2009-12 Acura TSX

Luxury trumps sport for second-gen TSX

Maybe lightning doesn't always strike twice.

In 2004, Honda packed its trim and athletic European-market Accord with premium features and foisted it upon its North American Acura dealers as the TSX, hoping for a few sales.

The automotive press raved about its overachieving four-cylinder engine, the balanced chassis and telepathic steering. And the car sold like hotcakes.

The challenge was following up Acura's cult hero with a significantly better car the second time around.

 

CONFIGURATION

Like the rest of us, the second-generation 2009 TSX was fated to grow bigger and heavier. Most noticeable was its 8-cm increase in width, which made the front-drive sedan appear lower and more planted. A 3-cm-longer wheelbase yielded slightly improved rear legroom, but it still felt cramped.

Its fully independent suspension employed unequal-length control arms up front and multiple links in back, all tied to subframes mounted to an extra-rigid unibody. To underscore its mission statement, a factory-installed brace tied the two strut towers together under the hood.

The cabin saw the biggest enhancements. The front seats were deep and comfortable with plenty of lateral support. The curvaceous dash was filled with buttons "somebody counted 43 chiclets" that lent the cockpit an aura of complexity worthy of an Airbus.

The TSX's touted value proposition likely left some Canadians perplexed. That's because while Americans enjoyed standard luxury gear such as leather seating, dual-zone climate control and Xenon headlights, Canadians made do with cloth upholstery and halogen bulbs and no memory seat function in the base model. How's that for feeling valued?

Honda's venerable all-aluminum, K-series 2.4-L four-cylinder returned, this time with a higher compression ratio to boost torque to 172 lb.-ft. (170 with the automatic), while horsepower lost four, making 201 hp. Also making their return was a slick six-speed manual transmission and five-speed automatic.

An optional engine became available for the first time in 2010. The 280-hp 3.5-L V6, pinched from the TL sedan, came bundled with the automatic transmission exclusively, along with bigger wheels and revised steering and suspension tuning.

For 2011, all TSXs earned slight exterior tweaks, improved acoustic insulation and an optional hard-drive-based navigation system with a better display. Yankees also got a sleek five-door wagon variant Canadians have yet to see; it came solely with the 2.4-L four and the autobox.

ON THE ROAD

To extract more zoom from its four-banger, saddled with an extra 60 kg due to the redesign, Honda shortened the gearbox ratios by about 5 per cent. As a result, zero to 96 km/h came up in a fairly fleet 6.7 seconds, compared to 7.2 seconds with the old car. The TSX V6 got it done in 6.0 seconds with its slushbox.

Acura's sedan really shone in the twisties, where its stiff platform and well-sorted suspension generated 0.86 g of lateral acceleration (grip), not bad for a front-driver shod with all-season tires. However, the electric steering earned thumbs down from some drivers.

"It's numb on centre, which isn't great on the highway and detracts from the driving feel," wrote one owner online. Others disliked the car's rather stiff ride.

The accurate, short-travel shifter and linear clutch take-up made the manual TSX a rewarding driver's car. The high-revving engine loves to zing, but turning 3400 r.p.m. at 120 km/h can get wearisome over long distances (blame the short gearing).

Short gearing is also fingered for the TSX's thirst at the gas pump. While not a guzzler, it drinks deeply for a four-cylinder. And that's premium grade, thank you.

WHAT OWNERS SAY

Did Acura coax lightning to strike twice? The prevailing sentiment in the motor press says no, the original TSX was a more sporting conveyance.

But ask any 2009 or newer TSX owner and they point to the premium appointments, quiet ride, larger dimensions and enhanced presence. It seems luxury trumps sport.

The made-in-Japan TSX has always been a quality piece, and the newer model doesn't disappoint. The few mechanical complaints have focused on short-lived brake pads and batteries, blown speakers, bad Bluetooth connections and interior rattles.

Sporting or not, the TSX has won over discerning buyers, including this one: My last two cars were both German, and although there is no substitute for the German car feel, I quickly tired of the reliability and maintenance issues.

We would like to know about your ownership experience with these models: Chrysler 300, BMW X6 and Toyota Venza. Email: toljagic@ca.inter.net.

2009-12 Acura TSX

THE PROS & CONS

  • What's Best: Taut suspension, dependability galore, stickshift worthy of the Smithsonian.
  • What's Worst: Tight backseat, decontented base model, fond of eating friction material.

Typical GTA prices: 2009: $19,000, 2012: $27,000

This article originally appeared in the Toronto Star Wheels Section in Sept. 2014.

Find Used 2009-12 Acura TSXs on Autocatch.com

ON THE ROAD

To extract more zoom from its four-banger, saddled with an extra 60 kg due to the redesign, Honda shortened the gearbox ratios by about 5 per cent. As a result, zero to 96 km/h came up in a fairly fleet 6.7 seconds, compared to 7.2 seconds with the old car. The TSX V6 got it done in 6.0 seconds with its slushbox.

Acura's sedan really shone in the twisties, where its stiff platform and well-sorted suspension generated 0.86 g of lateral acceleration (grip), not bad for a front-driver shod with all-season tires. However, the electric steering earned thumbs down from some drivers.

"It's numb on centre, which isn't great on the highway and detracts from the driving feel," wrote one owner online. Others disliked the car's rather stiff ride.

The accurate, short-travel shifter and linear clutch take-up made the manual TSX a rewarding driver's car. The high-revving engine loves to zing, but turning 3400 r.p.m. at 120 km/h can get wearisome over long distances (blame the short gearing).

Short gearing is also fingered for the TSX's thirst at the gas pump. While not a guzzler, it drinks deeply for a four-cylinder. And that's premium grade, thank you.

WHAT OWNERS SAY

Did Acura coax lightning to strike twice? The prevailing sentiment in the motor press says no, the original TSX was a more sporting conveyance.

But ask any 2009 or newer TSX owner and they point to the premium appointments, quiet ride, larger dimensions and enhanced presence. It seems luxury trumps sport.

The made-in-Japan TSX has always been a quality piece, and the newer model doesn't disappoint. The few mechanical complaints have focused on short-lived brake pads and batteries, blown speakers, bad Bluetooth connections and interior rattles.

Sporting or not, the TSX has won over discerning buyers, including this one: My last two cars were both German, and although there is no substitute for the German car feel, I quickly tired of the reliability and maintenance issues.

We would like to know about your ownership experience with these models: Chrysler 300, BMW X6 and Toyota Venza. Email: toljagic@ca.inter.net.

2009-12 Acura TSX

THE PROS & CONS

  • What's Best: Taut suspension, dependability galore, stickshift worthy of the Smithsonian.
  • What's Worst: Tight backseat, decontented base model, fond of eating friction material.

Typical GTA prices: 2009: $19,000, 2012: $27,000

This article originally appeared in the Toronto Star Wheels Section in Sept. 2014.

Find Used 2009-12 Acura TSXs on Autocatch.com


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  • luxury car
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