By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating:
While its Acura TL big brother competes with heavy hitters like the BMW 3 Series and Infiniti G Sedan, the second-generation Acura TSX is light on direct competitors. Why? Because for those seeking a premium-branded sedan with a $30,000 starting price and fuel economy that reaches into the 30 miles-per-gallon range, the choices are rather limited. The Audi A4 is one, as are the Volvo S40 and Lexus IS. However, the TSX's big advantage versus most of its competitors can be summed up in a word that a premium-brand marketer like Acura would never use: Value. The base model with a manual transmission (another increasingly rare feature in this class) starts just over $30,000 and even fully loaded barely reaches $34,000; a loaded V6 stays just south of $40,000. Piece together its quality, performance, features and fuel economy, and the TSX looks to be one of the best premium sedan bargains going.
In terms of technology, fuel economy, performance and value, the Acura TSX is a premium-level bargain. Not only does it offer an enviable resale and reliability record, it's one of the few sport sedans left that still offer the option of a manual transmission.
Unlike the Audi and Volvo sedans, the TSX does not offer the option of all-wheel drive. More troubling to some of us is the electric power steering system that demands constant attention on the highway.
For 2011, Acura makes a number of changes aimed at quieting the TSX's cabin and improving fuel economy. Along with an all-new Sport Wagon addition (reviewed separately), the TSX receives revised front and rear styling, as well as a number of interior upgrades. An improved Technology Package includes a new LED backlit navigation screen, Song by Voice user interface and 15 GB of downloadable storage space on the system's 60 GB hard drive.
Driving Impressions When it comes to all-around driving fun, we could hardly ask for a better balance of enthusiasm and comfort. We like the six-speed manual's precise shifting action and the five-speed...automatic's exceptionally aggressive Sport mode, the later being especially welcome on the automatic-only V6 model. The 2011 Acura TSX encourages a quicker pace when the road begins to meander, and adequately absorbs surface irregularities and external roars when cruising. If there's a fly in the TSX ointment, it can be found with Acura's efficiency-enhancing electromechanical power steering (EPS) system. Devoid of feel that sometimes borders on numbness (depending on which KBB editor you ask), the TSX is no match for competitors such as the Audi A4 or BMW 1 Series when it comes to accurate steering feedback. While most vehicles require subtle steering input when traveling straight down the highway; the TSX seems to require constant, unnatural-feeling corrections. We're hoping the system will be improved over the life of the TSX, because we really like the rest of the package.
DVD-Audio Surround Sound
Audiophiles will have to have this comprehensive premium sound system. Included in the Technology Package, the 5.2 DVD-Audio Surround Sound is so utterly clear and clean, it puts all other stock systems to shame.
Voice-controlled Navigation System
The 2011 Acura TSX offers a sophisticated navigation system with an LED backlit eight-inch screen that Acura claims delivers 400 percent better resolution than last year's system. Also on board is Acura's Song by Voice music search, and voice activation for the navigation that allows for voice input of city and street names, Zagat restaurant information, weather conditions and real-time traffic information and rerouting. A rear-view camera is also part of the package.
If soft, warm and rich is the vibe you seek from a premium sedan, settling into the TSX may leave you lukewarm. Although the new interior does bring a bit more color to the console, door panels and steering wheel, even the contrasting color stitching isn't enough to make the high-tech TSX feel like an a upscale Audi. That's because the TSX eschews traditional luxury cues for a more technological type of richness, although wood-look trim is available. Beyond the visual, the TSX's interior is all business, offering seats that are both comfortable and supportive, and a rear seat that sufficiently passes the six-footer test. New rear heating/cooling vents help keep rear passengers comfortable while a climate controlled center console keeps perishables from perishing. The smallish trunk is less impressive, but long items can be safely stowed once the 60/40-split rear seatback is deployed.Exterior
Defined by sharp edges, pronounced wheel flares and a forward lean that gives it a bolder, more athletic demeanor than the original TSX, the 2011 Acura TSX is made more alluring with a new front grille and headlamp treatment, new fog light bezels and a new front lip spoiler. Around back, new tail lamps and license plate garnish heighten the TSX's visual appeal. Mirror-integrated turn signals, 17- or 18-inch wheels and a long shoulder crease all combine to make the TSX look longer and wider than it really is.
The 2011 Acura TSX boasts a long list of standard equipment that includes Bluetooth phone connectivity, iPod integration (and simpler auxiliary input), steering wheel-mounted controls, leather seating with position memory, moonroof and dual-zone climate control. The V6 adds 18-inch alloy wheels, one-touch ignition key start and Acura's new Active Sound Control system, which works by eliminating exterior sound entering the cabin. All the safety gear is included, such as front, front side-impact and two-row side-curtain airbags, plus electronic stability control.
Every bit of optional equipment available on the 2011 Acura TSX is wrapped up into one mouth-watering Technology Package, the highlights of which include a world-class DVD-Audio Surround Sound system and a comprehensive advanced HDD navigation system, both of which are detailed in the "Favorite Features" section of this review.
The 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine is coupled with either a slick-shifting six-speed manual transmission or a five-speed automatic that features a high-revving Sport mode. Like in so many Honda and Acura vehicles, the i-VTEC engine is at its best when pushed hardest. Those seeking better low-end performance should look at the new 3.5-liter V6. With 280 horsepower on tap it's sure to be a scintillating ride, although without a manual transmission, probably not as much fun as the base car.
2.4-liter in-line four-cylinder
201 horsepower @ 7000 rpm
172 (manual), 170 (automatic) lb.-ft. of torque @ 4300 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 21/29 (manual), 22/31 (automatic)
280 horsepower @ 6200 rpm
254 lb.-ft. of torque @ 5000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/28
By VA Gator (VA) on Thursday, May 30, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 21,500overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Value, MPG, Comfortable, Solid build, practical"
Cons: "AWD would be nice w/out sacrificing MPG"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"My 2nd TSX,the first was a 2010 TSX Sedan. The wagon is great, plenty of room for day /weekend trips with the family, or to keep your gear stored away for spontaneous day excursions. I added aftermarket Thule racks which are very helpful, bikes on top gear in the cargo area. I do not do much day/city driving working from home office, but will take regional business trips where I am on the highway for 5-8 hours and the car drives great, is comfortable, and I regularly get 33+ MPG on the highway. The paddle shifters are fun, and help get you in and out when you need to. Also, I find that many who own this car never use the [S] Sport mode. This is simply just geared down but makes a bit more fun to drive. Typical driving is a bit underpowered but sufficient. Living in the mountains I do yearn for AWD at times but considering the reduced MPG most AWD get I don't miss it the rest of the year. I might opt for the Tech package if I did it again, but the standard package is practical, allows for direct USB plug into for iPod with dash controls, includes Bluetooth, steering controls, and has solid sound. If you need more space than a sedan but still want MPG (vs SUV), a few luxury comforts (the seats are great), and reliability of Acura this is a great car. Good value, solid build, great MPG; I am debating buying out my lease at the end and keeping this car."
1 person out of 1 found this review helpful
By Blu Scarab (AZ) on Tuesday, May 28, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 43,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "fun to drive, loaded with features, best looking"
Cons: "road noise"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"We purchased the 2010 4-cyl model for my son after he graduated from college and we are constantly fighting over who gets to use it. We also own a BMW 3 and a Audi A5 (traded in our Lexus IS). The TSX is hands down much more fun to drive - even more fun than the V6 model because its a harder challenge to keep its performance high. But the TSX 4-cyl has a highly torqued gearing, a high rpm engine and a very fast paddle shift system that - if used properly - will allow you to abuse the road and accelerate to pass like a Kawasaki. We do not baby this car. Yet it holds up well to wear and tear - requiring only a brake pad and air filter change with regular oil service as indicated on dash with some cryptic code that your local Acrura service rep will interpret for you. (Our BMW required a tranny job already). Its sound system is killer - equipped with full separates on doors rear deck, and a dedicated subwoofer - besting anything we heard and test drove. Its also the best looking car on the road till today - the only better looking ones being borderline exotic like the Jaguar and Audi A8. Bluetooth system pairs flawlessly to any cellphone, is voice activated, and controls all music files from the steering wheel. Hellooooo BMW..... Driver seat has memory settings and mine are programmed to move backwards when I open the door - allowing easy entry/exit. Gas cover and trunk are push activated onsite so you don't need to go back into the dam car if you forgot to push the gas/trunk release and the keyfob is still in the ignition. Turning radius excellent - can reverse park from extremely tight angles. Passenger mirror turns down so you can see how close you are to the curb! Lastly, the TSX has the brightest headlights of all vehicles - standard and exotic - ejecting a pure white corona on the road aimed perfectly so it doesn't dazzle the vision of oncoming traffic. (It just spell-binds them). They also stay on when you turn off the engine and exit the car at night so that you're not fumbling around in a suddenly dark garage - helllooo Audi and Benz...."
2 people out of 2 found this review helpful
By Krrish (WA) on Tuesday, May 21, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 8,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "great price, great drive, great look and feel"
Cons: "not that I am aware of ;)"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I got a 2013 Acura TSX. I know its too early to call out this is the greatest car that I had ever driven, But so far this car has given me the utmost pleasure in look and feel compared to my previous car. This car is absolutely flaw less I would highly recommend this car, the features of this car are way more than what we get for other cars with same affordable price."
1 person out of 1 found this review helpful
By big bob (IN) on Monday, February 11, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 40,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great car and great value"
Cons: "Road noise could be lower."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"40000 miles and absolutely zero problems, zero rattles, zero complaints since day 1. Great mileage and fun to drive."
3 people out of 3 found this review helpful
By Chuck G (GA) on Wednesday, December 12, 2012
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 13,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Good looks, great ride, reliability, and resale"
Cons: "Ride is not as sporty as previous model"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I owned a 2007 TSX and loved it. When the new car fever came I looked at several other cars but bought a 2011 TSX. I do love this car. The 2011 model feels roomier inside and due to the change in the body style you do feel like it is wider. The ride is quieter and smoother than the 2007 model. So overall I am pleased. Now that I have owned by car for 15 months I will say that the 2007 model was more fun to drive. Maybe the smooth ride in the 2011 model has diminished my feel for the road. That is my only negative comment on the 2011 TSX. I get 1-2 MPG more than I did with my 2007 in city driving. Highway MPG is about the same. Having owned a TSX since 2007 I will say that I have never had to have any repairs done. I have regular maintenance done and there was one very minor recall on my 2007 model that Acura fixed very quickly. Overall this is a high quality car that drives nice and looks good. In a few years I might even buy another TSX."
5 people out of 5 found this review helpful
By AcuraNewbie (GA) on Tuesday, November 13, 2012
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 10,593overall rating 3 of 10rating details
Pros: "Seats are comfortable; good cargo room & MPG."
Cons: "Too many to list."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"Disclaimer (my own) - I have owned many American, Japanese and German cars over the years, and I have a particular fondness for the German engineering, so bear this in mind when reading my review that follows. Where do I begin? First, there is very little "sport" to this sport wagon. Steering is less than communicative, and handling is so-so. Sportwagon is a minomer in this case. The interior materials are, unfortunately, typical Honda, i.e., look nice from a distance and feel good at first touch, but much lower quality than is appropriate for this price point. The leather on the driver's seat is already showing abnormal wear, and I'm by no means overweight. The door panel material is too soft/sueded, so it has developed a glaring shiny spot where you typically rest your elbow. The outside temperature guage seems to be confused, as one day it's telling me the temp is 74 (when it was actually 60), and another it's 10 degreees cooler than actual outside temp. I should point out this is NOT at startup, but after the car has been running/driven a good 15-20 minutes. The car has 201 hp and a 5-sp automatic, and it's just not a good pairing for a car this size. There have been more than a few times when merging w/highway traffic was a little exciting, and not in a fun way. Of course, with torque of only 175 bhp, I'm not sure how a 5-speed could do anything useful with so little power. This brings me to the transmission; with only 5 gears and a NON-turbo 4-banger, the engine noise of this car gets seriously irritating above 65 mph. Getting this car to track straight was a joke for the first 6k miles, although that could have had something to do with the tires not having been broken in; but seriously, other auto makers seem to be able to account for that, so why can't Acura? And then how about added options? Well, seat heaters are great when they work well - but they don't in this car. They take forever to heat up (compared to Audi, BMW, and even GM vehicles), and then once they do I swear you can feel every heating element wire as it coils through the seat - it's a targeted "hot wire" feeling, like an old heating pad with a worn-out cover, not a nice, overall enveloping warmth that you'll find on the other vehicles mentioned. The toggle switches for the seat heaters are mindlessly placed on the horizontal surface next to the gear selector, where they can easily be switched "on" without realizing it. Any idea how much fun that was on an August day in Georgia? It ain't pretty... I say all of this as a cautionary tale: if you have ever driven anything with a sporting flair- or anything German- and enjoyed the experience, then you will NOT be happy with this car. If, however, you are accustomed to Honda or Toyota vehicles and are a fan (and I'm not knocking those that do - there are folks who prefer Japanese engineering over German, and vice versa), then this may be a worthy addition to your home. But when the service advisors at the local dealership point out that this car really wasn't well thought-out by Acura, what can you infer from such statements?"
15 people out of 33 found this review helpful