By on May 26, 2011

Acura has had a tough couple of years lately. Of the three products which once defined the company — the Integra/RSX, Legend/RL, and NSX — two are long dead and the other is effectively invisible to the public. This TTAC review more or less sums up our opinion of their current offerings, although recently I met a rather fabulous young lady who temporarily hypnotized me into expressing enthusiasm for the TL.

Something should done. So.. IN A WORLD… WHERE THE MOST SACRED BRANDS HAVE LOST THEIR WAY… ONE MAN… WILL TAKE A STAND.

CarGuyDad’s Kamil Kaluski has an idea about how to spice up TSX Sportwagon sales, and he’s taken the time to draw up the suggestion at his website. My personal opinion of the Kaluski-Mod Sportwagon? I’m ready to pay $34,000 for one tomorrow. Your opinion, of course, may vary.

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62 Comments on “We, The Bloggers, In Order To Form A More Perfect Wagon...”


  • avatar
    Ubermensch

    The turbocharged engine from the RDX wouldn’t hurt either. However, someone will need to open a dealership closer than over 100 miles from me to consider an Acura in the first place.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      The 3.5 V6 is already pretty good. Pairing it with the Accord Coupe’s six-speeds manual would be better.

      • 0 avatar
        Ubermensch

        Except you can’t get the V6 in the TSX wagon.

      • 0 avatar
        psarhjinian

        I’m surprised by that. You’d think that the wagon’s extra mass would warrant the six (as it did for Mazda).

        I’m more surprised that Acura doesn’t offer a 6MT/V6 with the TSX at all, but does with the TL. That’s sad: it means that the TSX is now the secretary’s car that the TL was previously.

  • avatar

    Dual-piston calipers included?

  • avatar
    dswilly

    Sport wagons are the best,along with the utility they usually look better than their sedan cousins. As a 325iT owner I love the car but got ripped off in the utility department as the boot is very small, probably less useful than the trunk on a 325 sedan. But I knew the 3 series was a small car to start with and its a blast to drive. The Acura looks nice but I need a rear driver. Give me the 535iT or M5 touring and I’ll call my fleet complete.

  • avatar
    TOTitan

    Acuras problem is the beak and the sooner Acura admits it the better.

  • avatar
    OmarCCXR

    The only reason I would pay over $30,000 for a Acura would be if it was RWD or if it was light enough to make do with an inline 4. Sort of like most Acuras in the 90’s. I particulary don’t fancy a V6 in a FWD sedan.

  • avatar
    wsn

    But hey, Acura does sell a big bunch of MDXs, certainly more profitable than Integras. Not unlike that of Porsche.

  • avatar
    salhany

    The answer always seems to be “a wagon with a manual,” which has sold about 4 vehicles in this country total. Didn’t the Mazda 6 come in wagon form with a manual? No one bought them.

  • avatar
    FromaBuick6

    Offer a friggin’ stick shift. Why? Because the small group of people weird enough to still like wagons are also weird enough to still like manual transmissions. Like me. And since the traditional providers of premium sport wagons either suffer from personally-bankrupting unreliability (VAG) or are toiling under the idiotic notion that what we consumers really want is a bloated hatchback on stilts (BMW/Volvo/Subaru), Acura really has a great opportunity here.

    So lose stupid grill and offer a friggin’ stick shift in the wagon. And the V6…or, better yet, drop the V6 TSX altogether and use the turbo four from the RDX.

  • avatar
    snabster

    Hmm. I wonder who makes a manual, turbo-charged wagon? 4 cylinder only? Or better yet, a giant, turbo charged stick based wagon that is 200 inches long? Gosh, I keep scratching my head….

    • 0 avatar
      brettc

      There’s always the Golf wagon/Jetta sportwagen as a choice. But just the 2.0 litre TDI as an engine choice for a 4 cylinder. Unless you want VW’s useless and thirsty 2.5 litre engine.

      What I want to know is: Where’s the modern Accord wagon that’s not badged as an Acura? I occasionally still see them around and most of them are in pretty good shape because the owners all seem to realize how rare they are.

      • 0 avatar

        We had one, from 1994 until 2007. It was great, of course. Performed every family/towing/nursery task that most people today assume they need a minivan/SUV for. And was perfectly reliable. For 425,000 hard kms. Sadly it did its bit and the age of the wagon came to a close for us. It did suffer from some rust issues, the the point that we actually had it repainted half-way through its 13 year stint with us.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      Or better yet, a giant, turbo charged stick based wagon that is 200 inches long?

      The six people in North America who would buy these are probably not a sustainable customer base.

      • 0 avatar
        snabster

        Which is why it helps to be an european company…

        Seriously, I get the market analysis bit, but just a bit tired of bloggers who whine for a euro, stick, turbo awd wagon and then make fun of tweeded leather patched ex-professor probably a child molester saab owners…

      • 0 avatar
        Syke

        And especially all the bloggers who whine long and loud for the sport wagon of their dreams . . . . but always have lots of niggling little complaints when one comes out . . . . . which are just enough complaints to keep them from reaching into their wallets and actually buying one.

      • 0 avatar

        I agree. SAAB embodied all of this but all TTAC can do is hate on the company consistently, and make fun of people who buy them. Acura brings this over, yet we pass it off because its an auto or doesn’t look as great as it could. Geez. I’m just happy these wagons still exist, and I wish I could afford either this or a Golf wagon TDI/BMW 325 etc.

      • 0 avatar
        Ubermensch

        I would seriously consider the Acura TXS wagon but alas, no dealer nearby. I am one who puts his money where his mouth is on the wagon question.

      • 0 avatar
        A D H

        +1 on the weird TTAC Saab hate. I understand the company could be run better (GM) but why hate a company that puts out a 6MT 220hp wagon that gets great mileage? Our local dealer stocks the Aeros for the few fanatics and we bought a 2010. BMW dealer nearby offers not a single 6MT vehicle, enthusiasts be damned.

    • 0 avatar
      SecretAznMan

      @ EChid I could not have said it any better myself. Regarding the Jetta Sportwagen TDI, if you do some research, you’ll find a lot of complaints regarding very expensive self destructing fuel pumps ($10,000 repair SOMETIMES covered by warranty). I took my chances on Saab instead of that.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    Looks too much like a Subaru.

  • avatar
    AKADriver

    An even easier way to fix the looks would be to just swap the Honda Accord grille back onto it.

    If I’m daydreaming, then I’d also like to see it decontented to the price point of an Accord EX 4cyl/5spd and sold as such.

    Basically I just want the car the rest of the world can buy.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      And here it is, in the same color!

      http://imganuncios.mitula.net/honda_accord_i_vtec_es_gt_92911908300071216.jpg

      • 0 avatar

        It’s amazing how bad Acura can make a car look with the “Power Plenum” grille. The JDM Accord and Legend are such handsome cars, I have to wonder what the TL would look like with a similar grille. You would think someone at Acura would remember Subaru’s flying vagina debacle.

  • avatar
    fincar1

    Because of the regulatory regime in the United States, you are not allowed to have the car the rest of the world can buy.

    • 0 avatar
      AKADriver

      Er, not really, more like because of the typical wagonphobe consumer, and the relative goodness of the CR-V for the needs of most low-priced wagon buyers.

      Unless there’s a FMVSS that I don’t know about which bans putting H badges and cloth seats in a wagon.

      Again, just daydreaming, but it’d be a parts-bin affair to sell the TSX SW body as an Accord wagon by swapping out the engine for the base US-spec Accord version, swapping in the cloth seats and basic radio, and so on. The reasons for not doing this are economic, not regulatory.

      • 0 avatar
        aspade

        The economics of federal compliance for a new model make it nearly impossible to serve small market niches. At mainstream profit levels if it won’t move 50,000 a year it’s effectively unofferable.

        The H badge and cloth seats aren’t illegal. But selling that without crashing dozens of them and sending in a truckload of paperwork with 7 figures of filing fees is.

      • 0 avatar
        Detroit-Iron

        Shipping costs are not that great, and a great deal of the world other than the UK and Japan drive on the “right” side of the road, so the marginal cost of offering a wagon variant should be nil. What fincar1 is referring to is the fact that the safety standards are just slightly different enough to require separate (and gawdaful expensive) certification in the US. Were it not for that there would be no reason not import a couple wagons for the six of us who would buy them.

    • 0 avatar
      Richard Chen

      Separate CAFE standards for cars vs. trucks -> 1990 Ford Explorer & other high-margin BOF SUV’s + cheap gas -> station wagon becomes an endangered species. Ironically, Ford was planning on a 60/40 sedan/wagon mix for the 1996 Taurus, so much for product planning. If you’re a wagon lover, it’s slim pickings, and to justify importation you’re going to have to buy a new one every month.

      I briefly considered a Passat wagon a decade ago when the family was growing, but don’t particularly like seeing the dealer and figured a minivan was better in a long run, got one of those instead. The Mazda5 purchased after the van was cheap, big enough for the whole family on short trips, and handles decently, but not a wagon.

  • avatar
    carve

    This is easy. Put a 2.0T DI engine in it…maybe a DI version of the RDX motor. Acura needs a motor that can compete with Hyundai. Maybe they could offer dual injection to keep the valves clean. Offer it with SH-AWD and a stick and you’ll have a LEGITIMATE sport-wagon. Basically, it’d be a better looking, better handling RDX.

    But, the real key here is to offer a Honda version. 4-cyl manual with ~170hp. Have it start within $750 of a base Accord, but have available AWD with a lift to compete with the Outback/Imprezza (size it right between them).

    Make the front pretty nice cloth, and make the back element-like, with an easy to clean interior. Offer an affordable rear-mounted rack package for bikes and cargo. Market it as an efficient, reliable long-distance cruiser to get you to the slopes or the trails without breaking the bank.

    For the next generation, try to give the look better balance, as Audi has done on the A4. This means LESS FRONT OVERHANG. It just looks awful- especially compared to Audi, BMW, and Infiniti.

    • 0 avatar
      GarbageMotorsCo.

      “Have it start within $750 of a base Accord, but have available AWD with a lift to compete with the Outback/Imprezza (size it right between them).”

      That’s what the Accord Crosstour is supossed to do, although it’s looks are holding that back from succeeding.

      Also, Subaru uses heavier duty suspension components which are meant to take an outback off road. The Accord CT is more for the snowbelt group and it’s lighter duty, Accord underpinnings keep it from being a true off roader.

      A CTS-V type wagon with Honda quality would be a great direction for the TSX to go. If only Honda built RWD cars (besides the S2000 and NSX) :(

      • 0 avatar
        carve

        The crosstour starts nowhere remotely close to within $750 of a base Accord, and is not a particularly affordable. The wagon back end was smooshed into a fastback for the sake of style, and they still wound up with something hideously ugly. There’s just no real up side to that car.

      • 0 avatar
        GarbageMotorsCo.

        I agree, I was more saying that the AWD and raised suspension were intended to compete with the Outback. I know the price is astronomical and the looks are hard to take.

  • avatar
    aspade

    It’s still a heavy FWD commuter with a 4 cylinder and an old automatic. A different color grill and a 1200% higher chance of bent rims doesn’t make it exciting.

    But they do throw away even more of what little practicality the car had left after they decided to sell it as a $32,000 Acura and not the $25,000 Honda it actually is.

  • avatar
    Sundowner

    The RDX motor would be key for me.
    Yes the Audi costs more, but you pay for the standard AWD and the kick in the pants when you mash the go pedal.

    For what it’s worth, the only people who buy wagons in this country are enthusiasts. If you’re going to sell a wagon, then sell it to the people who will buy one and rig it as a hot rod. People who want an SUV will buy an SUV. IF they can’t afford an Acura, they’ll just buy a Honda. Trying to market a stripped-down wagon as a poor man’s SUV is a losing game.

    The smart OEM will market a wagon as ONLY a hot rod. why? Well, why does the Prius sell so well in a hatch hating world. Answer: becuase it’s distinctive. A prius sells because it’s a hybrid that looks like nothing else. People like advertizing thier hybrid love more than they actually have hybrid love. Nothing says that like a Prius whicl looks like nothing else and only comes as a hybrid.

    The same logic can work for a wagon. If a wagon only comes as a hotrod, then it MUST be a hotrod when you look at it. “Hey, that’s an Acura wagon, they only come as badass rippers. That guy is awesome.”

    • 0 avatar
      A D H

      Completely agree with the badass wagon theory. Driven this car several times. Needs a light pressure turbo to add 20-30 horsepower. Suspension and wheel tweaks are an easy fix per customer if needed. The 6MT in the sedan is one of the most enjoyable MT’s I have ever driven and can certainly make up for lack of Hp with the added fun.

      Would have been nice to see them take that risk and market aggressively. I purchased a Saab over this. Pricing was similar but would have loved the Acuras long term reliability advantage.

    • 0 avatar
      Quentin

      The flaw with this logic is that the performance minded driver will generally sacrifice practicality for performance. The non-performance driver will not. Consider the following situations.

      Person 1 is a performance driver that wants a BMW wagon with the 335i engine. They’ll likely settle for a 335i sedan instead of opting for the 328i sport wagon because it 100% meets their performance needs and a majority of their practicality needs. How often do they haul something that fills up the cargo area from floor to ceiling, afterall? OEM wins; they moved a higher cost car that wasn’t exactly what the customer was looking for.

      Person 2 is a non-performance driver that wants a wagon that can carry their potted plants from the greenhouse and easily fit the kiddo’s stroller (need a hatch/wagon). Say BMW only sold the sport wagon as a 335i and no 328i. The sedan is available in both models. They know they can afford the 328i sedan, but the 335i sport wagon is an extra $8k. If they can’t afford to buy the 335i wagon and the 328i sedan doesn’t fit their needs, they will go to Audi, Acura, etc to get what they need; OEM loses a customer.

      Offering more options at lower performance and cheaper price wins more customers. Requiring you to jump up and buy an engine, that will cost you in fuel bills down the road, that you didn’t want in the first place to meet your needs will send customers to your competitor.

  • avatar
    stuki

    I would personally buy one if it came with a (Civic Si grade) manual. Not particularly fond of bigger wheels and slammed suspensions on utility cars. And RWD isn’t that big a deal in cars with 200hp fours.

    The 3 wagon is a bit on the tight side, those wretched runflats are an insult to all of automotion, but it does have the sanely priced world’s most wonderful engine. Audi refuses to spec even remotely decent manuals, and come with atrociously awkward cruise control switchgear. The CTS-V wagon is kind of in a different league, as is the Panamera manual, which P refuses to sell in the last remaining market for manuals.

    • 0 avatar
      Quentin

      I love the 328i sport wagon, but lord, it isn’t much car for the money. By the time you add the fun stuff (sport package and a few other nice things), you are well into the high $30k range and getting very close to where a 335i sedan starts. Why bother buying a RWD car if you aren’t going to put the sporty goodies on it?

  • avatar
    kurtamaxxguy

    If Acura adds AWD as an option to this, I’d be happy to check it out.

    Otherwise it’s on the sidelines with all the rest of those non-AWD cars.

    We have bad weather and snow up here in the NW. My trusty Forester gets me there when other cars get stuck. Granted, those other cars often have more cachet and luxury, but isn’t a car supposed to take you where you want to go?

    • 0 avatar
      JKC

      I won’t dis Subarus, but I’ve found that a set of 4 good snow tires has taken me pretty much anywhere I’ve need to go in upstate NY.

      • 0 avatar
        Ubermensch

        As a Subaru owner I agree with JKC. AWD is overrated except for the most extreme of driving situations that less than 10% of the country experiences. Snow tires is much more important than AWD.

  • avatar
    JKC

    I like the concept, although as a fifty year old guy I’d look kind of silly in a tuner wagon like that.

    But boy do I wish Americans didn’t have such an aversion to wagons. A RWD chassis wagon would be awesome for towing, but I’d be just as happy with more small to mid-size wagon choices even if they do ride on a front-drive platform.

    Why? Well, I just got back from an afternoon’s errands, and put a new pressure washer, day trip supplies for my daughter, and groceries into the back of my Focus wagon with room to spare, and without folding the seats down. And I get 30 mpg doing it. Can’t say that about any of the ridiculous CUV’s that infest the American automotive landscape…

    • 0 avatar
      Quentin

      Those “ridiculous” CUVs are practically tall wagons with a slight suspension lift and an option for AWD. My mom generally gets 27mpg in her V6, AWD Rav4 on her nearly all highway commute. It is a vastly more comfortable car inside than the 21mpg (on a good day) 2002 Ford Explorer that it replaced. Plus, it actually has enough clearance to not high center in their driveway when they get a decent snow. The slightly taller ride height and taller cabin also make ingress and egress far better.

      I personally prefer wagons, but I accepted a long time ago that my preference in automobiles usually isn’t in line with the rest of the country. My perfect car would be a RWD sport wagon the size of the first generation Impreza, 6MT, turbo, DI 2.0L. I’m not shocked or jaded that car companies can’t make a business case for that car, though.

  • avatar
    SV

    That’s much better, but it really just needs a whole new grille. Not to mention the first-gen TSX/last-gen Euro Accord looked better regardless.

  • avatar
    Tifighter

    Ed or anyone know if Acura reports sales for the wagon separately from the sedan? I wonder if they are meeting their [modest] sales goal.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    Well, I drive/own the equivalent . . . but it may not be made much longer. That would be a Saab 9-5 wagon. It’s a little larger, but it does have the 250 hp turbo motor . . . and you can get it in a manual! No it doesn’t lose the roof rack (but at least it’s black) and it has a bit of chrome (less than the TSX), but it’s close.

    of course, we know what happened to Saab!

    Having driven the Honda turbo 4 in the RDX, I would not want to see that engine in a FWD vehicle, including a TSX wagon. Acura’s ads to the contrary, the engine’s throttle response is not linear. There is significant turbo lag from a dead stop (especially noticeable if you’re not trying to hot-foot it) and a lot of “surge” as the turbo spools up. So, you find yourself backing off the throttle after the car gets moving if you want a constant rate of acceleration. With FWD instead of AWD, this probably would translate into unintended wheelspin, especially on wet pavement. An aggressive traction control would just make things worse, probably adding up to a herky-jerky launch as the car started wheelspinning as the turbo spooled up, followed by a lurch as the traction control chopped the throttle.

    The Saab implementation of a 250 hp turbo 4 and a 5-speed autobox is leagues better. Left in normal mode, you have to work to get wheelspin out of the transmission from a dead stop. In sport mode, it’s pretty easy if you’re hot-footing it, but regardless of mode, it’s not something that happens inadvertently; and throttle response in both settings is pretty linear.

    The idea l situation for the Acura TSX would be a NA V-6 with a torque peak at fairly high revs (typical of Honda NA engines). That would give you a nicely controllable launch along with extra torque and power when you really wanted it. Oh wait; they offer that in the sedan, but not in the wagon, which might be hauling a heavier payload more often. Go figure that one.

    I was really impressed with the Acura 6-speed that I drove in an ’06 TL. Short positive throws; smooth as butter. People don’t know what they’re missing when they pass on this transmission.

    But, I bow to market realities.

  • avatar
    smlfox

    I’ve always had a certain affinity for station wagons. Probably due, in part, to growing up in them. My family has owned a 1984 Chevy Cavalier, a 1987 Pontiac 6000 LE, a 1991 Ford Taurus, a 1996 Mercury Sable, and a 2001 Volvo V70. My favorite, however, was my grandmother’s 1982 Buick Regal Estate. That car was awesome. It had the Mag wheels, a spoiler, and is probably the main reason why I’ll always love wagons.

    Aside from being a fan of station wagons, I’m also a Honda aficionado. So, when I heard through the grape vine that Honda was making a crossover version of the Accord you can imagine my excitement. I was looking forward to an AWD version of the Accord Tourer. What you can’t imagine, however, is how disheartened I was when I saw the atrocity that is the Accord Crosstour. The Crosstour is worse looking than our 96 Sable Wagon, and that was the first year of the “oval” design. Even the speakers on the tailgate were oval! I swear, I felt like a I was being stared down by a fly when sitting in the third row seat of that car. And it STILL looks better than a Crosstour.

    I love the TSX Sportwagon. I was that it wasn’t price like an Acura and I wish it came with a manual transmission and cloth seats, but you can’t always get what you want. I suppose if you had connections with Honda of America you could get one, or if you were rich enough to buy a TSX with a manual and swap the engine and transmission…

    It would, indeed, be better if it were priced like an Accord. Especially given the fact that in other parts of the world it IS an Accord Tourer. The Acura TSX is nothing a rebadged version of the Euro and JDM Accord. I can’t remember at the moment what our Accord is based on.

    I would love to see more wagons on the market again. I grew up during that awkward period just before SUVs hit it big, and station wagons and minivans were living in harmony. When I was in elementary school, I knew about 5 people who had SUVs. Only one was a Suburban, and it was used to pull a horse trailer. Other than that, I knew two people with Explorers, one with a Cherokee, and one with a Wagoneer (the Cherokee based, not the Grand Wagoneer). In those days, the school pick-up line was riddled with a mixture of sedans, station wagons, and Chrysler minivans…plus on Suburban.

    I guess I’m just a nostalgic soul, though. I’m saddened by the fact that my children will never know the feeling of growing up in a rear-facing third row seat.

  • avatar
    outback_ute

    I was thinking this was more like it! http://www.holden.com.au/vehicles/sportwagon/ss-v-series

    6.0V8, 370hp if you don’t mod it, 6sp manual, rwd, etc. It is basically a higher-spec G8 GT wagon, so could come in around the $34k mark (the GT sedan was $29-30k right?) Or there is the Holden Special Vehicles version with the LS3, bi-modal exhaust, big brakes, performance data on the touchscreen etc…

    I am not a Holden fan as a general rule but they are a very nice machine

  • avatar
    05lgt

    There may be more demand for a sported up version of this car than there was a few years ago. Not all Legacy wagon buyers are willing to switch over to Outbacks. AWD isn’t always to get unstuck. what do the SH in SH-AWD stand for again?

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