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1,199 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Date: December 2009
Current Mileage/Months in Fleet: 23,548/11 months
Average Fuel Economy/Range: 26 mpg/481 miles
Service: $197.90
Normal Wear: $8.63
Repair: $24.91
Damage and Destruction: $279.41

So let’s say there’s this girl you dated in high school, and she was lean, athletic, and attractive in an understated sort of way. Then you both went away to college, and when you saw her again she was a little more sophisticated and still an athlete, but she’d gained weight and developed an overbite. Does romance flower anew? Or does it wither?

Relating the metaphor to our second-generation Acura TSX long-term test car—with a substantial number of miles already accumulated—the answer to the renewal of affection question seems to be “yes.” The original TSX was light, lithe, eager, and agile, a naturally aspirated four-cylinder car playing in an entry-luxury league full of entries with turbo fours and V-6s.

In its renewal, the car has gained a little more torque from the four (although horsepower dropped a smidge), a V-6 engine option, slightly bigger dimensions, modestly expanded interior volume, edgier body contours, and bigger footprints. And interior noise levels have been noticeably reduced.

On the debit side of the ledger, more TSX equals more weight—about 120 pounds for the four-cylinder model, depending on equipment. And we have yet to encounter anyone who sees beauty in that beaky chromed grille, a shouty design element that’s become a distinguishing feature throughout the Acura family. Note: distinguishing does not mean distinguished.

The Car
Like the original, the TSX is based on the European version of the Honda Accord, substantially smaller than the latest U.S. Accord sedan, which has edged over the full-size border. But, as we said, it’s bigger than the previous TSX. The wheelbase has been lengthened from 105.1 inches to 106.4, overall length—186.1 inches—has stretched 2.7 inches, and width, as well as front and rear track, has expanded by 3.0 inches to 72.4.

The base price for a TSX—the four-cylinder model with a very sweet standard six-speed manual transmission—is $29,970. As was true of the original TSX, the base price includes a lot of goodies: a power moonroof, leather, heated power front seats, heated power mirrors with turn-signal repeaters, xenon HID headlights, 17-inch aluminum alloy wheels, traction control, defeatable stability control, and enough airbags to cushion a hard lunar landing.

Our test car is equipped with the Tech package, which includes a user-friendly navigation system with voice recognition, 10-speaker audio with iPod and USB connectivity, a six-disc CD changer, and a rearview camera. When the car arrived in frozen Ann Arbor last January, the bottom line on the window sticker was $33,070.

The Numbers

Although the TSX is bigger and heavier, its torque and shorter gearing compensate, making the car a little quicker. With just 1048 miles on the odo, we clocked the 0-to-60-mph run in seven seconds flat, a couple tenths better than the previous car. The quarter-mile also improves by three tenths of a second and 1 mph to 15.4 seconds at 92 mph.

The lower ratios also don’t seem to have hampered fuel economy much, as the EPA forecasts 20 mpg city/28 highway, a gain of 1 mpg in the city cycle. Over the course of 23,548 miles, we’ve averaged 26 mpg, 3 mpg better than the official combined rating.

Skidpad performance—0.86 g—is respectable, considering the standard 17-inch all-season tires (225-series Michelin Pilot HX MXM4). Braking, however, is a weak suit—180 feet from 70 mph; not at all impressive for a car with sporty aspirations and some formidable European competition.

There have been two scheduled service visits. The first came at 8274 miles for an oil and filter change plus tire rotation, the second at 17,650 miles for the same basic service plus multiple inspections. The total for both came to $197.90.

Aside from routine service visits and swapping from all-season tires to Hankook W300 Icebear winter tires and back to all-seasons, the TSX has had only one assembly-related glitch to date. A piece of rubber roof trim detached itself just above the driver’s door during a car wash but wasn’t covered by the warranty, necessitating a replacement cost of $24.91. A cracked fog-light lens also needed replacing, but its cost surprised us—$164.54 for the new lens, $105.00 in labor, $9.87 in tax, for a total of $279.41. A windshield wiper blade replacement, however, was much easier to swallow: $8.63. And a blown out front speaker was swapped out under warranty.

Travelers’ Choice
Judging by logbook comments so far, staff members who have managed to look past the car’s lamentable front-end styling have found the TSX a very easy car to live with. The seats are terrific with a range of adjustability that accommodates a wide swath of physiques, the ride is smooth, the car is quiet in operation, and it has the same playful spirit that made the original TSX so delightful.

And for anyone who thinks the TSX is on the small side, we cite the logbook note made by Mary Seelhorst, who enlisted the car to ferry part of her band—Bill Bynum and Company—on a four-gig tour of western Michigan. Besides “three adults, size regular,” the inventory included “one box of CDs, two guitar stands, three overnight bags, one backpack, one microphone stand, one fiddle, three guitars, one lawn chair, one umbrella (wet), three pairs of cowboy boots, one gig bag, one garment bag, one amplifier, six stylish shirts on hangers, and one gallon of water.” Even with all that cargo on board, Ms. Seelhorst, like others, reported the trip was made in comfort. It seems a little more weight has thus far just meant a little more TSX to love.


1,199 Posts
Discussion Starter #2

When the 1st-generation Acura TSX (2004–2008) reached the end of its production run, we were apprehensive. Would the makeover follow the all-too-familiar malaise afflicting so many new cars—more mass, more money, less edge, less fun? The original TSX offered only 1 engine—a naturally aspirated, 2.4-liter 4 generating just 200 horsepower. We loved it. Tidy in size, agile, loaded with standard features, and thrifty at the pump, that TSX would be a decidedly tough act to follow. Though no 1 here was smitten with the bright new overbite on the heavily chromed front fascia, we decided to give the 2nd-gen TSX a 40,000-mile acid test to find out.

Based on the Honda Accord sold in Europe, this TSX is a little bigger than the 1st (an increase with minimal payoff for rear-seat passengers) and a little heavier, too—about 130 pounds, depending on equipment. But it’s much smaller than the Accord sedan sold here, and handier as well. Acura finally gave in to market pressures and added a V-6 engine option for 2010. We’re not at all sure this is a plus, particularly in light of the V-6’s $5540 premium and automatic-only transmission. Our long-term test car arrived in the depths of winter—late January 2009—with 87 miles on the odo and Acura’s thoroughly proven 2.4-liter, DOHC 16-valve aluminum 4 (a modest 201 horsepower and 172 pound-feet of torque) under its hood, mated to a 6-speed manual transmission.

The base price for the TSX still managed to limbo under the $30,000 bar in 2009, but the sticker for our test car, equipped with the Tech package (nav system, voice-com-box to be exemplary—long a Honda specialty—and a point of distinction for the TSX, noting “light and linear clutch takeup and an ultradirect six-speed shifter.” There was a gearbox-related demerit, though, which was nearly universal, and it concerned the aluminum shift knob—it got too hot to handle in summer, too cold when temps sank below freezing. “The world’s coldest shift knob!” wrote one chronicler on a 22-degree morning. “And no, I didn’t put my tongue on it.”

Aside from the gear-whine phenomenon, the Acura’s performance remained consistent throughout its C/D tenure, although, unlike many long-term test cars, its acceleration didn’t improve. It was actually a 10th of a second slower to 60 mph and through the quarter-mile in standing-start runs—7.1 seconds and 15.5 at 91 mph, respectively. However, its 30-to-50-mph and 50-to-70 passing-performance numbers—9.9 and 9.7 seconds, respectively—had quickened. And although the TSX’s initial, 0.86-g skidpad effort is admirable considering its all-season rubber, many of us yearned for grippier summer tires to complement the excellent chassis as well as to possibly quell some of the squealing that persists during aggressive maneuvering.

Overall fuel economy of 26 mpg fell toward the high end of the EPA’s 20-mpg city and 28-mpg highway ratings, and there were road trips during which staffers achieved as high as 32 mpg. Service was mostly routine—mostly. There were 4 scheduled service visits, and during one of these—at 28,329 miles—the various inspections revealed that we already had burned through the rear brake pads. This alarmingly quick wear wasn’t covered by the warranty, and replacing the padsand resurfacing the rotors added $262 to the already expensive $283 service, the priciest of our routine visits (they totaled $734).

The Acura warranty didn’t cover a broken fog-light lens, either, and the bill for this was an unpleasant surprise: $165 for the replacement lens and $125 for labor— a total of $290. We wondered if the lens was created from some rare crystalline material, requiring an installer flown in from Acura’s headquarters in Torrance, California. Beyond the rather expensive service tally, our out-of-pocket costs were minor: A rubber door seal, damaged in a carwash, cost us $25; new wiper-blade inserts, $9; and a quart of oil, added at 38,591 miles, $5. A speaker in the otherwise excellent audio system blew out at just 731 miles—no record of what was being played or how loudly—and was replaced under warranty. And we had further brake issues: As we closed in on the 40K-mileage mark, our dealer traced a brake-pedal vibration to warped rotors, all 4 of which were replaced, this time under warranty. Total service and maintenance costs over the course of our test: $1010. And the total experience? A couple of logbook comments summed it up: “A fantastic, fun-to-drive car overall.” And: “The TSX has stood the test of time in true Honda fashion.”

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