2011 Acura TSX V6 Sedan Road Test Review

Simon Hill - CAP staff
Send to a friend

Send this article to a friend.

If Goldilocks was a real person, I wouldn't be surprised to find out she drove an Acura TSX V6. The original, 4-cylinder TSX was introduced for the 2004 model year and was redesigned for 2009. It fills the entry-level position in Acura's U.S. market, where it replaced the Integra, while in Canada it slots in just above the smaller Acura CSX.

The TSX has been a well-received car from the start, landing on Car & Driver's 10 Best list three years in a row, coming in as a finalist for Motor Trend's 2009 Car of the Year award, and garnering praise and recognition from journalists everywhere. But in 4-cylinder guise its performance was never more than just adequate. As Goldilocks might say, it was just a little too cold.

The obvious solution might be to step up to Acura's best selling TL - certainly that's the route Papa Bear might choose - but with a base price in Canada of $39,490, the TL is a significant step up from the 4-cylinder TSX base price of $31,890. Too expensive, Goldilocks would say. Recognizing this, Acura decided there was room in the middle for a higher-performance version of the TSX, and introduced the TSX V6 for the 2010 model year. It's priced so that it sort-of straddles the gap, although the story doesn't quite end there ...

Before we spoil the ending however, let's look at the car. Slightly smaller than the North American Honda Accord, the TSX is in fact based on the European and Japanese Domestic Market Accord (who said we never get the best models over here?). To my taste, it's just the right size, and I reckon Goldilocks would agree with me on that. It's big enough to comfortably carry five passengers, yet small enough for easy parking and maneuvering in the city.

Style-wise it's a fine looking machine, with nice proportions, flowing swept-back lines, and an aggressive (but not too aggressive!) stance. Even Acura's controversial "power plenum" shield grille seems to fit in well - certainly better than is some past Acuras. Inside, there's all the luxury you expect, with a power moonroof, power doors and windows, remote entry, power seats (perforated leather in all but the base model), leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, and a variety of audio systems depending on the trim level you select, but all of which include Bluetooth connectivity. New on all models for 2011 are standard fog lights, automatic headlights, USB connector and XM satellite radio.

The interior works very well for the most part, and would suit Goldilocks to a tee: the seats are soft and comfortable, but still firm and supportive enough to hold you in place during spirited cornering. The rear seats roomy enough for average-sized adults and are 60/40 spilt-folding, so the big trunk can be made even bigger by borrowing some of the cabin's interior volume. The materials are good quality and well-fitted, and everything is subdued without being austere - overall the interior won't likely set your heart aflutter, but it should age very well.

My V6 Technology test car was fitted with a very nice navigation system and a phenomenal-sounding ELS premium sound system, but it garnered a couple of complaints from me. The first relates to the user interface for the audio and navigation system: It works okay, but has a lot of buttons and is often counterintuitive to use. As an owner, I'm sure you'd get used to over time, but as someone who jumps from car to car I found it somewhat frustrating. My second complaint relates to Acura's Bluetooth HandsFreeLink system: When I went to sync my Bluetooth phone I could initiate a connection easily enough, but then the phone started playing tunes from its built-in media player and wouldn't stop. And when an incoming call came through, I couldn't answer it using the car's HandsFreeLink system. I dug around in the car's manual and eventually found an Acura website that informed me that my phone was incompatible. It's a problem I've not had on any previous test vehicle, but then not all Bluetooth systems offer the sophisticated features of Acura's HandsFreeLink system, including call waiting, call transfer, phonebook import and caller ID. Still, by the end of the week, I'd have happily ditched all those features just to be able to answer basic incoming calls.

On the road, the TSX pleased me with a nice balance of comfort and performance. The V6 is a great sounding engine, and really comes alive if you engage the 5-speed automatic transmission's sport mode and use the somewhat undersized steering wheel-mounted shift paddles to keep the engine revs up (though to be honest I really didn't feel the need to play with the shift paddles that much, generally preferring to loaf around with the transmission doing the work for me and picking the highest, most economical gear available). With 280 horsepower at 6,200 rpm and peak torque of 252 lb-ft way up at 5,000 rpm, the engine is quite subdued below 3,000 rpm but lights up with a delightful snarl above that. Fuel economy with the V6 is, as expected, a bit worse than the 4-cylinder (its posted city/hwy rating is 11.3 / 7.4 L/100km, versus the 4-cylinder automatic's rating of 9.6 / 6.5 L/100km) and the V6 calls for premium fuel.

The ride in the TSX is not too hard and not too soft, allowing crisp and confidence-inspiring handling that delivers predictable understeer at the limits (this is a front-wheel drive car after all) and has the electronic minders putting the brakes on everything if you really overcook it. Speaking of putting the brakes on, the TSX's four-wheel disc brakes (which are ventilated up front) easily match the V6 engine's brisk acceleration with rapid deceleration.

So, has Acura created the perfect Goldilocks car? Well, if you like lots of toys and features in your car then perhaps yes. But if you were wanting a simple, powerful V6-powered Acura, then maybe no. The thing is, for 2011 it appears that Acura is only offering the TSX V6 in Technology trim. This means you get bigger 18-inch alloy wheels, the navigation system and the premium ELS sound system with hard disc drive, but it also means that the TSX V6 comes priced at $41,890 plus $1,895 destination charges. A quick look at TL pricing reveals that you can pick up a base TL for $39,490 (plus identical destination charges), which includes the V6 and leather seating, although it would cost another $3,500 to get a similar Technology package with navigation. So the TSX V6 does straddle the gap, but it's not exactly a clear-cut choice.
©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: Sport Sedan, Acura, 2011, TSX V6, $30,000 - $39,999,

Organizations: Acura

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Thanks for voting!

Top of page