A Civic Si for grown-ups I adore the Civic Si, and now that I’m apparently beginning to grow up, I can’t help but think that the TSX may as well be the perfect daily driver.
I have long since admitted that the high school/undergraduate university version of me was secretly a bit of a ricer on the inside. Though my own vehicle was a heavily modified domestic, there was a small part of me that always wanted a Honda. The Acura RSX was always on my radar, and once I realized that I couldn’t exactly fit my entourage into one, I decided that I wanted a TSX. I never actually ever got around to buying one, nor did I ever even bother to drive one. It truly was “the one that got away”. I’ll use that little story to justify my excitement when I found out that I’d be spending a week with the new 2013 Acura TSX Premium.
The first-generation TSX (based off the Euro-market Honda Accord) was my ideal vehicle a few years ago. Polarizing styling, a VTEC-filled motor, and an available 6-speed manual. How could I go wrong? The second-generation, which is currently nearing its end, grew up a little bit. It got bigger, slightly uglier, and was the first sedan to adopt Acura’s “milk-moustache” front grill. I personally wasn’t originally a fan, but I’ve warmed up to it over the past little while. My tester was a 2013 Premium model equipped with the 6-speed manual.
Powered by a 2.4L VTEC 4-cylinder, the TSX Premium appears to be a Civic Si for grown-ups. I adore the Civic Si, and now that I’m apparently beginning to grow up, I can’t help but think that the TSX may as well be the perfect daily driver. However, though this setup works brilliantly in both the Si and the Acura ILX (Dynamic), it just doesn’t tickle my fancy in the TSX as much as I thought it would. For ordinary drivers, it’s perfectly adequate. There’s a bit of a lack in low-end power, but once VTEC kicks in (around 5,000 RPM) the car is a screamer and begs to be pushed more. The 2.4 just feels far too strained and, dare I say, lazy. It’s akin to a skinny teenager pushing his mom’s Accord. He’ll get the job done, but he’ll be tired at the end of it. The 6-speed manual is the transmission to get in this car though. While it may not be the most fun car out there, the available automatic would be a shame to a good motor. There’s a reason the Civic Si is only available with a manual.
All that being said, the shifter and clutch relationship is, in typical Honda fashion, absolutely incredible. If anybody misses a shift or grinds a gear in a modern-day Honda product, they probably have no business driving a manual. It’s just so simple, so precise, and so comfortable both when cruising leisurely and when pushing the car to its limits. Highway fuel mileage on the TSX is great too; I managed to get 6.8L/100km. In combined mileage with a heavy foot, I averaged 8.5L/100km on premium-grade fuel. Not a bad number in the slightest.
The TSX “Premium”, fancy naming for what is essentially the base model, comes relatively well equipped for a mainstream sedan. At just under $34,000, the Premium comes with heated leather seats, a sunroof, and Bluetooth connectivity. When modifying my non-Honda toy car a few years ago, I was advised that Acura TSX projectors were the best headlights in the industry, and the HIDs on the 2013 are no different. The cutoff is beautiful; it’s hard to go back to halogen after you’ve used headlights as good as those in the TSX.
I will say though, that upon entering the interior is where the TSX really shows its age. Where the materials are decent enough and the buttons are all easy-to-find, the monochromatic stereo/climate display is what truly disappoints the driver. It looks at least a decade old. In order to get navigation, one must step up to the Tech package. Even then, Acura’s user interface is getting truly long in the tooth. It’s a shame really, because the rest of the interior is built wonderfully. The seats are comfortable and offer great support even when flying around corners.
There’s no doubt that the TSX certainly gives off the upscale image. It’s a great car for a young bachelor who can no longer be seen driving his beige 2003 Altima around. Right now though, for $34,000, there are better options in the segment, even for non-enthusiasts. Don’t for one second think though that the TSX is a true luxury sedan. It’s simply a premium sedan that, when equipped with the correct transmission, is relatively fun to drive. It’s more fun than a Camry, Altima, or Accord by a mile. It’s not quite up to par with the BMW 320i, the Volvo S60, or even the all-new Lexus IS. I think with the upcoming redesign of the TSX, due any day now, Honda will have another grand slam on their hands. Till then though, I will take my first-generation TSX in black, please!
2013 Acura TSX Premium Gallery