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TSX Article from the Arizona Republic 09-06-03

New and well-defined

Bob Golfen
Road Test
Sept. 6, 2003 12:00 AM

Life imitates video games. At least, that's how my teenage sons view the styling of the new Acura TSX.

To them, the sharp creases, well-defined geometric shapes and wedge posture of the 2004 sedan looks like one of the virtual cars they race around virtual streets on the TV screen.

Acura TSX

Vehicle type: Five-passenger, four-door sedan, front-wheel drive.

Base price: $26,490.

Price as tested: $28,990.

Engine: 2.4-liter inline four, 200 horsepower at 6,800 rpm, 166 pound-feet of torque at 4,500 rpm.

Transmission: Six-speed stickshift.

Wheelbase: 105.1 inches.

Curb weight: 3,241 pounds.

EPA mileage: 21 city, 29 highway.


��Sport performance.

��Luxury features.



��Console woes.

��Modest engine torque.

��Tight back seat.

This was a good thing, they said, and I had to agree. Without going to extremes, TSX looks distinctively modern while maintaining the classy aura of an Acura.

TSX is also a quick performer that's loads of fun to drive, highly appropriate for a video-game car. The test car had a six-speed stickshift instead of a gamer's joystick, but it was just as much fun to manipulate. And with 200 horsepower cranking from a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine, TSX has the acceleration to escape the virtual bad guys.

For 2004, TSX moves in as Acura's entry-level sport-luxury sedan, coming up against heavy competition from such upscale players as Infiniti, BMW, Audi, Lexus, Cadillac, Lincoln, Volvo and Jaguar. TSX enters the market without a lot of fanfare, but is sure to get plenty of notice as word gets around.

What it is

TSX is actually the European and Japanese version of the Honda Accord, introduced last year and widely acclaimed for its style and performance. A bit smaller than the U.S. Accord, TSX's brisk engine power and maneuverability set it apart from the midsize sedan crowd. It comes just one way, fully equipped, at $26,490.

Engine and transmission

Again, Honda shows how to get clean, economical power from a naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine. No supercharger needed here, just exceptional engineering and electronics, including i-VTEC, the Japanese automaker's advanced "intelligent" valve-control system that provides power across the RPMs as well as good fuel economy and reduced emissions.

Throttle control is "drive by wire," with electronic linkage instead of cable or levers.

The engine feels very smooth, and provides brisk if not awesome acceleration. Part of the power equation is just 166 pound-feet of maximum torque. This modest muscle makes itself known at midrange under acceleration, when the engine power seems to just hang there.

Under way, TSX cruises at highway speeds with minimal effort and makes passing maneuvers quickly and easily.

The lack of a V-6 option may turn off some prospective buyers who will check out sporty sedan competitors such as Nissan Altima 3.5 or Volkswagen Passat.

TSX comes with either the close-ratio six-speed or a five-speed automatic as standard equipment, both costing the same amount. The six-speed shifts with sharp precision, moving into each gear with a satisfying click.

The gear ratios are well-mated to the engine, whether accelerating onto the freeway or slogging through traffic.

Handling and drivability

Crisp handling and responsive steering make TSX feel like a proper sport sedan, not quite in Audi or BMW territory, but close enough considering the price tag. This is the kind of craft that driving enthusiasts crave on winding two-lane roads,

Cornering is flat and balanced, and TSX can race through tight curves like sports sedans costing twice as much.

The chassis dynamics include four-wheel double-wishbone suspension; torque-sensing variable power rack-and-pinion steering; Vehicle Stability Assist with traction control; four-wheel disc brakes with anti-lock; and 17-inch alloy wheels shod with V-rated performance tires.

The suspension is firm but rarely harsh, tracking well through rough surfaces with minimal jostle. Highway cruising is quiet and refined, with minimal road noise or wind roar.


The video-game appearance garnered many positive comments. TSX may not be as highly distinctive as Cadillac CTS or Nissan Maxima, but the style is strikingly modern without straying too far from Acura's corporate look.


This is really nice, refined and even spacious, at least for front-seat passengers. The back seat gets short shrift, but this is a fairly small sedan after all.

Attractive metallic surfaces highlight the nicely designed dashboard. At night, it's all a soft blue glow, including a small beam that shines from above the shifter. The seats are perforated leather, and the carpet is thick.

Overall, the feeling is subdued and sophisticated, very comfortable and accommodating.

One clinker: the top of the center console slides fore and aft. It should lock in place.

The test TSX came with the car's only option, a $2,000 GPS navigation system with voice recognition. "Home, James." Honda and Acura continue to beat the competition in the user-friendliness of their nav systems. But really, for the amount that most people would actually use such a thing, it seems excessive.


TSX comes totally equipped for $26,490. Standard equipment includes dual-zone climate control, moon roof, full power features, heated front seats, leather seating and leather-wrapped steering wheel, power driver's seat, 360-watt audio with eight speakers and steering-wheel controls, cruise control and remote locking.

The navigation system and shipping, at $500, pushed the test car's total to $28,990.

Bottom line

TSX hits the mark with sporty performance and a high level of standard features at a reasonable price. And now we know why the Europeans dig the new Accord.

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