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2004 Acura TSX

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San Francisco: When you’ve got a good thing going, do the thing good. That surely must be Acura’s motto with its new TSX. The TSX comes only one way - packed with goodies - and looks great doing it, too.

The TSX fills a gap in the Acura sedan lineup that opened when the RSX coupe replaced the Integra coupe and the four-door Integra quietly disappeared into the night. Unlike the old four-door Integra, the TSX can compete equally with German compacts like the BMW 3 Series and Audi A4. This really isn’t surprising, because the TSX is based on the European version of the Honda Accord, which is smaller, leaner, and sportier than the American-built Accord.

Tailored like an Armani suit, the TSX mixes today’s edges with a muscular, solid look. The now traditional Acura five-sided grille adds purpose and sparkle to the low nose. Character lines streak up from the headlamp pods up along the sides, conveying speed and motion. The high tail splits the wind smoothly, for the best aerodynamics in the model segment. Alloy 17-inch wheels with low profile Michelins fill out the wheelwells.

Inside, sport style seats have deep side bolsters to keep you in place on country road jaunts. They are covered in leather, of course, as are the steering wheel and shift knob. That knob is partly metal, so your hand can feel a satisfying warm/cool contrast during shifts.

A streak of silvery trim spans both doors and then dips at the dash center. No plain straight lines in this cabin, no sir! Cruise control and audio buttons live in silver islands on the steering wheel spokes. The electroluminescent gauge panel glows sharp and clear day or night.

Motivating the TSX is a 200-horsepower turbocharged inline four, with 166 lb-ft. or torque. The high-rev engine gets its full horsepower at 6,800 rpm, which would be into the redline on many other cars. Honda’s iVTEC "intelligent" valve control system guarantees that you feel plenty of pep across the power band, and makes the car cleaner and more fuel-miserly than its predecessor. You can go 110,000 miles before a major engine tune-up, thanks to platinum-tipped spark plugs.

A high-tech drive-by-wire system eliminates the mechanical connection between the engine and your right foot. Numerous advantages come from this, not the least of which is the ability to adjust pedal feel for different driving situations. Also, the car’s vehicle stability control uses the electronic throttle control to do its magic.

Most cars offer either just one transmission or charge extra for an automatic. But the TSX comes with either a six-speed manual or a sequential five-speed SportShift standard - your choice. My Carbon Gray Pearl test unit had the manual, and although it exhibited typical Honda flawlessness, it didn’t deliver a lot of feel. Fuel mileage is 21 city 29 highway with the manual, and 22 city, 31 highway with the automatic. Remember when the manuals had the better mileage?

As a complete package, all you can add to the TSX is Honda’s navigation system, with its generous eight-inch touch screen display and voice recognition technology. Manufacturers warn you about fooling with the nav system while you’re driving, so voice commands are a really safety bonus.

Other standard features include power windows and locks, dual-zone automatic climate control, a power moonroof, a 360-watt premium sound system, tilt/telescope steering wheel, and an eight-way adjustable driver’s seat.

Safety is the byword with today’s cars, and the TSX is full of things to make you sleep better at night. One is the standard side curtain airbags, which minimize head and neck injuries in a crash. The front airbags are dual-stage, dual-threshold, so they inflate at different rates depending on the severity of a crash. The TSX has side airbags for the driver and front passenger as well; the passenger side airbag won’t go off if sensors in the seat detect that the passenger is a kid or small adult.

With a one-model, all-inclusive package, the price of a TSX is easy to compute. It is $26,990, including destination charges. Add $2,000 if you want the navigation system. Are BMW, Audi and Mercedes quaking in their boots yet?   By Steve Schaefer AutoWire.Net - San Francisco

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Byline:  Syndicated content provided by Tony Leopardo AutoWire.Net
Column Name:  Acura has a good thing going with the TSX
Topic:  2004 Acura TSX
Word Count:   767
Photo Caption:  2004 Acura TSX
Photo Credits:  Acura Internet Media
Series #:   2003 - 47

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