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 isnt
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 todays 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. Hondas 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 cars vehicle stability control uses the electronic throttle control to do
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 didnt 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 Hondas
navigation system, with its generous eight-inch touch screen display and voice recognition
technology. Manufacturers warn you about fooling with the nav system while youre
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 drivers seat.
Safety is the byword with todays 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 wont go off if sensors in the seat detect that the passenger is a kid or
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?