Strong performance, confident handling, comfortable seating, chock-full of the latest high-tech features.
Steering lacks feedback, occasionally busy ride, subpar panic braking distance, cabin ambience is more Accord than Acura.
It's Not Just a V6 Upgrade
When Acura redesigned its TSX last year, it was larger, heavier and softer than the previous version, but still only available with a four-cylinder engine (albeit a good one). Though it sold well, the car disappointed serious driving enthusiasts with its lackluster performance (relative to V6 rivals), lifeless steering and odd styling details.
We were tempted to do a spoof on it, with a bunch of Piloti-shod car geeks singing (with apologies to the Righteous Brothers) "You've lost that sporting feeling, oh that sporting feeling." Thankfully, the 2010 Acura TSX cures most of those ills, as it has become stronger and more agile than last year's model, provided you opt for the new V6 trim level that also boasts recalibrated suspension and steering components.
After spending some time with the 2010 Acura TSX V6, we all agreed that though it's undeniably a pleasure to drive — it is quick, smooth, comfortable and composed — it's still not as connected to the driver as we'd like a sport sedan to be. For most folks, we imagine that'll be just fine; in addition to the aforementioned traits, the TSX also enjoys Acura's strong reputation for quality and reliability.
Still, those who'll eschew the interstate for the squiggly lines on the map or get up early on a Sunday to hit their favorite back roads will likely be left wanting something with a more involving personality. If that's you, then we suggest you also consider a BMW 328i or a Nissan Maxima.
Fitted with the corporate 3.5-liter V6 that sends 280 horsepower and 254 pound-feet of torque through the front wheels, the 2010 Acura TSX V6 packs a wallop. Lay into it and it pulls hard, without the annoying steering-wheel-tugging torque steer you'd expect when nearly 300 hp is funneled through the front wheels. We timed the car at a quick 6.4 seconds for the 0-60 dash and an equally impressive 14.7 seconds through the quarter-mile.
The five-speed automatic (a manual transmission isn't available on the V6) furnishes quick, seamless gearchanges and no-lag downshifts. Furthermore, the tranny responded promptly to our commands when we worked the shift paddles. Throughout, the powertrain remains smooth, though we wouldn't have minded a little more bravado in the exhaust's soundtrack. Against fuel economy estimates of 18 mpg in the city, 27 mpg on the highway and 21 mpg combined, we averaged 18.1.
Unlike the acceleration, the deceleration was unimpressive. Taking 133 feet to stop from 60 mph, the TSX's braking performance was about 10-15 feet longer than we'd expect; its number is more befitting an SUV than a sport sedan. In their favor, the brakes staved off fade both at the test track and in everyday driving.
In the mountains, along the tortuous curves of tight canyon roads, the TSX V6 proved itself to be head and shoulders above its inline-4 sibling. The V6's firmed-up suspension simply offers more confident handling, with crisp turn-in and a stable, sway-free attitude through switchbacks and sweepers. While the steering was precise, with decent heft in the wheel, we did wish for more feedback. Overall, the 2010 Acura TSX is a solid performer, but drive it back-to-back with the 328i and you'll see what we mean about that steering feedback.
Wide, well-bolstered front seats coddle and support front occupants while the rear seat's generous thigh support, relaxing seatback angle and wide pull-down center armrest give comfort to those in back. Legroom back there is about the same as in the 3 Series and Maxima. An ideal driving position is easy to manage, thanks to the tilt-telescoping wheel and large range of height and tilt adjustments for the power seat.
Ride quality was compliant and for the most part comfy, though the car bobs a bit over low-speed bumps. In keeping with a potentially bothersome Honda and occasionally Acura tradition, there was noticeable road noise at highway speeds — especially over Southern Cali's grooved concrete freeways.
Despite being loaded with a nav system, high-end ELS sound system (which delivers superb sound via its tight, thumping bass, crisp highs and realistic separation) and most every other automotive luxury and convenience, the TSX's controls are as intuitive as those of its popular Honda Accord cousin. The center stack controls for the audio and navigation systems may look confusing at first blush, but prove easy to use once you're familiar with the layout. The thin, multifunction display just above the radio loses a few points aesthetically; it's a bit cluttered, as it contains audio, climate control and time displays.
With the Technology package, you get voice-command capability for the audio, navigation and climate controls, as well as weather forecast and real-time traffic displays. The latter helps save your sanity, as it gives you alternate routes when you're staring at a sea of brake lights on the freeway. Another appreciated feature of the Tech trim is a back-up camera that makes parallel parking a snap.
Despite all the features, the cabin has plenty of storage cubbies for your phone, garage opener and Power Bars. There are also easily accessed iPod and auxiliary audio jacks as well as a power point.
Though its 12.6-cubic-feet capacity (about 3 or 4 cubes smaller than that of a typical midsize family car) may seem on the small side, the trunk has a wide opening and a deep, boxy shape. It was capacious enough to swallow three golf bags dropped in crosswise. There's also a 60/40-split rear seat should you need more cargo space. Additionally, the 2010 Acura TSX breezed through our child safety seat test. A rear-facing child seat is accommodated even when placed directly behind a 6-foot-3 driver or passenger.
Design/Fit and Finish
While we respect Acura for having the courage to take a different tack with its styling direction, that doesn't mean we cheered the result. The happy face/beak nose of the TSX just isn't growing on us. We saw a photo of one with the whole mess color-keyed and that looked much better. That said, the rest of the car's styling is relatively clean, with the rising beltline lending the TSX a jaunty look.
If you like the Accord's interior, chances are you'll dig the TSX's cabin, as its sweeping, dual-cowl dash panel design in particular is similar. Although it's generally attractive, the TSX's interior doesn't seem distinguished or upscale enough to warrant the premium badging. The faux titanium accents around the dash and console struck us as a bit hokey and downmarket — substituting a smattering of real aluminum trim would go a long way here. Overall build and materials quality, however, are excellent.
Who should consider this vehicle
The ideal buyer for the 2010 Acura TSX V6 is someone who enjoys a responsive, well-mannered, fully loaded sport sedan. Those who value strong reliability and low upkeep costs should also check out this vehicle, as these qualities are hallmarks of Acura products. However, hard-core driving enthusiasts should look elsewhere.
Others To Consider
BMW 328i, Lexus IS 250, Nissan Maxima.
The manufacturer provided Edmunds this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.