Review: 2010 Acura TSX V6

Michael Martineck
by Michael Martineck
review 2010 acura tsx v6

Remember the ’86 Acura Legend Coupe, the definition of elegant muscle? Or how about the ’97 Integra Type R, the weekend racer you couldn’t break? These were Acuras that inspired passion, joy, and a special place burned into my long-term memory. Even though it’s been 24 and 12 years ago respectively since I drove these high points for Honda’s luxury brand, I remember them like it was yesterday. In contrast, I drove a TSX V6 a mere three days ago, and already my primary remaining impression of it is a longing for those Acuras of yesteryear. And my memory isn’t even that bad.

I’ve always liked Acuras. At least the idea of them. I don’t demand rear-wheel drive and V8s in my sport luxury cars. I appreciate the Honda work ethic, attention to detail and sense of assurance. The difficulty is, if you like them, you go to the dealership and wonder where they are. The TSX V6 is the perfect example. It’s a Honda Accord with a pretentious snout and three-times the buttons.

The interior is Steve Jobs personal Hell. Every necessary button comes with an average of four attendants. I stopped counting at five thousand.Things look very nice inside, in the current black and silver style, but nothing generates a ‘wow’. Nothing generates a ‘where’ or ‘what’ either, so I shouldn’t complain.

Ergonomically, everything is pretty much at or near where you’d guess it would be. Every switch and knob feels firm but pliable, like a good assistant or yoga trainer. Which is what luxury’s all about in the end.

Based on the European Honda Accord, the TSX exterior design is more crisp than its underlings. Cues like the hip crease are tense and sophisticated, but overall Acura’s design language has a limited vocabulary. There is not enough to give this car – the whole line, really – distinction. There is nothing terribly wrong with the TSX, it’s just not as attractive as, well, everything else in the class (the Lexus ES being the only possible exception.)

On that pretentious snout rests the Acura crest, a stylized caliper, signifying the company’s devotion to engineering. It is rightly placed over the hood. This is where the discipline shows. The V6 is new for 2010, offering the TSX’s first-ever step up from the four-cylinder. The 24-valve, single overhead cam with variable valve timing puts out 280 horses and 254 pound feet of torque. This is not insubstantial. The engine revs freely, effortlessly and on an easy to understand path. And there’s no shortage of grunt, despite the 3700 pounds.

The five-speed automatic transmission is equally attentive. As opposed to many competitors, this one is a worthy dance partner, never falling behind or stepping on the wrong cog. Downshifts were on time and correct, without the three-blind-mice effect, bumping around in search of the right gear. The automatic clipped to the four-cylinder actually achieves better gas mileage than the manual.

The V6 also comes with enhanced steering, which feels like they added a couple of clock weights to the standard electronic set up. The result is more satisfying than the over-juiced wheel in the base TSX. It is not better, just heavier. Heavier has a shorter learning curve which makes me wonder if I’d get used to the lighter settings, adapt my driving, and not care after a while.

One thing is certain: the brakes aren’t stopping potential buyers in their tracks. They are simply not as good as most of the competition. While not unsafe, they lack the precise feeling and sheer stopping power this drivetrain deserves.

The fact that the suspension is decent makes the inferior brakes even more disappointing. The car’s roll is minimal, keeping you fairly flat, without making your fillings fly out. The car is waggle free. Combined with the frictionless engine and alert tranny, the TSX is hardly short on fun.

But neither are the Audi A4, BMW 3, Mercedes C, Infinity G, Cadillac CTS, Hyundai Genesis, Volvo S80 . . . All of which have more personality in one department or another. The TSX is a conservative entry in a broad market segment. So while the car is not bad, it fails to stand out against a dozen direct competitors. And I’m probably forgetting some . . . Oh, right, the V6 Honda Accord, this car’s fraternal twin.

The suspension is assembled from the same components (albeit a tad softer.) The engine lacks a mere eight horsepower, though for that compromise your gas mileage climbs by two (city/highway average.) Though nearly identical in exterior measurements, the Accord offers six more cubic feet of cabin space. It might not be of the useful variety, but that’s not the point. It’s eight grand less (our tester stickered at $38,881) and, in many respects, it’s better.

The TSX’s luxury appointments are just that: appointments. The guts are too similar and style too tame. If you’re fond of Hondas and have more money than you used too, buy a V6 Accord, swap out the tires for a stickier set and donate the remaining six and a half Gs to your favorite charity. You’ll be better off, the world will be better off and maybe, in the long run, it’ll help make Acura better. Till then, thanks for the memories.

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  • V6 V6 on Jan 20, 2010

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  • ConejoZing ConejoZing on Jan 28, 2010

    "It was in the mid 90’s that Honda just went downhill on average (with Acura leading the charge)." "Although I’m not a fan of the Star Trek interior of the current Civic" Yes! Someone else noticed the subtle mid 90's change. It started really subtle... then eventually consumed the whole brand. Early 90's was just an awesome time, really. Honda at that time had very well made, simple, practical cars. Then everything got really haphazard and complicated in a stumbling move "upmarket." Which of course left them vulnerable to Hyundai / Kia. And you know what? People really like Star Trek. Whereas VW, BMW, Audi go for an artful, sophisticated (ok yeah Audi has been known to be over the top aggressive with their grilles) look Honda can and will GEEK their cars. Which is ironic that the GEEK squad drives VW and Chevrolet vans lol.

    • Accs Accs on Jan 28, 2010

      JEEZ, Its really unfair to yourself AND them to catagorize / write off the interior of a billion dollar car to being "Star Trek". The company spends a coupla hundred thousand dollars on the interior of the car, to minimize you actually having to look DOWN to see the speedo.. and people write it off for the weird interior. WTF! Actually, I think they did a pretty damn amazing job of having the the dash curve lining up with the curve of the hood.. right into the pass cabin with the speedo almost lining up with the lowest line of sight.. so you dont even have to look down. It's the little b.s things that piss me off. 1. Like they need to incorporate a nav cover / way to keep the unit from being stolen. 2. Work some more detail into the pass section of the dash / ip area 3. Fix the void of space where the plastic covered shifter lies. Its useless dead space, with no storage or usability. I just had this brainstorm.. The company also does / did a lot of racing... so the interiors could be going towards that direction -- keeping all functions around the wheel at ease of operation. In case I wasnt notified, Honda didnt move upmarket. They are still on the same playing field as the domestics.. Its Acura, that they are trying to get a step or so above Honda, while keeping the bones of Honda buried deeply -- as evident in a comparison of the MDX / Pilot, RDX / CRV. Its also been JUST recently, that EVERYONE is doing a corporate fascia for every vehicle. The Audi grilles are pretty amazing, a take off can be seen through Mitsu. While Audi interiors.. are pretty top notch -- exluding the MMI - nav unit b.s completely. Only thing Hyundai / Kia have is that warranty. The vehicles are a kind of a toss up. Not bad looking (style is always subjective.) But ya dont go there for cars ya want to "drive" or "reliability". PRICE is pretty much their only point for being.. and doing everything cheaper than the Japanese, (including labor.) It's only VERY recently, that Hyundai / Kia actually have something to crow about.. besides the blanket protection for job loss and other associated untouchable protections.. Their engines.. are going to be pretty amazing. Stuffing a 2ltr 4cycl with direct injection, into a car larger than CURRENT Accord with NO 6cycl available AND getting better fuel economy... THAT.. is amazing in itself. Yes the designs are coming around (they pilched the designer from Audi), but its the cars that have to sell themselves.. without value as their biggest point.

  • Chris P Bacon It would be really nice if car sites like TTAC helped people find way to avoid these prices. It seems like stories like these just say "suck it up and pay the markup". No. In many cases, you don't have to. I just ordered a Wrangler 4xe and got Chrysler Affiliates price. That 1% under invoice. I know this is the price I got because I sat at the computer in the dealer's showroom and build the Jeep. i got Chrysler Affiliate pricing through my employer. Your employer doesn't offer it? Join treadlightly.org. For $100 membership, guess what? You get Chrysler Affiliate pricing! Want a Ford, but think you can't get X-Plan? Think again! Join EAA.org. X-Plan is included with their membership. A dealer in my area is offering Costco members a $1500 incentive. I'm guessing that has something to do with Costco's car buying service, so there must be some value to be found in that program.Will all dealers honor these discount plans? No. Then that's not the dealer you want to work with anyway. Find another place to shop. It would be nice if TTAC (or any car site) did a little leg work to show readers how to actually save on a car purchase.
  • KOKing I car-sat an A32 while its owner was out of the country, and the then whiz-bang VQ motor was great, but the rest of it wasn't any better than a XV10 or XV20. Definitely the start of its downward slide, unfortunately.
  • Norman Stansfield Why are leaf springs still a thing on this truck?
  • Syke The expected opening comments. Have had mine for two years now, the car has done exactly what I want out of it, and a little better. I'm quite happy with the car, haven't had to adjust my driving style or needs in the slightest, and . . . . oh, did a mention that I don't give a damn what today's price at the pump is?Probably going to go for a second one in the coming year, the wife's happy enough with mine that she's ready and willing to trade in the Nissan Kicks. Eventually, the not often used van will end up getting traded on a Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid, basically ensuring that we don't use gas for anything except the occasional long trip.And the motorcycles.
  • Bobbysirhan I've never found the Allegro appealing before, but a few years of EV rollouts make it seem downright desirable.
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