By on April 6, 2007

07_tsx_frntrtact.jpgBadge engineering is the bane of the pistonhead’s existence. Or is it? Actually, bad badge engineering is the pistonhead’s pariah. Most adventures in grille-swapping produce soulless cash grabs like the Mercury Monterey and Chrysler Aspen. But some automakers “leverage synergies” in such a way as to respect– dare I say advance– the identities of the brands involved, and produce a genuine bargain. Case in point: the Acura TSX.

The Acura TSX is nothing more than a Euro-market Honda Accord Type-S with the Acura calipers affixed to its grille, trunk lid and steering wheel hub. It’s badgineering at its best/worst. But as I threaded my test TSX through the Oakland hills, snicking its six-speed with thumb-and-forefinger flicks, teasing the magnificent motor’s 7100 rpm redline, the car’s quiet urgency quelled any bitching about bloodlines.

07_tsx_front.jpgStylistically, the TSX is all Acura. Parked next to its step-up siblings, the Japanese uber brand’s family resemblance is unmistakable. The TSX stares you down with the same squinty, clenched visage as the TL. It sports similarly crisp, wedgy bodywork. Compare this sensual sheetmetal sleight of hand to Mercury’s efforts, where the products wear varying expressions of surprise (Montego), malice (Milan), and torpidity (Grand Marquis), loosely united by their splashy waterfall grilles.

Most badge jobs stumble fatally at the second hurdle; they try to cover their trailer trash genetics with miserly applications of upmarket switchgear and gussied up dashboards. The TSX’ Euro Accord’s cabin shares virtually nothing with its cheaper, chubbier U.S.-spec cousin. Thanks to the TSX’ shorter wheelbase and narrower track, it offers a far cozier and more intimate workspace than the Accord.

07_tsx_steering.jpgPerched atop hip-hugging seats, TSX pilots survey a lean, understated instrument panel rendered in pliable polymers. A narrow ribbon of aluminum highlights its contours, flowing seductively from one door panel to the other. The TSX’ cabin appeals to both Type A and B personalities; anal retentives will marvel at the budget luxury ($28k msrp) while slackers will get off on the svelte surface grains and subtle switch clicks.

Bargain pricing relieves the TSX of any obligation to drive as well as a BMW 3-Series. Which is just as well, as it doesn’t. Without turning a wheel, the TSX’ front wheel-drive configuration cedes the dynamic game to BMW. Speed demons would also do well to remember that the TSX is built on an Accord Type-S, not a Type-R.

07_tsx_profilert.jpgThat said, the TSX’ road manners are not without merit or, shall we say, “fun.” Most Hondas and Acuras are “low-fat” cars: poised, light on their feet, breezily responsive to control inputs. The TSX expresses these familial genes. But it also turns the screws down just a bit tighter, while dialing up refinement. The result is more reassuring than it is involving, but the TSX’s switchback savvy is undeniable.

Much of the TSX’ confident nature stems from its steering. While it can’t match the 3-Series’ pointiness or tactility, the TSX’ tiller is quick and expertly-weighted with virtually no slop through the bends. There’s also no torque steer to challenge directional stability. Why should there be, with no torque?

07_tsx_engine.jpgGutless, rev-happy fours are another Acura hallmark, established by two decades of Integratude and RSXedness. The TSX’ 2.4-liter mill is muffled and refined to anonymity at everyday revs. Less wonderfully, it never feels as strong as its 7.2 second zero to 60mph time suggests. Some adrenal adventurers will enjoy reaching for the 7000 rpm power peak; others will wonder why they didn’t try to swing the payments on a V6 TL.

Never mind. Who needs torque when you’ve got the sweetest shifter this side of a Honda S2000? The TSX’ interface’s action is as oily as a Buick salesman and as precise as a Leicaflex. No rival– front-wheel-drive or otherwise– plays snick-or-treat like this transplanted Honda. (Anyone opting for the optional automatic should know that the little “D” stands for “dull”).

And speaking of sensible, the TSX’ lineage guarantees a bounty of prosaic pleasures. Spacious, well-lined trunk? Check. Prudent fuel economy? Check. Reliability? Red dot at the ready. Talk about a peace [of mind] Accord…

07_tsx_rearrtact.jpgFortunately for Acura, the company’s badgineers enjoy a unique advantage over Detroit’s denizens: you can’t diss the heritage of a brand that doesn’t have any. That said, while Acura may not struggle with the historical baggage weighing down Lincoln, Mercury, Chrysler, Saturn and other platform pimpmeisters, it still lives or dies by its products’ inherent appeal. Accord or no, the TSX ticks all the right mass-market boxes.

So, Detroit boffins and beancounters, repeat after Acura: “I will only capitalize on overseas products IF I can maintain stylistic and tactile continuity to the brand for which it stands. I will not seek solely to enlarge my brand’s lineup, but to enrich it.” In other words, the TSX is proof positive that badge engineering needn’t be a bilious bean counting bonanza. Hey, who knew?

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58 Comments on “Acura TSX Review...”

  • avatar

    Problem with TSX is that it is not wide enough for american families. Otherwise, its a great car albeit a bit pricier.

  • avatar

    there’s nothing wrong with badge engineering if the badgineered cars don’t compete in the same market.

  • avatar

    This model was introduced in the U.S. in ’04, and used examples are finally dipping into the low $20Ks. It’s a great value for a small/new family looking for a fun, high-quality, reliable (ahem, Europe) sedan. I wish this fit in between Civic and Accord in the Honda lineup (so as not to pay the Acura label premium), but that would probably be too much product overlap.

  • avatar

    The TSX, like the Mazda6 is the perfect size for a family car. I absolutely loathe bloated NA designs that bring along non-supportive seats, no steering feel and necessary larger engines to keep these vehicles going. I’m afraid this will happen to the new 6 when it gets here in 2008.

    Now back on topic, while the TSX is is good car, I just don’t see why Honda did not put in an engine with a little more torque. I would gladly take a 4cyl w/direct injection over a V6 to save on gas, weight and improve the F/R balance in FWD cars.

    ***Please change the order posts appear in so we can follow the discussion. Also, about 20 posts per page would be more helpful***

  • avatar

    I think badge engineering is fine as long as there are real differences. If a Lexus wants to be a badge engineered Toyota–fine, as long as it’s better quality throughout.

    Really, though, I wish there was more sheetmetal engineering. For most drivers, most cars are adequate in regard to power and handling. Decisions are then made by style/utility. Though they aren’t the best cars in the world, I love what VW did with the MKIV Golf platform: Golf, GTI, Jetta, Jetta Wagon, and Beetle. I think that’s *great* use of sheetmetal changes on a common (and good enough) platform.

  • avatar

    We own a 2004 model which we bought in 2003 (one of the first milano red 6spds delivered). It has some 40k miles on it now and has served our family well. On long trips it does have some drawbacks as it is not a big vehicle. But if you want a sporty sedan that can handle and accelerate well and provide the fwd assurance of winter travel – this car fits the bill.

    We can manage a nice 29mpg on premium fuel highway driving and 24mpg mixed city driving. The real fun is the transmission is so wonderful to use it just takes away the need for automatics.

    All in all it’s a wonderful car. As we look to replace it in the next year we are actually looking at getting another one same color just newer model. And with the nice red paint job and the oem body kit it does turn heads and impresses the management with well appointed luxury and looks – all for a respectable $28k.

  • avatar

    If they had an estate/hatch version, I would have bought the TSX instead of my Mazda.

    There are few/no transmissions slicker than a 6-speed Honda.

  • avatar

    I see the Euro Accord with Acura badges all the time in NJ/NY. The TSX is one of the few Japanese products I find inoffensive to look at and might even consider buying.

  • avatar

    Honda has lots more opportunities for “Badge Engineering” to import either Euro spec or JDM models into the US as niche models. I’ve been hoping that they would bring the JDM Odyssey over for years. Perhaps now with the updated Stream, which is a bit higher.

  • avatar

    ***Please change the order posts appear in so we can follow the discussion. Also, about 20 posts per page would be more helpful***
    I completely agree.

    Nice review of the TSX, PJ.

  • avatar

    The old order will be restored. Patience.

  • avatar


    Great idea. I’ve never quite warmed to the TSX, though I do like the tight, precise driving feel that PJ describes well. But if I could get this car as a hatch or wagon? That would be much more enticing.

    To compare TSX pricing and check its real-world fuel economy:

  • avatar

    Thanks for the review — I love the TSX and I’ve been waiting to think what y’all serious gearheads think of it for a while now. (Just like I’ve been waiting, in vain, for the used ’04s to depreciate — this car is a great buy new, but apparently loses very little over the first few years. I’m hoping the new ’08 model drives used prices down.)

    Honestly, FWD blasphemy aside, I don’t know how much worse this car drives than a 3-Series. I test-drove the two cars back to back a few months ago and found the TSX more comfortable and luxurious by far, but also more effortless and precise to drive. Granted I didn’t push it too hard, but the lower-tier 3-Series don’t have that much more power than the TSX at all, and the Euro-Accord seems to handle pretty nicely.

  • avatar

    I have owned my TSX for nearly a year now and still like it a great deal. I would like it even more if they let us have the wagon version, but it seems that not enough others agree. Subaru recently announced that the Legacy wagon is on the way out and Ford killed the Focus wagon. They are a dying bread.

    The smaller size and smallish engine of the TSX work fine as my everyday car, but it isn’t the vehicle to pack four people and their gear in for a two week trip. Luckily we have other vehicles to do that with. Also, the moderately high road noise level and tight reflexes would not make this my ideal cross country cruiser. In the Acura line the TL is much better suited to that duty.

    But for enjoying yourself whilst going about daily business the TSX is a great car and an absolute bargain. I like that Acura doesn’t play the option menu game like the Europeans and Toyota do. There are only two options for the TSX, automatic or manual (same price) and with or without navigation. That is it, the only decisions to make other than colors. The cars come all in with the exception of navigation. (I have the navigation equipped model and it is one of the very best such systems on the market. Consequently, the thoroughly well equipped TSX is a screaming bargain when you compare it to similar configuration vehicles from Audi, Volvo, Saab, et. al. The TSX was the #1 resale value choice in a recent CNN report. You sure can’t say that about any of the FWD european cars! The only mystery to me is why anyone buys a Front Wheel Drive european entry luxury sedan instead of the TSX, TL or RL from Acura. I can understand the appeal of RWD and the choice of a BMW for many, but as a former Volvo 850 owner I don’t understand why anyone would buy an S60 instead of a TSX.

  • avatar

    The one thing I don’t quite get with Acura is what they are trying to be. Lexus is trying to be MB, Infiniti is trying to be BMW what is Acura trying to be? It’s definitely not sporty since they have no real sporty cars with either RWD or AWD. The SH-AWD system is quite good but just isn’t applied to anything sporty. A lot of luxury buyers want a reasonably powerful car and a NA 4 cylinder is not it.

    They are not uber luxury so perhaps other than near luxury I don’t know what demographic they are trying to hit. Audi seems to fit the niche between BMW and MB and I’d take an A4 quattro over a TSX.

    if nothing esle reverse the order of the comments. and make teh view all not cut off teeh editorial.

  • avatar

    I never priced these cars and did not realize they were so cheap. $28k is quite a bargain for a car that seems $10k more.

  • avatar

    Its an OK but is very generic as far as the way it looks. If you took the Acura emblem off it could be made by pretty much anyone. Its boring with a capital B. That and the backseat does not fold down (I believe but may be wrong). As far as the driving experience its typical Honda. Its a nice car and drives well but I still wouldnt buy it.

    Its missing that something…I dont know…

  • avatar

    It was nice to read a positive review of the TSX. We have had two – a 2004 and a 2006 – and we have never, ever had to have anything fixed.

    I have owned a half-dozen 3-series, an S4, and an RX-8 and I would agree that, when pressed, the performance is not the same. But with traffic, radar, etc. how often can you drive around with your hair on fire anyway?

    Driving from Orlando to Miami last week we got 31mpg at an average 75mph.

    There were a few things that I would have liked in the ’04 that were not available. So, when we went to buy the ’06, it was nice to see them all there. A car company that pays attention? What a concept.

    Every manufacturer should make it as easy to spec a car as Acura: Pick the color, pick the transmission, Nav – yes or no – and you are done. Practically every reasonable option you would want is standard, and at a reasonable price. Try that with a BMW or Audi. Both are $40K when even moderately equipped.

    Save for FWD the car is darn near perfect. Oh, and if it is not wide enough, maybe its time to lay off those Big Macs for a while.

  • avatar

    I am a long time Honda buyer. I bought my 2006 TSX new for just under $27K. I use it mainly for my 45 minute commute to work and I have had no problems with it. I plan on putting at least 150K miles on it, like my previous Hondas.

    This is our preferred car of choice (over a Tahoe)for the long drive to my parent’s house for holidays. Good on gas, comfy seats in back for 2 teenagers. I am getting right around 30 mpg with premium fuel.

    This is a great example of badge engineering. Ford should study what Honda is doing and bring some of those interest Euro-Fords to the States. We can handle some small sporty cars.

  • avatar

    To tincanman99:

    Just FYI: The back seats do fold.

    Aesthetics are always subjective and I wouldn’t expect everyone to like the TSX. Nevertheless, it has a lot going for it that many “better-looking” cars do not.

  • avatar

    sdwinfla said:
    Oh, and if it is not wide enough, maybe its time to lay off those Big Macs for a while.

    Can you fit a car seat and two adults in the back? I dont think so. Its not unreasonable for a small family to have visitors once in a while. Not everyone lives alone. US accord exists for this sole reason. Euro accord is just a tad bit smaller for big families.

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    I own two V6 Accords and love both of them. To my taste, and in a world of $3/gal gas, I would like the next one to be a Honda, but just a little bit smaller with a 4 instead of a V6, so the TSX really appeals to me. But, I think that I would find the current TSX 4 to be a bit anemic in urban conditions.

    I am hoping that when they redo the TSX next year, that they will use the turbo 4 from the RDX which has a lot more grunt (240hp & 260 ft. lbs. vs 205hp & 164 ft. lbs.).

    I don’t want them to use the V6, because I fear it would make the car too nose heavy, and it would not get as good mileage.

  • avatar

    Robert, I agree. As long as Acura is putting a turbo 4 in an SUV, why not put one in the TSX? Lack of grunt seems like the main issue people have with the car, and a V6 seems out of character for it. 0-60 in 7 secs is fine with me, but a NA 4 cylinder can only do so much when you pile a few people and a bunch of gear in it.

  • avatar

    TSX is not a bad car if you go for the manual. Its so boring and slow with the auto. But it is still bland. while it has a lot of goodies for the money, i would much rather sacrifice more goodies for a better driving experience.

    Apparantly most autorags agree with me as the Jetta GLI almost always beats it in comparos and is much more fun to drive.

    My GLI with just the 18″ rims (don’t need sunroof, leather, XM, etc) was $22.5k. Now whats the better deal for anyone who cares about driving.

  • avatar

    Steve_S: The one thing I don’t quite get with Acura is what they are trying to be. Lexus is trying to be MB, Infiniti is trying to be BMW what is Acura trying to be?

    I think Acura is doing a good job of being a “premium small car,” at least with the TSX and the RSX (RIP). In that sense, they’re competing with Mini and the baby Volvos and perhaps also the Mazda3, at least the uplevel versions. There’s a small (but growing, I wager) market of drivers who want all the bells and whistles of a luxury car, as well as some of its sense of solidity and build quality, in a smaller, lighter, more fuel efficient, more maneuverable, more tossable package. For these people, I think the TSX really stands out. Who else is offering a sweet, refined, affordable car with strong luxury credentials AND a compact size and 4-cyl fuel economy? No one else that I can think of. Personally I think this is a great car, and kudos to Acura for taking the path less traveled. Even is the compact premium market is small, Acura can really be the big fish in the small pond. And if the price of fuel and the pressure on parking in big cities both stay high, I suspect this market will grow.

  • avatar
    Brian E

    I bought a ’06 TSX in October. For those who are trying to figure out what to compare it to, I’ll list the cars that I was considering. I was shopping automatics as I really don’t enjoy working a clutch in suburban traffic; YMMV when comparing with the 6-speed. I also didn’t consider the navigation system on any of these cars.

    My hard cutoff was a $30k sticker with a sunroof, heated seats, automatic transmission, 6 CD changer and decent audio system. This eliminated many of the cars I’ve seen kicking around as “competitors”, especially the A4.

    Acura TSX: obviously, this was the winner. The autobox is actually quite good: downshifts are faster than upshifts, but both are still faster than any other option I tried except for DSG. In automatic mode, it works pretty well as a “set it and forget it” option. Interior quality and design beat anything else I sampled. Clear, well-labeled, backlit, and glove-friendly controls for the audio system and climate controls. No noticable lag from the drive-by-wire throttle. Steering is amazingly precise for a FWD car. Good exterior style, excellent paint quality, and good color selection (I ended up with Milano Red). Bluetooth is a plus. Good sound system. Wish the sunroof and passenger windows did auto open/close. Excellent reliability reputation.

    Saab 9-3 2.0T: this is car that made it to my “final two”. More fun to drive than the TSX, and more torque without a corresponding increase in torque steer. Automatic is not as good as the TSX. Slightly better exterior style than the TSX. Excellent safety. Lousy quality (the sunroof switch wiggled 1/4″ in its mount on both cars I sampled), lousy interior plastics, lousy rear legroom, lousy reliability, lousy reseale. Similar price to the TSX after incentives. Good color choices, especially a medium blue and the red. Eliminated due to reliability issues; a car that’s in the shop is no fun to drive at all.

    VW Jetta GLI: More torque. Heavier feeling, but didn’t soak up bumps any better. DSG is a plus, but surprisingly the Acura autobox didn’t suffer much in comparison (I drove both back-to-back). Numb steering. Interior and exterior styling puts me to sleep. Good build quality, reputed lousy reliability (though better than the Saab). A nearly-$30k Jetta that looks like a Corolla. Similar price to the TSX. Red is the only interesting color choice. Eliminated due to qualms over styling, pricing, and reliability.

    Subaru Legacy: GT has more power and AWD, but gets much worse gas mileage and costs more than the TSX (and mroe than the hard cutoff). Stability / traction only offered with navigation (they fixed this oddity for ’08). 2.5i Limited costs less than the TSX, has less power, gets better gas mileage, no stability control (fixed in ’08), no perforated leather, only four-speed auto. Interior quality is quite good; stereo is weak. Something in between the 2.5i and the GT would be perfect. Amazingly high insurance despite excellent safety ratings. Dealers sucked. Good colors (a medium blue and a darkish red). Eliminated due to the lack of an option between the 175hp 2.5i and the 243hp GT.

    Volvo S40: 2.4i doesn’t have enough power; T5 too pricey. Sport suspension is jarring but doesn’t seem to increase control as the car loses composure on Chicago-sized potholes. Excellent Dolby stereo. Options are awfully pricey; even the 2.4i is more expensive than the TSX when equivalently equipped. Center stack is odd. T-tex seating material is comfortable and unique. Good color choices (red, a good medium blue, and an interesting “electric silver”). Eliminated mostly because I never really seemed to emotionally connect with the car.

    VW Passat: Awful turbo lag with the Tiptronic. Options are very pricey. Dynaudio stereo is killer. Very good exterior styling. All VW-owning friends told me in no uncertain terms not to buy this or the Jetta. Looks classy in black or dark brown, but not very aggressive. Eliminated due to downright scary turbo lag.

    Other options I considered but eliminated fairly quickly: Mazda 6 (eliminated due to downmarket interior quality and lack of iPod input), Audi A3 (eliminated due to priciness of options, especially the overcomplicated dual-pane sunroof).

    Several others have mentioned the low depreciation of the TSX. Surveys I’ve read have placed it near the best for holding its value, behind the Mini. I think that indicates that the market views the TSX as being worth more than Acura is selling it for (or that its worth is closer to its MSRP than other competitors’ products), though Acura probably wants to keep the price low in order to keep the resale value up.

  • avatar

    I care a lot about driving. I don’t care for having my car in the shop once a month to empty my wallet. If you don’t, you’re probably lucky. I love the GLI, but would never buy one. Different priorities. Agree about the leather, though–would much rather have cloth or some kind of simulated suede.

  • avatar

    Brian E, you should have shopped the Subaru Impreza WRX Limited. You get everything you asked for and pay around $25k.

    I picked up a 2006 Limited wagon back in February of this year for $24k ($1.5k below invoice). The dealer wanted to move it off his lot. It’s a 5 speed, sunroof, decent audio system, 6-disc indash changer, leather heated seats, with homelink and autodimming mirror.

  • avatar
    Brian E

    ktm: Differences in priority, I guess. Major Hoonage wasn’t really my goal, and there were a few other turnoffs about the WRX, such as the downright horrid interior plastics and the fact that I never really seemed to find a comfortable seating position (I’m a somewhat leggy 6’4″).

    Also, I fear to even ask what it costs to insure a WRX. The Legacy GT would have cost $200/year more to insure than the TSX. I’d assume that the WRX is more than that, which would eliminate the pricing advantage.

  • avatar

    Brian E,

    Did you look at the Cadillac CTS 2.8? I’m not sure what incentives were availabale at the time, but now you can get the CTS 2.8 AUTO w/ Luxury pack for around $30K with incentives. I’m curious as to how the CTS would stack up against the cars you looked at in terms of handling, refinement, and interior quality.

  • avatar

    About a year ago, I was and shopped mostly the same cars (except the Forrester and the Passat), as well as an Audi A3.

    Got the A3, because of the great tuning potential of the 2.0T FSI engine. I currently have APR’s Stage 1 firmware, and am also considering an aftermarket cat. And because DSG is the best compromise between a manual and an auto.

    Re: the steering on VW/Audi, the power steering is electric assist, instead of hydraulic. Which means that the level of assist can be adjusted by your dealer (if he is helpful) or by you (if you have a fancy USB cable called VAG-COM).

    The TSX was my second choice, but having driven Hondas all my life, I wanted to try something from Deutschland. As for McCombs saying that this is the same as a European Accord Type-S… I don’t think so, we have the more advanced K24 engine, while the Euros still have the H22 (from the last Prelude).

    I agree w/ Brian, the Saab 9-3 is a great-looking car. But all the aftermarket tuners speak only Swedish, and I don’t. (Why get a turbo car if you are not going to tune it?) Not to mention that it’s a GM.

  • avatar

    The tsx is one of my favorite cars, and last fall, dealers in LA were selling 06’s with nav & manual for $29000 OTD, including ca tax( 8.25) & license. Their nav is about as good as it currently gets. The manual, both shifter and clutch, is, as per article, the sweetest this side of a few japanese sportscars.
    As for size, I have driven quite far with 5 not small adults in my 3 series, and the tsx is just as roomy, without the transmission tunnel to crowd out feet ( this also means huge, by 3 series standards,center storage up front ).

  • avatar
    Tiger Commanche

    Robert, posts the of order current the like I. necessary are changes no, Please.

    car nice a is TSX The.

  • avatar

    My wife and I test drove an A4 1.8, 325i and TSX in 2005. The 325i won hands down even with price a variable. Why?

    The A4 felt bloated, noisy and slow and WAY TOO PRICEY for what it was – They wanted more than a 325i lease. Have no idea what they were smokin’?

    The TSX felt really solid, had a great ride, but was definitely an uber luxury car first and sort of fun ride second. Steering, brakes, handling all felt 2nd tier compared to the 3.

    The 325i felt so much more responsive than either of the other 2. We got a demo model to lease with 13k miles for the same price as a new lease for the TSX and a few bucks less than the A4.

    Sadly, we didn’t consider the G35 as the wife hated how it looks.

    I do wish they’d bring the TSX wagon over… it looks pretty good for a wagon. We’re going to be in the market shortly for something like that.

  • avatar

    I test drove the TSX some 2 years ago and it impressed me with its direct steering, shift action (are you listening BMW?) and feature list but the breaks failed to inspire and so did the standard rubber which felt like cheap OEM all season tires (neither good in summer or winter). I ended up opting for a 330Ci but for $27K it is a bargain – more involving than the S40, A4 2.0, C class and 9-3.

  • avatar

    This car is probably on the top of my list for my next car. I just wish Acura would bring over the wagon version, that is a great looking car and would bring some serious competition to all the German manufacturers. I just love the utility and looks of a wagon and Acura would surely price well under anything other than the most stripped Passat or Subaru.


  • avatar

    Just like rossjk, I have noticed Bmw leases often being a good deal. Since their lease term maintenance is included, total lease term price difference is a lot less than purchase prices would suggest. That is one of my reasons for getting a 3 instead of tsx.

  • avatar

    The engine in this car is the 2.4 liter K-series, shared with 4 cylinder U.S. Accords, CR-Vs, and the Element. The smaller version of said engine, the 2.0, is (was) found on the base Acura RSX and Civic Si models of 02-05. As a happy ’05 Civic Si owner, I can tell you that although said engine does not a drag-racer make, it is smooth as silk and always a pleasure with which to hoon. As well, my 5-speed is both the raciest and smoothest of which to snick, and I can only dream of having such in a sedan with an additional cog. (I’m a young teacher–salary to afford such comes much later in career). It’s good to know that there are those who value such “action [that] is as oily as a Buick salesman,” which can hold such highness in a driver’s car, whether it’s a hot hatch or a small family sedan. Oh, and then there’s the quality and resale value. Nice perks indeed.

  • avatar

    kasumi – I’m with you on the wagon version. Although we do have the excellent, but less luxurious Mazda6 wagon, it would be great to have the TSX wagon as an alternative. There is no question that it would be a bell-ringer against the Passat and Subie competition.

  • avatar

    I drove this car a few months ago and enjoyed it thoroughly. Compared to the G35, A3 with sport suspension, and the 325, it did not have the same turn in capabilities… but offered a great ride, predictable understeer, and reasonable quiet from the engine at highway speeds (for a 4cyl). Of course, the “all extras included” Acura philosophy made this car a relative bargain in that competition. I really liked the standard dynamic stability control – I don’t recall that feature being available on any other cars at this price point – I don’t know why it’s not featured more prominently in the marketing.
    Compared to the TL, the TSX had a bit less poise in hard cornering – I credit the TL’s larger tires and broader stance. The TL does feel a bit heavier, but under comparable conditions was actually more agile. Added engine power (while quieter) and control at speed, gave the TL a faster slalom time in most of the reports I checked. A major tipping point was that for a tall family, the TL had by far the most comfortable and spacious backseat of any of these cars. Throw in the great resale, outstanding reliability, quality fit and finish, and you’ve two cars that are winners for a lot of people looking for a very nice way to get where they need to go.
    Oh – I drove all as manuals, and the article is right on the money about the stick.

  • avatar

    There is a conspiracy going on re: North American Wagon market. Wagons are deliberately kept out to boost CUV sales which have higher profitability. Camry, accord wagons will definetely cull some Rav4 and CRV sales. So on and so forth.. many other examples out there.

    BTW, mazda6 wagon comes with 3.0 duratec ford engine which is not exactly the best out there.

  • avatar

    Most people who rationalize their practicle/reliable/boring japanese purchases always point to the fear factor of the german cars breaking down.

    The GLI like any decent automake has a full 4 year warranty. Any car nowadays should last you till you are ready to sell. I guess if you keep your new cars 6+ years than your japanese cars will really shine in reliability. But how many people do this (and who wants to really)

    My VW has had no problems. I have had japanese cars w/ problems. I wonder all those people who say they won’t buy the VW have any actual bad experience w/ poor VW reliability.

    I buy my car to drive and enjoy, not to worry about breaking down (which the chances are extremely low during my 3-4 years of ownership).

  • avatar

    I have at least a dozen close friends who are or have been VW owners. Most of them can’t afford to buy a new one at all (young social workers, teachers, volunteer coordinators, grant writers, etc.), much less every 3-4 years. They all are, or have been, miserable with them at various times due to poor quality. They wanted something different and they certainly got it. And there it is. Different priorities. If VW made a car as high-quality, smooth, and efficient as a comparable Honda, I’d consider buying or recommending one. As for now, “Honda engineering in za haus!” ;)

  • avatar

    Japanese doesn’t equal boring anymore than Mexican-German means interesting. A manual transmission TSX is hardly a bore to drive.

    Also, the perspective on reliability is different if you are trading in your car every 3-4 years or if you are running them 6-10 years.

    Finally, it isn’t just the cost of repairs which is an issue, it is also the time and hassle factor. I don’t count time running back and forth to dealer service departments as fun time or productive work time. It is PITA time!

  • avatar
    P.J. McCombs

    It all boils down to which driving experience you find more entertaining. Personally, I’d take the Acura, “boring Japanese” stereotypes be damned.

  • avatar

    I’d say quite a few people keep their cars beyond the 3-4 year period and enjoy doing so. New car cycles take about five years or so if you bought a previous generation 3 series in 2001 would you trade it in for the the newer generation in 2006? Unless it’s a bad car I don’t think it’s very cost effective, practical, or worthwhile to switch cars and trade it in every 3-4 years unless you’ve got major cash to burn.

    Also, I’m not a big reliability hoon by any measure and I find it fairly absurd many people buy a Japanese car (Corolla comes to mind) over an American or European model for their perceived reliability. But that being said, a VW Jetta will most definitely have a higher rate of repair and cost of repair than a TSX. The cost of upkeep on German vehicles has always been considerably higher than their Japanese and American counterparts in my experience.

  • avatar

    Brian E put together a great summary of cars in the $30k price range. I was shopping in a similar fashion, but with a $35k hard cutoff, and ended up going with the TL. (For my particular case, I felt the V6, bigger back seat, and significant step-up in interior luxury justified the cost delta over the TSX. My one regret was going with the 5AT, for (a) Chicago traffic and (b) my MT-challenged fiance. Speaking to (a) I live in the suburbs and don’t drive downtown nearly as much as I thought I would, and as for (b) I almost never give up the wheel. :)

    Thought I would post because of his comment re: the insurance premium delta — I had no idea you could see such a difference cross-shopping the TSX against something like the Legacy GT. (WRX TSi maybe, but Legacy GT?)

    I’ve now made a mental note to check insurance premiums the next time around. It would have to be a huge cost difference to kill a strong #1 contender, but if I were torn between two models and most other things were equal, this might amount to a useful tie-breaker.


  • avatar
    blue adidas

    This kind of badge engineering is fine because it’s based on consumer demand, not the need to fill showroom floor space or keep union labor busy. If an automaker badge engineers a vehicle that we don’t have other iterations of already, then it’s an opportunity for the consumers to get a new product unavailable otherwise. The TSX was imported because of the outcry resulting from the botched restyle of the last domestic Accord. Since Europe got the much more appealing version, Honda needed a way to get the Euro Accord here quickly. The Saturn Aura and Astra are two more great examples of successful badge engineering. But automakers screw up by offering two, three or four versions of the same vehicle, branded differently with no real differences aside from plastic cladding and a sticker on the trunk. The TSX, the Aura and the Astra work so well because they are unique and distinct from anything else. The Trailblazer badge engineered clones failed because the Buick, Oldsmobile, GMC, SAAB versions were simply too many of the same vehicles offered to the same consumers who have become wise to this bogus way of creating product.

  • avatar

    The TSX is one of my favorite cars. Nicely appointed and sold at good dealers. Not too outrageous either. The reason for the NA 4 cylinder is that it will get superior fuel mileage. the user average is 27 MPG for the TSX
    I think BMW 3 series are well regarded because they change direction effortlessly. The steering is more of the BMW feel than the power. A 90s era 318i with it’s 134 HP is still better to drive than a generic 220+ HP FWD sedan.
    Most reviewers think the 163 HP 320d diesel is the best of the 3 series BMWs now.

  • avatar
    Jim H

    I love Acura…but refuse to love this car due to them putting the RSX to sleep. :( That was one awesome little car. I tossed and turned at night when deciding to trade in my 1999 Acura TL (which was awesome even when I sold it!).

    The finalists were the Acura RSX-S, Acura TL-S, Acura RDX, Subaru Impreza WRX, Subaru Legacy GT wagon limited, Subaru Legacy GT Spec-B, Audi A3, or a 1 year old BMW 328xi and too many others to list. The selection in the lower $30K price range is simply amazing.

    When you have to start narrowing it down to “feel”, that’s a great testament to how great cars are nowadays.

    I really like the Acura line. The TSX simply doesn’t speak to me, but I think it’s a great car and wouldn’t condemn anyone that bought one. :) Same with most of Honda and Toyota. Some great automobiles in those lineups.

    I love my car (Subaru Legacy GT Spec-B)…it’s a great ride, it’s a blast, and thankfully, it has cruise control so I don’t get tickets. But my adrenaline rushes come from skiing and horseback riding. I’m sure I’d have the same excitement in a car going around 100mph…but that’s just downright scary on so many levels for Colorado. 30 mph on horseback through the trees high up in the mountains? Tough to beat that. :)

  • avatar


    Did you also consider a 1-year old G35 (or G35x)?

  • avatar

    I think you’ve exaggerated the selection in the under 30K list.

    I doubt a one year old 328xi can go for under 30K unless it both has major miles and is only the base car without even a premium package. That combo is an impossible find. I’m also doubtful that a 1 year old G35 can go for under 30 but it’s much more likely to do so than the 3 series.

    The TL-S and RDX are both more expensive than a new 328xi and the TL-S stickers within 1,600 of 40K.

    The sub-30 category is pretty strong but not THAT strong.

  • avatar


    I agree that a 328xi would be hard to find at under 30K with acceptable amount of miles, however G35’s appreciate at a much faster rate. In my area alone, there are five 2006 G35’s w/ less than 20K miles selling for as little as $24K.

  • avatar
    Jim H

    My list, if you read it, if for lower $30K, not “under” 30K. :) The Subaru Spec-B was about $32K, $2K under MSRP (with destination charges yada yada yada). The 328xi was listed at about $34K…still in the same range.

    The Infinity dealer kept cancelling my G35x appointments for a test drive…Subaru wasted no time having me fall in love with the Spec-B. :) The only problem then was trying to find one! With only 500 made, I had to go up north, about 100 miles, to get one. I test drove here in the Springs on Friday, by Monday, all 3 were gone. :(

  • avatar

    Well, I’m a month behind on reading TTAC, and you guys finally took up my car for review…and I can’t say I’m surprised with the results.

    First off, great review. Secondly, in my absence (I haven’t been around on here since March…), TTAC seems to have grown a bit, which is cool. The new layout is pretty nice to, Mr. Farago.

    As for the TSX…I have an ‘06 that just turned a year old 2 weeks ago, and I still have a smile on my face everytime I get in the car. It just drives well. Like some of the other commenters, I drove this against a 325i (05 model, new) a 330xi (04 model, used), an A3 and A4 (06, new), and the Mazda 6 (06, new), and a few others that will remain nameless. The TSX just trumped them all for many reasons – it’s good at a whole bunch of things, and the price for that couldn’t be matched. The BMWs, of course, handled better, but only slightly IMO, because of the RWD. I do think the TSX has (or had, at the time)the 325i beat on many things, save for 0-60 time. With the new 328i…different story. At the time, the 325i and the A4 cost up to $3k more than the TSX for the same equipment package.

    A lot of people feel the TSX is underpowered to a fault, but it’s not to a fault – it’s by design. Most of the complaints come from the WRX crowd, who can’t seem to get to 60mph fast enough. However, with an NA 4cyl engine, I’m getting 25mpg average out of my TSX, while still having a grand time driving it. So you beat me to 60mph…but that’s all you’re getting that’s better in the competitors at the price. That’s the TSX. Reliable, Economical, Comfortable, Sporty, Luxury, Affordable. It’s not the best at any of those, but it’s an 8/10 or better in each category all at the same time, and that’s something few cars can do.

    Oh, and whoever was talking about the interior width…I’m 6′3 and 294lbs…and I fit comfortably in the TSX. Who is having issues with width in a larger sedan? Then again, I went on a blind date once with a girl who had trouble closing the door in my ‘00 Blazer because she was so wide at the hips…

    One other thing…why is it that every press shot of the TSX is in Silver? IMO, the Silver is just bland. The color to show off in the TSX is the gorgeous Royal Blue Pearl, which may be the nicest color on the auto market today…

  • avatar

    Leave it to me to revive a dead post. I am new to TTAC, and I am finding the reviews quite stimulating. Of course, I post here because I have a TSX, a 2005 6 speed with Nav. Yeah, I would have loved a 3 series, but the funds did not allow. Instead, I found my car as a CPO with only 9,300 miles on it, and a year later, I am tremendously satisfied with my decision. The TSX drives much like my dearly departed 98 Prelude; yes, more refined, but a similar joie de vie. Sure, the car needs another 40HP, but I have not had any problems dissecting the mouth breathing masses formerly in the Bay and currently in the Bayou City. My HP issue has been partially mitigated by the wonders of the Hondata Reflash, which has moved the VTEC point down to 5K and raised the redline to 7,500. The result: 20HP more on the VTEC came.

  • avatar

    This car is even sweeter in wagon/combi/estate form – Euro Accord Wagon. Why are there a dearth of wagons in NA? Do car makers want us to buy a SUV(more profit) instead?

    Overall this car looks like a great “no-brainer” used car candidate. Anyone know if this will be getting a diesel in the future for NA market?

    Thanks for the review.

  • avatar

    I drive a 2001 Accord (NA) 4-banger with the world’s greatest 5sp shifter. Last year I had a $600 service performed (timing belts, water pump, valve adj, coolant, plugs) and I’m good to go for ‘nuther 100k miles.

    The new NA Accord is now too big, does not feel like a mid-sized. My next purchase is prolly a mid-sized (next gen) Civic, but if Acura ever offers adaptive CC on the TSX I ditch my ride for the TSX.

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