A good old favourite goes bye-bye The engineers at Acura certainly worked their magic in making the TSX feel much lighter and nimbler than what it says on paper.
I’d like to start this review with an admission. I’ve never driven a TSX before. Despite this, I’ve always coveted the first generation TSX. To me, the car felt like the perfect ‘tweener’ car for the individual who wanted something fun to drive without sacrificing practicality or breaking the bank. It also helped that the car looked – and still does – absolutely fantastic. It came as no surprise then that I was ecstatic when my editor tossed me the keys to the 2013 Acura TSX Premium and instructed me to do a piece as DoubleClutch’s farewell to the Acura TSX. Which ends production this year – along with the legendary TL – and will be replaced with the Acura TLX.
My tester came with the 2.4L VTEC inline-4 mated to a slick six-speed manual. The car pushes out 201 horses and 172 lb-ft of torque. Perfectly adequate numbers for the little four-banger, and with the car weighing in at roughly 1500kg, the motor is perfectly adequate as well. You also have the option to pony up an extra few thousand dollars and step up to the 280-horsepower V6 model, but you’ll find that the pricing for that car puts you right into German entry-level sedan territory. The TSX is a truly excellent car, but it can’t keep up with the likes of the Audi A4 and the BMW 3-series. In fact, even the new Lexus IS with its available all-wheel-has entered a different ball game. That’s not to say that ‘adequate’ isn’t a good thing.
The rev-happy VTEC powerplant does a great job in the city and blends together a sublime combination of fun and economical. Throughout the week, I couldn’t help but drive with a bit of a heavier foot, and even still I managed a respectable 8.7L/100 KM of combined city and highway driving. In true Honda fashion, the shifter was a pleasure to use, with short throws and precise engagements that made each shift just feel so confident. Paired with a light and comfortable clutch, the TSX saw no complaints from me during long commutes in rush hour traffic. The suspension while a little bit on the softer side still kept the car level in corners and generally made the car feel very stable at speed. However, there’s always that occasional larger than average bump that reminds you of the softer suspension setup, and if I’m honest, it’s also in those situations that I welcome it. The engineers at Acura certainly worked their magic in making the TSX feel much lighter and nimbler than what it says on paper.
Speaking of long commutes during rush hour, spend an hour or two inside and the TSX will make plain that Acura has clearly moved on from tradition and are hard at work developing the TLX. With the cabin swathed in soft touch plastics, leather, and nary a panel gap in sight, build quality certainly isn’t the issue with the TSX. However, getting inside the TSX still feels like stepping back a decade in automotive infotainment development. Make no mistake; the Premium does come with all the usual amenities one should expect from a $34,000 entry-level luxury sedan. Yes, you get Bluetooth, iPod integration, Sirius XM Satellite radio, heated seats and a sunroof, but it’s the implementation that really shows the car is getting a bit long in the tooth.
Everything is presented to you on a monochromatic LCD display (which, by the way is unreadable if you crack open the sunroof on a sunny day). When playing songs wirelessly from my Bluetooth device, the LCD simply reads “Bluetooth Audio”. I also never quite figured out why my iPhone didn’t count as an “iPod” when plugged in via USB either. It’s not all bad news in the cabin though, as the TSX’s standard 7 speaker Premium audio sounded fantastic and offered plenty of tight, controlled bass, great midrange sound and crystal clear highs. Distortion was never an issue even with the volume cranked up. The TSX provided some very well bolstered and comfortable seats up front and plenty of leg room for those in the back. I remember growing up and reading the praise that auto journalists sang about Acura’s quality and interior cabin design. From my experience with the TSX, the quality remains, but the competition have stepped up their game and now much of the TSX cabin just feels a tad dated.
The upcoming TLX is -successor to both the TLX and its older sibling, the TL. The outgoing car is a pretty great thing – in fact, it definitely makes me a bit upset to see it go away. It’s the car I wanted through university, and even high school. There’s no denying that it’s due for an update though, and the TLX looks simply amazing. It’s with a heavy heart that I say goodbye to an old friend – till we meet again.
2014 Acura TSX Premium Gallery