Current Mileage/Months in Fleet: 23,548/11 months
Average Fuel Economy/Range: 26 mpg/481 miles
Normal Wear: $8.63
Damage and Destruction: $279.41
So let’s say there’s this girl you dated in high school, and she was lean, athletic, and attractive in an understated sort of way. Then you both went away to college, and when you saw her again she was a little more sophisticated and still an athlete, but she’d gained weight and developed an overbite. Does romance flower anew? Or does it wither?
Relating the metaphor to our second-generation Acura TSX long-term test car—with a substantial number of miles already accumulated—the answer to the renewal of affection question seems to be “yes.” The original TSX was light, lithe, eager, and agile, a naturally aspirated four-cylinder car playing in an entry-luxury league full of entries with turbo fours and V-6s.
In its renewal, the car has gained a little more torque from the four (although horsepower dropped a smidge), a V-6 engine option, slightly bigger dimensions, modestly expanded interior volume, edgier body contours, and bigger footprints. And interior noise levels have been noticeably reduced.
On the debit side of the ledger, more TSX equals more weight—about 120 pounds for the four-cylinder model, depending on equipment. And we have yet to encounter anyone who sees beauty in that beaky chromed grille, a shouty design element that’s become a distinguishing feature throughout the Acura family. Note: distinguishing does not mean distinguished.
Like the original, the TSX is based on the European version of the Honda Accord, substantially smaller than the latest U.S. Accord sedan, which has edged over the full-size border. But, as we said, it’s bigger than the previous TSX. The wheelbase has been lengthened from 105.1 inches to 106.4, overall length—186.1 inches—has stretched 2.7 inches, and width, as well as front and rear track, has expanded by 3.0 inches to 72.4.
The base price for a TSX—the four-cylinder model with a very sweet standard six-speed manual transmission—is $29,970. As was true of the original TSX, the base price includes a lot of goodies: a power moonroof, leather, heated power front seats, heated power mirrors with turn-signal repeaters, xenon HID headlights, 17-inch aluminum alloy wheels, traction control, defeatable stability control, and enough airbags to cushion a hard lunar landing.
Our test car is equipped with the Tech package, which includes a user-friendly navigation system with voice recognition, 10-speaker audio with iPod and USB connectivity, a six-disc CD changer, and a rearview camera. When the car arrived in frozen Ann Arbor last January, the bottom line on the window sticker was $33,070.
Although the TSX is bigger and heavier, its torque and shorter gearing compensate, making the car a little quicker. With just 1048 miles on the odo, we clocked the 0-to-60-mph run in seven seconds flat, a couple tenths better than the previous car. The quarter-mile also improves by three tenths of a second and 1 mph to 15.4 seconds at 92 mph.
The lower ratios also don’t seem to have hampered fuel economy much, as the EPA forecasts 20 mpg city/28 highway, a gain of 1 mpg in the city cycle. Over the course of 23,548 miles, we’ve averaged 26 mpg, 3 mpg better than the official combined rating.
Skidpad performance—0.86 g—is respectable, considering the standard 17-inch all-season tires (225-series Michelin Pilot HX MXM4). Braking, however, is a weak suit—180 feet from 70 mph; not at all impressive for a car with sporty aspirations and some formidable European competition.
There have been two scheduled service visits. The first came at 8274 miles for an oil and filter change plus tire rotation, the second at 17,650 miles for the same basic service plus multiple inspections. The total for both came to $197.90.
Aside from routine service visits and swapping from all-season tires to Hankook W300 Icebear winter tires and back to all-seasons, the TSX has had only one assembly-related glitch to date. A piece of rubber roof trim detached itself just above the driver’s door during a car wash but wasn’t covered by the warranty, necessitating a replacement cost of $24.91. A cracked fog-light lens also needed replacing, but its cost surprised us—$164.54 for the new lens, $105.00 in labor, $9.87 in tax, for a total of $279.41. A windshield wiper blade replacement, however, was much easier to swallow: $8.63. And a blown out front speaker was swapped out under warranty.
Judging by logbook comments so far, staff members who have managed to look past the car’s lamentable front-end styling have found the TSX a very easy car to live with. The seats are terrific with a range of adjustability that accommodates a wide swath of physiques, the ride is smooth, the car is quiet in operation, and it has the same playful spirit that made the original TSX so delightful.
And for anyone who thinks the TSX is on the small side, we cite the logbook note made by Mary Seelhorst, who enlisted the car to ferry part of her band—Bill Bynum and Company—on a four-gig tour of western Michigan. Besides “three adults, size regular,” the inventory included “one box of CDs, two guitar stands, three overnight bags, one backpack, one microphone stand, one fiddle, three guitars, one lawn chair, one umbrella (wet), three pairs of cowboy boots, one gig bag, one garment bag, one amplifier, six stylish shirts on hangers, and one gallon of water.” Even with all that cargo on board, Ms. Seelhorst, like others, reported the trip was made in comfort. It seems a little more weight has thus far just meant a little more TSX to love.