December 06, 2011
I drove our longterm 2011 Acura TSX Sport Wagon nearly 1,900 miles in the span of a few days. And you know what? I'd do it again.
The ride is very well damped without being stiff or, alternatively, any hint of float. Really quite nice. And its cabin is well laid-out, looks good and feels a quality place. I did notice that the steering requires constant little corrections when the road is dead-straight -- a consequence of its electric power steering -- and the seat could be better, true. But those aren't dealbreakers and there's a lot to like here.
With that, I give you my response to bruceb916's query, plus a bonus -- the TSX's round-trip fuel economy.
bruceb916: "I'd like to know how the little 4 holds up while climbing the grapevine and the semi-twisty 5 outside of Redding.
Secondly, how will the car hold all of the various things you need for a long drive up the 5? The multiple coffee cups, water bottles, gas station junk food wrappers and the almighty In-N-Out Double Double and Animal Fry?"
The TSX had plenty of juice when climbing grades. In fact, there was power to spare. Though I poo-pooed it earlier, the autobox does have a nice aspect -- its grade logic. I'd cruise at 80 mph or so and the TSX's autobox would downshift and hold a gear. No hunting.
On the whole I have no major complaints about the TSX's ability to move around slower traffic on the freeway. Sure, more grunt is always nice (unless it results in unmanageable torque steer, in which case solution = RWD).
And yeah, the TSX has good cabin storage. Two coffees in the center console, a Sigg water thing in each door, and enough room in the armrest bin for a half-dozen In-N-Out Four By Fours. The TSX's large cargo area was more than a match for our relatively light luggage, and there was no need to fold the seats (sorry, username legacygt).
Fuel economy for the entire trip? 27.2 mpg. Almost all highway. Lots of 80 mph cruising. As for fuel, I used 91 octane since I like to use the throttle and wanted any extra juice on the table.
Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor
December 06, 2011
Our longterm 2011 Acura TSX Sport Wagon is pictured taking a break in lovely Ashland, OR where I visited a LeMons buddy on my way up to Corvallis.
On the way to Ashland on the I-5 in northern CA, there's a nice, winding run up and down the Cascade mountains (best roadsign: "Sexton Mt Pass", where someone had removed the "t" in "Sexton"). Well, it's nice when it's light out and the weather's clear, neither of which was the case here. It was dark and foggy and rainy, the road's unlit, and the resulting spray off cars in front made for a lot of driving with minimal visibility. Ah well.
Next up is emajor's question.
emajor: "Let us know how the road noise is on the godawful rough-textured I-5 in the Willamette Valley. That stretch of interstate is the ultimate test of sound isolation for a car. I'm pretty sure our old Civic was only a few decibels shy of causing hearing loss on that road."
Road noise was pretty bad up there. But as you say, that's a crummy road. In general, I wouldn't say the TSX has exceptionally poor or outstanding isolation from road noise. About adequate, I'd say. The road noise in the TSX wasn't the constant, obnoxious kind that just wears you down after a few hours in the saddle the way a Miata does. I didn't feel beat up by road noise even after driving for 11 hours.
The seat, however, 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 overshadowed only by the Corvette's flaccid thrones.
Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor
December 05, 2011
I expected to come into the office this morning and see a bunch of blog posts about Christmas tree shopping. No holiday spirit this year, guys? I got a beautiful tree, a wreath, garland, two poinsettias and great customer service. After picking out my perfect tree, I went on to seek out the rest of my goodies. When I was finished I came out to find the tree already tied to the top of the wagon's rack and completely wrapped in protective plastic. Nice.
There is always one car on our list that I sign out as often as possible. It used to be the Nissan GT-R, then it was the Audi A4 Avant, now it's the TSX Sport Wagon. The more I drive this car, the more I want it. If we had purchased it, I would definitely buy it at the end of our test year. But Honda loaned us this car and it will go back some time in January.
November 29, 2011
Hey, there's Mt. Shasta!
For Thanksgiving we drove the 2011 Acura TSX Sport Wagon up to Corvallis, Oregon, and back. Editor JayKav said a one-way trip could be done in one day (about 11-14 hours) so the plan was to spend all day driving on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and all day for the return trip on Sunday.
I was supposed to take over some of the driving but JayKav pushed through. His Lemons experience really paid off, building up his endurance and his skills at getting around the herds of holiday drivers aka left-lane squatters. In any case, I spent the entire trip playing navigator, DJ, entertainment director and trip photographer.
For navigation, I stuck to using my iPhone 4S since the search function on the TSX's nav is too clunky and you can't specify the area ahead of you. While on my iPhone, I could just pull up restaurant options in remote towns on my Yelp app and upcoming gas stations/pit stops in Google Maps.
For music, we had to connect Jay's iPhone to the car's Bluetooth while it was stopped. Once connected it worked just fine. We also had the additional option of hooking up my iPhone via aux so we could switch back and forth from our playlists and I could also still play Spotify. The only issue is that Jay likes to play the music at low volumes and since the road noise is pretty significant in the cabin and I could barely get my groove on.
I would have fallen asleep a lot more but, frankly, the side bolsters of the seat and the angle of the headrest weren't all that comfortable, pressing my shoulders and head forward. I ended up sleeping with my head at a weird angle to the side and would wake up with killer neck pain. But I guess good co-pilots shouldn't sleep anyway.
At least the seat heater was effective, keeping things nice and cozy. I kept it on high throughout the whole trip just because as you know by now I'm always cold.
But I enjoyed my time in the TSX. I may not have found the passenger seat all that comfortable but I appreciated all its space and audio technology options. And that since it's a sport wagon, Jay was able to take it on some fun roads on the return trip home. (Highway 58 to the 14 to Angeles Crest Highway was the way to go to avoid the holiday gridlock on the Grapevine.) Can't do something like that with usual road trip options like a crossover or SUV.
As for the trip's fuel numbers, Jay will have that and all that other good stuff like driving impressions when he gets back from the Tokyo auto show.
Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor @ 17,955 miles
November 11, 2011
Last night, while getting dinner with some friends, I got some feedback on the wagon's back seat. Though neither passenger was especially large, (one was 5-5, the other 5-10), both gave it thumbs up overall for its solid back- and under-thigh support.
At 34.3 inches, the rear leg room specification is nothing to brag about, but the seat's firm padding, well-shaped backrest and relatively high seat cushion greatly contribute to the high comfort factor. As they say, you have to look beyond the numbers.
John DiPietro, Automotive Editor @ 15,441 miles
November 08, 2011
A heated seat is a great thing, and I happily used the feature this morning in the Acura TSX Sport Wagon. The seat is pleasantly warm on "lo" and a bit more assertive on "hi," but still comfortable. In some vehicles, however, heated seats pose a real problem: According to some reports, heated seats have burned drivers and passengers.
According to this Edmunds story, some of the concerns arise from malfunctioning seat heaters. Other problems, though, have to do with seats that function as the manufacturers intended, but run hot, and are being used by people who have no sensation in their lower extremities (passengers with medical issues such as paraplegia, for example). Serious burns can be the result.
Have your heated seats ever been too fiery for comfort?
Carroll Lachnit, Features Editor, @ 15,414 miles.
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
September 21, 2011
Yesterday I blogged about the frustratingly high H point in our 2011 Infiniti M56 and one of the prevailing themes in the comments was that it's because the Infiniti is a Japanese car. While it's true that almost every German car can comfortably fit genetic freaks like Riswick without issue, it's equally true that not all Japanese cars make you sit on a stack of phone books.
Take, for example, our Acura TSX Sport Wagon: This seat gets LOW. When driving it I'm not angled back nor am I anywhere near as low as the seat can go, yet I still feel like I'm sitting in the seat.
Mike Magrath, Features Editor, Inside Line @ 12,818 miles
August 25, 2011
I like the 2011 Acura TSX Sport Wagon. My wife likes it, too. After a weekend jaunt to Monterey we both came away thinking that one of these just might get the nod as the replacement for our trusty minivan, a car we've grown weary of as our need for three-row seating and mondo cargo space tapers off.
Yes, I know it has the 2.4-liter four-cylinder, but it turns out we had no qualms about the available power. It's no overt speed demon, but there's more than enough here for it to comfortably get out of its own way and deal with traffic. Besides, my won't be flogging it like a track car anyway. And there is a little edge to it; its handling is composed and engaging and the ride is comfortable yet well-controlled. A limp fish this ain't.
The most glaring omission in my book is a 6-speed automatic transmission; the wide spacing between the cogs in this 5-speed box are readily apparent. The smaller steps afforded by another gear would go a long way towards improving the driveability of the four banger by reducing the drama when it kicks down and making overall power delivery more seamless.
As it stands, the inline-4 does fairly well at the gas pump. Rated at 25 mpg combined (22 city/30 highway), our trip average was 28.8 mpg. Our best highway tank was 32.2 mpg, and that included 70-75 mph freeway speeds and a trip up and over 4,160-foot Tejon pass.
There's enough space, it looks nice inside, the heated front seats are actually comfortable for my wife (a rare thing), and the Tech package has everything we want.
At $34,610 a new one with the Tech package costs a tad more than I want to spend. I'm on the lookout for a used one coming off lease.
Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 11,829 miles
August 01, 2011
Yesterday I discovered five things about our long-term 2011 Acura TSX Sport Wagon. Three good. Two bad.
I made these discoveries during a single day run from Los Angeles to Big Bear Lake, CA and back, in the rain, with my entire family packed inside the TSX, including my 65 lb. doggie Bandit.
1) It's solid in the wet. Locked in. The run to Big Bear is about 75 miles of freeway and another fifty miles of state roads 330 and 18, which are essentially twisty two-lane mountain roads that climb from San Bernardino at 1,500 ft. elevation up to Big Bear at about 8,000 ft. The TSX felt great in these conditions on its Michelin Pilot HX MXM4 rubber (225/50R17). Not once did I have "a moment".
2) It needs more motor. Pesonally I find the TSX Wagon a little on the slow side down at sea level in Santa Monica. Get it up in the mountains at elevations over 4000 ft. and it is slooooooooow.
3) Push a few buttons and it'll show you a radar weather report on its nav screen (see photo). Cool.
4) It's kinda loud on the highway. For my taste the Acura lets a little too much road roar into its interior. It really does hum down the hightway.
5) There's plenty of room in the cargo area for my 65 lb. pooch. I can't say that about our Mini Countryman or Nissan Juke.
Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief @ 10,435 miles
July 27, 2011
Yep, we've reached the 10,000-mile mark on the Acura TSX Sport Wagon. It may not be quite as sporty as its name implies, but so far it's holding up pretty well, with minimal signs of wear. And it's certainly a very comfortable vehicle with which to commute, or to just drive around like a normal person.
June 24, 2011
If you've been following our posts about our TSX Sport Wagon, you've probably come to the realization (as we have) that "Sport" has more to do with marketing than anything else. Erin drove it to Half Moon Bay and found it devoid of personality. Mark had a similar reaction in his post. In each case, their assessments are pretty much spot-on. But I also think the way Acura set up its TSX wagon is the right one.
April 11, 2011
Drove up to San Francisco this weekend with my dog Mya in the long-term 2011 Acura TSX Sport Wagon. She looked like the above picture for 99% of the trip each way, a good thing. I laid down a blanket and her bed across the seat, buckled her in and stored her leash, treats and travel water bowl in the footwell. Some notes about how the TSX did as a conveyor of dog (note: I realize that not all these issues are exclusive to the Acura, this is just my experience with it though):
-- Love the vents in the center console so the dog could get some air without having to put the windows down, something I dislike when on the freeway.
-- The lower seat height, compared to her previous ride in the Raptor, definitely made it easier and quicker for her to get in and out of the car and provided me with easier access to her.
-- Wish the seatbelt fasteners for the side seats stuck out more from the bottom seat like the center seatbelt fastener. As it was I usually had to dig around from them to buckle her up -- a must, not only for safety sake, but because the TSX is kinda fun to drive.
All in all, I'd say she was pretty comfortable in the Acura.
Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor @ 5,185 miles