2009 Acura TSX Tech: Excellent fuel economy and high marks for style
By Mike Blake, Carlisle Events
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
The Acura TSX was first introduced in 2003 as an entry-level replacement for the under-selling Acura C and has filled the void created with the discontinuation of Integra in 2001. Apparently included in Acura’s plans for the future, TSX may survive the Acura RSX after that marque ceases production. Prior to this year, the TSX was only sold in North America, but it will travel South of the Border to Mexican dealerships this year.
The smallest Acura sold in America, the 2009 model is the second-generation TSX and it is assembled in Sayama, Saitama, Japan. This year’s version consists entirely of Japanese parts and my Basque Red Pearl test TSX was in Tech trim is a blend of “luxury, performance and technology in equal measure,” according to Acura. When in the cockpit, the feeling is that with high-tech abundance, comfort and fuel economy taken into consideration, Acura hasn’t overhyped its creation.
The TSX’s architecture is one of fluid style that appeals to the young, hip audience as well as the more experienced road warriors who like an exciting package on their four wheels.
Under the hood is a small, 2.4-liter DOHC 16-valve, 4-cylinder engine that manages to purr out 201hp and 172 lbs.-ft. of torque. That certainly isn’t a lot of power for a 3,485-lb. front-drive sedan, but is does provide some quality fuel-consumption numbers.
EPA estimates place fuel economy at 21mpg in city driving and 30mpg on the highway on the recommended fuel -- Premium Unleaded – but during a week of tests in Pennsylvania sunshine and Maryland and New Jersey rain, from Chesapeake Bay to Amish Country to Revolutionary War townships and wooded communities, across Interstates, country roads, and township and city streets, with highways miles outdistancing neighborhood treks by a three-to-one margin, my test ride far exceeded expectations and delivered an average of 33.4mpg.
Economy virtues aside, the question can be posed: Is a small i-VTEC 4-cylinder engine, mated to a 5-speed automatic transmission sufficient for the TSX? A six would make this a pocket rocket and the 4-burner is a bit sluggish (a 7.9-second zero-to-60mpg run en route to a sleepy 15.8-second quarter-mile) from a dead stop, but the set-up provides decent passing gear acceleration at speed. When called upon, in the rain, decent torque allowed the TSX to avert danger, and responsive steering and excellent braking presented solid maneuverability and a safe, confident driving experience.
At slow speeds, the TSX is compliant and responsive, but there is some slip and hesitation at higher velocities. When the pedal is mashed at highway speed, there is a moment of indecision before the acceleration kicks in, but once engaged, the 2.4 is more than enough to make the necessary moves to accomplish safe lane changes and weaves.
The TSX is more about the tech and the entry luxury than the speed … more style than performance, but it is an awesome canvas for the tuner and upgrade crowd. An aerodynamic exterior addition here, a spiffy paint job there, air shocks, suspension lift kit, or some spinners or dubbed wheels on the outside and video screens or an ear-splitting upgrade of the standard, and already decibel-hip 10-speaker, 410-watt sound system inside, would turn this tech-oriented sporty ride into a true performance and style showcase. And for the dedicated performance crowd, an engine upgrade to the Acura RDX crossover’s turbocharged 2.3-liter, 240hp 4-cylinder would be a great fit.
Even without the upgrades, the TSX Tech is one exciting package. Easy-to-park dimensions of 186.1 inches in length, 72.4 inches in width, 56.7 inches in height and ground clearance of 5.7 inches makes for a very accommodating ride.
Inside, is a treasure chest of items. The confines are comfortable with roomy seating for four: headroom of 37.6 inches up front and 37.0 behind; leg room of 42.4 inches in row one and 34.2 inches in row two and shoulder room of 57.8 inches for driver and passenger with 56.1 inches in the rear seats.
In the cabin, standard items include, heated front sports seats with perforated leather, driver 8-way power front seat with lumbar support, 4-way power front passenger seat, automatic climate control with air filtration, power windows, power moonroof and heated power door mirrors.
But the star of this show is the standard Tech package that includes a navigation system with voice recognition, real-time traffic reports and weather details. Also included are a rearview camera system, Bluetooth for hands-free cellphone use, a USB audio interface, XM Satellite Radio, an Elliot Scheiner-tuned 10-speaker 410-watt surround-sound system, MP3/auxiliary input jack, Radio Data System, steering wheel-mounted audio controls, computer information system and maintenance minder system.
Safety issues are handled via driver and front passenger dual-stage air bags, side air bags, side curtain air bags, vehicle stability assist, ABS, side-impact door beams, ACE body structure and theft-deterrent system.
The TSX Tech is base priced at $32,060 (that includes the technology package that puts about $3100 on the base TSX price of $28,960). Handling and destination charges add $660 to the bill.
The 2009 Acura TSX Tech … it’s no speed-burner, but it’s hip and fuel-efficient.
Visit www.CarlisleEvents.com for more on the automotive hobby.
Mike Blake, former editor of KIT CAR magazine, joined Carlisle Events as senior automotive journalist in 2004. He's been a "car guy" since the 1960s and has been writing professionally for about 30 years.
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