While generally respectful of all Honda vehicles and its upscale luxury line, a recent week behind the wheel of the 2009 Acura TSX made me questioning the current redesign. It doesn’t match some of the high-level competition in the premium compact class.
And if I were shopping for a vehicle in this category, the Honda Accord would be a wiser selection.
Redesigns always come highly touted by manufacturers, but the results can be less than impressive. That’s the case here, where Acura made few significant changes to the interior or exterior. No other alterations are memorable, either. That makes the TSX a tough sell compared to the formidable Audi A4, Volvo S40, Mercedes-Benz C300, Audi A4, BMW 328i and Lexus IS 250.
This year’s TSX is slightly larger than its predecessor. It remains a peppy vehicle that won’t disappoint in performance, despite a horsepower reduction from 205 to 201 — a change rarely seen in “more power is better” conventional thinking.
All TSX models feature a front-wheel drive 2.4-liter inline-4 and are available with a 6-speed manual or a more playful 5-speed automatic transmissions, both equipped with steering-wheel shift paddles. Though some competitors offer a similar model with an available 6-cylinder, the TSX doesn’t lack for power in any driving scenarios.
This Acura also maintains a high standard for ride quality, providing a lot of grip on any road surface, responsive steering, and a fun factor expected from any premium vehicle. The downside for pleasure seekers? The engine noise level runs high as the speed increases. Gas mileage ranges from 20-29 mpg.
The TSX offers solid comfort with increased roominess for front-seat passengers, but back-seat occupants will feel cramped even though the wheelbase is longer. Legroom is insufficient and the standard equipment sunroof reduces the headroom and adds to the second-row discomfort. Likewise, the trunk is narrow and limits cargo space.
Exterior changes give the TSX improved curb appeal. The additions include: flared fenders, a new front grille, a silver-colored upper bar, plus 2.4 inches added in length and 3 inches more width. Still, compared to some stylish foes, the TSX is not dynamic.
A “Tech” package was added to the weekly test model, providing a Navigation system, helpful rear view camera, traffic and weather information, upgraded sound system, and in-dash 6-disc CD/MP3/DVD. The downside? The dashboard is confusing and crowded.
A generous standard features package makes the sticker price of $28,960 more appealing.
Power — 2.4-liter, inline-4, 201 horsepower; Mileage Estimates — 20 mpg (city), 28 mpg (highway); Standard Features — Antilock brakes with brake assist, stability control, traction control, Xenon headlights, automatic climate control, eight-way power driver seat with memory, four-way power passenger seat, leather upholstery, heated front seats, Bluetooth; satellite radio; Warranty — Powertrain, 6 years/70,000 miles; Bumper-to-bumper, 4 years/50,000 miles; Corrosion, 5 years/unlimited miles; Free roadside assistance, 4 years/50,000 miles; Price — $28,960.