-cylinder's ample punch over the V-6's added front-end heft.
The 2014 Acura TSX isn't necessarily a by-the-book sport sedan (it has front-wheel drive), but it is a little sportier than most other small to mid-size luxury sedans.
Across the lineup, steering and ride are very European in feel--taut but really never punishing. Over many drives, we've been pleased with the way the electric power steering is calibrated, with nice weighting.
The base engine is a 201-horsepower 2.4-liter four-cylinder, and that's enough for most drivers, though some will be tempted by the 280-horsepower 3.5-liter V-6. Both engines can be paired with either manual or automatic transmissions–except in the wagon model, where the four-cylinder and the automatic make up the only powertrain.
Between the two transmissions in the four-cylinder model, we tend to prefer the manual, as it showcases the best of parent company Honda, with a precise shift linkage, light clutch takeup, and rev-happy engine--plus smart, closely-spaced gear ratios that really help you get the most enjoyment without losing fuel economy.
2014 Acura TSX
Comfort & Quality
The Acura TSX has a well-appointed, spacious interior; the Wagon's a cargo champ.
While the 2014 Acura TSX remains slightly smaller than the well-selling TL sedan, there's not much of a difference in terms of of interior comfort. Thanks to its good driving position, excellent seats, great ride quality and reasonable cargo space, the TSX makes for a more practical choice than many of the more traditional sport sedans on the market.
Ride comfort can be a bit on the firm side, but it's about on par with other mid-size sporty luxury sedans; although some coarse road surfaces can transmit noise into the cabin, it's reasonably tight and quiet most of the time.
The front seats of the TSX are both comfortable, supportive and adjustable enough for people of many shapes and sizes; though they do skew toward the firmer end of the spectrum. The rear seats may be a little tight for tall adults, and headroom may be another issue, but four average adults can fit well enough–and better, we think than in a comparable Audi A4.
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).
Across the TSX model line, there are plenty of in-cabin pockets and compartments; cabin materials are nothing special in themselves, but they're all well-coordinated, with good fit and finish.
2014 Acura TSX
Crash-test scores are good, but the Acura TSX doesn't have some of the latest safety options.
The 2014 Acura TSX doesn't have quite as many active safety features available as the larger TL sedan–or many of the other luxury-branded sedans out there–but we still consider it a strong choice for safety-minded shoppers.
The TSX includes all the expected standard safety features in this class--including active front-seat headrests--but it's missing some of the advanced safety-tech options like a blind-spot warning system or active cruise control. A rear-view camera system is available though, and some drivers might benefit from it, although overall outward visibility is reasonably good.
While the TSX has earned top 'good' results in Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) crash tests in the past, it's not performed well on the new small-overlap test. A "marginal" score on that crash test means the TSX is no longer a Top Safety Pick.
The TSX hasn't been tested in recent years by the NHTSA.
2014 Acura TSX
The TSX lags in the latest infotainment and luxury features.
The 2014 Acura TSX has enough standard features and optional technology to make it feel modern, but not quite lavish. Comfortable leather, Bluetooth connectivity and USB , heated seats and satellite radio are all standard, and excellent audio and navigation systems are available, too.
One feature--the available power tailgate for the wagon--we do see as a bit silly here, as the tailgate is light and low, a one-arm operation.
The only complaint we have about the TSX's feature list--other than, it's very limited--is that it's missing some tech extras, like adaptive cruise control, active parking aids, rear seat heaters, or accident-avoidance features. Increasingly so, these models are trickling down to compact luxury models, and they're what differentiate some of the luxury-brand smaller sedans.
The only major lineup across much of the lineup is the Tech Package, and we recommend it as it brings a much-improved 415-watt audio system with ten speakers, Dolby surround sound, DVD Audio, and a Song by Voice feature, plus enhanced Bluetooth features and steering-wheel controls, and a navigation system with rear-view camera and real-time traffic with live rerouting. The climate control system is also upgraded with rear vents and a solar-sensing feature.
The Special Edition model includes a more aggressive front-end look, plus side sills and five-spoke polished-finish alloys, and it's only offered in a few select colors. It's also limited to the TSX Sedan.
2014 Acura TSX
Gas mileage is fine, but the TSX isn't as frugal with fuel as the four-cylinder implies.
Whether you consider the TSX an entry-level sport or luxury sedan, it's reasonably green in both instances–though other brands are turning their focus to higher fuel economy in their sedans, too.
The EPA rates the sedan at 21/29 for the four-cylinder manual, and the automatic earns 21/31. If you look at the wagon, it's rated at 22/30, with its four-cylinder/automatic-only drivetrain. The V-6 is punished too much, either–rated at 22/30–impressive for its additional 79 horses.
Over quite a few drives of the four-cylinder models, we've had no problem seeing somewhat better than those EPA numbers--especially with the manual transmission. But with the introduction of new four-cylinder models of the BMW 3-Series, earning up to 34 mpg highway, there are now some markedly better fuel-stingy choices on the market.
Acura offers no hybrid version of the TSX, although there is a hybrid version of the smaller ILX.