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, Administrator Emeritus
2,496 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Let's say you're a classy young person with a good job and a taste for automotive excitement who wants to drive something special. But you find the usual German suspects — Audi A4, BMW 3-series, Mercedes-Benz C-class — either clichés or worrisome because of poor quality scores.

You turn to the Lexus ES300 but are bored by its manners and blanch at its $32,000 starting price. The quick Infiniti G35 seems approachable at $28,000 to start. But it's $35,000 or so well-furnished and is rear-drive — good for ultimate cornering but not as great if you live where roads get slick.

Acura, Honda's luxury brand, now has an alternative: the $27,000 TSX front-drive sedan. The only option is a $2,000 navigation system; the base price is the loaded car.

TSX is based on the European-market Honda Accord — smaller, sportier, wholly different than the U.S.-market Accord.

Sporty, practical and roughly affordable. Seems like a nice package. And mostly it is.

The four-cylinder engine is rated 200 horsepower, which is a lot for such a car, but just 166 pounds-feet of torque, which isn't much and comes at high engine speed.

For comparison, the '04 BMW 3-series is 184 hp and 175 lbs.-ft. for the 2.5-liter, six-cylinder engine; 225 hp, 214 lbs.-ft. for the 3-liter.

TSX, obviously, is right on horsepower and wrong on torque. Americans buy horsepower but drive torque because it's the stop-and-go power most useful in the USA.

As it turns out, though, TSX isn't too bad around town, specifications notwithstanding. The test model, equipped with a six-speed manual transmission, didn't bog leaving stop-and-go lights and seemed to scoot passably when starting uphill from a stop. The clutch took a little finesse to completely avoid jerkiness, but time improves technique. The six-speed manual has short, satisfying throws, which make it fun and not work.

Drivetrain appeal aside, TSX's strongest attribute is the overall taut and sturdy feel. Bumps are dispatched quickly, with just a bit of thump getting through to the occupants. Corners are sliced and diced with little fuss. Daily cut-and-thrust is no sweat if you're in the right gear.

TSX's tight, crisp demeanor is a reminder that when the car is happy, you're happy. A car that struggles is stress on a stick. TSX is opposite that — confident and poised, encouraging you to feel the same.

And then Acura nearly ruins the whole thing by integrating voice commands with the optional navigation system. The result: Acura's navi goes from among the easiest best to a wretched dog of a device.

Easy way out is to save $2,000 and skip the navigation system. Otherwise you're burdened with:

A system so complicated — it uses Windows 4.2, as if we need more complex software — that it now takes 10 to 12 seconds to fire up, instead of the main screen popping up instantly when the car's started. That's because the voice-command setup requires so many self-checks, Acura says.
A technical nightmare that requires you to sit through that pause and the I-promise-not-to-sue screen even if you only want to use the climate or stereo controls incorporated into the navi. Other makers conveniently return you to the screen you'd been using when you restart the car — as long as it wasn't the navigation and therefore requires the legal disclaimer.
A voice-activated system that's deaf. The only command to which the test car responded was an order for the radio to scan — and then it scanned the opposite direction it was told. A cheat sheet of commands was included with the test car. But no matter how carefully and exactly the commands were mouthed, or how conscientiously the activation proper button was pushed, the result beyond the backward scan was zilch. Why spend $2,000 for an arrogant bit of electronic hooey to ignore you?
Even if the tester's unit was faulty, that doesn't excuse the long wait to start the system every time you start the car.

Other points:

The manual transmission's fuel economy is notably worse than the automatic's. It's not new that automatics are so good they outdo manuals. Buyers of manual gearboxes no longer are looking for the best fuel economy but rather are performance enthusiasts who'll surrender fuel economy for improved acceleration, Acura says.

The gearshift is less precise and less satisfying than the snick-snick shifting that Acura's brought to normally sloppy-shifting front-wheel-drive cars.

Mainly, though, TSX is very pleasant; a seductive blend of power, cornering and comfort. Just skip the navigation system.



, Moderator Emeritus
1,003 Posts

I was just coming here to post the same article!?
So now that you have, here are some questions.

:( Has anyone else with a TSX or latest Honda Navi experienced the same dismal problems as James Healey?

:mad: Is there a work around for avoiding the intro screen each time you start the car?

:confused: Can the voice recognition be "tuned" to enhance speech recognition?

Just wondered if I need to skip the Navi or not based on these negative comments?

, Moderator Emeritus
1,344 Posts
what was the problem James Healey had?!

Disabling disclaimer

My new Maxima with the navigation system has the moronic behavior as described below by tsxclib. Does anyone know how to disable the disclaimer screen?

Thanks for your help!

Gerry Roston
[email protected]
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