2011 Acura TSX Sport Wagon Long Term Road Test

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2011 Acura TSX Sport Wagon: The Roadtrip Report, Pt. I

December 05, 2011

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Whew! The morning after my T-day weekend round trip blast from Los Angeles to Corvallis, OR, I jumped on a plane to Tokyo. Seems like I've been gone forever. Anyway, I haven't forgotten that I said I'd respond to your inquiries regarding the TSX on that trip so long ago.

First up is ed124c's question. Here goes.

ed124c: "Do the good things about the car negate that it has an automatic and isn't very fast? My mind set is that a slow car with an auto is much, much more boring to drive than a slow car with a stick."

No doubt about it, the automatic is one of this TSX's biggest letdowns. Now, I'm of the mind that slushboxes are soul-sucking tools of the devil. I wouldn't buy an automatic-equipped car of any stripe, but will concede that some are better than others. The TSX's automatic is behind the times. Its shifts are not smooth, and nor are they executed particularly quickly.

Having a manual mode/paddles helps make the best of a lame situation, true, but the lack of rev-matched downshifts makes for lurchiness. Considering Honda makes some damned good manual gearboxes, the situation with the auto is that much more aggravating. Buy the stick, folks.

Engine-wise, certainly there's some throttle mapping trickery going on at the first few millimeters of throttle tip-in intended to make the TSX feel strong off the line. I feel this calibration is too exaggerated and the car is jumpy as a result, only to be followed up with not-much-home if you proceed to really dip into the throttle's travel.

As for freeway speed, the TSX felt sprightly enough for this trip. Never really underpowered per se. Low end torque is not its strong suit but it has a nice flat torque curve even as revs climb towards the red. The engine also sounds good and is smooth, so it encourages giving it revs. On this trip it had unstressed passing power on the freeway.

So in summary, the power is fine (enough) but the automatic transmission is a bummer.

Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor

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

October 30, 2011

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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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2011 Acura TSX Sport Wagon: Rev Matching? Not So Much.

October 25, 2011

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I'm not sure why, but Acura didn't make any real effort to offer rev-matched downshifts in the TSX Sport Wagon. So what, exactly, is this paddle for?

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2011 Acura TSX Sport Wagon: Monterey Trip Impressions

August 25, 2011

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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

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2011 Acura TSX Sport Wagon: Five Discoveries

August 01, 2011

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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

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2011 Acura TSX Sport Wagon: So Much Better in Sport Mode

July 28, 2011

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Whenever I slip into the Acura TSX wagon I think, "I like this car." But when driving in regular "D" mode, I find its 201-hp 2.4-liter inline 4 a little lacking in excitement.

When I select "S" mode, however, the engine feels more powerful. The transmission allows the TSX engine to rev higher before shifting. And you can go fully manual by using the paddle shifters. It makes for a much more enjoyable drive.

So, when you're stuck in traffic or are concerned about fuel economy, choose D. But when you want to drive, choose S.

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor @ 10,154 miles

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2011 Acura TSX Sport Wagon: Mixed Message

July 22, 2011

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The steering wheel of the Acura TSX wagon portends sporty driving capabilities. Nice, small diameter. Reasonably thick rim. High quality leather covering. And paddle shifters.

Throw the TSX into a corner...

And its squishy suspension and slippy tires say otherwise. Kind of a letdown.

Definitely not very accurate.

Mike Monticello, Road Test Editor @ 9,781 miles.

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2011 Acura TSX Sport Wagon: Not Sporty? That's OK

June 24, 2011

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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.

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2011 Acura TSX Sport Wagon: Ten Things I Like About You

June 01, 2011

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There's so much negativity in the world today, so I wrote a completely positive post on all the things I like about the new Acura TSX wagon. These are not in any particular order.

1. a real hand brake (my preference over a floor pedal or an electronic button)
2. audio buttons that are not stuck inside the nav system (which I rarely use)
3. leather-wrapped steering wheel that feels nice in my hand
4. attractive stitching detailing the leather
5. shift knob that looks like a black baseball and is comfortable in the hand
6. simple, not flashy instrument panel
7. tire pressure warning system that tells the psi (not exclusive to this car but nice)
8. steady but not too stiff suspension that takes a curve well
9. quick shifting automatic transmission
10. It's a wagon!

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2011 Acura TSX Sport Wagon: More Coasting

March 11, 2011

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So I have been blathering recently about the Chevy Cruze’s transmission behavior to all who would listen (many ran away). So imagine my dismay to discover the same sort of things at work in the TSX Wagon.

The same sensation of coasting at cruising speed, as if the automatic transmission had backed off to reduce mechanical losses and thus enhance fuel efficiency. The same critical sensitivity of the throttle pedal and the same frequent cycling of the gear ratios. So much is going on in the transmission that the TSX always gives me the sense that I’m not driving as smoothly as I should.

But after a while, I finally figured out it’s my fault, not Acura’s.

You can imagine some eager-to-please Acura engineer confronted with a focus group of American drivers.

On the one hand, we ask for a strong sensation of performance from the TSX, even when it’s equipped with a four-cylinder engine that’s intended largely for fuel economy and an automatic transmission that’s intended largely for smooth uninterrupted drivetrain performance. On the other, we ask for the same kind of fuel efficiency you might get from a Honda Civic coupe, not a moderately heavy wagon.

So we’re pretty much asking for the suspension of the laws of physics. GM designer Harley Earl, the most important car stylist in America from 1930 to 1958, once asked his engineers if they could develop something that would be a strong as metal, only transparent. We’re asking for that.

So what we get is a transmission full of ratios, plus programming that swaps eagerly between a handful of them whenever the throttle pedal senses the hint of enthusiasm. So the car is fast. And we also get a fly-by-wire throttle pedal calibrated for very aggressive tip in. So the car jumps ahead, which feels fast.

At the same time, the transmission will shift into the tallest gear possible under light throttle loads, so overall fuel efficiency is improved. And the torque converter wants to disengage and let the engine coast under light throttle loads, also helping to deliver a good mpg number.

So if you’re wondering why you drive like a klutz in medium speed traffic, it’s because the transmission is trying to suspend the laws of physics and deliver both speed and fuel efficiency at the same time. It could shift less, but then you would complain that the car feels sluggish and you would whine about the fuel economy besides. And if you wonder why the guy in the car in front of you keeps tapping his brakes, it’s because the sensation of coasting is not what you want when the traffic is dense, so everyone rides the brake a little just to know what the car is doing.

So there I was, driving the TSX with a distinct lack of skill in commute traffic and I totally raised my hand to acknowledge, yes, I am the one to blame.

Michael Jordan, Executive Editor, Edmunds.com @ 3,076 miles

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2011 Acura TSX Sport Wagon: Quick In Some Respects

March 02, 2011

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The Acura TSX Sport Wagon may not be lightning at the track. In our full test of an identically outfitted TSX wagon, its 0-60 time was a drowsy 8.8 seconds.

But in everyday driving, its five-speed automatic transmission is quick to shift when you need it. As soon as it hits an incline, even a subtle one, it doesn't hesitate to downshift. And I was driving in D, letting the car do its own thing.

I find the TSX Sport Wagon to be enough for me on the road. I had no problems passing pokey commuters or merging into traffic. I think this is going to be one of my favorite cars in the fleet.

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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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*
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