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This rating/review in Consumer Guide (not to be confused with Consumer Reports, which hasn't yet done a full review) is a few months old but it doesn't seem to have been mentioned on this site before.

http://auto.consumerguide.com/auto/new/reviews/full/index.cfm/id/37409.htm#ratings


There are 10 categories, each with a maximum of 10 points. The TSX gets a total of 62, which is one of the highest of any "near-luxury" car and higher than all the usual comps. (The total is much better than it sounds if you're not familiar with their system.)

Here's the text of the write-up:

This newcomer to Honda's upscale Acura division targets the Audi A4, Infiniti G35, and other sporty, near-luxury sedans. In size and price, the TL fits between Acura's smaller RSX coupe and its larger TL sedan. The only engine is 200-hp 2.4-liter 4 cyl. Transmissions are a 6-speed manual or optional 5-speed automatic with manual shift gate. Antilock 4-wheel disc brakes, antiskid/traction control, and 17-inch alloy wheels are standard. So are head-protecting curtain side airbags, front torso side airbags, leather upholstery, sunroof, automatic climate control, tilt/telescope steering wheel, in-dash CD changer, and xenon headlamps. There are no options, though a second model adds a navigation system with voice recognition for some navigation, audio, and climate functions.

Competition If you prefer the predictable handling and traction of front-wheel drive, the Acura TL and Lexus ES 330 should be your first stops in the Near-Luxury class. As our Best Buys, they blend comfort, style, luxury, and sport into an efficient package at an affordable price.

Our Recommended picks include the Audi A4, BMW 3-Series, Cadillac CTS, and Infiniti G35. These models emphasize sporty driving characteristics in a luxurious package at attractive prices. All Recommended picks offer available all-wheel drive except the Cadillac.

News The Americanized Euro Accord should see only a few new features and perhaps a little more power in the near future. But a TSX wagon could be a quick and easy addition if Acura decides to take on the Audi A4, BMW 3-Series, Mercedes C-Class and other sporty compact haulers. The British-market Accord wagon got a fair bit of U.S. buzz from a TV commercial that recently made the rounds on the Internet, but it's unclear when or even if we'd see a TSX model.

Road Test Ratings Base w/nav. sys., man.

Acceleration 6
Only manual-transmission TSX made available for test so far. Test example did 7.9 sec 0-60 mph. Modest power below 3000 rpm, so brisk highway passing or merging requires attention to gear selection. Delights with light, precise shift/clutch action.

Fuel Economy 6
Test manual-transmission TSXs averaged 22.6-27.3 mpg, depending on driving conditions. Premium fuel required.

Ride Quality 6
Firm but never jarring even on badly cratered pavement. Body motions well-controlled.

Steering/Handling/Braking 8
Impressively agile on challenging mountain roads, with assuring grip, minimal body lean. Quick, responsive steering adds to the fun. Standard antiskid system enhances dynamic security. Powerful brakes have excellent pedal feel.

Quietness 6
Refined for a small sports sedan, though not luxury-class hushed. Revvy, ultrasmooth 4-cyl engine audible but not unpleasant at high rpm. Tire noise intrudes some on coarse pavement, but isn't irksome either. Wind rush minimal.

Instruments/Controls/Interior Materials 8
Simple and smart, though available navigation system takes some learning. It absorbs some climate and audio functions, which can frustrate simple adjustments, and voice recognition frequently misunderstands commands. One test example had misaligned steering-wheel trim, but overall, TSX has ingot-solid on-road feel, good detail finish, and classy cabin materials including handsome aluminum dashboard and door trim.

Room/Comfort/Driver Seating (front) 7
Cozy feeling, but spacious enough. Firm, supportive seats bolstered to keep occupants secure in exuberant cornering. Standard tilt/telescopic steering wheel and power driver seat help tailor a sound basic driving stance. Good all-around visibility.

Room/Comfort (rear) 5
Head room tight for 6-footers, but surprisingly good leg and toe space even with front seats fully aft. Short seat cushion shy on leg support. Entry/exit slightly constricted by narrowish floor passages.

Cargo Room 3
Not bountiful, but good for a compact-size sedan, and most all the space is usable. Trunklid hinges don't intrude much and are designed so as not to threaten luggage. Standard split fold rear seatback has interior keylock, in-trunk releases. Cabin storage just adequate.

Value within Class 7
TSX offers the same solid quality and high features-per-dollar quotient as big-sister TL, but ups the fun-to-drive factor in a trimmer, lighter package. Automatic transmission may cost some scoot, but the TSX is a very capable and appealing small sports sedan.

Totals 62

All Near-Luxury Cars
High Score 67
Low Score 42
Average Score 57

Ratings: Maximum 10 points per category




IMO ConsumerGuide does great work and I've been able to rely on it quite a bit, although some of their opinions and biases are weird -- for example, the Camry gets the highest total rating that I've noticed (tied with the Mercedes S500, and 1 point higher than the BMW 7-series; the Accord isn't far behind). And while a total of 62 out of 100 might not sound like much and while the scores in some of the categories might look mediocre, in fact this is an EXTRAORDINARY set of ratings and an extraordinary total score. It's higher than any of the usual comps except the Infiniti G35 (which most people wouldn't consider a comp). The 3-series sedans get in the high 50's, the Mercedes C-series gets in the mid to high 50's.

You have to understand that scores above 6 or 7 in any given category are rare and they are considered real good. This goes against intuition, doesn't it? We're used to school-grades types of scales, where anything below 80 isn't too good and below 65 sucks. But the scale here isn't anything like that. Some cars get only 1 or 2 out of 10 on some categories, and the total scores can be as low as the 20's. Anything over 50 is decent, over 60 is truly terrific. I was pleasantly surprised the see the TSX get such a high score. I would have just hoped for something like 58 or better, which would have put it right in the running with its main comps.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
jcg878 said:
And yet it's not 'recommended' or a 'best buy' if I remember....
Right, JCG. My guess is that they just don't put those labels on new models, or at least they rarely if ever do it. I don't recall that they ever did, but my knowledge of this is hardly comprehensive.

BTW the current printed issue, or at least the most recent one I have, and I get them about every 4 days (j/k :D ), gives the "Recommended" label to the TL, but don't be fooled by that -- it's not an exception to what I just said. The write-up is about the '03 TL. And if they do give any label like that to the new TL, it probably would mean they gave the car "credit" for being a continuation of the old model even though it isn't at all.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
When I get some spare time :D I think I'm going to write to ConsumerGuide and give them a couple of "suggestions" about how to make their ratings more easily understood. (Got a couple of pretty easy ideas.)

Also tell them how to use the space bar. :D
 
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