Sunday

2009 Acura TSX review

For 2009 Acura has completely updated their strong selling TSX. For the first generation model, sales exceeded expectations, no doubt due to the nice package and good value that it presented. I had the chance recently to drive one and greatly wanted to see how it compared to the previous generation.

The inside has received a nice update. Interiors are usually always one of Acura's strong points, and this model does not disappoint. They've struck a nice balance in making sure the parts you interact with have a good, quality feel about them without making any cheapness immediately obvious. The seats are comfortable, and like the previous model, everything you could want and then some is standard. Your only choices, once again, are color, transmission, and technology package (basically a package with even more toys that you never knew you needed). This particular example was equipped with an automatic transmission, and even included paddle shifters behind the steering wheel for that fake Formula 1 feel. Overall you feel good sitting in the car. It definitely continues Acura's reputation for quality.

Lift the hood though, and the story changes abruptly. The first TSX rolled off the line in 2004. Since then other car manufacturers have moved forward with their offerings. However, Acura has seen fit to put the SAME motor in the bigger, heavier '09 as was in the '04-'08 generation. Why Acura, why??

The previous model was always a fun car to drive. It was well balanced, always poised, never made a wrong step. This one is just...... nice. Nothing exciting, nothing fantastic, just...... nice. For the reason why, look no further than the engine. It's as smooth as ever, runs in a hushed tone, and has a nice torque spread across the RPM range. It just doesn't seem much in a hurry to move the new chassis around. On-ramps become an exercise in patience, and forget about stoplight drag races. Acura claims they shortened the gearing to give it a little more get-up-and-go. I think all it did was compensate for the extra weight.

Above average handling traits remain, however. You can drive this car with confidence. It will understeer at the limit, but body roll is nicely controlled and you can tell what is going on in the chassis. Fortunately too, you'll never have to worry about overpowering the chassis. At all.

It really is a shame that Acura has chosen to go this route with the new TSX. There are rumors about a diesel version and a Type S version that may come down the line. As of right now, however, at $29k or $32k depending on whether you select the tech package, it's just not nearly as good a value as it was before for someone looking for a sporty sedan. They need to do something about that engine and they need to do it soon. Otherwise they're going to find that the market they want is going to be looking elsewhere to spend their money.

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