2011 Acura TSX Wagon: 799 Miles Later
May 20, 2011
I took the slow road back to Los Angeles in our 2011 Acura TSX wagon yesterday. A friend (who knows how susceptible I am to back-roads detours) had suggested I check out Stage Road, a little road that parallels Highway 1 and runs between Highway 84 (aka, La Honda Rd) and Pescadero Creek Road in San Mateo County, California. Afterward, I continued down Hwy 1 to Santa Cruz, then made a run up Highway 17 (my favorite NorCal freeway) to have lunch with a friend in Los Gatos, CA. Finally, I embarked on a 340-mile fuel economy run back to Los Angeles -- I haven't crunched the numbers yet, but they'll be in my next entry.
With all my stops to take pictures (this one is at the entrance to Redwood Basin State Park), this ended up being a full day of driving. Through it all, I enjoyed the TSX's compliant yet controlled ride quality, precise steering and various tech features (Bluetooth streaming audio, nav system that you can operate while car is moving). I've even grown to like the wagon's styling. But after 799 miles, I'm still not sure the TSX has any personality. If it does, I haven't found it.
There's nothing the TSX's power delivery or handling that makes me want to drive it more. It's not that the 2.4-liter engine sounds or feels bad. It's smooth enough, but its soundtrack is unmemorable -- and the only time I really heard it was when I was climbing the grades on Highway 152 or the I-5 Grapevine. Mid-range torque was adequate in these situations, but it definitely starts to feel a little thin, and there's no escaping the thought that a turbo four-cylinder (as in our A4 wagon) or a V6 would be preferrable.
And although the TSX wagon felt fine through Highway 17's sweepers, I have a feeling our long-term A4 Avant would have been downright addictive on this road. There's a lot more isolation built into the Acura, and while that keeps things comfortable, it's hard to get a read on what's happening through either the steering wheel or driver seat. Obviously, this isn't critical for safety or sanity at a typical public-highway pace (there's always traffic on 17), but the lack of feedback sure is boring. Add in a moderate helping of body roll, and you're left with a family cruiser that could only be called a sport wagon by the loosest definition. Please start buying more wagons, Joe Public, so that Acura can justify building a TSX Type S wagon.
Below a glimpse of the partially socked-in California Coast just off Hwy 1 (Cabrillo Highway) in Santa Cruz County:
And here are a couple views of the meadows and the barely visible white-capped waves from Stage Road, which is up in the bluffs above the coast. Although pretty, I wouldn't really recommend Stage, because it doesn't have many good turns. In this area, Hwys 84, 35 (Skyline Rd) and 9 are better bets. I also like Empire Grade (north of Santa Cruz), but it's more enjoyable with a smaller, shaper-handling car.
And by request, here's a nighttime shot of the gauges taken after I returned home last night:
Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 6,946 miles