Full 2011 Acura TSX Review
What's New for 2011
The 2011 Acura TSX features a new wagon body style called the Sport Wagon. All TSXs also get a slight fuel economy gain, exterior design refinements, improved acoustic insulation and a new hard-drive-based navigation system with a higher-resolution display.
The 2011 Acura TSX continues in its role as the gateway model into Honda's premium brand, a steady if somewhat plain performer in four-cylinder sedan trim and a more exciting sport sedan when equipped with the available V6. But the biggest news for the TSX line in 2011 is the addition of a wagon model. Offering more cargo room than most competitors, ample storage and a flat load floor that can accommodate objects nearly 70 inches long, the TSX Sport Wagon adds welcome versatility and panache to a model that frankly has been less interesting every year.
The Sport Wagon comes standard with the TSX's 201-horsepower, 2.4-liter inline-4 engine and five-speed automatic transmission. Although enthusiasts might prefer that this new Acura wagon be a rival to the sportier Audi A4 Avant and BMW 328i wagon by combining a V6 engine, a manual transmission and all-wheel drive, the reality is that the TSX Sport Wagon offers balanced performance in nearly every dynamic category as well as superior fuel economy. Acura only plans to offer 4,000 units in North America, a tentative way of taking the temperature of American enthusiasm for a luxury wagon from Japan, so get on the list if you want one.
The Sport Wagon also adds a new design perspective to the TSX, as its tapering roof line and sharp, future-shock angles give the wagon an image of velocity even at rest. Acura has also tamed the TSX beak, the polarizing design for the grille and front fascia that has undermined what is otherwise a solid car under the sheet metal. The front end of the 2011 Acura TSX still looks sharp and techno, but its metallic overbite has been substantially reduced.
Overall the TSX offers excellent manners in daily driving, a pleasing interior, an impressive amount of standard equipment, plus state-of-the-art navigation and entertainment systems. In four-cylinder guise, the driving experience can be a bit bland -- the A4 and 3 Series are just more fun to drive. And it might be worth looking at loaded versions of the Ford Fusion, Nissan Altima and Volkswagen CC as well. With the V6 and its sport-tuned suspension and steering, though, the TSX gains a more dynamic persona. In either case, the TSX is worth a look, and is certainly one of the better luxury sedan and wagon values on the market.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2011 Acura TSX is a compact entry-level luxury sedan available in base, wagon and V6 trim levels. The base TSX and TSX Sport Wagon offer standard equipment that includes 17-inch alloy wheels, xenon headlights, foglights, a sunroof, keyless entry, dual-zone automatic climate control, a tilt-and-telescoping steering column, an eight-way power driver seat with memory, a four-way power passenger seat, leather upholstery, heated front seats, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and a 60/40-split-folding rear seatback. Also standard are Bluetooth and a seven-speaker sound system with a CD player, satellite radio, auxiliary audio jack and a USB port. In addition to more horsepower and displacement, the V6 adds a firmer suspension, 18-inch wheels and a road noise-cancelling feature for the sound system.
The optional Technology package adds a rearview camera, a hard-drive-based navigation system, voice recognition, real-time traffic and weather forecasting, a 10-speaker Acura/ELS surround-sound system with single-CD player, digital music storage and, for the wagon, a power liftgate.
Powertrains and Performance
The front-wheel-drive TSX is available with a choice of two engines. The 2.4-liter four-cylinder makes 201 hp and 170 pound-feet of torque (172 lb-ft when equipped with the manual transmission), while the 3.5-liter V6 generates 280 hp and 254 lb-ft. A five-speed automatic transmission with sport shift paddles is standard on all models, although a six-speed manual is available for the four-cylinder sedan only.
In Edmunds testing, a manual four-cylinder TSX sedan loped to 60 mph from a standstill in an unremarkable 7.7 seconds. The automatic sedan and Sport Wagon both crossed the lights about a second slower. The V6, on the other hand, posted a competitive 0-60 time of 6.4 seconds.
Estimated EPA fuel economy estimates for the four-cylinder automatic TSX sedan are 22 mpg city/31 mpg highway and 26 combined; the manual version drops to 21/29/24. The wagon achieves 22/30/25, while the V6 comes in at 19/28/23.
Standard safety equipment on the 2011 TSX includes antilock brakes (with brake assist), stability control, traction control, active head restraints, front seat side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags. In Edmunds brake testing, both the four- and six-cylinder versions of the TSX took 133 feet to stop from 60 mph. That's at least 10-15 feet longer than we'd expect for a comparable sport sedan. The Sport Wagon came to a halt in 127 feet.
The 2011 Acura TSX has not been rated using the government's new, more strenuous 2011 crash testing procedures. Its 2010 ratings for the sedan (which aren't comparable to 2011 tests) resulted in five-out-of-five stars for all frontal and side-impact tests. It also earned the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's top rating of "Good" in both frontal-offset and side-impact tests.
Interior Design and Special Features
Although toned down a bit from its predecessor, the 2011 Acura TSX is still dense with buttons and switchgear, particularly on its center stack. Most of the controls and commands are fairly intuitive and logical, however. Equipped with the Technology package, the TSX offers a very good navigation system (now hard-drive-based for 2011) featuring voice commands, real-time traffic, weather forecasting and a large LCD screen with a secondary control knob. The accompanying Acura/ELS surround-sound audio system is certainly good enough to justify the extra cost.
New heating/cooling vents at the rear of the center console ensure improved comfort for rear-seat passengers. The center console cargo box is now also climate-controlled, the better to keep drinks from a run to McDonald's either cool or warm. Interior room in the sedan is good, offering just a bit less volume than the larger TL and considerably more than a competitor like the Lexus IS 250. The trunk measures 12.6 cubic feet. The Sport Wagon opens up even more room, delivering nearly 61 cubic feet of cargo space with the rear seats folded down. That betters both the Audi A4 Avant and the BMW 3 Series wagon.
The 2011 Acura TSX rides calmly and quietly at highway speeds thanks to thicker glass and improved acoustic insulation. Power from the four-cylinder engine is adequate, though compared to other entry-level luxury cars it leaves the TSX with a somewhat uninspired driving character. The V6 and Sport Wagon are more spirited thanks to their sport-tuned suspensions and, in the case of the V6, gutsier acceleration. Both transmissions work well; the manual is easy to work thanks to a short-travel clutch and linear throttle tip-in, while the automatic provides pleasantly smooth shifts.