2012 Acura TSX V6 Road Test Review

Simon Hill - CAP staff
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When I last drove and reviewed the Acura TSX V6, I must have been in a particularly mellow state of mind. Sure, I noted that it's based on the European and Japanese domestic market Honda Accord, that it's a slightly smaller car than the Acura TL, weighing in some 120 kg less and fitted with the same 280-horsepower 3.5-litre V6 engine. I pointed out that the TSX's V6 Technology package includes a very nice navigation system and a phenomenal-sounding ELS premium audio system, and that the ride is neither too hard nor too soft, allowing crisp and confidence-inspiring handling, with predictable understeer at the limits.

What I didn't clearly communicate, however, is just what brilliant fun Acura's 3.5-litre V6 is when shoehorned into the TSX. The fun begins with the engine noise, a subdued growl that builds with the revs to a delightful snarl, and the party just keeps going thanks the engine's prodigious power, which launches the TSX from 0 to 100 km/h in about 6.5 seconds and rewards each prod of the throttle with an authoritative burst of acceleration.

In this respect driving the 2012 Acura TSX V6 was a bit of a revelation, and I indulged heartily in its V6 goodness this time around, commenting twice in my driving notes about the plentiful power (and with exclamation points, no less!).

The TSX lineup was introduced in April 2003 for the 2004 model year, with all trim levels getting a 205-horsepower, 2.4-litre 4-cylinder engine. The second-generation car debuted for the 2009 model year, with the V6 option appearing for 2010. For 2011 the TSX was given an updated grille, and it carries over into 2012 essentially unchanged, so the car I drove this year was basically the same as the one I drove a year or so ago.

Stylistically, it's a good-looking machine in a mildly aggressive sort of way. Compared to its slightly bigger TL stablemate it has similar flowing lines but a more muscular overall appearance, with bulging wheel arches and bolder details. While slightly smaller than the TL, it's still big enough to comfortably carry five passengers, yet compact enough for easy parking and maneuvering about town.

Inside, the TSX conveys a sense of subdued luxury, with good quality, well-fitted materials. The front bucket seats are comfortable for long-haul driving, and well enough bolstered to keep you in place during spirited cornering. The rear seats are reasonably spacious (certainly they garnered no complaints from my gangly teenage kids) and the rear seatbacks fold in a 60/40 split to allow the transport of long items. As I've noted previously, the TSX's interior isn't the type that'll instantly set your heart aflutter, but it should age very well and it has all the luxury you expect: All TSXs come with power locks and windows, remote entry, power moonroof, power seats (perforated leather in all but the base model), a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, and a variety of audio systems depending on the trim level you select. Bluetooth connectivity, USB connectivity and satellite radio are standard with all systems. My V6 Technology test car was also fitted with a very nice voice-activated navigation system with rearview camera, a phenomenal-sounding 10-speaker ELS premium sound system, bigger 18-inch alloy wheels, and a few other convenience features. My only real complaint here is that my phone isn't supported by Acura's HandsFreeLink system - it would be nice to have some sort of "basic Bluetooth" option to allow simple basic telephone connectivity for phones that aren't compatible with all of the bells and whistles.

Of course Acura has the safety front well covered, with powerful ABS-equipped four-wheel disc brakes (which are ventilated up front), electronic brakeforce distribution, tire pressure monitoring, active head restraints and six airbags.

On the road, the TSX has a nice balance of comfort and performance, with the V6 adding an extra helping of performance. As mentioned earlier, it's a great sounding engine with plenty of power (280 horsepower and 252 lb-ft of torque), yet it can be perfectly docile and tractable when moseying around town. The automatic transmission only gets five speeds, but it works just fine, and Acura gets points from me for not dumbing-down the manual-shift mode: If you hold a gear to redline, the car won't force a shift, but will allow you to bounce off the rev-limiter if that's what you choose to do. Rated city/hwy fuel economy with the V6 is 11.3 / 7.4 L/100km, versus 9.6 / 6.5 L/100km for the 4-cylinder TSX. Adding a bit to the cost is the fact that no matter which engine you select, the TSX calls for premium fuel.

Pricing for the Acura TSX in base 4-cylinder trim starts at $31,890 plus $1,945 in delivery charges, with the TSX V6 Technology sitting at the top of the range and priced at $41,890 plus delivery (all V6 TSXs get the Technology package). At this price, it's competing in the same ballpark as cars from manufacturers such as Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz, though the range-topping TSX certainly has the edge in terms of technological goodies compared to the entry-level European sedans in this price range. More to the point, the TSX V6 comes in only $1,600 shy of an SH-AWD equipped Acura TL, which starts at $43,490. For enthusiast drivers, the advantages of the all-wheel drive SH-AWD system would likely give the TL the edge even with its slightly higher price, while most casual drivers would be happy with the more economical 4-cylinder TSX. That leaves the TSX V6 serving those who want a competent luxury sedan, and favour big helpings of technology, features and power over getting the best possible price or performance. It's a compromise of sorts, but an enviable one.
©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: Sedan, Luxury Sedan, Acura, 2013, TSX V6, $40,000 - $49,999, Compact,

Organizations: Acura

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