Soul. It's Still There. - 2011 Acura TSX Sport Wagon Long-Term Road Test

2011 Acura TSX Sport Wagon Long Term Road Test

2011 Acura TSX Sport Wagon: Soul. It's Still There.

October 30, 2011


Last week I complained that the TSX's transmission doesn't match revs. That bothers me, but it doesn't ruin the car for me. There's plenty to like here.

Bottom line, this is still a Honda at heart. It offfers traditional light, flicky Honda controls and its ultra-smooth engine is Honda through and through. But here's the thing: A lot of the character we remember loving about Honda's from the 90s and early 00s is masked by weight and "luxury."

First and foremost, the VTEC switchover to bigger cam lobes is still there -- it happens about 5,000 rpm. But unless you're listening carefully, it gets ignored. And maybe that's what Acura wants. Could be. After all, any wail isn't exactly endearing to a luxury brand's identity. But is it what Acura needs?

There's more. Hondas have never had stunning brakes or stunning brake feel. But what they've always offered is a light-but-honest pedal which provided exactly what it promised -- to stop the car in exact proportion to the effort you made. The TSX still does that. No, these brakes aren't going to set any 60-0 records, but there's still enough feedback through the pedal to accurately stop the car.

The steering, which is electrically assisted, doesn't offer the kind of feedback I'd prefer. Sure, there's enough information to prudently guide this wagon quickly over a mountain pass or down a backroad. It's the kind of feedback you'll appreciate at seven-tenths. And that's about as hard as you should ever drive this car anyway, so it works.

Finally, the most endearing trait I remember about the hear-and-soul Hondas of ten or more years ago was the low waistline -- the windowsills which were at or below shoulder level, the flat floors and the simple control design. Forget the control design in the TSX. Modern demands have negated this in almost all cars and the this one is no exception.

But the waistline thing isn't completly gone.There are elements, glimpses, of those days still lingering in the way this car feels from behind the wheel. There's an airiness to the cockpit that I still like. Perhaps more than anything else, this is why I'd say there's still some Honda soul kicking around in the TSX Sport Wagon. And I still like it.

Josh Jacquot, Senior editor

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