• Sep 9, 2009
2010 Acura TSX V6 - Click above for high-res image gallery

The 2010 Acura TSX V6 is something of a consolation prize. At the 2008 Detroit Auto Show, Acura showed off a new 2.2-liter four-cylinder diesel and said it would launch in the U.S. this year. A few months later in New York, Honda's luxury arm showed off the all-new second generation TSX sedan, and we expected to be driving the culmination of the two right around now.

Unfortunately, a confluence of events a few months after the TSX was shown caused Acura to reverse course and put the diesel engine on the shelf. As world oil prices hit all time record levels, the never ending construction in China and Dubai seemed to be consuming the entire world supply of diesel, driving prices higher and higher. At about the same time, the world came to the realization that loaning money to people who couldn't pay it back might not be a great idea after all. With sales in the toilet everywhere, Acura decided that throwing a gasoline-powered V6 into the TSX might be a better idea. Was it?

Photos copyright ©2009 Sam Abuelsamid / Weblogs, Inc.

When Acura unveiled the new TSX last year, it was the second model after the RL to get the controversial shield grille, and in the interim we've seen the new proboscis affixed to the rest of the automaker's lineup, from the MDX to the all-new ZDX crossover. Although the new nose has endured its fair share of criticism, a quick glimpse at Acura sales shows the buying public isn't as adverse to the rhinoplasty and, prior to the late 2008 economic collapse, TSX sales have grown over the prior year. Since then, the drop-off has been consistent with the market, and for the first time in years, people are actually talking about Acura styling rather than being wholly unaware of its existence.

Aside from The Shield, the only visual changes on the V6 model are the rear deck-lid badge, an 18-inch wheel package and a slightly larger lower air intake under the front bumper to help cool the larger engine.

The interior carries over from the standard four-cylinder model, which, regardless of what you think of the outside, is largely a good thing. The TSX has the same great seats found in other Hondas and Acuras, making up for the lack of adjustments with plenty of lateral and leg support.

The dashboard is well laid out with independent controls in the center cluster for the audio and navigation system. Acura's control knob system was definitely superior to BMW's iDrive and Audi's MMI when it debuted several years ago. However, the user interface is starting to get long in the tooth both visually and functionally. Newer designs from Ford, BMW and Audi have higher resolution screens and easier to navigate menu structures, but it still serves the purpose and serves it well.

While four-pot variant is available with a six-speed manual gearbox, the six-cylinder model only comes with an automatic. Unlike the Buick LaCrosse, whose lever is too low and too far back, the shift lever is well forward on the console in the same position as the manual unit and falls easily to hand. For those who still want to manage their own ratios, Acura has fitted wheel-mounted paddles with the appropriate left-down, right-up arrangement.

Honda has a fantastic all-wheel drive system in every other model, so why isn't it available on the TSX?
If there's one interior annoyance, it's the automatic locking mechanism. The doors of most contemporary cars either unlock when you put the car in park or when you pull the door handle. With the Acura (and Hondas, for that matter), only the driver's door unlocks, leaving the rest of the occupants to manually fumble with the door switches before extricating themselves.

The V6 in the TSX is the same 3.5-liter unit found in the base TL, meaning 280 horsepower and 254 pound-feet of torque are being channeled to the front wheels. Unsurprisingly, the 50 percent bump in torque is immediately noticeable. Unfortunately, the mantra that torque is good and more torque is better is largely targeted at rear-wheel-drive cars, or at least front drivers that know what to do with it. Sadly, the TSX doesn't seem to fit into that category. At the launch event for the TSX V6, Acura representatives identified the BMW 335i, Lexus IS350 and Audi A4 3.2 as the chief competitors for this new model. Leaving the rear-wheel-drive Bimmer and Lexus out of the mix, we've got to focus on the the A4 – although it's no longer available in the U.S. with a V6. It did, however, come equipped with standard quattro all-wheel drive last year. Which begs the question: Honda has a fantastic torque vectoring all-wheel drive system in every other model in its lineup, so why isn't it available on the TSX? This omission is truly unfortunate.

Put the TSX into Drive or Sport and the first thing that happens when you touch the gas pedal is a strong tug to the right on the steering wheel. On most surfaces, this is followed by a squeal from the front tires even with very moderate throttle application. While Acura has equipped the TSX V6 with a larger wheel and tire package, it seems to be one geared more toward long tread life than actual grip. A 40-percent bump in power and 50-percent increase in torque applied through the same wheels expected to manage directional control requires more than just a plus-one tire/wheel sizing. The front geometry of the TSX needs a significant re-work if it's expected to be responsible for this work-load – and some grippier rubber would be at the top of our mod list.

On the other hand, when merging onto the freeway or making a pass on a two-lane road, the increased power is welcome. The extra thrust is easily accessible with a tap of the left paddle and a squeeze of the throttle, although the transmission's responses could be quicker. Anticipating acceleration events with an early down shift helps mitigate the laggard responses, but we're hoping that when Acura rolls out its new six-speed gearbox in 2011, the TSX is one of the first recipients.

One of the few dynamic criticisms of the four-cylinder model was odd steering feel, particularly just off center, where the TSX exhibited a bit of a dead spot. The V6 retains the same electric power-assisted steering system as the four, but it's been re-calibrated and feels notably tighter. The overall sensation of the steering is improved, although the extra weight on the front wheels means the car doesn't feel as nimble as its four-banger sibling. Pushed hard into corners, the V6 exhibits considerable understeer, but it shines rolling down the highway. Cruising along on the open road, the V6 feels utterly relaxed, yet ready to provide ample thrust when needed.

Even with the V6, the TSX still gets pretty respectable fuel efficiency numbers. The EPA calls it at 18 mpg city and 27 highway. In our testing we saw 22 mpg in mixed driving, about what we'd expect in the segment. Our test unit was equipped with the Technology package, bringing with it the navigation system and landing the sticker price at $38,760, including destination – in the ball park with the Lexus and several thousand dollars less than the Germans with similar equipment.

Acura calls the TSX V6 the performance model and while it certainly offers improved acceleration, it feels far less sporty than its little brother. It loses much of the light-on-its-feet-feel of earlier TSXs and seems to want to be a TL when it grows up. Rather than call this the performance edition, in reality, it's another luxo-cruiser. If your commute involves traversing some twisty roads between home and office, the four-cylinder is a better choice. On the other hand, if you spend a lot of time on the highway, the V6 shines as long as you don't gun it until the on-ramp straightens out. But for our money, we'd stick to four cylinders and a manual gearbox.

Photos copyright ©2009 Sam Abuelsamid / Weblogs, Inc.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      RDX's turbo-4? Hello?
      • 1 Year Ago
      Here we are in 2013 with the new 2014 cars being introduced. We're still waiting for that six speed automatic for the TSX. In addition, their new ILX also comes with an antiquated five speed. Acura, what is going on?
      • 5 Years Ago
      I find the torque-steer problem a bit weird. I've owned a Euro-Accord - similar to the original TSX - for a couple of years, sporting the 2,2 diesel engine. The torque figures are about the same, maybe even a bit higher on my chipped diesel :-) , but I never experienced torque steer. I know Honda tweaked the suspension and front bearings on the diesel versions, but are the settings been changed on the new model?
        • 5 Years Ago
        Here are the weights for comparison. All are with AT (since the V6 doesn't offer a manual) and without the Technology Package (which isn't offered on the UK Accord).

        TSX 2.4 L = 3470 lbs
        TSX 3.5 L = 3664 lbs
        UK Honda Accord 2.2 L diesel = 3512 lbs

        The difference between the gas I4 and the diesel I4 is only 42 lbs while the V6 weighs 152 lbs more than the diesel. Hardly a wash.
        • 5 Years Ago
        The V6 puts a couple hundred extra pounds of weight over the front axle, even compared to the diesel.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Forget all that V6 crap and just give me a First Generation TSX.

      • 5 Years Ago
      hi, samuel.

      you were upset over the lock/unlock feature on the tsx - that is a customized feature - the default is to driver door only unlocking, but you can personalize your car to unlock all doors when you put it in park or when you turn the ignition off. Acura built in a wide variety of choices on how the tsx behaves - and it is key dependent, so each driver can have his/her own setting preferences right down to which radio stations to listen to!

      hope this helped...
      • 2 Years Ago
      I own a TSX, and I wish to correct one of the reviewer's observations. With the programmable door locks, the factory default is to open only the driver's door when you shut the car off, but it can be reprogrammed to open all doors.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Isn't this the same as the civic over here? A $39,000 civic?
        • 5 Years Ago
        No, this is the same as the European Accord, which is sized between the North American Civic and Accord.
      • 5 Years Ago
      "If there's one interior annoyance, it's the automatic locking mechanism. The doors of most contemporary cars either unlock when you put the car in park or when you pull the door handle. With the Acura (and Hondas, for that matter), only the driver's door unlocks, leaving the rest of the occupants to manually fumble with the door switches before extricating themselves."

      Are you sure? On my 09TL this adjustable in the settings the show up on the dashboard. You can set which doors open, when they open (park or engine off), along with a lot of other things.
        • 5 Years Ago
        It's not safe at all to have them automatically lock. If I was in a serious car accident and was knocked out unconscious nobody would be able to help me cause my doors are locked. I'd have to wait for the jaws of life or someone to throw a spark plug or something at my window and unlock it manually
        • 5 Years Ago
        My manual transmission Subaru does not unlock any doors when the key is removed from the ignition or door handle is pulled. Very annoying, especially when you are used to not having to take an extra second to check if the door is locked and then manually unlock it in order to exit the vehicle. I no longer lock my doors while inside because of it.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Actually, jv2k, I think some people are so accustomed to having the doors unlocked for them that they can't/don't want to do it themselves.
        Coworkers, friends and family are repeatedly stumped by the fact that I don't have all my car doors set to unlock when I park my car. Yes, every single time they are in my car they still don't get it. I've had my car cursed at just because of it. I usually just hit the button on the left arm rest to unlock all the doors if I have any passengers, unless it's just one person and he/she has complained a lot already.
        I know, it's so cruel.
        I'm not going to change it because I drive by myself most of the time and there's no reason any other door needs to unlock other than mine when I am parked.
        • 5 Years Ago
        yea this is adjustable, my 07 Civic had the same setting where only the driver side door would unlock. I took it to the dealer and they changed it for me.

        And yes it is very annoying because people are used to the doors unlocking automatically So every time a passenger gets out they go through the process of first trying to pull the handle, be confused as to why its locked, attempting to manually unlock, realize that the unlock works differently from their car, and then finally 10 seconds later, exit the car slightly annoyed.
        • 5 Years Ago
        My thought about that complaint is "are you really serious!?"

        I mean fumbling? It's a freaken car lock, unless you are mentally challenged or a toddler you aren't going to be fumbling around and it's not really something you can fault a car on. Personally I wouldn't want every door to unlock everytime I put my car into park and I think.

        • 5 Years Ago
        I hate automatic locks. My parent's '08 Torrent won't unlock the doors until you put the damn thing in Park, which makes it a PITA for dropping off people at the curb. Why are automatic locks even considered a safety or security feature?
      • 5 Years Ago
      This is sold as a Honda Accord in Sweden..Nice car but Honda sells poor in Sweden =/
      • 5 Years Ago
      If it bothered you that much you should know that you can set your preferences for the auto door (un)locking mechanism from the car's setup menu (at least that was the option on other Acuras I've driven).

      As for the V6 option, why they would position it so close to the base TL in all aspects, beats me. I would've rather had the diesel or the turbo 4 from the RDX.
      • 5 Years Ago
      someone is going to make a killing on aftermarket acura grills
        • 5 Years Ago
        Funny, Everything I've read tells me the Pilot, Ridgeline, TL, TSX, Odyssey, MDX, ZDX, and Crosstour all are modifications of the Honda midsize platform designed for the Accord.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Typesbad, what I meant was the hideous design aspect of the ZDX which more or less correlates to the looks of the Crosstour...not necessarily linking them platform-wise.

        Platform related or not..they are both repulsive looking Honda products just the same.
        • 5 Years Ago
        The ZDX and Crosstour are not derived from one another. This reminds me of when the Murano and FX came out about the same time and it was assumed by many that they were the same underneath when in fact, they had entirely different platforms.

        Likewise, while the Crosstour is obviously based on the Accord, the ZDX is derived from the MDX. They are both 4-door hatches and their V-6 engines share architecture, but that is about it.
      • 5 Years Ago
      european accord

      looks better

      the acura looks, like a honda with a opel astra grill
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