• Sep 4th 2007 at 12:04PM
  • 56
Click the image above for over 30 high-res pics.

Within ten-minutes of our Alabaster Silver Metallic Acura TSX tester being delivered, our bags were in the trunk and we were out the door. A much-needed respite was in order after a long summer, and Lake Tahoe beckoned. Wait. We fed the cat, right?

After making sure our Russian Blue had sufficient food to survive the weekend, the fiancée and I were underway, headed up 680 and then onto I-80 through Sacramento. Friday's Northern California traffic hadn't hindered our progress until we hit the State capital, where the Acura's balanced clutch engagement and gloriously smooth stick were working overtime through 20-miles of start-and-stop traffic. Fortunately, the interior of the TSX is a pleasant place to be, with thoughtful switchgear, comfortable seats, well-padded armrests and a bevy of aural selections – all well executed in minimalist fashion. When our iPod wasn't jacked into the auxiliary input, the XM-equipped stereo was normally stuck somewhere between Real Jazz and a live stream from Lollapalooza, 'cause we're bipolar that way. And while August in Nor Cal normally doesn't necessitate the use of the standard heated seats, once we got into the higher elevations, and the sun fell beneath the mountains, there was little doubt that they would soon be set to "scorch."

The only two options that our TSX tester was equipped with were the aforementioned "Navi" ($2,100) and the silver trim ($359) that subsected the dash and then tapered into the door panels. Both were nice, but if we had to choose between the two, our money would go towards the faux aluminum. Anyone who's familiar with Honda's navigation system can attest that it works magnificently 80-percent of the time, while the remaining fifth tends to cause foreheads to meet the top of the steering wheel. The turn-by-turn directions and the large display are top notch, but the system's insistence that it knows what you're trying to spell better than you do (it removes letters from the touch-screen keyboard as you type) causes bulging veins from the neck up. We can count on at least one hand the number of times we referenced the Google Maps app on our phone over our three-day excursion, which isn't what you want when spending two-large on a sat-nav.

Once traffic cleared, the cruise was set at 70 for the next 30-miles as we made our way through the farmlands that make up the Central Valley. Toddling in the TSX is exactly what you'd expect from Acura's entry-level sedan, with most road imperfections easily muted through the double wishbone (front) and multi-link (rear) suspension. The ride could never be accused of being numb or uncommunicative – you know what's going on beneath you, but you're not troubled by it – and although the steering is a speed-sensitive rack and pinion setup, there's no question about how it will react to inputs.

After dawdling around at freeway speeds for far too long, we were finally greeted with the elevations changes and twisting roads that make their way through the Sierras. With a snickity shift down into third, the TSX's 2.4-liter four pot came to life, running effortlessly up past its 205 HP peak at 7,000 RPM and onto the 7,100 RPM redline. A quick shift into fourth, and although the VTEC's engagement point was still 1,500 RPM away, it pulled smoothly up the rev range until the 6,000 RPM crossover hit and the comforting howl of lift caused the needle to shoot up into the red.

It's turned into a cliché that certain vehicles cause drivers to row the gears for no other reason than the pure enjoyment of the shifter, and Honda's have become the standard bearer for this overused device – there's a reason for that. The TSX's six-speed gearbox is the most rewarding you'll find, with perfectly matched throws, smoothly notched gates and a knob whose weight and feel makes you forget about the one behind the wheel.

Once the road went wobbly, the TSX's sports sedan credibility was officially put to the test. Grade: B+. There's no slop on initial turn-in and smooth inputs into the wheel accompanied by progressive pressure on the accelerator cause the TSX to track confidently through corners. Out-and-out understeer when throwing the long pedal to the floor is easily dispatched by the slight intrusion of the traction control system, and when disengaged, a light left foot on the brake brings grip back from the brink. High-speed sweepers are dispatched with poise, bordering on boredom. It certainly doesn't pretend to be a sports car, but it could be confused as a GT if you forget about the additional doors behind you.

The 17-inch wheels wrapped in all-season rubber do a favorable job of keeping things sticky while taking to bends, although we'd be remiss not to say that the first upgrade we'd make to our own TSX would be fitting more performance-oriented gumballs. The chassis can handle it, and you'd be doing yourself and the car a disservice by sticking with the OEM tires when it comes time for replacement.

After making our way through the mountains and stopping for a couple of photo shoots, we finally descended into the valley. Rolling down Interstate 50 through the heart of Tahoe, we came up behind another TSX sporting slate gray body panels and optional five-spoke rollers. While stopped in traffic before the state line next to our badge brethren, we were afforded the opportunity to reflect on the TSX's exterior styling. Maybe the use of the word "styling" is a bit liberal, but both of us agreed that it's a handsome vehicle, albeit a bit on the bland side. The Euro-Accord's front fascia fits in well with its bigger brothers and the rear certainly isn't as unattractive as some of its German competition, but it lacks visual weight. It'd be a great Q-ship if it came with Acura's new turbocharged 2.3-liter four, and would certainly benefit from the additional torque. We're not going to hold our breath for that one.

Once we arrived at our hotel, the two of us felt perfectly ready for a night on the town. Normally, spending over four hours in lesser vehicles leaves both buttocks and brains ready for bed, but the TSX treated us well throughout our journey and we were ready to enjoy some of the sybaritic pleasures that waited for us at the bottom of the hill.

The following day we strapped ourselves in and headed out for a lap drive around the Lake. This part of the country is peppered with countless driving roads that match beautifully paved tarmac with awe-inspiring scenery – the trek around Tahoe is easily in the top ten. The sedan's compliance in any situation quickly proved itself again through two-lane twisties and bumper-to-bumper gridlock, and even made a comfortable place to reflect while we sat on the side of the road enjoying the environs. Life was good, until we heard the telltale sound of air escaping a tire.

Within seconds the Multi-Informational display between the tach and speedo lit up with the tire-pressure monitoring indicator. We pulled off the road and watched as the right-rear tire slowly deflated in front of us. After the space-saver spare was fitted, we rolled into a local tire shop where they found what looked like a broken box cutter blade embedded into the rubber. Bummer, but at least we know the TPS works.

Watching the TSX jacked up onto two wheels, something dawned on us. The term "entry-level luxury" has been a misnomer for years. It's a substantial step to go from a mid-$20,000 daily driver to a $40k luxury ride, and it's a move few can afford. The additional amenities are one thing (soft-touch plastics, techie toys and seats swathed in leather) that distances the TSX from lesser vehicles. But beyond that, driving dynamics are often dwelt upon as being a defining characteristic of these up-market whips. However, the TSX sits on the cusp. Maxed out with all the options that one could reasonably want, Acura's starter model comes in around $32,000. That's a bargain considering all that's offered, and it's a suitable upgrade for buyers interested in a more than a modicum of luxury and engaging driving dynamics. The TSX is proof that your monthly payments don't have to be in the stratosphere to enjoy some of the finer things in life, and if you can forget that it's just a Euro Accord sporting Acura badging, you should be pleased every time you get behind the wheel – regardless of the destination.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 8 Years Ago
      @ RV

      Dude are you really comparing a 2002 WRX to a TSX? Have you ever sat in a TSX? I assure you the TSX's interior will make the WRX feel like the $hitty econobox interior it is. WRX is a corolla with a turbo, nothing more. TOTALLY DIFFERENT TARGET AUDIENCE.

      The camry is a whale compared to the TSX, just like the Accord. Totally different target market as well.

      I did cross shop a legacy GT but interior of TSX was better, so were reliability and resale values.

      Call me whatever you want, but if your looking for a sporty sedan under 30k, with style AND COMFORT the TSX CAN NOT BE BEAT.
        • 8 Years Ago

        And for your 30k you get a 4 banger! I wouldn't call 20/28 exactly stellar mileage numbers. The base 328i gets 18/28 and you get the smoothest inline 6 in the industry. I lots of driving time with the 4 banger in a 2006 Accord and there's a night and day difference there.

        If you honestly think there's no noticeable difference in driving a FWD vs RWD then you're either driving like a grandma or you have no sense of handling. Have you ever even driven a BMW before? I mean, I'll agree the TSX is definitely priced better, but stop trying to justify your car as better in ways that it quite obviously isn't.
        • 8 Years Ago
        I agree.

        I have a buddy that just bought a 2005 STI. AWESOME car. Fast, fun, but not even remotely intended for the same things as a TSX is. On the highway it's loud and the sport suspension is very harsh. You can feel every bump in the road and the engine is loud while cruising at 70 - I'd say almost invasive. In addition - the car comes with what you'd expect any modern car to come with... CD player, power windows and locks, and that's pretty much it. The only "toy" it has are power adjustable headlights - which is actually pretty lame as far as practicality is concerned.

        The TSX on the other hand is quiet, holds its own as far as handling is concerned. Is it as fast or does it handle as well? No. It is however, a lot more quiet, a lot more comfortable, and a lot nicer inside. Everything inside is made of much nicer materials, and there are tech toys abound. It's got an AUX jack for an MP3 player (which is pretty standard now, but nice), an auto-dimming rear view mirror, HID lights, Bluetooth as standard through the 6 disc audio system (which sounds decent for a stock system, once you replace the speakers), hands free voice activated dialing, voice activated nav and HVAC controls (on the nav equipped cars), digital dual zone climate, 8 way adjustable power seats (driver, 4 way passenger), real time tire pressure monitoring system, real time fuel usage info, real time adaptive oil quality checking system, the list goes on and on.

        The TSX has TONS of creature comforts that are extremely nice to have, and make my hour long drive to work down twisty back roads enjoyable every single day. As my first new Acura, and first new car that was moderately expensive (I'm 24, $30K is expensive to me), I considered a lot of other options - including the Audi A4, the entry level 3 series (I owned an E36 325IS before and liked it, although it wasn't anything special), and the Suby Legacy GT. I like the smaller size and weight of the TSX - along with the understated yet still classy looks, and the way it holds its resale value like CRAZY.

        Unlike the snobby "I'll only drive RWD" punks that I see frequent this board, I'll take the gas mileage, smoother feel of Hondas best 6 speed FWD gearbox over a 5 speed RWD 3 series, or a baby-it-in-to-every-gear-or- you'll-be-replacing-the-clutch-every-30K Subaru setup any day of the week. Even if you do drive your car hard, 99.999% of the time you're seeing no real benefit from a rear wheel drive car unless you're on a track anyway... and a TSX isn't really meant to be there.

        For $30K I wanted a car that was fun to drive fast, but when driven fast was still sensible and quiet. As nice as the Audis are inside, they break a lot, and as fast and good-handling as the STIs are, for $30K I wanted something that was a little above boy racer.
      • 8 Years Ago
      The TSX has been Acura's most underrated car since it's release IMO.

      I was in the market for a new TL when the current model debuted and drove a few back to back with the TSX. I vastly prefered the TSX. It seemed to be better built, better trimmed, sportier to drive and didn't suffer from torque steer.
      • 8 Years Ago
      @ rem83

      Not everybody is a cheap penny pincher looking for the "best deal".

      It take this any day out of the week over a union built SAAB.
        • 8 Years Ago
        Let's be honest here, if you're not looking for the "best deal," then you're not looking at the TSX either. The TSX is a great car, but that's taking into account it's price/features ratio. Otherwise, most people looking for performance and luxury would turn towards something with a little more... Bavarian flair.
        • 8 Years Ago
        REM83, and the two MAJOR things you are missing with the SAAB



        Acura for teh Win!
        • 8 Years Ago
        The 9-3 offers European delivery, a station wagon variant, multiple engine choices, more power and a lot more torque, a comfortable interior and an attempt at styling. Not sure if Acura's fuel economy is old or new EPA standard, but the 2.0T Saab matches or exceeds the Acura. Safety features appear comparable.

        Also, in this price range value is a considerable factor. It disappears as you approach S-Class territory.

        PS - I'm glad you've realized Ivy is spelled without an 'e' although the other spelling was more ironic.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I love my 2007 TSX. I had 6 Fords in a row up until this year. When I was ready to make a move to more luxury and sportiness, I test drove Volvo, Lexus and Acura. The TSX is the only car that fit my taller frame, had the features I was after and was just plain fun to drive. I'm excited to see what happens with the new design in 2009.
      • 8 Years Ago
      I have a 6-speed '06 TSX too, and I think this review is spot on.

      It would be killer with the turbo 2.3, but it would step on the TL's niche too much for Acura to do that.

      Finally, since you can generally get one for ~invoice, factor in the low depreciation and bullet-proof reliability, the value equation skyrockets.
      • 8 Years Ago
      same with my 2003 Passat... leather looks and feels like new after 4 years... maintained twice a year...
      • 8 Years Ago
      Looked long and hard at a TSX and decided last minute to get a higher mileage TL instead. Love the TL, but hate the gas mileage. I do 90% city driving and can barley get 16 MPG in my TL. I have a feeling the TSX would at least get 20 with the 6 SPD. Otherwise, for a young professional living in the city, the TL is a sweet ride.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Just bought an 08 TSX 6 Speed 2 weeks ago. For the Money this thing cant be beat by anything in the segment. Price out a 328 with the same options and you'll be right about 40k.

      Sure I would love to Drive a bimmer, but not for 14k more than I paid for my similarly equipped TSX.
        • 8 Years Ago
        Money's right...you can't beat the TSX for what it offers.

        And I love that Acura put the reverse gear where it's supposed to be on the 6-speed.

        • 8 Years Ago
        Not quite...we cross shopped the Legacy GT with the Acura TSX and the Legacy won hands down. The LGT with the 6spd is quite fun and is very similar in price.
        • 7 Years Ago
        40k for a McHonda? You should have test driven a Legacy GT. No comparison. Much nicer car, handles better, faster and no McGeneric exterior/ Fisher-Price interior. Also AWD. McHonda tends to pump out fairly soulless vehicles, the McTSX is no exception. Subaru makes wonderful vehicles and you won't feel like John Doe.

        Here's the TSX losing to the Legacy in a R&T comparo;

      • 8 Years Ago
      who gives a $hit about the outlander? Why is this even being discussed?

      I want more of the 328i with leatherette elitest posers telling me rwd cant be beat.

      Closest competitor is the Legacy GT which is a great car, but the interior wasnt as nice as the tsx, and lets face it, the resale value of the tsx is OUT OF THIS WORLD. Lets put a 2004 TSX and a 2004 Legacy GT out for sale on a corner and see which one will sell first.
        • 8 Years Ago
        Why Outlander mentioned? That's because I needed to get out of underpowered, paint chipping and "I have Acura badge" ride to get something more practical and yet unique without paying through the roof.

        yawn... where I live area is full of BMWs, Acuras & Mercedes, so it's no fun to drive something that everyone else has. Besides it's not the best car to show off because it's just average in just about anything... looks, performance, options etc...

        If I wanted a sports sedan to show off my large ego I would probably go BMW 328, but it is not my cup of tea :)
      • 8 Years Ago
      Here's one item you rarely see reviewed, and which the TSX earns a big "FAIL;" the paint.

      Mine picks up chips, dings, and scratches right down to the sheets with the greatest of ease.
        • 8 Years Ago
        yep.. my 07 accord has a lot of chips in the hood and are starting to rust..yuck. i live in NJ so maybe the weather factors in..
      • 8 Years Ago
      Outlander handling is fine, but I didn't buy it for racing, it's more for practical use. Btw, it does have shifting pedals (like in Audi A3) if anyone feels like for race, which is a lot more fun then Sportshift in Auto TSX.

      After owning about 11 different cars with manual transmission for past 10 years I got fed up with it and TSX was my first Auto. Yes, you can now say that's why I felt lack of power, but I tell you that Outlander is also Auto (3.0L V6 and 220 bhp / 204 torque@4000 rpm) and it feels a LOT quicker.

      Gas mileage on TSX when I first bought the car was averaging at 20 mpg, but it was getting slightly better. (You will not get 31 mpg as you claim in city driving, but you can get that on hwy) Despite that, it's still disappointing to have very small gap in gas mileage between sedan & CUV when Outlander is clearly bigger, heavier and more powerful car.
        • 8 Years Ago
        I get right around 31 mpgs combined. I drive an hour one way to work each day - about 20 mins of which is city and the rest is highway. I don't drive like a grandma, but I don't beat the hell out of my car either. Non city miles are 80% twists and turns, so it's a fun drive. The K&N filter gave me an average gain of about 2 mpgs per tank, as I'd almost always pull 29 mpgs on the on board computer before swapping it out. I almost always divide out my mileage, as I'm keeping ALL receipts with this car, including gas receipts (each marked with mileage) and the on board computer is pretty close to accurate each time.

        Having driven both, the automatic TSX is quite a bit slower than the manual - I can tell you that first hand. I'm not a fan of the "sport shift autos" that come in a lot of cars nowadays. I drove a 6 speed "manutronic" Miata, and although it was kinda fun to manually shift from stop lights, I found it annoying most of the time and just kept the car in D. If I got an SUV, I'd rather have an automatic (even w/o the sport shift) to a manual, but in a car, especially in a car with a 6 speed gearbox as nice as the one in the TSX, I'm going to go manual every time.
      • 8 Years Ago
      I drove an '05 TSX last year for about 3 weeks and I really liked it. Drove good and got better than expected fuel mileage.
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