2011 Acura TSX Sport Wagon Long Term Road Test

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2011 Acura TSX Sport Wagon: Wrap-Up

April 27, 2012

Read the introduction of this vehicle to our long-term fleet.

See all of the blog posts on this vehicle.

There were plenty of questions on the table when our long-term 2011 Acura TSX Sport Wagon arrived. There was the typical, "Is it better than a small SUV?" Then there was the size issue. Is it too small of a wagon to be truly useful? And finally, we were curious if a 3,600-pound, 201-horsepower wagon could really be considered sporty.

We knew there would be baggage attached to any wagon that entered the fleet. Sure, we like the idea of a wagon and all, but we're well aware that most consumers don't, at least in the U.S. Time to see if times have changed at all.

Keep It Simple
The pricing structure for Acura products is simple. There are no options. Rather, the cars are grouped by trim level. In the case of the 2011 Acura TSX Sport Wagon, there are two.

Standard equipment on the TSX Base was a 201-hp, 2.4-liter iVTEC four-cylinder engine, paired with a five-speed automatic transmission. Leather seating, numerous airbags, a moonroof and Bluetooth capability were among its notable features. Step up to the TSX Tech to add navigation, a back-up camera, AcuraLink real-time traffic and weather, ELS surround-sound system, dual-zone climate control and a power liftgate.

We selected a 2011 Acura TSX Sport Wagon Tech to make sure it was a little more road-trip-worthy. It carried an MSRP of $35,470 including destination charges. If a wagon was ever going to have a chance, this was it.

Looks and Feels
Within the confines of its cabin our TSX was visually impressive. Ebony leather, matte chrome trims and textured plastics gave a sense of refinement and taste to the Acura. Generally, the interior was well assembled and of high quality. The finger pointers on our staff were giddy over the button-laden center stack and steering wheel. But they were in the minority. The number of buttons bordered on excessive. Yet with practice, everyone found them easy to use.

There was decent cabin space, too. One editor complimented the TSX with, "There is much more space in the cargo area than I expected. I didn't need an SUV after all. The four of us fit our luggage in the back, although there was little room to spare." Those under 6 feet tall found this sense of spaciousness extended to passenger legroom in all positions. Anyone taller will complain of legroom limitations in the second row.

Short trips in the TSX were effortless. It was over the long haul that its driver seat left some wanting more. Engineering Editor Jason Kavanagh wrote, "The seat sucks. Scratch that — the part that sucks is that damned sitting-in-a-pregnant-lady's-lap aspect that comes courtesy of the stupid, stupid, balloony lumbar lump that's right in the middle of your back. Why this lump continues to exist in Honda products remains a seating mystery." Another driver added, "My back hurt for about half of my six-hour trip. The driver seatback cushion is a little squooshy — I wish it was firmer. Also, I wish the seat bottom cushion was extendable so I could have a little more thigh support."

Technology features set our 2011 Acura TSX apart from the Base model. The navigation system did not miss a beat. The car's ELS stereo was among the best we've tested, leading one editor to say, "The system exceeded my expectations — not just for a wagon, but judged against OEM audio in any type of vehicle. It accomplished what few systems can. It made me want to hit the road and crank my music."

The Bluetooth pairing process didn't receive the same level of praise. The combination of voice commands and button-pushing made the simple act of pairing a phone clumsy. Most folks will not have to link their phones every time they get into the car as we do, but it still shouldn't take as much time and effort as it does in the TSX.

Dynamic Impressions
Long-term test cars with any semblance of utility ascend the popularity pyramid quickly. Road-trip requests are commonplace. It was here on the road that we learned more about the dynamic character of this sport wagon.

Perhaps the biggest psychological hurdle working against the 2011 Acura TSX was its self-described status as a sport wagon. Senior Editor Erin Riches explained, "There's a lot more isolation built into the Acura, and while that keeps things comfortable, it's hard to get a read on what's happening through either the steering wheel or driver seat. Obviously, this isn't critical for safety or sanity, but the lack of feedback sure is boring. Add in a moderate helping of body roll and you're left with a family cruiser that could only be called a sport wagon by the loosest definition."

At freeway speeds the four-cylinder rarely felt underpowered. There's not much low-end torque, but its torque curve remains flat even as the engine revs climb. At the top end it even sounded nice, unlike the thrashy note of some competitive four-cylinders. We appreciated the TSX's manual shift mode and steering-wheel-mounted shift paddles, but the lack of rev-matching made for some awkward downshifts.

Cargo Capacity
The appeal of our sport wagon over a standard TSX was, obviously, the easily accessible cargo space. A look at the numbers shows that the 2011 Acura TSX offers 25.8 cubic feet of space behind its rear seats, which was comparable to most CUVs. Fold the seatbacks flat and its 60.5 cubic feet of cargo capacity settled around the middle of the crossover pack. We found the amount of cargo space ample for most of our needs.

"There's plenty of room for the 65-pound pooch. I can't say that about our Mini Countryman or Nissan Juke," read one blog entry. Another added, "The second-row seats don't fold completely flat, but Acura makes up for it with three bins beneath the rear load floor."

Steel tie-downs for stowed gear were also welcomed. We loaded big-screen TVs, luggage and bicycles into the TSX with ease. If we had a critique it was regarding the lack of remote release handles for the second-row seats. Some of our staff are high maintenance and the need to fold the seats via levers on the seatbacks was too "old-school" for them.

Minimal Maintenance
As the mileage accumulated, our TSX required normal maintenance. Over the span of our 12-month test we spent roughly $230 on preventative items, namely oil changes and tire rotations. It was worth it, too, as the Acura didn't leave us stranded, ever.

Only once did we visit the dealer for anything beyond the routine check-ups at 10,000 and 15,000 miles. A windshield chip grew to a crack and needed replacement. Since we borrowed the TSX from Acura, aftermarket glass was not an option. We paid a hefty $1,300 for Santa Monica Acura to install our new windshield, fresh from the factory.

Cost To Own
Maintenance costs were reasonable for the 2011 Acura TSX during our test. We spent less than $20 a month for the routine items. Fuel costs would be higher if we ran the TSX strictly on the recommended premium gasoline, but we didn't. We noticed negligible differences in fuel economy based on our driving patterns. That said, our best single tank of fuel was nearly 33 mpg, which covered more than 500 miles. The EPA rates highway fuel economy at 30 mpg. We averaged 24.6 mpg over 20,000 miles of testing, matching EPA estimations.

Each test ends with a pass through Edmunds' TMV® Calculator. No exceptions here. The TSX Sport Wagon depreciated 21 percent from its original MSRP based on a private-party sale. In our experience, this is slightly better than average.

Where Does It Fit?
After 20,000 miles with the 2011 Acura TSX Sport Wagon we found ourselves still searching to find its personality. On some levels the TSX was competitive, whereas on others it was merely average. It was a solid choice, but struggled to develop enough character to distinguish itself.

The 2.4-liter engine was merely adequate, as was the five-speed transmission. Its handling was respectable, yet the steering lacked the feel and feedback of a car with sporting intentions. Early on we decided the Sport connotation did not belong on this wagon. We feel the same way now. Still, it made up for performance limitations with simple comfort items.

An excellent stereo and quiet, compliant ride made it a nice place to be on long trips, even if the driver seat did not conform to all tastes. Fuel economy showed moments of brilliance. Build quality was very good. And resale value measured up to the rest of the pack. A little more sport would be nice, but apart from that this TSX wagon is exactly what we expected it would be — an excellent SUV alternative for those who don't care to ride high and guzzle gas.

Total Body Repair Costs: None
Total Routine Maintenance Costs: $227.72 (over 12 months)
Additional Maintenance Costs: $1,323,62
Warranty Repairs: None
Non-Warranty Repairs: Replaced windshield with factory glass
Scheduled Dealer Visits: 2
Unscheduled Dealer Visits: 1
Days Out of Service: None
Breakdowns Stranding Driver: None
   
Best Fuel Economy: 32.5 mpg
Worst Fuel Economy: 18.9 mpg
Average Fuel Economy: 24.6 mpg
   
True Market Value at service end: $27,880 (private party sale)
Depreciation: $7,590 (or 21% of original MSRP)
Final Odometer Reading: 20,010 miles

The manufacturer provided Edmunds this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.

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2011 Acura TSX Sport Wagon: Makes My Short List

January 26, 2012

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I'm one of those car guys that thinks wagons are cool. I'm not talking Wagon Queen Family Truckster here, but rather Euro-flavored wagons that are more like sport sedans with big trunks.

I like the lower, sleeker styling of a traditional station wagon compared to the bulky and high-riding crossovers that are all the rage. The Jetta TDI SportWagen (6-speed manual, please) has long been my pick due to its generous cargo capacity, ideal handling/ride balance and peppy turbodiesel that sips fuel to the tune of estimates of 30 city and 42 highway. But having driven our recently departed Acura TSX Sport Wagon, I was reminded how close it comes to knocking the Vee-Dub off my top wagon list...

As you've figured out by now, the photo above is of the European market Honda Accord Touring wagon, the twin to the Acura TSX Sport Wagon. Were I to get the Acura, I'd have to replace its grille and bumper with the Honda's. Need I say why? Otherwise, I think the TSX wagon looks fine -- the rising beltline gives it an aggressive, crouching stance that works for me. I prefer its styling to the sedan, actually, especially when viewed from the rear 3/4 angle.

Enough about looks, what really endears me to this Acura is its strengths as a daily driver and its ability to haul stuff without screaming "family car". Sure, it could use more power and it's odd that the V6 isn't available for the wagon, but it's a smooth, willing four that, under our heavy feet and subjected to L.A.'s horrid traffic managed to average about 25 mpg. It's comfortable on long rides, provides 66 cubes worth of cargo capacity and would likely be as reliable as an anvil, if Acura's strong history in that regard is any indicator.

John DiPietro, Automotive Editor

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2011 Acura TSX SportWagon: Sweet Sorrow and a Repurposed Ashtray

January 23, 2012

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I'm not sure if the TSX returned to its rightful owners today, but I already miss it. Give it the same V6 and six-speed manual auto slated for the 2013 RDX, and discover a better way to minimize the cargo intrusion from those rear shock towers, and I'm in.

The above photo shows something I'll miss. The TSX emphatically states that this compartment is not an ashtray. Felt lining inside even drives home the point. But the compartment and accessory outlet do make a good dumbphone rest. No sacrificing a cupholder here.

But this is lame.

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2011 Acura TSX Sport Wagon: 20,000 Miles

January 20, 2012

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We have 20,000 miles of good road behind us in the Acura TSX Sport Wagon. With most of our long-term test cars, our goal is drive 20,000 miles within our one year. We passed this number last night driving south on the 405 freeway. I couldn't take a picture of the exact click over because I was in a bit of frenzied traffic. But as soon as I exited and stopped at a red light, I snapped this pic.

This TSX wagon, beloved by many on our staff, is scheduled to go back to the manufacturer on Monday. It will be missed. Both Magrath and I have mentioned that we would purchase this vehicle if it was one of the cars that our company had bought. But it was a loaner from Acura and so we have to relinquish the keys.

In the twelve months that we enjoyed the Acura TSX, our only issue was a cracked windshield which we replaced in December. Other than that it was just the usual maintenance.

Any of you thinking of buying an Acura TSX Sport Wagon?

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor @ 20,029 miles

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2011 Acura TSX Sport Wagon: Surprising MPG

January 12, 2012

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Here's one I didn't see coming: 26.61 mpg in mixed drving. My mixed driving. More importantly, my indifferent mixed driving.

I'm not going to pretend this is some kind of miracle, but it's certainly nothing to sneeze at, either. After all, our average mpg in this car through its first 19,232 miles was 24.6 mpg. So this is not a huge increase in most people's hands, but I've never considered myself a light foot.

If nothing else, this little wagon is reasonably efficient.

Josh Jacquot, Senior editor @ 19,618 miles

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2011 Acura TSX Sport Wagon: Because I'm Not Always Awesome

January 11, 2012

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Here's the thing...I'm not always awesome. I know some of you will find that hard to believe. For those who aren't sure, here's some proof.

It's possible I've been an idiot in exactly the same way twice. It's possible I've managed to kill the battery on an airport-parked long-term car twice in 18 months.

Fortunately, because of my former stupidity, I've become an expert in finding fellow airport patrons who pack jumper cables. It took about 20 seconds of loaned electrons from a Cadillac Escalade to bring the TSX back to life.

All of it, that is -- and here comes the point, I promise -- except the radio. As you can see it requires a code. So I called Acura's customer care number. Took about ten minutes of talking to Steve to sort out the confusion about who actually owns the car (Acura, it's on loan to us) and prove to him that I didn't steal it so he'd give me the code. That part would likely be much easier if you owned the car yourself.

Or you could just remember to turn off the interior lights before you fly to Detroit for three days.

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2011 Acura TSX Sport Wagon: Tasteful Tie Downs

January 09, 2012

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These are nice. Doesn't seem like such a big deal until you need them, but they're a critical component of any wagon when it comes to road tripping safely. Also, they fold flat and offer solid, reliable operation. There are four of them -- one at each corner of the TSX's cargo area.

Nice job, Acura.

Josh Jacquot, Senior editor

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2011 Acura TSX Sport Wagon: Will Two Bikes Fit?

January 09, 2012

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In the timeless words of the great philospher of Storage Wars, Dave Hester...

...YUUUP!

Two bikes will fit. They're under there, trust me.

Josh Jacquot

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2011 Acura TSX Sport Wagon: How Many People Bought it in 2011?

January 06, 2012

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Okay, so we've had the discussion here a few times on wheter or not you (or anyone) would or should buy the TSX Wagon. Donna, Frio and I are in agreement that we'd buy one. (I want our long termer when it's done truth be told.) Austria and Montoya are boring and hate useable space and would buy the sedan.

Al gave you the numbers for Jan - August. Acura moved 16,438 TSX sedans with 2,171 of them being wagons. How did the wagon finish out the year? (Hint: better than the Equus)

TSX: 30,935

TSX Wagon: 3,210

That puts the TSX wagon at more than 10 percent of TSX sales which sounds low, but is higher than the manual transmission take rate on far too many cars. The TSX wagon also handily outsold the ZDX (1,564 units this year) and the RL (1,096 units). The TSX Wagon also outsold the G-Class, the entire Maybach lineup, the Subaru Tribeca, the Hyundai Equus, Lancer Evolution (2,118), Lancer Sportback (1,548) and I'm sure more.

In unrelated sales news, both the Kia Borrego and the Kia Rondo also outsold the entire Maybach line by a score of 429/47 (Borrego/Rondo) to 39. This isn't terribly interesting unless you consider that both the Borrego or the Rondo were axed after the 2009 model year.

Mike Magrath, Features Editor, Inside Line

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2011 Acura TSX Sport Wagon: A Look Underneath

December 30, 2011

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We've started using our new 2-post Rotary Lift more and more. Almost daily in fact. This morning it was our Acura TSX Sport Wagon's turn to reveal to us its underthings.

More picturers after the jump.

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Edmunds Insurance Estimator

The Edmunds TCO® estimated monthly insurance payment for a 2011 Acura TSX Sport Wagon in VA is:

$124 per month*
* Explanation
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