2011 Acura TSX Sport Wagon: Awake at the Wheel
March 24, 2011
I capped on the Crosstour awhile back about redundancies in its thin strip display and the nav screen. Our TSX wagon has the same layout, with one difference: its thin display hovers over the audio source buttons, not over the vents as in the Crosstour. A small change, but the cluster seems to make more sense in the TSX, perhaps because it's framed by the vents on both sides. The climate controls are also are grouped together lower in the stack. It's definitely a cleaner setup than our TMI Odyssey.
Maybe a minor and inconsequential detail, but demonstrates that maybe - just maybe - voices of reason are resonating in Acura's design centers.
The exterior is sharp and flowing, and the beak is tame. It's not a stretch to call it the best-looking Acura in years - ironic since it's basically just an Accord Euro badge job.
But an interior win isn't special. Interiors have rarely been one of Acura's liabilities. Some of us have remarked about the cheap feel of the trim and switchgear, a legitimate complaint in a car priced at $35,000 for our testing. I'm not really bothered by it, but I didn't buy the car nor do I live with it every day. Your mileage may vary. For the record, nothing about Audi, BMW or Buick buttons, bulbs and rocker switches strikes me as particularly memorable. Nor is this anything on which to waste much concern. It's like complaining about the color of your kitchen trash bags.
And I could live with TSX Sport Wag every day and be pretty content, dull buttons and handles regardless. We're accused by some readers of waving most imports - Honda specifically - through the door with the lightest of criticisms. These same readers probably haven't read about our year with the Crosstour and the Insight, nor the Outlander Sport.
But the TSX doesn't need a pass. It's simply a good car. Great interior, great electronics interface (dead easy to move between phone, nav and audio functions), and engaging attitude. It's easy to scoff at the "sport" in its name, but not once you've felt its chassis hang deep in the grooves through a highway transition sweeper in swift moving traffic. If anything, it's a little too enthusiast-sprung for many daily commuters.
Debate all you like about its price. Acura has invited the criticism. Optioned up like ours, you're only a grand away from a base A4 Avant, and a couple bills shy of a base 3-Series wagon. It's a tough sell for someone shopping a wagon, or someone not necessarily a driving enthusiast. All that shopper sees is a round badge and a final score.
Through February, Acura has moved nearly 600 wagons. That sounds off pace for the 4,000 it has projected to sell in 2011, but summer gas and SUV abandonment still loom. And like several readers have noted, the addition of a V6, 6-speed manual and Acura's all-wheel-drive system makes that $35k sticker less shocking. But another automaker recently offered a 220-hp V6 wagon with a 6-speed stick and nearly the same cargo volume as the TSX, and that car disappeared after three years. Now, just try to find a Mazda6 Sport Wagon in your area.
Dan Frio, Automotive Editor