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Click above for high resolution images of the 2009 Acura TSX

The first generation Acura TSX received glowing reviews from the media and owners alike. While not having the most exciting styling or the beefiest of powertrains, the TSX offered a sensible and reliable vehicle with plenty of standard options that didn't break the bank. Our man Damon road-tripped a 2007 TSX up to Lake Tahoe and was pleasantly surprised with the driving characteristics and smooth powertrain, although he put Acura's turbocharged 2.3-liter inline-4 on the wish list.

With Acura launching an all-new TSX in 2009, we've been itching to see what direction they would go with the second generation. Fortunately, we didn't have to wait long to find out because Acura invited us to test the new TSX just a few weeks before officially launching the car at the New York Auto Show.

All photos Copyright ©2008 Drew Phillips / Weblogs, Inc.

Before actually getting behind the wheel, we spent significant time doing a walk-around of the car and scrutinizing the new design. The new TSX is definitely larger – 3.0 inches wider, 2.4 inches longer, a 2.6-inch wider track, and a 1.3-inch longer wheelbase. This, combined with an overall height that has been decreased by .6 inches, gives the new TSX a much more aggressive stance than before. Adding to the new look is what Acura calls "Keen-Edged Styling" that includes a new "Signature Power Plenum Grille," slight fender flares, and sharper, edgier styling than the previous design. It's polarizing for sure, but as we've mentioned before, looks better in light colors. The interior meanwhile features a similar theme with sharp, contrasting edges that make the old design look soft in comparison.

After getting acquainted with the car it was time to get on the road. The wider stance as well as new dual-mode dampers provide a comfortable ride at pretty much any speed, but also allow for a quick and direct turn-in. The steering is also weighted nicely and accurate, things we're used to in the TSX by now. While we had no complaints about handling, the powertrain was mediocre at best. The 2.4-liter inline-4 is sufficient, but still lacks real grunt. At least 4,000 rpm is required to motivate the TSX to go anywhere, but even the upper part of the rpm range isn't that fun to work with. You would hope that a high-revving engine would allow you to move through the gears quickly, but the TSX revs painfully slow, and the optional six-speed is sloppy and vague. To its credit, Acura made an effort to improve the powertrain for 2009 by revising valve timing, increasing compression, and improving the intake and exhaust flow, but it really isn't enough when compared to other engine options in this segment. Despite the inevitable torque steer that would come with it, we're still hoping for that turbocharged inline-4!

While we were left wanting more with the powertrain, we did enjoy Acura's optional technology package that came with our car. It includes a host of features including Acura's navigation system with real-time traffic and weather, XM satellite radio and a spectacular ten-speaker surround sound system with six-disc CD/DVD changer. Add to this the standard Bluetooth and USB port interface, and Acura should do well with the younger, more tech-savvy audience.

Despite the 2009 TSX being an all-new car, it almost feels like a refresh. While those in tune with the automotive industry will know the difference, the general consumer might not see a difference because of the relatively similar powertrain and styling compared to the previous model.

Overall it was tough to emotionally connect with the TSX. There's nothing wrong with the car, but nothing that jumps out and grabs us either. It does its job without much fuss, but never gets your adrenaline pumping either. After chatting with our fellow editor and codriver for some time during the drive, we even found that we forgot we were driving the TSX. It just sort of faded to the background as we ate up the miles. The interesting part is that this fits who will most likely be interested in the TSX. It's the type of car that one can buy and just forget about. It's something that doesn't appeal to the enthusiast side of us, but there are no doubt plenty of consumers who want a sub-$30,000 luxury car that is worry free, has excellent reliability and a great resale value. It would also be perfect for the young business professional who wants a nice car, but doesn't want something as flashy as a BMW or Mercedes.

Truthfully, an evaluation of the TSX doesn't show its real potential with buyers. It has been and is still a smart and logical buy. What it really comes down to is, despite its mediocre powertrain and lack of charisma, the TSX is one of the few cars we wouldn't mind using as a daily driver... as long as we had something more fun waiting for us when we got home.

All photos Copyright ©2008 Drew Phillips / Weblogs, Inc.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 7 Years Ago
      lol they say that rolling glass of warm milk is poised to go against the likes of the g35 and 328...

      • 7 Years Ago
      What is a young professional? If you are not considered to be a young professional does that mean you are a young amatuer? It sounds like a lot of marketing BS to me. When the Honda Element was launched the target market was high school graduates with surf boards and no jobs. I am still wondering how this group secured loans to buy the vehicles.
        • 7 Years Ago
        @L.WOOD: They didn't. That's why most of the people you see driving around in Elements are older buyers who aren't embarrassed to be seen driving around the Japanese Aztek.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I compared the TSX against Maxima a couple of years ago, the Maxima which still had a proper manual at the time was rubbery in the gates and had too much torque steer and cloth dash cover at the time &*&^$%

      The Legacy GT w/turbo, nice engine, could use a six speed (like in the Spec B now). However, all of the exterior colors are geriatric, the handling was superb, but it lacked communication through the steering wheel. The interior quality is not quite up to Japanes lux/sport brands, although I like the needle sweep

      I think the best comparison to the TSX for sport, quality, and lux is A4 (front wheel drive) and Volvo S40

      The new corporate Acura grill has got to go, if I bought one now I would have to buy a Euro Accord grill...
      • 7 Years Ago
      • 7 Years Ago
      Who decided that over exaggerated wheel arches are in fashion? I personally am not a fan of this trend. I do like the chrome door handles but the rest of the car looks a little like a late 90’s Camry to me. I would give the sportswagon a look if it came to the states.
        • 7 Years Ago
        I dont mind the over exaggerated wheel arches. Without them the car would look boring. Wish more cars had these but more along the lines of a swell (2002 WRX) vs a sharp bulge (RX-8).

        But WHO decided that the CHROME MUSTACHE GRILL is now the new trend!!!!! This has to be the ugliest trend and everyone is doing it. Mazda started, Honda follows, even Subaru has it now. I HATE this giant strip of chrome with a crack above and grill below. It just looks broken like they forgot to connect the parts. Plus, why would you make a grill opening for cooling then cover it with a large strip of chrome. Just look at how much better the euro accord looks! Wish we could get the wagon here with a 6cylinder (or a 4 cylinder that gets good gas mileage)
        • 7 Years Ago
        If every Acura develops this fugly grill the entire company will officially drop of my radar. I was beginning to think their design department was starting to rock after the last TL, a unique and beautiful design. Now they've taken 12 steps backwards.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Still FWD? Yuck. My next door neighbor is an engineer at Honda and I could have SWORN he told me the next-gen TSX was going to be SH-AWD (like the RL) . . . or maybe he said the next TL would be SH-AWD? In any case, FWD . . . no-likey.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Yuuuck, that is nasty. And not the good kind of nasty. Honda's design teams have lost their collective minds.
      • 7 Years Ago
      `It would also be perfect for the young business professional who wants a nice car, but doesn't want something as flashy as a BMW or Mercedes.`

      EVERY young business professional wants a BMW or Mercedes...they just can`t afford it. Flashy has nothing to do with it.

      Once again Honda produces a nicer Honda and they call it an Acura.
        • 7 Years Ago
        You probably should have said "MOST young business professional wants a BMW or Mercedes...they just can`t afford it." That statement is very true. The young, status seeking professional asks "How much car can I afford?" while the mature, wealth seeking professional asks "How much car do I need?"
        • 7 Years Ago
        I can't stand BMW or M-B so do you care to revise your statement?
        • 7 Years Ago
        It's basically a honda, but without the V-6 option. Meaning it's pretty lame. It's an average car and will get an average amount of sales. They aren't lighting the world on fire over there.

        I either want a sporty car, or a car that gets great gas mileage and this car does neither.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Love Disgruntled's response

        It is so true.
        • 7 Years Ago
        I drive an '06 BMW 3 series part of the time, it's a fine car, hard to beat in many regards, but when it's up for replacement I will be hoping there is a satisfactory non-bmw, non-luxury brand car out there. I hate the whole car-image BS . I just happened to need a car to drive 15,000 highway miles a year and it was the only car that met all my needs for safety, handling, power, interior space, and decent styling.

        I hope the new Hyundai Genesis sedan and coupe are as-advertised. I'd gladly buy either one and enjoy the lack of negative attention the BMW brings.

        btw, not "professional", not particularly young, either.
        • 7 Years Ago
        I also would never own an MB or BMW because I am just plain sick and tired of the status symbol that evolves around them as well as using financial common sense. I would rather not tie up every single dollar I make into my car, which also applies to my home as well. I want to be able to "save" my money for future investments and be able to retire care free, financially free, and worry free without the need of social security.

        Me being an international business professional I could afford one, or any car in that price range. Instead I choose to continue to drive my 99 Mitsubishi 3000GT VR4 because it is exactly the car I want and need, not to mention I am loving the idea of being car payment free since 2002 and very little maintenance. The only other car I will seek after I retire my 3000GT will be the new Hyundai Genesis Coupe.
        • 7 Years Ago
        "EVERY young business professional wants a BMW or Mercedes...they just can`t afford it. Flashy has nothing to do with it."

        Don't project your views on those around you.

        This is certainly not true for all the young professional buyers out there. I know that if I were looking for a sedan, I would not be shopping BMW or Mercedes, even though I probably could afford them. They just don't appeal to me, in large part because I don't appreciate the brands or the value proposition they present. (that said, I doubt I'd drive the new TSX given the reviews it's getting)

        This segment is HUGE - there are many different opinions of buyers out there. It's not just a question of whether you can afford a BMW or Merc.
      • 7 Years Ago
      This new TSX is quite large. At the NYIAS, I could've sworn it was the TL!
      Honda/Acura are experts at making cars look great (or OK as some of you think) at the moment but their last generation cars really look dull. It's perfect in a business like this. For example, the previous gen. accord now looks very dated. We've seen a ton of them on the road and they're not that great looking.... compared to the NEW ones! It's a viscous cycle and Toyota is also guilty of this practice.

      oh, and Honda makes the best OEM manual shifters. Period.
      • 7 Years Ago
      The rear 3/4 angle is craptastic. Probably the first time ever that fender flares makes a car look worse
      • 7 Years Ago
      I really like this car - and I really like the earlier versions as well.

      THe problem I saw when looking at this car is that it's a bit too expensive at $27k+ for a smaller car in my opinion, even as refined as it may be. When cross-shopping this with the Accord, I didn't like the looks of the Accord but didn't like the price tag for this one.
      • 7 Years Ago
      for the price of this new i rather get a fully loaded accord V6 coupe 6sp with nav

      about 40 more hp and torque and about the same fuel economy!

      i agree the legacy is probably the most underestimated car right now! that will flat out will beat this TSX in pretty much everything exept the USB port?
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