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2004 Acura TSX

By Warren Brown
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, June 15, 2003; Page G01

Anna was a short girl from a working-class family in the city's Ninth Ward. She was pretty, but not a standout, certainly not in New Orleans where pretty girls abound.

Wearing her red bow, white shirt and pleated blue skirt -- her Holy Redeemer School uniform of the late 1950s -- Anna was easily overlooked.

Until she stepped on the dance floor, that is. The little girl could boogie!

Had Anna been a car, she would've been the 2004 Acura TSX. It is physically attractive, but neither compelling nor memorable in exterior styling. It looks like other compact, entry-luxury Japanese automobiles currently on sale in the United States. It has a modestly wedged front end, flush headlamps, slightly flared side panels and a high rear.

It resembles the Honda Accord, which it is, in fact.

The TSX in the United States is sold as the Accord in Europe and Japan, where buyers prefer shorter, slimmer cars. As such, it is smaller than the American Accord. Though it shares the same 105.1-inch wheelbase, it has an overall length of 183.3 inches, compared with 187.6 inches for the Accord.

The Accord is nearly two inches wider than the TSX, and it seats five people more comfortably than the TSX, which is best suited for four occupants, despite Acura's corporate claims that the smaller car can carry five.

The TSX has a more luxurious interior than the Accord. Leather upholstery, heated front bucket seats and a leather-wrapped steering wheel are among many standard luxury items. The car's eight-speaker, 360-watt "Acura premium audio system" rocks.

But what really distinguishes the TSX from the Accord is the Anna Factor.

It boogies big time on the open road. It is tighter, faster. It feels more nimble. If the two cars were available as dance partners, I would choose the TSX every time.

Part of the performance difference between the TSX and the Accord stems from the engine. Both cars share Honda Motor Co.'s 2.4-liter, 16-valve, i-VTEC power plant.

VTEC means "variable timing and electronic control" of engine valve movement.

In the TSX, Honda boosted the engine to 200 horsepower, compared with 160 horsepower in the similarly equipped Accord. Additional work was done to improve the TSX's suspension system, giving it a more sporty feel than is found in the Accord.

Accelerating in the TSX was as effortless as swinging Anna across the floor. She responded immediately to every change in the beat, switching hands, changing steps, moving hips as if she were one with the music.

The TSX does the same thing through more prosaic means, a drive-by-wire throttle system that responds instantly to every touch of the accelerator pedal. But the feeling is the same. It's Anna all the way, which is nothing short of glorious.
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